The Ghoulish Trail (3rd Stop)

Fort canning Park
Kampong Java Park
Bukit Brown Cemetery (Kopi Hill)
Mt Pleasant Cemetery
Devil’s Bend
Old Changi Hospital


George Henry Brown arrived from Calcutta via Penang about 1840.  He bought the area and called it Mount Pleasant.  Brown was a ship owner in Singapore trading to China and Japan.  He was a strong supporter of the Presbyterian Church where he played the organ which he had bought from the old London Mission Chapel at the junction of North Bridge and Bras Basah roads.

The organ later went to the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd.  The land was bought by Ong Kew Ho and the Hokkien Huay Kuan who gave it to the She Ong Kongsi.  After much resistance from the kongsi, the government acquired the land in 1919 and opened it as a public burial ground which was managed by a committee led by Tan Kheam Hock and See Tiong Wah, compradore of the Hongkong Bank, on 1 Jan 1922.  Another commonly known name especially for taxi drivers is Kheam Hock Road Cemetery because it is situated along Kheam Hock Road.

The 213 acre Bukit Brown Cemetery was known among the Chinese as “kopi sua” or coffee hill.  The cemetery contained some very ornate graves, complete with “jagas” in Sikh dress to guard them.  In the 1970s the government began to clear the cemetery for redevelopment.  The clearing process has been stagnated recently.  Yet it remains as one of the oldest cemetery in Singapore.  You can see very old trees and unique plantation all over the hill.

Strange solitary sight

This muddy mound stands away from the other tombs on Kheam Hock Road’s Kopi Hill.  It has flower offerings and a flag covering it.  On the flag there is a Chinese verse saying “Seek Ye The One True God To Be Saved”.  Despite the odd grammar, it roughly means “Seek ways to be saved by some kind of god” in proper English.  Obviously its meaning associates with certain religious doctrines, and it surely has its purpose to be there.  A big joss stick urn is placed under the flag pole that makes it more like an altar than a grave.

As shown in the picture, the muddy mound is quite well maintained as the grass was trimmed in a circle around it.  And the patch of lawn near the mound was properly mowed too.  Perhaps that is the only place where you see has been tidied up, while the rest of the hill is left abandoned like a wild jungle.  That shows some people are making use of it and therefore well keeping it.

Boutique tombstones

Throughout the whole cemetery, you will see tombs scattering around the hill.  The tombstones are in grayish sometimes orange in color.  They are in lime-stones and some have slightly more content in sulfur.  Most of them are ornate in structure.  Ancient deities and gods images acting as “guardians” graced the tombs especially the Chinese ones.  For example, as in the first top photo, some wordings were engraved on each side of the pillars that says in Chinese “The vital soul travels to the west sky”, and “The jade body buried in the southern land”.  The Chinese believe that west sky symbolizes heaven, and a land situated in the south direction is of good feng shui that brings good luck.  Many tombstones of similar style can be found everywhere, but may come in slightly different shape or wordings.  The second top photo shows a tomb of the same kind but in dual mode, possibly for a couple.

In the first two photos on the second row, you will see tombs that are smaller and very old, covered by overgrown grasses.  Some tombs even got the front tablets pushed down by the weed plants.  And sadly speaking, nobody bothers to do any repair work for it.  They are among the majority of them receiving very little maintenance.  In contrast, the tombs that are shown on the last two photos stand brilliantly in good shape.  They look grand, clean and each one individually occupies quite a large area of land.  Their locations are of course prominent and near the main track, that usually have a good facing overlooking the valley on the down slope.  They are probably for the rich people, just like some live in luxury mansions, some in condominium and some in HDB flats while they were alive.  Realistic world, isn’t it?

Treasure land of Feng Shui

Regardless of shape, grade or color, all the tombs share one good thing: they all situated on the treasure land of good Feng Shui in Kopi Hill.  The 213 acre of land is of a large dome shape with a slight steep hill in the center and a long narrow water creek surrounding the whole land.  Such is a very good topographical feature in Feng Shui which helps collecting the universal spiritual breath (Ch’i).  The form of hill and the direction of watercourses, being the outcome of the molding influences of wind and water, are just right well balanced in Kopi Hill.  However, at the concentric center of the hill, trees have grown over many decades into a dense forest blocking the “Yang” part of the cosmic breath (sunlight).  The “Yin” energy gets exceptionally strong that cultivates many negatively charged entities.  In a material form, it manifests many insects (mosquitoes, spiders, ants) and very heavy mists.  Yes, there are sightings of mysterious smoke or mist that suddenly come and disappear in both daytime and nighttime.  And when the heavy Yin energy comes into spiritual forms, they Are Beyond Our Imagination…

Whether we believe in Feng Shui or not, it is true that those dead resting in Kopi Hill are the pioneer generation of Singaporeans who contributed building our nation.  Their siblings are blessed and live in good standard of living in today’s modern Singapore.

For the living or the dead?

We have some insider news that this treasure land will be converted into a prestige residential estate soon in the future.  The government is planning to exhume the tombs, probably after Bididari.  As for now, just outside the cemetery boundary there have already existed a number of bungalows and semi-D sitting just a few meters away from tombs (see the second photo).  Singapore’s land is a scarce resource.  Kopi Hill is truly a Feng Shui land that even the living wants to take it over from the dead!

To keep the souls and spirits in control, an Earthly God (Tao De Kung Kung) is placed right at the entrance.  Fruits and incenses are offered to him as a continuous supply.  However, a big rubbish bin is placed right in front of it that may have defected its power (see the first photo).

If we were asked about how haunted is Kopi Hill, we would like to answer by taking you there and let you see it yourself.  At night, it is pitch dark, no street lights, and the visibility depends much on the amount of moon light available on that night.  Even aided with strong torches, you won’t be able to see far because of the thick mist and fog that disperse the light.  Looking around, other than visions of plants and tombstones, you will “feel” that there is always something staring at you!  Most of our Ghoulish Trail guests said so.  In the 70’s Kopi Hill used to be a hidden place as well as a gathering arena for the gangsters of secret society.  These people who known to be the dare-devils whose business is to fight violently and brutally, even got mysteriously deterred from staying there later on.  Rumors said that they have encountered “something” more scary and more fierce than them!  Occasionally, police would patrol around the cemetery after midnight to safe guard the rich residents nearby.  They would have at least come in a troop of six with firearms!  Just imagine what kind of “enemy” they are anticipating when compared to airport patrols in a small group of 2 or 3 guarding against deadly terrorists.  Hope this little information would have given you hints about how haunted is Kopi Hill…