Sunday, April 26, 2015

Raffles Lighthouse (Singapore Maritime Week 2015) Part II

After an eventful 1 hour journey from Marina South Pier, we finally reached Raffles Lighthouse. As shared in my earlier blog post, Raffles Lighthouse (Singapore Maritime Week 2015) Part I, this trip was made possible in conjunction with the 10th Singapore Maritime Week. As shared previously, Raffles Lighthouse is usually out of bounds to the general public except during this week.

Built in 1854, the naming of the lighthouse was dedicated to the memory of the founder of Singapore, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. The foundation stone itself was laid in May 24, 1854 (in conjunction with the anniversary of Queen Victoria's birthday), by Colonel William J. Butterworth, C.B., Governor of the Straits Settlements and it began operations in 1855. In short, Raffles Lighthouse is now 160 years old ! It is not the oldest lighthouse in Singapore though. Honor of that goes to the Horsbourgh Lighthouse. There are a total of 5 lighthouses (4 of them offshore) that are in used today. They are: Horsbourgh Lighthouse (1851), Raffles Lighthouse (1855), Pulau Pisang (1886) , Sultan Shoal (1895) and Bedok (1978).  There was also the Fullerton Lighthouse which ceased its operation in November 1979 having been in operation for 19 years. It was replaced by the Bedok Lighthouse which stands on top the 25th storey Lagoon View block.

Raffles Lighthouse (from the jetty) 
Diagram Plan of the Raffles Lighthouse
The survey diagrams gives insight of how the lighthouse was erected on Pulau Satumu or known by the Colonial British as Coney. Its only source of water was rain water amounting to 5,527 gallons stored in a water tank.

Up the Raffles Lighthouse 

Let me go straight to the view from the lighthouse first ! It was amazing and the gentle breeze took away all tiredness i felt of waking up early on a Saturday morning for this trip.
Overlooking Pulau Senang and exposed reefs 

Crystal clear waters and coconut trees 

The lovely view of the sea

View of the Jetty and the boat that brought us here
Getting up to the top of the lighthouse is via a spiral staircase made up of 90 granite steps and 16 metal steps for a total of 106 steps. (at least that's what the guide told us !) The lighthouse beams utilised LED lights now and are much smaller and less bulky as compared to the old days.
Spiral Granite steps  

Spiral staircase and the old petrol tanks that were once used

The lights and the top of the lighthouse 

Cast iron spiral staircase at the top 

Rich Marine life 

My story has not ended yet as when i was walking at jetty, it was low tide. Visible at the corals, sea anemone and marine life.
Sea cucumber 


The organisers of the event prepared for us light refreshments and bottled water that ensured that we did not go hungry or thirsty. Thank you ! I am impressed by their efforts to increase awareness of the importance of Singapore as a maritime center although this event is only held for only a short period once a year. Look out for their next public tours for a visit to Pulau Satumu and the Raffles Lighthouse. Who knows, one day we can visit the other lighthouses as well, especially Sultan Shoal.

Last look at the Raffles Lighthouse 

Satumu Buoy 


Untitled. (1854, May 23). The Straits Times
Untitled. (1855, July 3). The Straits Times
New light at Raffles Lighthouse. (1906, October 10). The Straits Times
Advertisement.  (1948, August 15). The Straits Times
Raffles Lighthouse. (website). Infopedia

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Raffles Lighthouse (Singapore Maritime Week 2015) Part I

In conjunction with the 10th Singapore Maritime Week, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore organised a slew of activities that  reminds us of Singapore's role as major international maritime centre.  The one that i signed up for was a visit to the Raffles Lighthouse which is usually out of bounds to the general public except during this week. For 2 weeks (Thursday to Saturday and 2 session per day), special tours are conducted by the friendly staff of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore that will bring the lucky few who managed to sign up, to the Raffles Lighthouse for free. The waiting or gathering point is the Marina South Pier, now easily accessible via Marina South Pier MRT station. I signed up for the 8 am tour and soon after registration and safety briefing, we were on on our way via a charted boat.  The journey from the Marina South Pier is 1 hour and along the way our guide shared with us the interesting sites we see along the way.

Morning view from Marina South Pier

The berthing and disembarking jetty

Safety briefing by 2 of the guides
We left at 8:50 am and soon, the ever changing Singapore skyline is behind us and soon we are making our way to the Southern most Island in Singapore. During the briefing, we were told several things not to do when reaching or while on the Island. The most important one was not to take pictures of the other two towers that are located in the Raffles Lighthouse grounds. The two towers belong to the Republic of Singapore's Navy.  On a less serious note of things not to do was to take home the island's coconuts, swim there and walk among the corals !

Tanjong Pagar Docks and the Singapore Skyline from sea
The pictures below will give you an idea of where we started from and the location of Raffles Lighthouse. Our journey there took us pass Sentosa Cove and because it was low tide today, the Terumbu Buran, a submerged reef was visible from our boat. Because of the shallowness of the Buran Channel, this area the currents are more choppier causing the boat to rock more noticeably, but after clearing this channel, it becomes calmer.  
Location of Marina South Pier and Raffles Lighthouse pointed out 

Sentosa Cove and Terumbu Buran in front of it

Soon, the Sisters' Islands ( now a Marine Park ) come into sight and ahead are large ships, many carrying crude oil for berthing in Pulau Bukom. Some of the ships can be seen berthing on the many jetty of Pulau Bukom which pipes in the crude oil directly from the ship to the many white bunkers visible on the island.

However we were told that for large super tankers, this is not feasible. That's where this super large yellow buoy visible even before we approached Pulau Bukom was built by Shell for. Larger ships will deliver crude oil via this super buoy that has underground pipes that deliver oil back to the island. On closer inspection of the picture of it, i notice a Brahminy Kite (eagle) perched on it

Visible from Pulau Bukom is Pulau Semakau, Singapore land fill island. Open in 1999, it became Singapore's first offshore landfill and after the landfill in Lorong Halus closed in 1999, Semakau is the only one left. Rubbish generated that are not recyclable are incinerated and its ash are brought to Semakau.

Sisters' Islands

Sister's Island Buoy 

Pulau Bukom and its recognisable white tanks or oil bunkers 

Crude oil tankers

Specialised buoy for crude oil tankers 

Semakau Ash Collection Point

Raffles Lighthouse next comes within sight and i really can't wait to get on shore to explore, hear and experience the island and hear about its history. Look out for my next article where i learn a bit more about Raffles Lighthouse > Raffles Lighthouse (Singapore Maritime Week 2015) Part II.

Raffles Lighthouse within sight


Bravely to Buran.(website) Wild Singapore
Pulau Semakau, (website) Infopedia
Semakau Landfill.(website). National Environment Agency

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Birdwatching in Tampines Eco Green (April 5, 2015) - Part II

My blog article continues off from where i left off , [Birdwatching in Tampines Eco Green (April 5, 2015) - Part II] with pictures of birds i saw in this consolidated blog article, from Easter Sunday on April 5 and  March 29.
Common Kingfisher in Tampines Eco Green
Common Kingfisher 

Common Kingfisher in Tampines Eco Green
Common Kingfisher with its catch, a small fish !

Purple Heron in Tampines Eco Green
Purple Heron 

Rufous Woodpecker in Tampines Eco Green
Rufous Woodpecker 

Baya Weaver in Tampines Eco Green
Baya Weaver and their pretty nest 

Pink neck Pigeons in Tampines Eco Green
Pink neck Pigeons

Sooty headed Bulbul in Tampines Eco Green
Sooty Headed Bulbul 

Sooty headed Bulbul in Tampines Eco Green
Sooty Headed Bulbul
There is healthy population of Sooty Headed Bulbul in Tampines Eco. I noticed that they have either red or yellow vents. This is because of they are from different subspecies

Asian Brown Flycatcher in Tampines Eco Green
Asian Brown Flycatcher

White-breasted Waterhen in Tampines Eco Green
White-breasted Waterhen 

Baya Weaver in Tampines Eco Green
Baya Weaver

Brown-throated Sunbird in Tampines Eco Green
Brown-throated Sunbird 

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Birdwatching in Tampines Eco Green (April 5, 2015) - Part I

It was Easter Sunday on April 5 and what better day to spent it birdwatching and to try to get a shot of the strawberry finch in Tampines Echo Green after attending morning Church service. I was also at this place on March 29 and will post pictures of birds i saw in this consolidated blog article.

When i arrived, there were already rain clouds overhead and in the horizon, with it heading this direction. True enough, within the next 15 minutes, it poured. Luckily i was close by a shelter where i waited for it to pass. It must be a blessing as after the rain, i had some great sightings including my first sighting of a Blue-winged Pitta and a Slaty Breasted Rail in this lovely place.
Blue-winged Pitta in Tampines Eco Green
Blue-winged Pitta 

Blue-winged Pitta in Tampines Eco Green
Blue-winged Pitta and its lovely colors 

Blue-winged Pitta in Tampines Eco Green
Blue-winged Pitta
Slaty Breasted Rail in Tampines Eco Green
Slaty breasted Rail 

Slaty Breasted Rail in Tampines Eco Green
Slaty breasted Rail 
Yellow Bittern in Tampines Eco Green
Yellow Bittern 

Yellow Bittern in Tampines Eco Green
Yellow Bittern 
The aftermath of rain also brought an opportunity of seeing raptors perched on tall branches to dry their feathers before they fly. The one i saw drying its feathers was a Brahminy Kite and it looked very majestic !
Brahminy Kite in Tampines Eco Green
Brahminy Kite drying its feathers 
Brahminy Kite drying its feathers 
Long tailed Shrike in Tampines Eco Green
Long tailed Shrike 

Stork-billed Kingfisher in Tampines Eco Green
Stork billed Kingfisher 
Blue throated Bee eater in Tampines Eco Green
Blue-throated Bee eater 
To be continued, as i have still more bird pictures of April 5 and March 29 to post up.