Tuesday, May 3, 2005

MacRitchie Treetop

I dragged myself to wake up at 7:30am for Cell Group outing at MacRitchie. After meeting at Novena, we took bus 167 that brought us to Upper Thomson Road, near Venus Drive. That was the start point of our 7km worth of walk up and down slopes.

We were greeted with monkeys that are not shy at all.

After walking for a while, I recognised this particular part of MacRitchie where there is a knoll beside the water pipes barren long land and it was one of my checkpoints during the navigational exercise when I was undergoing ISPC Scout course during NS. At that time, I was quite bewildered why would there be construction in that place since it’s so deserted and deep into the central catchment area. Now, then I know that it was actually for the building of the treetop walk.

Soon, after of about an hour of walking and resting at Ranger Station, we reached the entrance of HSBC Treetop walk. The length is 250m, which is quite long for me.

The bridge was rather stable for me but big sis, Joanna, was rather nervous and intimidated by the height. However, when we tried to take a photo of her, she still can fake a nice smile, but her fear of height can be proven by her two tight hands on the railings. Haha…

A pic of James and I on the treetop walk. (PS: He’s also rather nervous too…hehe)

After the treetop experience, we walked up and down and my feet were feeling painful due to the stupid SAF new sandals which I wore for the first time and it gave me nice blisters.

Soon we reached Jelutong Tower or the army guys say……MOSQUITO RING, another landmark of our Navigational exercises and the Endpoint of our torturous Longwalk Exercise of 40km in FBO.

At that time, mosquito ring…opps, no, Jelutong Tower was still not opened to the public but this time I got the chance to climb up and catch the breathtaking view of the surrounding. Above is one group photo.

Leaving the place, we walked and walked and reached into the “elusive” spot near opposite (so near yet so far) Syonan Jinja. I first got to know about it from Hey! Singapore, a show which captivated me so much when I was younger). Lisa Ang was a great host…oops, got carried away again. Ok, what’s Syonan Jinja? Refer to the Appendix at the end of the blog ok? I will be back to this place to explore the ruins of this lost Japanese Shrine that holds great historic value of Singapore during WWII. That place has been marked as a historic site by the National Heritage Board too.

Above are the left foundations of the blown-up bridge leading to the shrine. It’s rather wide and grand. Can you imagine? Btw, the bridge and the shrine were built by POWs.

We took another group photo.

On our way out, I saw two kayaks in MacRitchie Reservoir… the rates are expensive ($10 per hour), or else I’ll try them out too.

And I saw the elusive pitcher plant…yeah!

Finally, when we reached Lornie Road, I was pleased and glad everyone made it, though the walk can be quite tough on some of my cell group friends. Everyone was rather happy and I enjoyed myself a lot today discovering a lot of things. It’s really a great trip that cheers me up positively and made me enjoy nature like I was before NS.

Hey Jianyu or Gunz, join me to explore the Syonan Jinja ok? I’m dying to explore that interesting place. Maybe you may stumble upon Yamashita's gold??! haha

If you are interested, you can go to this gallery, which this guy took photos of themselves searching for the Shrine. Or also visit the SPI link below.


1. Gallery

2. Another Gallery by NUS people

2. SPI Website

Syonan Jinja

Above photo from SPI website

Buried in the dense jungle of the MacRitchie Catchment Area are the ruins of Syonan Jinja, a Japanese Shinto Shrine dating back to World War II. Built to commemorate Japanese soldiers who died fighting in the invasion of Singapore, Syonan Jinja was the location of many Japanese religious and cultural ceremonies. The original structure, built during the Japanese Occupation (1942-1945), was a temple with no walls. Raised from the ground by a stone platform graduated with a few steps, the sloping temple roof rested on pillars that stood at regular intervals round the perimeter of the platform. It is believed that during rituals, worshippers would drink from a huge granite ceremonial fountain located outside the shrine.

A Shinto ceremony took place here every New Year's Day for the few years that the shrine existed. This was marked by the sounding of the temple bell, the arrival of devotees and the presence of a Shinto priest presiding over rituals. After the proceedings were completed here, the worshippers moved on for a second ceremony at Syonan Chureito, a war memorial for the Japanese soldiers, located at Bukit Batok.

Syonan Jinja was destroyed when the Japanese Occupation ended in 1945. Crumbling granite steps that once led to the shrine are visible, as well as the stone fountain. Of the temple building itself, there is a low stone wall that runs one length of the building and several square pits in the ground that probably once supported pillars.

Today, remnants of the shrine are covered by jungle vegetation. As it is no longer accessible, Syonan Jinja is best seen through old photographs and drawings by the Japanese military as well as the POWs who helped build the shrine.

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