Friday, 13 February 2015

Changi WWII War Trail, 11/2/15

Having really enjoyed one of the Original Singapore Walking Tours on a previous visit to Singapore, I was keen to try another and this one caught my eye. Organised and run by the Changi War Museum, for SGD 55  it promised an overview of Singapore's experience of WW2 including a visit to the museum and other places of note. And boy did it deliver.

Even the MRT ride out to the meeting point of Pasir Ris was interesting for me as after 9 visits to Singapore the furthest away from the city I have managed to venture has been the bizarre Sentosa Island, and the Botanic Gardens. This overground MRT ride gave me a glimpse of residential Singapore, and also the huge new stadium and vast expo.

On arrival I was met by our friendly and knowledgable guide, Sharuh, from the museum and we had a great chat about England, war museums, football stadiums and Coronation Street whilst waiting for the rest of the party to arrive.

The tour itself centres on the museum, but other key sites including a costal defence gun, and the beach are visited and lots of key sites pointed out with their history and significance explained such as the vast prison complex, the Japanese school and the various barracks. 

I learnt so much from this tour, I really had no idea of the scale of the impact on Singapore and its people during the war, the hardships and atrocities that took place, or the background to the conflict. Some of the stories were hard to hear, some incredibly touching, and there were many times when I was holding back the tears. But contained within all this horror there were also stories of bravery and humour in the face of adversity and the incredible resilience of the human spirit.

Sharuh was a fantastic guide, with an obvious passion for both the history and the need to respect and learn from the past whilst moving forward. As well as the main topic of the tour I also learnt lots about modern Singapore life, and would like to explore the Changi area more. Such an an absorbing and fascinating way to spend an afternoon.

At the end of the tour we were presented with a wonderful 40 page booklet to keep all about the conflict and the various significant sites in Singapore. 

This really was an incredible experience and such good value with a wonderful guide, I am so glad I took some time out to attend it and if you are in Singapore, as a visitor or a resident ( we had four young Singaporeans on our tour) I strongly recommend you check it out. 

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