The Secrets of Lao Sua

Today in Singapore, I returned to Bukit Brown, the time on a trek through Lao Sua which is a much more over grown and wild part of greater Bukit Brown. We pause at the grave of the first person to be officially buried at Bukit Brown (who also  luckily missed the exhumations for the highway) and head into the jungle. Again it is amazing to see how fast nature takes over once a place is abandoned. 

One of the most magnificient tombs we cane accross were that of Chua Soon Leong and his wife Tan Hiang Guat Neo. Not a lot seems to be know about them except that he was part of the family benefit society. Their tombs however are spectacular. The wives is adorned with various colourful tiles. The husbands on the other hand has various carvings which represent stories in Chinese mythology such as eight immortals and the Journey to the West. It also has the General and the Scholar as guardians rather than the more commonly found Jade girl and golden boy.

We also stopped at Chua Kim Teng’s tomb – he is the maternal grandfather of LKY. His tomb is surrounded by hibiscus trees which were in full bloom making the area feel like a garden. 

There were a lot more interesting artifacts which help with identifying the age of the tombs. One such thing are the bricks which evolve from being hand made and uneven to mass produced ones bearing the stamps of the manufacturer. 

Several animals are found on the tombs.  The common ones are lions and tigers (including a cute bucktoothed one on the earth deity of Tan Hiang Guat Neo. There are also the occasional eagles and carvings of rats, fish, and crustaceans. An unusual one were the elephants we found by a tomb near the PIE. Wonder why they choose and elephant to guard their afterlife…

Tiles were ever present in the tombs. Again they were helpful in giving a clue as to the age of the tombs – such as the mosaic tiles reminiscent of the 60s and 70s. We also found tiles from all over the world including Belgium, Japan and these pretty ones from Delft (Netherlands).

The Bukit Brown survey marker also stands on this part of the cemetery and old maps would have pointed to this region as Bukit Brown which is a bit further than where we know it to be now. 

These were just some of the surprises today’s walk had in store for us. Yet again I am left with an overwhelming desire to return and find out what other secrets this place is hiding. 

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