Thankful for nature’s gift of a “bird park” right outside my office building. The birds were busy calling away at the tree tops all day! With the gentle breeze, and the green forest surroundings, it’s a really lovely place to be in.
It has been a long time since I went on a walk along the Green Corridor. Glad to have the opportunity to walk a short segment of it with some colleagues & their children. A rare chance in a long time to re-connect with nature’s beauty, and the many plants and animals in its midst. Came across a supposedly rare insect. The Green Corridor, or least the segment where we walked, looks well utilised, with runners, cyclists, people walking their dogs and families.
Interestingly, the planted grassy ground on which we walked was all dried up & yellow, but the green areas that grow wild are still looking good despite the dry spell. Perhaps the wild plants are indeed far more resilient, doing relatively well compared to the planted ones.
It started off as a dream.
A dream to create a video where one or more musicians play beautiful music as they explore the ‘invisible’ gem of Bukit Brown. Music interpersed with quiet moments, with the lens zooming in on the happy people who use the place, the beautiful forest that grew back over the years, the animals that are sometimes easy to spot (if you know where to look), and of course, the tombs (some of which have the most intricate decorations).
“Why Bukit Brown?”, you may ask.
Well. There’s so many reasons, how do I even begin? But to keep it short, Bukit Brown is this “invisible place” that’s very close to my heart. Even though I may not be there every other weekend, I end up talking about it somehow to friends and anyone willing to hear about the place and why it is special to me. Because it is more than just a cemetery. I first went there to learn more about the plants at Bukit Brown, and the birds… I got to meet & befriend various wonderful people from all kinds of backgrounds… I also learnt more about Singapore’s history, how it really was 200 years ago, and how it all links back to my own search for my family’s ancestry. I also got a chance to conduct my own walks for friends, conquer my fear of public speaking & improve my Chinese-speaking skills! And there’s so much more…
The dream seemed unattainable for I’m no great musician or a video editor. Until, I shared my idea.
One thing led to another, and soon, I was in a cafe with a few other Brownie friends. And a new friend who happens to play the ukelele. We decided there and then that our intention to create this music video was to share our love & appreciation of the place to everyone, especially to all who may not have heard or stepped into Bukit Brown.
For we would like the “invisible” place to become visible.
Here is our work of love. A music video, entitled: Ukelady meets Ukebaba.
Come explore with us. Enjoy.
Friends who know me somehow associate me with “Bukit Brown”. It is one of the many big “rocks” I hold close to my heart.
Bukit Brown is this huge, beautiful, abandoned place right in the heart of Singapore. It’s a cemetery – but it has long been closed and abandoned. Being right next to a nature reserve, nature came back, and nature lovers like bird watchers and plant lovers love to check out the place.
It is on a plant walk with Nature Society (Singapore) that I first decided to check out Bukit Brown. It was sometime in 2010. I knew of Bukit Brown for many years because of a NSS masterplan, but never went there because, well, it was a cemetery. The thought of heading to a cemetery to check out nature was quite beyond me. But one day, I decided to go. It was a really good walk led by Shawn, who’s the current president of NSS. Now, Shawn is a really good story teller, and a really passionate plant lover. If you ever go for his walk – you’re in for a treat. Unfortunately that day, there was a huge storm – so we had to cut short our walk and head home.
Some time after that, I decided to head to Bukit Brown again. There was more to see, and I wasn’t about to let the storm stop me from learning more about the place!
I’ve been to Bukit Brown many times now. How many, I don’t really know.
I was amazed to see many passionate & inspiring individuals from all walks of life at Bukit Brown. Many of these individuals are now my friends. At Bukit Brown, I met nature lovers, journalists, videographers, artists, architects, lawyers, librarians, tile experts, story tellers, spiritualists, “tomb whisperers”, people who trace family trees of individuals unrelated to them, and even people who would actually bring their own water and cloth to wipe clean the tombs of unrelated individuals! and there was this “tomb whisperer” who would disappear into the forest, and come out excited with his latest find of a historically important individual.
It’s amazing how “invisible” this place is. It’s near to two tourist attractions – MacRitchie Nature Reserve, and Botanic Gardens – and easily accessible from Thomson and Bukit Timah housing areas. Yet, when I tell my mum about Bukit Brown, she gives me a blank stare. Then, I try again using the colloquial name “Kopi Sua”. Oh yes, it rings a bell – my mum remembers it from the time she visited it as a very young child. But where was it? She has no idea.
“This is the last sign of civilisation,” Siva said, referring to the mobile toilet at the end of a lonely road before we headed for the mangroves to do our coastal cleanup.
Several minutes into the cleanup, someone said, “I thought he said it was the last sign of civilisation. I see signs of it everywhere!”
And so, we had 40+ people at the Lim Chu Kang mangroves this morning, and we picked up some 752kg of rubbish within 1hr, not including the bulky stuff (which included chairs, refrigerators, barrels…)
It is indeed a special Sat morning, spent with special people, most of whom are strangers to me. The work is tough, and it is just amazing when individuals come together to help one another. There were magical moments too as we take short breaks to admire the beautiful environment surrounding us.
The actual International Coastal Cleanup day is 21 September. There will be many coastal cleanup locations then – if you are interested, do check them out here.
All I wanted was to have some dinner, and what I found myself doing was to share with new friends all about Bukit Brown, nature places, Singapore’s history, inspirational people… there are still people who tell me ‘what is Bukit Brown? Is it in Chinatown?’, and ‘are horseshoe crabs poisonous?’ Very happy to share what little I know to anyone who is willing to listen. A bonus if it motivates them to explore & learn more about what we have in little Singapore :)
Walking down the road near my place this morning, I could hear the distinctive call of a parakeet, and see the bobbing black head of a woodpecker. The lining of trees had thinned, and there was this scene of mass destruction before me… Yes, the land was previously reserved for the military, but the birds in the area attracted nature lovers to the place. The trees grew tall, bold & free. It was where I saw my first stick insect outside the zoo. There were water hens poking around too. What happened to the animals that didn’t manage to fly away I wonder. What could I have done for the place? It feels ironic to have called for protection of other nature areas, and feel helpless in protecting the forest area in my own backyard. Yes, we have these spaces ‘reserved’ for housing development – at what cost?