On the WWII history trail again.
This one begins when you turn into the sleepy looking Pepys Road, better known for the coffee shop at the corner serving Pork Rib Prawn Noodles and Kway Chap (a local dish of rice noodles in stewed pig’s organ soup). Follow the road up the hill to the lovely villa in the lush setting at the top.
Reflections at Bukit Chandu is a cosy commemorative museum, housed in what is referred to as a “colonial bungalow” – a black and white villa which the British built for its officers in a “mock Tudor” style during Singapore’s colonial days. During WWII the British used the bungalow to store food and defense supplies.
The last major battle for Singapore, the Battle of Bukit Chandu at Pasir Panjang, was fought close to this location in the days before the British defense forces surrendered Singapore to the Japanese in February 1942.
Although greatly outnumbered by the Japanese, soldiers from the 1st and 2nd Battalion Malay Regiment fought one of the fiercest battles against the Japanese onslaught. 27 year old Lieutenant Adnan Saidi led his battalion of men to fight on till their last breath, engaging in hand-to-hand combat in the end when they ran out of ammunition. All died in vain however.
Reflections at Bukit Chandu rightly commemorates the valiant efforts of these brave men.
The museum is on both floors of the house. There are plenty of infographic murals, dioramas of the battle, storyboards and interactive audio displays where you can listen to eye-witness accounts of the battle and the war in general.
On the 2nd floor there is a small auditorium where a brief 10 minute film about the battle is screened. The auditorium seats 25, and there appears to be no set viewing times. Just wait for the current show to end and the doors to open then go in and take a seat for the next screening.
Personally I wasn’t wowed by the show, there seemed to be little visual content with a heavy reliance on an audio commentary instead. But what the heck, it’s only 10 minutes long.
For those of you working in the area especially in the new surrounding business hubs, Reflections at Bukit Chandu might be a good lunch time stop.
For out-of-towners, you’ll want to bundle this in with some other attraction in the area. Labrador Park is about a 5-8 minute drive away. The museum is also on the trail of the Southern Ridges Walk (a 10km walk from Mount Faber to Hort Park) and this might make a welcome (air-conditioned) break from the walk.
31-K Pepys Road, S(118458)
Tuesday to Sunday: 9.00am – 5.30pm
Monday: Closed (except on Public Holidays)
Off Pasir Panjang Road on the West Coast, up on Pasir Panjang hill. It is at least a 15-20 minute walk in from the main road.
HOW MUCH TIME
The museum is not very big and you could plausibly breeze through it in a half hour if you only take a cursory read of some of the storyboards and pay scant attention to the exhibits. You really should however spend a little more time appreciating the displays and getting a deeper understanding of the war in Singapore, so plan to spend at least an hour instead.
- Bukit Chandu, which means Opium Hill in Malay, was named after the British-owned opium packing plant at the foot of the hill in the early 1900s.