In modern day Singapore, most people are accustomed to living in concrete cement blocks of public housing. But if you’re living in Holland Close near Commonwealth MRT, you will look out of your window and see rows of neat concrete… gravestones. Yes it’s true, right in the middle of a crowded urban public housing estate lies a rather unusual graveyard, a stone’s throw from the neighbouring blocks of flats.
This urban cemetery is a rather jarring sight in modern day Singapore, seeing rows of neatly laid out tombstones in a grid in this little plot of land seemingly out of nowhere. Cemeteries are a fairly uncommon sight in Singapore these days – with such a small land area, priority is given to housing the living, and most cemeteries are confined to the outskirts of Singapore, in places like Choa Chu Kang, Mandai and Jalan Bahar.
I posted up this picture on my instagram (follow me @jac_theocctrav) a little while back after sorting through some old snaps and realized that I never got around to talking about it here, though I consider this place one of the weirdest places that I’ve encountered in my hometown. I’ve lived in Singapore all my life but had never heard of this place, ever – I first encountered Shuang Long Shan (which translates into the rather auspicious sounding Double Dragon Hill) back in 2012 in conjunction with my work on the Singapore Arts Festival 2012, where one of the programmes called the Lan Fang Chronicles was staged right on the grounds. Besides the graveyard, there is a small temple-like ancestral hall with a columbarium and tablets for prayer as well as a two storey hall where meetings take place.
(As an art piece, the Lan Fang Chronicles was a very intriguing idea. The piece itself was a surreal mix of drama and exhibition and blurred the lines between fact and fiction quite convincingly. But honestly, a bit too bizarre for simple ol’ me. Alvinology loved it though, and he can tell you more about the actual staged piece.)
Oddly, though Shuang Long Shan is its official name, I’ve always remembered it as the Ying Fo Fui Kun, which is actually the name of the Hakka Clan and Association who runs the place and has a main office in Telok Ayer. There is a caretaker at Shuang Long Shan who minds the place, but other than that there usually aren’t many people until Qing Ming where people come to pay respects to their ancestors.
This is definitely not much of a tourist hotspot, but it’s one of the places that made me realize that there’s so much I don’t know about my own country, so there’s lots of ways to indulge my travel love, even at home! Shuang Long Shan is an intriguing place to check out for those interested in Singapore’s heritage and history, or anyone who just wants to see another side of Singapore.
Here’s a Google Map if you’re trying to get there – the closest MRT station is Commonwealth on the green East-West line – come out of Exit B and walk against traffic – turn right into Commonwealth Drive, and take the first left into Commonwealth Lane and go all the way down. You’ll pass by the GMTI building and a car mall, before spotting the entrance to Shuang Long Shan at the end of the road. There’s a small carpark on premises, and a back gate at Blk 7A Holland Close for more parking.
Buses that stop there include 32, 100, 105, 111, 145, 147, 195, 196, 198, 970.