Following on from my previous post, after leaving St John’s island the ferry service takes you to Kusu where it docks for one hour before returning to the mainland. Kusu means Tortoise in Chinese, the names comes from a legend about a turtle which turned itself into an island to save two shipwrecked sailors. Originally the island was merely two reef outcrops which were developed into a day holiday resort by the Sentosa group in 1975. They increased the size of the island from 1.2 to 8.5 hectares.
Today Kusu is an important religious sight. A number of Malay shrines and a Chinese temple are visited by devotees. The Malay shrines are positioned at the top of a small hill where 152 steps have be built to reach them. Devotees pray and burn Joss sticks for wealth, good marriage, fertility, good health and harmony.
The Chinese temple is brightly decorated with many small deity figurines represented. The main two deities are Da Bo Gong and Guan Yin. Da Bo Gong is the God of prosperity and he is thought to cure disease, calm the seas and advert danger, Guan Yin the Goddess of Mercy and the bestower of children.
The deity below looks like the God of Fortune, often seen with money bags, or with a money pot at Chinese New Year.
Inside the temple there are some turtles and just outside is a wishing well. During the 9th month of the Lunar calendar this island is visited by thousands of devotees on a Pilgrimage in the hope for good health, peace, happiness, good luck and prosperity
A second area houses turtles, no doubt connected to the name of the island but turtles are also venerated by the Chinese as a sign of longevity, power and tenacity. This second area made me laugh due to the ‘Turtle Shelter’ signs. It’s very common in Singapore for every little detail to be marked with a sign, even though the area is designated for the turtles’ use. No doubt this approach ensures visitors have any possible questions answered.
One surreal thing about this island is the view from it’s quiet sandy beach back towards the Singapore Central Business District. Again that unfamiliar sight, not seen when arriving by air.