After 45 years of experimenting, Mr. Han Wai Toon who came to Singapore in 1915 managed to produce highly sought-after rambutans in his 2½ acre estate in Old Thompson Road. By combining the sweet and firm Sumatran strain with the juicy Batavian strain, he successfully turned the once sour fruit into something tasty. Mr. Han also had a rambutan tree which bore bright red rambutans on one side and pale yellow ones on the other, which he used to amuse his friends. We are planning to search for this mysterious ‘Han Rambutan Orchard’ and hunt down these rambutan trees. Do you know anyone who visited this Orchard?
Reference: “The long search for better rambutans”, The Singapore Free Press, 4 March 1960
The search for Han’s Rambutan Orchard from the 1960s in Thomson Road leads us to an essay written by Lai Chee Kien, “Rambutans in the Picture: Han Wai Toon and Overseas Chinese Space in Singapore”. According to Chee Kien, this Rambutan Orchard not only produced famous sweet Rambutans by grafting various species of Rambutans together. His orchard was also called 愚趣园 (Yu Qu Yuan) which also become a place of leisure and art appreciation in 60’s for the famous art personalities at that time. His visitors and friends include the poet Yu Da Fu and the painters Xu Bei Hong & Lim Mu Hue. We are looking for this place with a map that is a painting by Lim Mu Hue! This is also Chee Kien’s second time looking for the Orchard.
We believe several of the grafted Rambutan trees still exist in this area and the landscape, which is one of a slope, seems likely that the Orchard existed here.