Book Of Adventure 2: Labrador Nature Reserve

Posted: February 18, 2010 in Uncategorized

Captain’s log                           Stardate: 63632.2 (Feb 18th, 2010)

It was been describe that, this park offers an oasis of tranquility, the enhance beauty and its natural wonder. Not to mention, a picturesque view of the sea. A staircase built on the edge of the secondary forest that offer a prime view of the cliff side vegetation coupled with a panoramic view of the sea.

But behind all that, it lies a hidden legend. A treasure that played a significant role in the history of Singapore. Shrouded in mystery, in the dense jungle of this typical climate that it serves as a main vital point during those times. Left behind to rust, abandoned, forgotten, until it was been discovered a century later. A vantage point, facing the sea, from where they believed the enemies will came from. But in the end, it had ended the Commanders who had fought hard to defend the country in a twisted turn to come to realize that, the enemies who were pursuing against them, from their backs.

Labrador Nature Reserve, also locally known as Labrador Park which is located in the southern part of Singapore contains the only rocky sea-cliff on the mainland that is accessible to the public. It was located beside Sentosa Island and Keppel Marina. The nature reserve, together with the park, used to be called Pasir Panjang Beach or Long Beach. As according in the history book, by year 2002, this 10 hectares of coastal secondary vegetation and its rocky shore have been gazetted as a Nature Reserve. Another title to be proud of! =D

Part of its hidden legend, it contains many historical relics from the era of World War II left behind by the British. That is because it has a long history, dating back to the 19th century.

Most interestingly, there was an old British fort, formally the Fort Pasir Panjang which was located on the hill and cliff next to the sea. The cliff’s high vantage point of their military installations led the British to identify it as a defense site to protect the entrance to the harbours of Singapore. It became one of nine sites in which the British had set up their batteries, which became part of their overall defense system for the country.

Prior to my research on this reserve, I came to understand that the findings, that were conducted by the British had showed that this former Pasir Panjang Beach was suspected to be an easy place for the enemy to land. Which is, the Japanese forces. As a result, the land was obtained by the government, and redeveloped into an expansion of Pasir Panjang Fort. Machine gun posts and barbed wire entanglements were been established, that includes a fence running along the beach. The guns facing the sea were also upgraded. There were 2 six inch 37-ton guns, which could fire 102 lb shells 10 miles, were installed in 1938, assisted by searchlights that faced the sea. Imagine all the struggle they had to put up with just to defend this small nation from been under fire.

The British made the beach an “impenetrable fortress.” Making it extremely difficult for enemy ships and troops to enter Singapore via that area. It would have proven very useful in combating the enemies.

In the end, the site did not see much action during the war. Cause the Japanese, together with all of their disposal needed had came from the Northern coast, instead of the Southern coast where the British were expecting. None of their ships passed through the area at all. As a result, much of the equipment at the fort was put to waste and this in turn, led the country to be siege by fire.

Before that, the job of the fort was only to provide a place for shelter and ammo storage for the British troops.

When the British forces surrendered to the Japanese in 1942, the equipment at the fort was quickly dismantled, closed down and abandoned for good. After the occupation was over, the fort remained closed.

There were consistent calls from the public to preserve the rich history and nature of that site, being the last mainland rocky shore and coral reef. So that explains why there are signs been erected near to the beach line, where those long explanation had stated that marine life should never been removed from the park. I had read some of the blogs regarding to this, where there’s been reports that some people had collected some shellfish with nets, even hard coral, despite the fact that there were signs that prohibits members of public to collect any form 0f marine life found at the beach. Notably fish hobbyists, and this happens during low tide.

And when they realize that putting signs are just not working, a Park Watch programme was therefore, been invented, where volunteers will help to deter any members of public that collects marine life without any source of permit. At the same time, maintaining the viability of the intertidal community within the park. At the same time, to raise their awareness of the beauty in marine life. I supposed its also got to do in maintaining the survival and conservation as well.

Amazingly, in 2001, two tunnels were discovered within the park. They were located beneath the old fort, and were probably served as a storage of ammos and other supplies needed. It was also believe that it also serve as a hideout for British troops. It was discovered that one of the tunnels goes under the sea and leads to Pulau Blakang Mati, which was known as Sentosa. Part of the tunnels have now been opened to the public.

I wonder what more lies beneath there. I might seem a little excited here, but there’s been few reports in the past, that strange artifacts were been discovered and later been exhibit in the museum. Who knows, that one day, archeologists might even came across more tunnels down within the bowels of Earth. A secret passageway, that might not only led to Sentosa. But perhaps to Malaysia….=o

So two days ago on Tuesday, dated 16th, which is my off day, I take that opportunity to open up another book of adventure. This time, I had invited a friend along, whom I know her from the Singapore Paranormal Investigators (SPI). I also asked her whether her boyfriend who want to tag along as well (So as NOT to suspect something!). Unfortunately, her boyfriend was worn out after returning from Malaysia with his parents after that few days spend there. But he let her tagged along with me.

That day, was a public holiday in regards to the Chinese New Year. There’s a direct bus 408, which routes from HarbourFront Bus Interchange towards Labrador Park, and back again. But it only operates on weekends and public holidays, from 1100hrs (first bus) to 2100hrs.

We disembarked at the busstop which was directly at the entrance of the park. The weather was a cooling one and the clouds, as what I’ve noticed, seems to be held a nimbus. I sure hope it doesn’t rain when we are busy exploring this historical place!

WELCOME TO LABRADOR NATURE RESERVE


Before we begin, I began to relate some of the key areas of the park to my friend which I had came across in my research. Not to mention, the prominent ones. The old British fort, which I had mentioned earlier and the Dragon’s Teeth Gate, which was literally a craggy granite outcrop and formerly stood at the gateway to Keppel Harbour in Singapore. I have seen pictures of it from books, magazine, in the past, and always thought of checking it out in full view. Well, that day is the day =)

We start off by entering the Old Fort Entrance, which was next to the busstop. Too bad there’s isn’t a visitor center around, where I can easily obtain a map, and to mark out the areas we had already covered. So for this case, I had to make use of my senses. And to use the map taken from the internet while I’m blogging.

So, here we go. From the starting point which I had circle in red.

As I believe, this is where the British had set up this entire ground as their defense port, as well as their perimeter base. Their batteries facing towards the sea, where in those times that the British had expected the invading Japanese forces to infiltrated from that position. Yes, they are well prepared. But prepared at the wrong turn….

Few meters away, we stumbled into the ancient relic. Remnants of the fort and underground bunkers of old Fort Pasir Panjang lies shrouded under the trees that seem cast away. As what both of us had noticed, what appeared to be windows or doors that leads into the bunkers were all been patched up by cement as to prevent any willful entry. Seems really interesting though, that the British had set this all up on such a place. Unfortunately, they happened to overlook in that wrong point of time.

But imagine yourself, standing at this point of time. Imagine yourself, traveling back to the past and to see before your very eyes, the actual happenings. What really is the tension like? How was the environment? The struggle to win. The call for survival. How was the fort been arrange? How were the bunkers were like, before they were all been patched up many years later. Standing and observing from this edge does felt like as though the wind from the past still exists. Never a doubt time would past and change so quickly. History here, was well said.

A meter away lies the big gun! Its an old 6-inch gun barrel, and based on what it is written on the board, this cool toy was been found one meter below the ground at the site of the former Beach Road Camp in March 2001. This 6-inch was similar to the two 6-inch Rifled Bridge Loading guns that were deployed at the Labrador during the war, and the discovery serves as an apt reminder of the importance role played in strategy used during the Battle of Singapore in 1942.

Guess what? I’m really gone back to the past! For only a brief period. Hee…=D

Thanks to my friend who had taken this shot. Hee..=)

Other than those areas that can be accessible in the past, it appears that what we see today in the park are only the gun positions and not the gun. What we saw was only one gun so far. The rest appeared to have trees grown on top of it, from where the guns have been and from where it was been lay wasted. However, these had reminded Singaporeans that wrong military strategy used, by no doubt, can lead to a disaster. Winston Churchill, a British politician also known chiefly for his leadership of the United Kingdom during World War II, and served twice as the country’s Prime Minister had called the fall of Singapore “the greatest disaster to British arms which our history records.”

The whole stretch were all the rest of the fort that were left abandoned. Its all that remains of those times….

We soon came to a clearing, and what later stood before our eyes was a tall dominant structure that were curtain by vegetation.


Behind those closed door, was the underground complexes used during the WWII for the storage of ammos and supplies which was discovered in 2001 as I mentioned earlier. However, visitors have to paid in order to gain access to the tunnel. $8.60 per entry for adults. I do had this urge to catch a glimpse of how the tunnels would look like, and to soared into the past at the same time. But my friend decided it would be better if there’s more than two of us, as she would prefer. So “we can scare each other” as what she says… =O

Hmm….mmm ??????

So we skipped that part, and head out to where we started. From there, we approached the park itself, that offers visitors the “oasis of tranquility and a picturesque view of the sea.” Yes indeed, the area was very open and the wind here was more cooling than before. There’s a few campers around and people going fishing. The entire coastal line was been erected by fences, so I supposed that means…..no swimming is allowed…???

There’s even an oil refinery been set up in the area, and a long oil jetty that comes with a pipeline been built. There’s even a view of Sentosa, as well as Keppel Harbour. Man! I could stay here for hours just to enjoy the peace here. All freedom here just to get away from the city life and have a peace of my mind.

Few meters away, we came across this Machine Gun Post or Machine Gun Pillboxes. As what I came to found out, with very thick walls, they were difficult to destroy by artillery barrage. Similar to a bunker, soldiers position inside can fire through those narrow slits been cut in the wall.

I went around the back of the structure, hoping to see whether there’s an entry to get through. However, it was been patched up.

And right next to it, just a stone throw away, lies something of a distinctive pillar. With a tall, thin and four sided look that ends with a pyramidal top, this structure is better named as an obelisk.

I came to understand that years ago, the SPI had came in contact of this unique structure. Based on the report shown, it was previously painted in white. But now, as years grow by, the paint were badly peeled, cracked and even part of its brick were left exposed.

From the report given, SPI managed to found out the truth through a historian. This obelisk, or referred as the Labrador Obelisk was previously the marker of the most southern tip of Asia continent, which was been erected by the British during the 18th century. It was also mentioned that, in the past, the cliff was at the edge of the coast line of the Labrador battery. Where the obelisk was standing, it is used to be right at the edge of the shore before it was extended due to a recent land reclamation project.

Besides that, what else could it be? Was it somesort of a responsible of knowledge? A passageway into time that plays its own beginning and its own ending? Sounds ironic, don’t you think? It just stood there in solitude, ever since it was been constructed decades ago. Was it all that been has filled its purpose, that seem to be pushing eagerly at the edge of all boundaries? The thought of it does cross my mind, and that it just seems overwhelming…..

Then, we caught sighted of the old British fort, which was built on that very part of the cliff. As history stated, the fort was one of the 11 coastal artillery forts built by the British in the 19th century to defend the western passageway into Keppel Harbour against piracy and foreign naval powers. There it stood, with an aerial view of the sea and that it provides a commanding view of approaching ships entering into the harbour. I wonder, is there a way to go up there just to get an upclose observation? And I doubt so there is. Or perhaps, it was been restricted for a certain specific reason? Whatever there may be, it seems clearly out of bounds. And besides, I had found no source of info that indicates visitors could take a peak up there during my study about the park.

We took a five minute break to catch the view of the ocean before proceeding. Our next stop was to catch a glimpse of the magnificent Dragon’s Teeth Gate, which lies a few feet away from where we had caught sighted of the old British fort.

In Chinese, “Dragon’s Teeth Gate” was describe as “Long Ya Men,” and impressively was known locally by the Malays in earlier times as “Batu Berlayar” or “Sailing Rock.”

This craggy granite outcrop, formerly stood at the gateway to Keppel Harbour in Singapore. It served as a navigational aids to ancient mariners, that sails through the swift waters of the narrow channel between them. The rocks were documented in a navigational map belonging to a Ming dynasty’s Admiral Zheng He and also in Wang Dayuan’s historical maritime annal, known as Wu Bei Zhi. It was shown on the board, right next to the structure. The Long Ya Men’s unique features assisted the Admiral in navigating the waters around Singapore during his seven maritime voyages to the west between 1405 and 1433 AD. However, the rocky outcrops were subsequently destroyed by the British in 1848 to widen the channel for larger vessels to sail through.

Then, in 2005, a symbolic replica was erected by the Singapore Government near its original site to mark the role it played in Singapore’s maritime history. Looks like you can’t change the ways how history has to be. Even despite being a replica, it does served its purpose to tell the tales and to passed down to generations to come =)

The look of this unique structure does makes me to pause longer and gazed upon it with much concentration than before. In the past, I’ve only seen pictures of it, and never could have thought that day will be the day I finally get to see it right infront of my very eyes. It was more than just a piece of granite. It seems to act like a gateway through time. That seem to held certain answers for the one who are been searching for.

A moment later, we carried on our move. Proceeding towards the other end of the coastal line where there’s stood the jetty. By then, the weather had appeared dull, and dark clouds had started to become visible. I sure hope it doesn’t rained while we were on our way there. I really want to catch another sight of this picturesque view from there.

So, we’ve made it. Haha! =D

WHAT A VIEW!!

A while later, we felt raindrops on our heads. Uh-0h…Better make a move fast before it gets any worse. I was hoping to find a shelter, so we can rest at the same time when its raining. But most of the huts within range were been occupied by the visitors. So in the end, as suggested to my friend, why not we head back to the busstop instead, as our shelter. It seems a distance away, but we can make it though.

And guess what? We are nearly to the busstop when it began to rain cats and dogs. Its fortunate we are close within range and not that awfully drenched. There’s a few people there also, taking shelter from the pouring rain.

There, we took our rest, while waiting for the rain to stop. My friend then realized that we happened to miss a path when we were exploring the Old Fort Entrance where we first start off. There’ a T-junction there, as what she had noticed, and that we had missed that side of the path. I don’t seem to recall seeing a “T-junction” there actually. But what the heck, we can re-enter there once the rain stops. There might be more historical relics hidden deep within that part of the woods.

It turns out there’s none. Only additional traces of what remains of the fort. Other than that, we are actually trekking along the man-made path.

Well, I guess we’ve seen the most besides the prominent ones. Except for the secret tunnels where my friend had suggested that it would be better and more fun if there’s more than two of us within our group. I just had to agreed with her.

By the time we boarded the bus to call it a day, the time was a quarter to 1500hrs as I had remember. Quite surprise to notice that we had actually ended this outing early….

And so, we headed towards VivoCity for our lunch once the bus reaches HarbourFront Bus Terminal. We had Burger King for that, and the rest of the time we spend was to summarize about the park itself, talked about paranormal stuff and even shared some jokes =D

This drags on till HarbourFront MRT Station where we took the train home. And from here, you should have seen how she playfully, teased me till I cannot stand it! But I know her well, and its good to have a jovial friend like her to spend time with =)

Nevertheless, thanks to her who had assist me during the historical walkthrough, I’m glad that I’ve managed to complete my next Book of Adventure. Labrador Park is deemed one of the most prominent site when comes through the history of time, and its worth on educational learning process for all ages. A paradise dominated with wonders of relics, that was worth not to be miss! =D

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s