Saturday, July 12, 2008

Today In Seletar

The Seletar Nature Walk tour group with Keng Seng extreme right

Today's walk in nature took place at Seletar East Camp.

It was my army camp for the most part of my army life of two years as a medic, more than 2 decades ago... it was that long ago.

Being an army camp to so many divisions, it was a tightly secured camp then, with the Main Gate serving as the first security screening for only authorized army personnel.

For some years already, unknown to my knowledge, the place is no longer an army camp, but in its place a recreational place for golfers and nature lovers.

The familiar Seletar Army Camp main gate

When an email I received from Wild Happenings In Singapore I subscribed offered free nature walk tour in Seletar Camp, I jumped to the opportunity to see that place again.

Unknown to me, though precarious to see that the guardhouse was unmanned and closed but with the red over-sized warning signs still so prominent, I still thought the place was reserved for military use.

Wifey, Sonny and I waited outside the camp's main gate for the tour guide Mr. Keng Seng to meet us and the rest of the group this afternoon.

The Seletar Map without the military divisions camps

When everyone finally arrived, only then I got confirmation the camp is now open to camp as it is no longer a military base... the dilapidation condition of the guardhouse should have been a dead giveaway.

The free tours were given to the public to show the rustic nature of the area. The numerous mature trees and varied plants and shrubs there were the focus of the tour, since most of the species are no longer common-sight around urban Singapore.

Stepping into the camp brought back many memories of my army days. Flashes of young faces of my camp buddies appeared in my mind's eye, as we walked further inward the camp.

Almost in Britain until the coconut trees gave it away

Strangely, throughout my stint there, I had never been to the small roads with the colonial houses that the tour took us. It was in fact a totally new experience for me from the familiar sights when we stayed on the main road.

Keng Seng impressed us with his knowledge of the tree and plant names. Knowingly, he has a business doing landscaping. Growing up in a then village in Lorong Tai Sing, a stone's throw away from my former village of Lorong Ternak, inspired him to be what he is today.

Still a kampong boy at heart, his knowledge about the many local fruit trees growing in abundance there and their natural uses and cures, almost mistaken him for a herbalist.

Majestic Rain Trees amongst the colonial then military homes

The many scientific and Greek derived names of the flora there was definitely too much information to handle... the name of the previous plant got lost after the next was told. I am well known to be bad with names.

Though Chinese, he is still fluent in spoken Malay since he had been growing-up and mixing with the Malays from the nearby village. He knows a lot about the traditions and food the Malay people then used from the trees found in the village and the jungles then.

It is quite unfortunate that the rustic place like Seletar is going to be gone when the bulldozer come to clear off the treasure it holds. In replacement is a redevelopment into an Aeronautics Hub to serve the expanding industry, this part of Asia.

Sonny on the tree deck in Keng Seng's garden

There were just so many beautiful trees and plants... both native and those that were brought in centuries ago. I took so many photos of flowers and fruits that I have no way to show all of them in my blog, even with so many posts.

I still have so many other photos of blooms from my many bike rides and nature explorations that I have no opportunity to post.

So I have decided to create another blog to especially showcase the beautiful flora and fauna this island holds openly around the common paths and secretly in tucked-away pockets of nature.

I will try to include details of the whereabouts of my finds for reference. It may be here today, and wiped out in the next due to redevelopment or whatever.

A Military Open Mobilization field now a golfers' driving range

It will be more of a photo-blog of nature than it is a about photography... both of which I know very little... well, nothing about.

Since I am bad with names, the photos will be without its proper names, but hopefully I will find them myself in the months ahead and fortunate enough from the readers who happen to chance upon my blog.

So today, we were at Seletar Camp admiring its beauty and enjoying the laid-back environment unlike anywhere in our daily urban jungle homes and workplaces... for tomorrow, it will become a restricted area again, this time for the high-fliers.

Cool colonial homes shaded under majestic Rain Trees

Saga Seeds used by kampong children for playing Congkak

The unique Buah Sampan or Boat Fruit husk

Buah Rambutan or Jungle-Haired Fruits

The Buah Cempedak or Fragrant Jack Fruits


  1. Wow- you must be OLD! Ha ha; just kidding!
    It's neat to re-visit places after a long time has passed and get a new perspective on them, isn't it?
    We saw jack fruit when we in the Philippines- is it true that it is used for the flavoring in Juicy Fruit gum, or were the locals just teasing us? Either way, it was a most unusual fruit to my American palette. I enjoy new experiences, as you know!

  2. I'd forgotten about that place. It was where we held meetings in the 1960s & early 1970s. I was always struck by the serenity of the 'little oasis' amid so much activity. Maybe we were just there at quieter times. Still beautiful!!

  3. what a beautiful place! I'd love to play golf there. :)
    thank you so much for your comment on my post - he died as a surprise - it's been a long day. it's so nice to have a friend like you.

  4. Hi Imran... bila tengok kehijauan Singapura masih ada, Abg Bear hargai usaha yg diorang buat untuk mengekalkan ini semua... tak semua sejarah dapat dikekalkan demi untuk pembangunan. Abang rasional tentang itu tapi sementara ada kita nikmatinya lah...

  5. Hello All,

    Thank you for stopping by.

    LizP | Jack fruit is quite tame as compared to Durian. Not many westerners can stand just the smell, but what a delicacy it is here!

    The king of fruits is what Durian is regarded by the people in the region. An acquired taste.

    MikeS | It sure was a nice place then and still is when I was there. Sadly, most of it are going in the name of national economic development.

    I only hope they plant these native trees more island-wide to be seen more and accessible to the locals here... keeping roots here, you know?

    Andrew | I'd love to play golf there too. Just after I know how. Never held a golf club in my entire life before.

    You actually witnessed him passing. That was a brave thing to do, so selfless, so fortunate of your relative to have you by his side.

    He did not have to be afraid to leave. He was not alone. Awesome heart you have, Bro.

    BeruangMadu | Betul sangat pendapat BM. Apa yang dapat diselamatkan tentu bolih diselamatkan. Apa yang tidak, hanya dapat kenangan manis saja. Kucup jugalah.

    Thank you again for coming. Have a good week ahead.

  6. Wow! many places to go and see and enjoy..if I was around there I'd be tagging along behind you all, so to see all the beautiful sights, smells and sounds..of course I'd hide conspiciously from afar..:o)

    Where did the music go? I liked it. It was a great idea.




Hello Everyone,

Thank you for stopping by and leaving me your messages. I will also try to answer any questions you may have for me.

Thanks again and have a good day.

Muhd Imran
PAL Blogger