I tell my kids, I used to have my P.E. lessons, while I was in primary school, in a cemetery. That’s my memory of Fort Canning Hill. Those of you who had ever attended outdoor events like WOMAD, yes, that’s where the cemetery used to be. Actually, parts of the cemetery is still there.
We had a family staycation at Hotel Fort Canning recently. Exploring the hill behind the hotel, of course, would be a mandatory activity. We did that. This hill cum park set in the heart of the civic and cultural district offers a really unique combination of experiences.
For me, of course, the hill is somewhat familiar to me.
Apart from P.E. lessons in the cemetery, we also ran up the hill and had our P.E. lesson up there. So to some extent, we were quite familiar with the hill.
The cemetery aside, there’s also a tomb. I think it might creep some people out that primary school kids were so frequently visiting these burial places, and even doing it as part of school curriculum. The school premises were too small, so P.E. lessons had to make use of spaces around and nearby the school. The hill was quite a fine place, if you just don’t think about all the people buried there.
There’s also a service reservoir at the top of the hill. I think many people might not know about this reservoir. This is a service reservoir, meaning it stores treated water. It’s covered and contained.
Fort Canning Hill, at that time, wasn’t touristy at all. Times have changed. These days, it’s been developed. The ruins of the fort that weren’t accessible in the past are now opened up.
There’s a cool bunker that you can visit too. This is the old British Far East Command Centre. It’s now a museum and tourist attraction.
In the old days, we don’t see all that many people around. Now, we even have locals taking a walk, so the place isn’t just filled with tourists. In fact, with so many other attractions to see in Singapore, Fort Canning is probably one of the places lesser frequented by tourists.
There aren’t anymore schools at in the immediate vicinity of Fort Canning these days. Back then, there weren’t just one, but two schools. Then, there’s also the pretty big convent a little further away.
In modern day, many Singaporean couples might at least come to Fort Canning one time. That’s because the Registry of Marriages is located at the foot of Fort Canning. That’s where they need to go to get their marriage registered, and perhaps also the venue where they solemnise their marriage.
Fort Canning Hill, of course, has a lot more significance in the history of Singapore. For the old kids like me, it was our backyard. Though I’ve been to the foot of Fort Canning Hill from time to time for various events, it’s been a really long time, perhaps even since primary school days, that I walked across the whole hill.