Visiting Tourist may find our country slightly on the weird side, how we all look so different yet speak so very much alike. And i guess that’s one of the many beautiful things that make Singapore Singapore, the fact that we may all come from different background, race and religion, but we all come together under one roof and call ourselves Singaporean.
To honor the forefathers of one such race, the Chinese, the Singapore Tourism Board recently revamped the Chinatown Heritage Centre that is right smack in the heart of Chinatown, just a min walk away from Chinatown MRT station. As per it’s name, The Chinatown Heritage Centre brings to you the heritage and history of the lives of our Chinese forefathers and the lives they live when they first came to Singapore.
Our Singapore Travel Blog recently had the opportunity to visit the Chinatown Heritage Centre and it was an eye opener. We spent over 2 hours at the place and we learnt more about our ancestors than we ever did through years of school.
The cool thing about the Chinatown Heritage Centre is that instead of just laying out everything in words, they literally transport you back to 1950s where people experienced shophouse living. The tour is complete with decorations, furniture and everything from the life during that era. They paid special attention to every single detail from the finishing of the flooring to even the smells based on the theme of the cubicle homes.
The tour, named “Living Eight By Eight” is a tour depiciting the housing shortage in the 1950s. During that era, landlords who were fortunate to own properties would partition their shophouses into small cubicles that measured eight by eight feet, to house as many tenants as possible to make the best out of their property. Amongst some of the rooms are stories of real people who used to live in that street.
From the stories shared with us on the tour, one cubicle would hold as many as a family of eight; a group of laborers, apprentices or Samsui women. The entire tour was a comprehensive experience on the culture, the living and working conditions in the past, and how people from various backgrounds were able to come together and live under one roof.
Moving up the floors, you’ll see different lifestyles that people lived in the past, the good and the bad. You’ll learn about the history of the streets of chinatown, and how far we’ve come and grown, to where we are today.
It is a 3 storey shophouse exhibit with a story to tell in every cubicle. To aid you in these stories, visitors can either pay an extra $5 (available only at certain times of the day) for a guided tour, or use one of the free portable device that works much like an iphone, and play the specific story depending on where you are at.
While we have to admit that paying $15~$20 for entrance is slightly on the pricey side, it was a good learning experience to know what it was like living in those times. The good news is that for local pioneers aged above 60, admission is totally FREE till 31st July 2016!
So bring along your pioneers for them to reminisce the good old days and spark some memories or head there with your kids for them to understand how lucky we truly are in Singapore today! When you do get hungry, you can even visit Curry Times by Old Chang Kee that is located right beside for some authentic local food!