Exploration Memoirs

The following links are our documented urban exploration memoirs of our forays into unseen territory, in Singapore and overseas.

We hope that through our efforts of exploring the underbelly of Singapore; we too aim to preserve the heritage of Singapore's fast fading facade through recorded text and media by helping spread such awareness to the general public, the importance of conserving our heritage and hence cultivating an appreciation of the past.

In light of the rapid changes, we find these steps extremely crucial before the complete obliteration of what once made up the fabric of the city takes place.

The Battle Boxes of Bandung 

"Apart from being an important piece of Indonesia's colonial history, the Goa Belanda is also widely rumoured to be haunted. People have often complained of hearing strange sounds inside the cave, such as the sound of marching soldiers and unexplainable screaming"

The Guardians of Lim Chu Kang 

"The Lim Chu Kang Hindu Cemetery takes up one of the smallest plots of land in the area. However, a peculiar sight awaits those who make their way up a small knoll overlooking the numerous rows of old gravestones. As you tread up a narrow path, flanked by the neat arrangement of graves on one side, the small but conspicuous shrine presents itself"

A slice of old Seletar 

"Based on the remnants of the standing orders plastered along the columns of the verandahs, the barracks were home most recently to soldiers from HQ ARMCEG (Army Combat Engineers Group), which had since shifted further north into Seletar East Camp. One of my friends, who spent time as a Bridging Pioneer Commander trainee here, tells me that it was one of the most punishing days of his NS life. "

Labrador's forgotten relics

"Unknown to most, there's more to Berlayer than what we had mentioned earlier. As luck would have it, Andrew's intrepid bashing through the Berlayer undergrowth while exploring the area in early 2011 was met with the startling discovery of more concrete structures deep in the thicket of Berlayer ridge, hidden away from the public eye."

The Betawi Bandit and the Captain from Ambon

"An Orang Betawi or descendant of the indigineous people who lived in the Batavia ( the old name of Jakarta) area during the Dutch colonial times, Si Pitung is probably the most well-known outlaw in the history of Indonesia and adored by many Indonesians even today."

Anyer Lighthouse and other tales of Krakatau

"The breeze was pretty strong out here, and the height of the galley made the walk a little more intimidating, but the excellent view of the setting sun more than made up for the unnerving experience."

The lost sultanate of Bantam

"The infrastructure of the palace was ahead of its time, where a complex network of culverts ensured that fresh water was supplied to the palace at all times. The palace also has a series of pools where the occupants could bathe leisurely."

The search for Olivia's tomb continues [Part II]
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"I looked to my left and a grand looking portico, adorned with beautiful columns on both sides, greeted my sight. There was an iron gate guarding the entrance, and beyond that gate, I could make out more than a handful of headstones plastered on standing columns in an open space."

In search of Olivia's tomb [Part I]

"I'm looking for the tomb of Olivia Mariamne Raffles. It's located in Tanah Abang. Can you bring me there?" I asked the driver as I boarded his car. I showed him the name of the place, and he looked a little confused. "Hmm, Museum Taman Prasasti. I'm not sure where it is, but I know of two cemeteries around the Tanah Abang area. Shall I bring you there to have a look around?"

Railway moments in Bukit Timah

"Apart from the fascinating past that the little Bukit Timah railway station has, the surrounding areas would be a spot-on nature lover's haunt. From birds, butterflies, trees and flowers, many were suggesting that the track route from the North to the city centre could be a Green Corridor or a possible cycling superhighway. Definitely an interesting eco-friendly idea of where one could actually cycle the 'big shortcut' into town skipping the traffic snarls of where the usual vehicles would be on the roads."

The Pineapple Express
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"Not surprisingly, the peat soil felt as mushy as it looked. My foot sank a few inches deep into the wet matter as I moved in to get a closer shot of a pineapple bud. While peat soil is made up mainly of decaying matter, there was no unpleasant odour when I got closer to the plants to take aim for my photographs. Instead, the air was filled with the charred scent of burnt plants from the fields nearby, which were harvested, razed and cleared in preparation for the next cycle."

National Art Gallery Openhouse [Building refurbished]

"The City Hall Chambers/hall where the official surrender of Japanese Occupation Forces took place, as well as where the first Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, and the first cabinet of Singapore were sworn in. This area shown in the above photo was shrouded in darkness, as they were showing video clips."

Raffles Lighthouse

"The Raffles Lighthouse built in 1855, located in the Straits of Singapore about 14 kilometres south of mainland Singapore. Goes by the direct Mandarin translation of the English name as well as in Malay, Rumah Api Raffles. The island where the lighthouse is built on, is called Pulau Satumu - One Tree Island..."

Take flight and explore!

"The massive airfield from the past has been shrunk through the ages, although it still retains it's four main buildings - the Terminal building with the control tower, the East block, the West block and the Hangar. Most of it's vast airfield was taken up for other uses..."

Sembawang Hot Spring

"A hot spring has been discovered on some property at the 12th mile at Chan Chu Kang belonging to Mr. Seah Eng Keong. The spring is in a piece of swampy ground, and the water is said to be boiling hot and to smell strongly of sulphur."

Sembawang beyond the slumber

"The Sembawang of the 1970s was a place that I spent many a happy moment at. Back then, it was a place that, as with many of the coastal areas of Singapore, had the air of a sleepy part of Singapore where one could escape from the hustle and bustle of the urban world that I had in brought up in. - Jerome Lim"

A visit to Cyrene Reef

"Despite the rain, our group was in an upbeat mood eager to discover what was sprawled in front of us as the seawater slowly withdrew. For our first ten minutes, everyone was staring intently on the ground for fear of stepping on stonefish or scorpion fish, more than anything else."

A visit to the Raffles Museum

"I was alittle apprehensive at first, knowing there would be dead specimens of creepy crawlies like spiders, which I absolutely, put it in a mild way - dislike. Apart from my other fear of heights (Neil can attest to that!), arachnids would be my other kryptonite. I would cringe at the sight of leggy fellows, especially big ones."

The crumbling bungalow at Upper Wilkie Road [Demolished]

"Major Coupland was well known for his role during the war, being amongst the group of British officers who organised Force 136. He later served on the personal security staff of Lord Mountbatten. It is also notable for the part he played after the war, in which he was reported as being the force behind the Ex-Services Association’s charity work with war widows and those affected by the war."

The forsaken quarry of the west [Shrine Demolished]

"As we traced the drain back out to the side of the hill , we noticed a sinister looking structure peeking out from the foliage. Excited at our discovery, we searched around for a suitable entryway before deciding on a path where the shrubs looked trampled. Avoiding overhanging branches and the occasional hidden pothole, the beaten path soon led us to the top part of the structure, the flat roof strewn with dead leaves and fallen branches."

My own memories of Marsiling

"There's a quiet opening among the greens of the hill, well hidden from view. I stumbled upon the clearing from the top of the hill through the secondary forest trees, descending upon unsuspecting senior folks who were sitting around chatting. They had a little shock thinking they had encountered a ghost, but soon accepted my harmless presence."

The "Marsiling Tunnels" Unveiled

"As soon as we parted the foliage of the humid forest hiding the coveted venue. The yawning entrance of the 'dungeon' stared right back at us, beckoning us to it's cool, mysterious interior.

As we gingerly entered the partially hidden structure with a powerful torch, numerous plopping sounds were heard - probably thousands of jungle geckos dropping off their cozy walls in shock, sent scurrying into the depths of the dark underground."

The Pillbox-Bunker and Other Tales of Chancery Lane

"From a top down view, we could see that this pillbox was built to resemble a semi-circle. With its unusual round shape, we felt that it was uncharacteristic of one which was built by the British. It was constructed to face a general northwest direction with an arc of fire ranging from the west to the north and judging by the amount of earth piled on top to reinforce its defence, it was probably made to withstand aerial attacks as well."

Cinematic Memories

"These were the days of hand scribbled seat numbers, kacang puteh man selling cones of nuts, wooden creaky seats, funky smelling floors and sinister looking toilets with patrons standing outside watching the movie while waiting their turns."

Pulau Sakijang Bendera (St John's Island)

"We walked around the campsite area, taking several photos of the buildings around us. Who would have imagined that several years ago, these were the same buildings used to house deck passengers who were quarantined on the island? One can just imagine the scene from those days, a horde of quarantined deck passengers waiting for their turn to be screened, and British Indian soldiers keeping order with their spiffy uniforms and matching turbans."

The Asian Village [Demolished]

"The Asian Village first opened its doors to the public in 1993, remaining in operation for seven years before it folded in 2000. With the abandoned theme park mothballed, the Sentosa management later unveiled plans to build the first of Singapore's 2 Integrated Resorts on the same land parcel. The area was cleared in late 2006 in preparation for the mega-money churning venue."

The Durian Tomb [Demolished]

"In recent months, I noticed that the dense vegetation which had shielded the tomb antecedently from the main road had been cleared and the topography of the area had changed from lush greenery to a grassy meadow, speckled with the occasional tree. Curious on the plight of the Durian Tomb, I took it upon myself to unwrap the mystery of the tomb's predicament. "

The Malaysian Settlement in Singapore

"Stepping into the area, you could quite easily forget that you are still in Singapore except for the two blocks of flats that resemble our own blocks of public housing built by the HDB in the mid 1970s, as you will be overcome by a feeling of stepping into a different world."

The Greenhouse

"Situated at a track junction between a rubber and palm plantation, the house was probably home to plantation workers, a humble abode for those who toiled under the scorching sun. Neglected by it's former residents, this derelict shack has been reclaimed by Mother Nature, its once eminent facade now camouflaged by overgrown vegetation."

The Vanishing Slum 
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"I chose to enter the area from a point far away from where the municipality had set up safety barriers to prevent the public from coming close. For my effort, I was rewarded with the discovery of a precious slice of life in Shanghai. In contrast to the crumbling buildings on both sides of the narrow alleyway against a backdrop of newer residential and commercial buildings, the place was bursting with fascinating hues. It is the perfect example of order in chaos."

The Forgotten Tombs of Upper Pierce

"The tombs were located close to one another and three of these tombs had two names inscribed on their headstones, which are believed to belong to husbands & wives being buried together. According to the inscriptions, the oldest tomb was erected in 1897, and the words "Rebuilt" on this headstone indicated that this was a refurbished tomb, leading us to believe that the person in the tomb had died much earlier than that."

The Forgotten Pier

"The Pier will definitely be strongly remembered, not only by the Cashins, but by families of veterans and the fallen who once fought on the exact same ground as well. It will be an outcry if The Pier were to be levelled 'quietly', afterall, it's an important part of Singapore's history."

The Kallang Gasworks [Demolished]

"The Kallang Gas Works was built in 1862 to supply the first piped gas in Singapore to enable street lighting. Since it's opening, the gas works was under 24 hr surveillance, guarded by Ghurkhas around the clock. It was given the Hokkien nickname huay sia or "fire city" due to superstitious fears that it might just blow up, therefore creating the aforementioned "fire city".

The Syonan Jinja (MacRitchie Shinto Shrine)
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"Syonan Jinja - most people may not have heard of this peculiar Japanese name. Many would even display shock on their faces when they were told of the existence of this former Shinto shrine erected in the Macritchie Reservoir forest by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore in World War II."

The Flooded Mall [Demolished]

"The Flooded Mall, a nickname coined by us, was a mega-sized integrated shopping mall cum hotel billed as a multi-million project,due to be opened back in 1998. Sadly, that never materialized with the subsequent recession hitting the developers hard."

The Pasir Panjang Pillbox
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"Positioned at about 550-metre intervals, these pillboxes complemented gun emplacements at the forts, searchlight batteries, anti-tank and anti-boat defences, mines and barbed wire along the coastline. The pillboxes were mounted with machine-guns manned by machine-gunners to repel attacks from the sea and the surrounding terrain."

Jalan Ampas Malay Film Studios

"Aged walls, familiar old styled window panes and grilles greeted us. Everyone in our group were excited and off we went exploring and admiring the beauty, smelling the musk in the air, and perusing the equipment left over from the post-war period of the 40s-70s."

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"Looking at the two stone walls that flanked the entrance, I glanced towards the right, focusing on the barren open field against the backdrop of several HDB flats. Who would have believed that this field, now overrun with weeds and potholes, was once part of the driving range. "

Tang Dynasty Village [Demolished]

"Apart from torn down fences with huge holes (we don't fancy trying to tear our pants while entering via the fences), there they were, wide open doors, for anyone to just waltz right in. Happily we ventured into the darkness, the doorway leading to a hall of sorts..."

The National Stadium [Demolished]

"Following an empty lorry through Gate 1, there behold, the grand old terrace stands before. No longer can the real Kallang wave be seen, no longer the real Kallang roar be heard."

The forgotten playgrounds [Demolished]

"I could feel tears welling up as I remember the old playgrounds with sand, metal tubes climbing structures, rubber tyre swings, wooden plank see-saws, metal grating merry-go-rounds and stone white animal sculptures."

The Dragon of Whampoa

"Alighting at one of the bus stops near the famous Loong Fatt eating house & confectionary, i decided to make the dragon hunt on foot, not knowing the exact location as well. Armed with the info of “dragon being in front of a blue painted” HDB block, i embarked on my search to find a blue block of flats. "

The mysterious grave of Batu Putih

"As we mounted the wooden steps into yet another forested area along the coast, Roy quickly points out the access point to the tomb. At first, we couldn't see any visible path but we managed to trace Roy's index finger to a small, "blink and you'll miss it" clearing near to one of the wooden benches situated along the wooden path."

The Command House at Fairy Point

"It contains a two-storey building of the Neoclassical Style. Built by the British Colonial architects and engineers between the 1920s and 1930s, the building was part of a British naval and air base protecting the eastern approach to the Johor Straits from the Japanese attack from the sea during the 2nd World War."

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