A minute or so later, all six dogs chased and surrounded us. I have NEVER been scared of a dog in my life, and I admittedly was terrified. The dogs were different breeds and sizes (med-large and relatively stocky) but all shared the same vicious attitude. While they growled and barked incessantly, we just kept yelling at them and trying to back away. Eventually, they decided to back down and we hesitantly started back down the path. But the ringleader decided he wasn't done with us and ran right back for round two! At this point I had a huge stick in my hand and I was ready to use it. Once he realized that it was a losing situation, he finally retreated and we went on our way, bleeding and anxiety-ridden.
|"Just a flesh wound"|
So eventually we found everyone and embarked on our walk around the dog-free main path of the cemetery. Opened in 1922 and closed in the 1970's, it is named for its first owner, George Henry Brown (Bukit means "hill" in Malay). It was passed into municipal hands in 1919 to be designated as a Chinese cemetery and by 1929 accounted for nearly 40% of all registered Chinese burials within municipal limits (thanks Wikipedia).
|A paper mansion!|
Most Chinese graves are in the shape of an armchair, as it is thought to symbolize wealth, comfort and dignity. As would be expected, they come in various levels of opulence. As you can see in the pictures, some are rather plain, others have beautiful tiles and even Indian guards! (sadly, I guess they also believe their "servants" will be serving them in the Yang world as well...).
Overall, it was a really interesting experience and I would love to go back by myself and just wander around looking at the details of the graves and the pictures and wonder who all these people were. Graveyards always bring a sense of mystery and wonder to me, and this one brought that feeling to a new level.
Unfortunately, Singapore has limited space and the need to alleviate some traffic problems has prompted the government to put a huge highway through the cemetery. On the positive side, they are making the highway a "flyover" meaning it will be built above the ground, like a bridge. They made that decision in the wake of protests about disturbing the plant and animal nature of the vast land. Apparently, disturbing the graves is less important than disturbing the animals. About 4,000 graves must be exhumed and relocated. The families had a time period to schedule a private exhumation or to register for the mass exhumation.
|Graves marked for exhumation|
|Love the decorative Peranakan tiles|
|The Indian guards have cute little dogs at their feet!|
|Jason's idea of a fire brigade|
If you'd like more information, read Liisa's blog post on Bukit Brown!