Sail Back In Time To Explore Singapore's Lesser-Known Islands And Lighthouses - Raffles Lighthouse 造访新家坡剩少最古美 “莱佛士” 灯塔
It was a sail back in time to explore Singapore's lesser-known islands and lighthouses to better understand the country's trading past. I went for an exclusive sea tour and visit to Raffles Lighthouse last weekend organised by the National Heritage Board in collaboration with the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) as part of this year's HeritageFest programme. Since young, i have a fondness for lighthouses. Surely I wouldn't give up this opportunity to visit the Raffles Lighthouse. One day perhaps, I would want to make an educational trip to Pedra Branca to visit the Horsburgh Lighthouse built on fabled 'pristine white rocks' out at sea.
Lighthouses hold a special place in every country. Before the jet age, these coastal beacons were the most important landmarks for anyone who traveled by ship. Often sited in spectacular locations, they perform a vital role in the safety of mariners in all weathers. Sailing is no longer a necessity for international travel, but lighthouses still have a role to play in modern times. Today's lighthouses are automated, so lighthouse keepers - the air traffic controllers of their day - are slowly disappearing.
In Malay, the name 'Pulau Satumu' actually means 'One Tree Island' that lies about an hour of boat ride from Pasir Panjang Ferry Terminal. Built on this small island is the historical landmark structure made of granite, the Raffles Lighthouse, which was named after the founder of modern Singapore Sir Stamford Raffles. Operating since 1855 and still operating today, the lighthouse serves to warn ships as they sail close to shore or shallow waters.
Due to the presence of a lighthouse, access to the island is restricted. A permit from the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) is required to land or dive at the island.
Plenty of ships anchored out at sea.
On the way to Raffles Lighthouse, travellers got the chance to sail by the picturesque Sultan Shoal Lighthouse. Enroute to the lighthouse, travellers will also get the chance to see various port, terminal and offshore operations, and catch a sight of the Southern Islands along the way.
The Sultan Shoal Lighthouse was built in 1895, and is located on the island of Selat Jurong, in the Western Anchorage of Singapore. The tower is painted white and the roof of the keeper's house is painted red. It has a mix of Oriental and Victorian design, oddly resembling a two-storey bungalow growing out of the sea.
The Sultan Shoal Lighthouse was one of the key beacons that guided ships approaching Singapore from the West at a time when pirate attacks were rife. There were two loaded rifles with fixed bayonets as well as three swords in the keeper's office for resisting pirate attacks in its early days. The tower was rebuilt in 1931 to accommodate the installation of more modern lighting equipment.
Finally arrived at Raffles Lighthouse.
每年有超过 13 万艘船航经，
可照耀 20 海里外的地方。
The Raffles Lighthouse was named after, and dedicated to the memory of, Sir Stamford Raffles, who founded Singapore in 1819. It is located on Pulau Satumu, formerly known as Coney Island, and is the southernmost islet of Singapore.
The Raffles Lighthouse has been guiding ships safely to shore for more than 150 years, but it has been out of bounds for the public during most of its long history. This year, however, many will get the rare chance to visit it - it is one of the stops on the Singapore HeritageFest's first lighthouse tour.
When I finally set foot on the island, the turquoise water, coupled with idyllic coconut trees dotting the coastline, made it seem as if I was on some resort getaway island!
I learnt that there are two lighthouse keepers on duty at any given time, with each keeping an alternating 12-hour shift for 10 days. They then return to the mainland for 10 off days, and the whole cycle repeats again.
The lighthouse keeper who was on duty that day and has been working for more than 20 years in his lighthouse keeper job; told me of his lifestyle on the quiet island. About his 10 day shifts, what he would do in his free time and even unexpected events (Eg. bad storms, snakes etc). Further explained the intricate details of the lighthouse, which i found was immaculately kept clean and tidy. It's very little wonder, as the lighthouse keepers do treat the place as their beloved second home.
I had to climb a long flight of stairs, all 107 steps in order to reach the top of the lighthouse.
The astounding view more than made up for the breathlessness!
Who could have thought that one could find such a paradise in Singapore? I honestly don't mind spending a night in a lighthouse to discover genuine peace of mind.
The incredible panoramic view that surrounded the tiny island.
Lighthouses fascinate because of the historic (and sometimes fictional) stories that surround them and their gorgeous yet lonely settings. A lighthouse is indeed a landmark, a place of innovation and science, to display an electric light anywhere at sea.
Today you can still enjoy views of the channel to the coast by climbing all the way to the top. See what it was like to work here and what a lighthouse keeper did while on duty. Wave to ships in the channel and watch the Victorian clockwork mechanism that made the lighthouse flash. Look across the horizon as these brilliant beacons light our way and imagination.
A freelance Singapore-based travel photographer / photojournalist. I seek the extraordinary, but finds beauty in the everyday. Life is interesting, capture it.
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