Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Pearl of a hill

On a cool evening, it may be very nice to sit here and watch the home bound traffic below. In days of yore,  you might perhaps be able to see the Chinese Pauper Hospital (which was moved to Balestier and became Tan Tock Seng Hospital), the Seamen's Hospital which moved to Kendang Kerbau -- and Outram Prison which wasn't demolished till the late 1960s to make way for Outram Park which was in turn pulled down, along with the char kway teow stall that everyone loved. 
Pearl's Hill is one hill I have never climbed until recently. I have climbed almost all the hills in Singapore, from Bukit Batok, Bukit Timah to Mt Faber -- but I have never been to Pearl's.

It was not at all difficult, a mere 147 ft. (It used to be higher but the top was sliced off with the help of Chinese coolies because there was fear that the enemies might attack Fort Canning from Pearl's Hill as it overlooked the fort). So, all it needed was plain walking. I took the path from where the old Police HQ used to be in Chinatown.

I was almost at the top when a strange figure in the distance grabbed my attention. He seemed to be doing some kind of strange exercise which reminded me of the gait of a dang-ki (Chinese temple medium) -- swaying from side to side. This guy was in exercise gear and even had a Good Morning towel round his neck -- so I thought he was probably practising some newfangled walking exercise.

Then he stopped and definitely did a Monkey God pose -- I have seen many mediums doing this when they were seemingly possessed by this deity. I quickly side stepped to let him pass and he proceeded to sway peacefully on his way.

Maybe it was indeed a new form of workout. These days who knows.

This is the path that leads to the top where the Pearl's Hill reservoir still provides water to Chinatown.  
Anyway, just a bit of background on Pearl's Hill. It was owned by Captain James Pearl, commander of Indiana, the ship which carried Raffles to Singapore. In honour of Raffles, Captain Pearl named the hill Mount Stamford. But Captain Pearl decided to name the hill after himself when Raffles got upset with him for acquiring the hill without his consent.

Just as well, as Pearl's Hill sounds rather nice -- there are so many things in Singapore already named after Raffles.

 Preservation is apparently not on the cards for Pearl's Apartments -- probably reduced to rubble soon as a new project is slated to take their place at the foot of Pearl's Hill in 2019. Picture taken from Keong Saik Road, August 2018. The Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple, a vastly popular temple for all races and tourists, is in the foreground.