Of memories and changes

Note: This post was first drafted on 6 May. (Clearly it takes a long time for me to draft a post to publish :/)

It was a very lovely day last Saturday (5 May). It thunderstorm-ed in the night, so we had very nice, clear skies in the morning (though unfortunately a little humid. But what’s new, we’re in Singapore!).

It was too beautiful a morning to waste on sleep, and I have so little time left in Singapore! Haven’t been down to Berlayer Creek since it opened last year, and so made a trip down to Labrador Nature Reserve.

Berlayer Creek boardwalk. I think the photo was more about the murky water though.

My last trip down to Labrador was, sadly, a long time ago. But that place holds fond memories. It’s kind of where I started off, all those years ago.

I still recall going down to Labrador Park in February 2007 with group mates Yap Si Hui and Yap Si Ling and our teacher-mentor Mr Lim Cheng Puay for a recce trip. And subsequently going down for monitoring sessions over the next year and a half or so. At that time, the Labrador Villa Food Centre was still around, and we would occasionally go there for drinks and prata.

Labrador Villa Food Centre. Image taken from remembersingapore.wordpress.com

There was this one very memorable field session on 19 Aug 2007 (the usefulness of blogs!) in which we attempted to do a shore profile of the beach. Even though the tide was at 0.8m, we had to go wading up to our waist.

Mr Lim and I trying to do a profile of Labrador beach. Photo taken by Ria Tan.

Siti and Ria were present for the entertainment as well (we addressed them as Ms Siti and Ms Ria at that time!), you can read an account of the event by Ria here.  Ah, fond memories of our amateur research attempts (: (Though we did get a Silver award for Oral Presentation in some Gifted Education Individualised Research Studies exhibition) But though I don’t think we did any work of actual scientific value, it was what sparked my interest and led to what I am now.

After graduation from Research Studies in Raffles Girls’ School (Sec), there was Project Work in Raffles Junior College (now named Raffles Institution). And by God’s grace one of the two themes in our year was Conservation! My group ended up working on a project applying the lessons from success of Chek Jawa to Labrador Nature Reserve (which we felt was neglected). And so commenced several trips back to Labrador Park. At that time in 2009, it was still pretty much the same as it was the previous two years.

Labrador Nature Reserve as it was in 2009. Image taken from NParks

However, ever since our Project Work ended (in which we got an A! Not that any of it was put into practice, it was all very hypothetical :/), I have not been down to Labrador Nature Reserve. So when I went down on 5 May, I had quite a shock at the rather drastic change.

Labrador Nature Reserve present map. Image taken from NParks

It’s been expanded quite a bit (well I don’t suppose the Nature Reserve itself was expanded, but the entire Labrador Park area) to include Berlayer Creek, there is now the MRT station there (which would have been very convenient had we still been doing our project there! But at the sacrifice of the Food Centre, which is very tragic.), and there were lots of people! As well as wildlife (:

A lazy Malayan Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) sunning itself on a mangrove root. There were loads of them about!

A Pink-necked Green Pigeon (Treron vernans) sitting very quietly cam-whoring, allowing me to take many shots!

A Green Crab Spider (Dieta virens) on the railing. 

I didn’t go down to the beach though, as it is now permanently closed (since 2009) for safety reasons. But from Ria’s latest TeamSeagrass monitoring at Labrador, it still seem to be doing quite well, despite the reclamation work for the nearby Pasir Panjang Container Terminal.

And then we have Bukit Brown cemetery (which I blogged about here), Bidadari cemetery and Pasir Ris woodlands, which are being lost, but which people are fighting to keep. There is so much history and heritage behind the cemeteries, wildlife and memories for them all. Yet change (in the form of development) is often quick to relegate all those to mere words and photos in a textbook/blog/website, archived in memories of those present, but not available for those of the future to experience first hand with all 5 senses.

Bukit Brown. It’s so nice to find a place in Singapore where you can’t see high rise buildings at all.

Why is it that we have the Singapore Memory Project with a Memory Portal which we invite everybody to contribute their memories (which is a very good thing, really! Valuable resource in the future (: ), but don’t preserve places that that will allow us to experience all that first hand? I guess it’s because memories are cheap and free while physical locations aren’t…

I do wish our National Education (come to think of it, I don’t recall a subject called National Education. We had Moral Education, 好公民, and Social Studies) syllabus would include more of such everyday living accounts and things that matter to the average Singaporean, instead of just our “success story from third world to first”, and other things that I don’t quite recall now. Though I do concede that the syllabus might have changed from when I still had to do NE, which was very long ago.


I just wonder that whenever I come back to Singapore during my holidays, what will have been lost and what will still remain (not just in memories)?

About Jocelyne Sze

I'm a Nature-lover, aspiring conservationist, and wannabe traveller in search of outdoor adventure.
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