Island hoppers turn volunteer guides

Island hoppers turn volunteer guides

Fishing parrot fish out of the waters near southern Singapore's Pulau Seringat is a memory that Mr Richard Kuah deeply cherishes. But for the 43-year-old finance sector executive, the haul from those trips he made with his father was more than just the rainbow-streaked fish that ended up on the dinner table.

He also treasures the myths and legends he learnt about Singapore's offshore islands.

Last month, Mr Kuah visited Raffles Lighthouse on Pulau Satumu, Singapore's southern-most land possession, on a free Lighthouse Trail organised by the National Heritage Board (NHB) as part of this year's Singapore HeritageFest.

Last Saturday, Mr Kuah was one of four volunteers who joined the same tour - but this time as a guide.

During the trip of nearly seven hours, participants got to see the former Fullerton Lighthouse from a bus, sail past Sultan Shoal lighthouse near Jurong Island and explore Raffles Lighthouse.

Mr Kuah, who is married with an eight-year-old son, said he wanted to share Singapore's rich maritime heritage with other Singaporeans.

This year's Singapore HeritageFest, held from July 18 to 27, focused for the first time on Singapore's island heritage.

The island-hopping tours were the most popular of the over 60 offerings this year.

Registrations had to be closed for a while as the website could not handle the response. NHB later added 2,700 places for the tours, from the initial 300. Registration for all the island tours has closed.

Festival director Angelita Teo said the response was encouraging "as it shows our offerings resonate with Singaporeans".

Mr Shawn Yon, 32, a medical social worker who also volunteered as a guide, said: "It is a rare opportunity to be at Raffles Lighthouse as it is usually restricted.

"I got to understand and appreciate it better, and even saw a baby shark at the jetty there - twice!"

This article was first published on Aug 20, 2014.
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