Inferno is the third movie to star Tom Hanks as symbology professor Robert Langdon, except that it takes a leaf from the Hangover series and gives Robert Langdon amnesia as he traipses around the Florence (in Italy) trying to figure out what happened the past few days. That’s never going to happen in Singapore, since our country would hardly have the sort of buried secrets that Florence has, right?

That would be true – if you’ve never taken Social Studies before. Singapore may be a tiny island state that’s been heavily urbanised, but there are plenty of significant places that are full of untold tales. Here’s our very own Robert Langdon-esque tour of Singapore, with five special places that might hold secret tunnels or ancient maps if you look hard enough.

1. Telok Blangah beach

Behind those blocks is where Sang Nila Utama landed. Credit: Flickr

Behind those blocks is where Sang Nila Utama landed. Credit: Flickr

It might be an industrial shipping area now, but Singapore owes its position as a global city to this location. Sang Nila Utama, the legendary founder of Singapura, first landed on Telok Blangah beach when he came to Singapore. Remember that his journey to our island was fraught with obstacles – he had to throw away his princely crown in order to quell a storm and reach Singapore.

Who knows whether that crown washed up upon Telok Blangah beach? And Telok Blangah beach is where Sang Nila Utama first set foot – it’s bound to hold great power.

There was also a Sang Nila Utama Secondary School, but it closed down in 1988. Maybe somebody got too close to discovering the secrets of Sang Nila Utama.

2. Pulau Belakang Mati

Ominous clouds over a fearsome island - this must have been how Pulau Belakang Mati looked like in the past. Credit: Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Ominous clouds over a fearsome island – this must have been the view from Pulau Belakang Mati in the past. Credit: Somewhere Over The Rainbow

The name means “Island of Death from Behind” in Malay and almost every Singaporean has been here before, because in 1972 this island was renamed to Sentosa. Yes, Sentosa’s old name was decidedly more sinister. It was called Pulau Belakang Mati since from as early as 1690, but nobody really knows why. Rumours abound, from piracy to warrior spirits to a malaria outbreak.

We’re not buying that. It’s not just an island of death, it’s an island of death, from behind. A great backstabbing conspiracy lies on that island, and we might never find out what it is, thanks to its transformation into a tourism hub.

3. The Singapore Stone

The Singapore Stone. Credit: Ancient Origins

The Singapore Stone. Credit: Ancient Origins

The Singapore Stone is a piece of an ancient sandstone slab that’s three metres long and wide. It was originally found at the mouth of the Singapore River, and had inscriptions carved all over it that nobody could read. Scholars have debated about the source of the inscriptions, but it remains clear that it was carved in a dead language. It had to be blown up to open up the Singapore River, but a fragment still remains, which is now the legendary Singapore Stone. It currently resides in the National Museum of Singapore.

For all our advancements, we can’t read that stone. Sends a chill up your spine, doesn’t it? What could have been so important that it was carved on a stone that blocked a river? Was it a warning that we didn’t heed?

4. Radin Mas

Princess Radin Mas. Credit: Esplanade

Princess Radin Mas. Credit: Esplanade

Radin Mas is a neighbourhood in Telok Blangah (where Sang Nila Utama first landed in Singapore – see, told you that it would hold great power!) that used to be Kampong Radin Mas. It is named after a Javanese princess, Puteri Radin Mas Ayu. She was the daughter of the crown prince, but when a fire killed her mother, Radin Mas was forced to flee to Singapore along with her father to avoid capture by her uncle, the sultan.

That means that Singapore actually had court intrigue on her shores! Chances are, the royalty also had their fair share of secrets, meaning that somewhere in Radin Mas there might lurk some some royal secrets (and treasure) to find!

5. Bukit Larangan

Where heroes are buried. Credit: Kisah

Where heroes are buried. Credit: Kisah

The name means “Forbidden Hill” in Malay, and just like with Pulau Belakang Mati, every Singaporean has been here before. That’s because its modern name is Fort Canning, and it’s now a place of marital bliss as the Registry of Marriages is located there. But it is also the burial place of Sang Nila Utama and the four Singapura kings that succeeded him. Remember how we said that the place where Sang Nila Utama set foot would hold great power? Well, his burial place would probably hold greater power.

In ancient times, many treasures and tomes were buried with royalty. Tombs of royalty also usually had secret passages installed for emergencies. Although the stone structures on Fort Canning have since been removed, that doesn’t mean we found all of them…

Inferno. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Inferno. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

If this isn’t enough to inspire you to do some adventuring in ancient Singapore, then watching Inferno might inspire you to start your quest! Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) finds himself in another scrape as he teams up with Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) in this film. Bereft of his memories (his symbology knowledge remains intact, don’t worry!) and lost in Italy, he needs to solve mysteries that are centuries old in order to stay alive.

If he doesn’t, he might very well find himself at the centre of an inferno in Inferno.

 

Credits: Flickr, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Ancient Origins, Esplanade, Kisah, Golden Village Cinemas