Wednesday, February 05, 2014

German Girl Shrine ( Ubin Island )

Entrance of German Girl Shrine
Ubin is a great place for nature lovers, but beyond that, there are many heritage areas sites in Ubin that is worth paying a visit. One of this site is the German Girl Shrine.

The story of this shrine which has become folklore, began during the World War I period (1914-1918). The German girl was said to be a daughter of German coffee plantation owner who lived near the current shrine. Researchers found via reference to past land deed, and two names, Daniel Brandt and Hermann Mulingans were listed. But further investigation to find out who the parents of the German Girl were drew blank.

On that faithful day, British soldiers came in to take away the German family for internment, but the girl was able to somehow escaped. Unfortunately, tragedy struck when she slipped and fell into a quarry and died. Her body was recovered by Boyanese and covered with sand. Later on, Chinese workers retrieved her body and gave her a proper burial.  In 1974, the grave was exhumed to make way for quarry excavation works and it was relocated to its present location. According to a local Ubin resident, Chye Leng Keng (74 years of age in 2003) interviewed by a Straits Times reporter, he was an eye witness during the exhumation where he said he saw a rusty cross and a few strands of hair found.

Chye Leng Keng, Ubin local resident
(source: NewspaperSG) 
The remains were transferred to an expensive urn, bought by the quarry company, Aik Hwa and placed at the altar of the shrine. Mr Chye in the interview claimed however the current urn is not the original expensive urn as sometime ago, it was stolen and a replacement urn made. The shrine is popular with devotees seeking spiritual intervention or even "lucky numbers" for betting.

On the altar of the table you can see an assortment of items, such as soft toys, make up cosmetics, play dolls, perfume, etc. What is also interesting is a Catholic rosary cross on the altar of a Taoist shrine. To a lay person it may seem strange, but when local folklore mixes with local guardian spirits- the humble girl becomes elevated to a sort of divine being, a "Nadu -Guniang " or Datuk Miss or female version of a Na Tu Kong  (拿督公)  and now is represented by a......Barbie doll in a glass enclosed panel.

The day i visited, there was a Ubin resident (who drove there in his van) making offering prayers and lighting the joss sticks and burning gum Benjamin (kemenyan). If you visiting, do make a small donation even if you do not believe it in, but as a small token for the upkeep of this unique shrine that represents a unique history of Ubin Island.

Altar table within the shrine 

Soft toys,  make up kit adorn the altar table

Close up of the German Girl (you can also make
out the rosary cross on the altar table)


Florida Water (essentially a cologne) 

Directions on how to get there 
From the jetty, follow the blue trail that i indicated on the map below that i have highlighted should give you a good guide on how to walk or cycle there.

source: NParks (amended to include trail) 
For those not good with maps, the starting point is from the jetty archway, then turn left. You should be walking through the main town. Go pass it. You should see a quarry (Pekan Quarry) on your right. Your first decision point on where to turn should be also a signboard with a map as well as a distance indicator signage.

You should turn left to Jalan Jelutong. Keep following this road for 3 km and you will be on right path to the shrine. Some landmarks, you will be passing through 2 bridges (Sungai jelutong and Sungai puaka) that overlooks beautiful mangrove swamps before seeing the only signboard that provides the direction to the German Girl Shrine.
look for this direction sign 
Walk for another 600-700 meters and keep a look out for a yellow building on your left and that should be the shrine.It all fails, hire the van taxi. The locals know this place very well.

The German Girl Shrine 

References
Mystery girl of Ubin. (2003, March 9). The Straits Times

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