Note: Fort Canning Park also organises free guided tours, but it's open all year round for free for anyone who wants to visit; we simply went on a stroll on our own. National Parks Board also offers a free worksheet!
Bring: hats, sunnies and insect repellent!
Time required: about 2 hours
We set out one afternoon and headed with Fort Canning Park with a simple goal - to collect saga seeds. Ultimately we did achieve that goal, but oh, the many other things we saw at Fort Canning Park! Did you know that Raffles built his bungalow here? Neither did I.
There are a few entrance points, and we usually go by the Stamford Road/National Museum side. This time, we went via the River Valley Road entrance (opposite Clarke Quay, near the colourful old High Street Police Station or current MITA/MICA building). Note: If you're going on a saga seed hunt, we didn't see any along our walk, until the very end.
It's sometimes refreshing going by another route because we saw so many things that we didn't know existed. Like Picnic Terrace for instance. On a cool day, I'm sure this would be a lovely place for a picnic. Along the way, there was also a 9-pound canon! Apparently it was more decorative than defensive; it fired 3 times a day to announce the hour back in the day.
Our most amazing find of the day was hands down, the Fort Canning Lighthouse. That's right, a fully functional, though non operational, lighthouse! This one is a replica of the original that used to stand at Fort Canning Hill. In the 1950s, the growth of tall buildings around made it pointless to keep the lighthouse functional.
At the Maritime Corner, you can also read about the other lighthouses (yes, we have more!) around Singapore.
While it was interesting to know that there was an archeological dig and exhibition at Fort Canning Park, the display itself wasn't very exciting for a 6-year old. I suppose our 6-year old expected to see dinosaur bones and the likes. But for adults, they might be interested to know that the Archaeological Dig shows an actual archaeological excavation site, the only one in Singapore.
Spice Garden may be easily missed because to untrained eyes (like ours); the plants and spices may be mistaken as regular greenery, and there is lots of that around Fort Canning Park. But what is unmistakable is the scent - we smelt pandan, and lemongrass, but there's also nutmeg, and cloves, among others .
Just further down there is Singapore's first Christian cemetary. George Coleman, who designed the old Parliament House, as well as the Armenien Church, is buried there. Along the wall are many headstones, and the memorials of Coleman's widow, and infant son. Creepy? No. Peaceful? Yes.
I love how the roots of the trees made their way within the bricks!
We just kept walking and walking and walking and the kids were starting to get a little fidgety because there were still no saga seeds in sight. And finally, we got to Fort Canning Green, and lo and behold, little red seeds. They're right at the old graves, along the pavement leading to the road, and kind of scattered around the grass. You might have to dig just a little as not all the seeds are in plain sight, which makes it even more fun! We must have stayed there for about half an hour, just searching around.
The beautiful gothic gate. Or otherwise known as 'the entrance to the party' when there are parties at Fort Canning Green. The IHS carvings stand for Iota Heta Sigm, the first three letters of the Greek work for Jesus.
Just across the road is the National Museum of Singapore, or better known as 'pee stop' if you will. We took a little walk down toward Park Mall for dinner, and just outside, there is a dried up fountain decorated with dragons and an immense amount of saga seeds.
There's lots more to see at Fort Canning, like Fort Gate and Fort Wall, the sally port (a hidden door that leads in and out of forts), The Battle Box, but the sun was setting and we decided to call it a day. Plus, not everything is suitable for little children. But we'll be back! If you're interested to go on a colonial history walking trail, check this one out.
Till next week on Fun for Free Friday!