Sunday, April 28, 2013

Heritage on the Hill, 27 Apr 2013

One afternoon, I visited the Fort Canning Park to join the programme, Heritage on the Hill. This tour brings visitors to appreciate how Fort Canning Hill has changed through the centuries.

The meeting point for the tour was the courtyard of the Fort Canning Centre. Do you know that the Fort Canning Centre was originally constructed to serve as a British army barracks?

Fort Gate. Fort Canning Centre.

The next stop was Fort Gate. If you had participated in tour, you would see excitement on everyone's eyes. Our tour guide had a special key that could unlock a gate which would allow us to walk up to the second level of the fort gate.

Our enthusiastic tour guide shared with us the history of the Fort Canning Hill. This hill was known as Bukit Larangan (which means "Forbidden Hill" in Malay language) prior to the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819. We learnt that the current name of the hill, i.e. Fort Canning Hill, was named after Viscount Charles John Canning who was then Governor-General and the first Viceroy of India. As I do not know much about him so I read a wikipedia entry to learn more about him after the tour. Viscount Charles John Canning seemed to be a diligent gentleman.

What has left the deepest impression throughout this tour was the beauty of the trees! Our tour guide lovingly shared with us insights to tree appreciation. I learnt about epiphyte. Unlike a parasite which derives its sustenance from another plant, ephiphyte is a plant that grows upon another plant non-parasitically. I like the tour guide's analogy of seeing the ephiphytic plants that grow on each of the trees as plants that adorn and further beautifies each tree. 

I do remember the tour guide's sharing about the lighthouse (a replica of the original), the story of William Farquhar and more. However, what continued to stay in my mind was the beauty of the trees. Through the guide's highlighting of several heritage trees and many other trees, I could feel strongly the importance of trees. During the tour, I admired the beauty of the Flame of the Forest which is one of the heritage trees in the park. I also saw a magnificent Malayan Banyan tree and many other trees.

Flame of the Forest.

When the tour group was standing next to an Indian gooseberry tree (also known as the "Melaka tree"), other than learning that the fruit of the Indian gooseberry tree was high in Vitamin C, we also learnt about a popular legend of how Malacca has gotten its name. Malacca was named after a tree.

Through the tour guide's generous sharing about the features of the fig and the pollinations of fig trees by the wasps, I was further reminded of how intricate and complex Nature is. Seemingly small creature like a wasp could have such a vital role to play in the life-cycle of another living being, i.e. the fig.

I left the tour with more insights about the heritage of Fort Canning Hill. More importantly, it reminded me of the importance of trees. When the tour guide reminded us how interconnected we are to the trees, I could not help but recall an article that I have read via Facebook quite a while ago. The title of the article was "When Trees Die, People Die". So I shall end this post with words of gratitude to the trees in our planet Earth.

Thank you dear trees
For your beauty
For your timely shade that you have lent us
For the numerous gifts you have so generously offered us
Each breathing moment, shall we remind ourselves with gratitude
It was you trees,
Who have received the waste gas of carbon dioxide
And gave us the life-generating oxygen in return.

Ceiba pentandra. A "Kapok" tree.
Heritage on the Hill
27 Apr 2013, 4.00 p.m. - 5.30 p.m.
Meeting point: Courtyard in front of Fort Canning Centre
Please wear comfortable walking attire.

More about Fort Canning

Nature Tours and Walks organised by National Parks
For more information on tours and walks, please click here.
If you find this tour interesting, please find more information on the free guided walks of Fort Canning Park by clicking here (see "Guided Walks").

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