May 13 Tour: Mother’s Day Special!0
Mother’s Day – volunteer Guides Claire and Keng Kiat found half a dozen participants under the old rain tree despite the drizzle.
The day starts off with an alert from Hock Chuan that Hill 3 was not passable by cars:
Fortunately we are not heading that way.
The Bukit Brown area is about 233 hectares in extent, bordered by Lornie Road, Thomson Road and the Pan-Island Expressway. It lies just to the south of the Central Catchment Forest, being separated from it by Lornie Road and includes Singapore’s only Chinese Municipal Cemetery. With more than 100,000 graves, Bukit Brown is also one of the largest Chinese cemeteries outside of China.
We start with a safety briefing and quick history and geography of the grounds, and show what is believed to be the largest single tomb in the area, Oon Chim Neo’s grave in Seh Ong Cemetery.
Back at Bukit Brown, we kick off with an introduction to Tay Koh Yat and Fang Shan, covered in notes here.
We will proceed to Block 5 to visit Lee Guay Eng, grandmother to one of the most important man in Singapore. She is none other than the paternal grandmother of the sitting president.
We take a leisure stroll to Block 2 to pay respect to Song Chwee Neo, a smiling matriarch.
We walk over to greet See Tiong Wah, the Municipal Commissioner whose delicately carved tomb will be removed for the proposed highway, which astonished the participants. In Keng Kiat’s view, this is the second most important tomb to be lost to the project (the most important being Khoo Seok Wan’s). Claire explained the Song Dynasty panels as she too lamented the loss of such heritage.
The special for the day was introducing Lee Kim Soo, the matchbox entrepreneur.
We come around Block 1 and drop by Methodist Girls’ School first Chinese girl and Singapore’s first female doctor, Lee Choo Neo.
We also had the privilege of having Chew Keng Chuan with us to introduce his grandfather, the eldest son of Chew Boon Lay whose grave was found last month:
His grandfather died the year he was born so his sisters’ names are on the tomb’s headstone, and as he noted with humor, he is remembered as “etc”! There is a reference to K.C. on the tomb but it refers to the Kungfuzhi (Confucius) calendar.
We are amateurs and volunteers, known as Brownies, but we are passionate and serious about what we do at Bukit Brown, and we encourage sharing of knowledge. Please share with us as you see fit.