Nestled in the lalang grass of Pulau Ubin, a tiny island off the coast of Singapore, is a small mysterious yellow hut that houses the century-old German Girl Shrine. The hut contains an altar with eerie feminine items like nail polish, brushes and lipstick, offerings to the German girl represented by the doll encased in a box at the center of the altar.
The shrine was made to store the remains of a German girl who lived and died before WWI. Her parents had owned a plantation on the island. Before the war broke out, the British came upon the island and rounded up the plantation owner and his family. The daughter, believed to be about 18 years old, escaped the British but not death as she fell off a cliff into a quarry. Her body was found the next day by the Boyanese who had worked for her father. Out of respect, they buried her. Years later, locals took her remains and her silver crucifix and stored it in an urn they placed in the shrine.
Over time, the girl in the shrine somehow became a Taoist deity in the eyes of the people, stranger still since the girl had likely been Roman Catholic when she was alive. The shrine became known to gamblers all over the region, attracting those from the mainland and Malaysia who still make offerings of nail polish and dolls for blessings of luck and health from the German girl. In 1974, quarry company Aik Hwa gifted the shrine with a Jiangsu urn to store the girl’s remains, but tragically the urn was later stolen by vandals, along with the remains of the German girl and her silver crucifix.
Although many know that her remains are likely no longer on the island, the German girl’s worshippers and devotees still believe that her soul and powers are still active on the island whose history she had become a part of.
Know Before You Go
Near Ketam Quarry on the West side of the island. Follow the Ketam bike trail and the signs will lead you to the shrine. It is no longer in a small yellow hut, but is now in a more permanent concrete building. You are required to remove your shoes before entering.