Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Topographical map of Princess Elizabeth Estate

I’ve always had this long fascination with topographic maps. It started way back when I was in secondary school. No, not during geography lessons but during my time spent in the National Cadet Corps. It was an exciting learning experience and we were taught how to read maps in preparation for field exercises.

For a layman, looking at a topo map the first time would be like looking at a big mess on the sheet. What to look at? What’s all those numbers and lines and cute pictures? It’s really messy right?

The beauty of a topo map is in its details. And the key to crack its secrets lay in its ’legend’. 
I was enthralled at how, with just a compass, ruler and string, you can navigate and move through terrain that you have never been to before. And yet know precisely where you are, where you should be or where you should be heading next. 
A good topo map gives you details right down to the path to trek, the type of trees you would encounter and even if you should be climbing up or going down a slope.

I remember those years in the NCC stood me so well that during my time in National Service, my mates had always wanted me in their group during topo exercises as I was noted for being able to read maps!

Here’s a map of the region around Princess Elizabeth Estate.
It is surrounded by the hills of Bukit Panjang, Bukit Gombak, Bukit Timah and Bukit Batok.
Unnamed hills are simply marked with the height of their peaks. 
You can even see the plateau that was beside the estate which I had blog about earlier (marked .170 on the map). 

Click on the map to enlarge it for a detailed view and enjoy looking out for the details. 
Can you see where you can find rubber trees, coconut trees or even lallang patches? 
It’s all marked there.

I am always amazed at how the map surveyors can manage to include details like every kampong house, temple and mosque in the right places. Anyway, with the build up today in Singapore, I guess there’s no longer a need for topo maps. And of course there’s GPS now.

     Here's the key to read and better enjoy looking at the above map.


  1. Wow, where did you get such a nice topo map?

  2. No sure if you can buy them these days, but in the "old days" you can buy these topo maps from bookshops like MPH. I have 2 or 3 from the 1970s. The real gem I think is the one that used to hang on the staircase of the old National Library Building at Stamford Road. That's on the first landing leading up the the Reference Section. Each time I go up the stairs, I will stop and look at it, to understand what was it like then. Recall that map was from the 1960s.