This is a backdated post of our Chinatown Trail in August – how we spent National Day 2017 before returning home to watch the evening’s National Day Parade.
Before embarking the heritage trail, you might find it useful to download the Chinatown Trail Booklet or Map from National Heritage Board. There’s a mobile application to download as well.
The Chinatown Trail Booklet includes the map and nuggets of information about each historical site. The estimated trail distance is 2.5km. Doable when bringing young children. Letting the kids scoot certainly help!
We took a train to Outram Park. Starting from Bukit Pasoh Road, we walked through Kreta Ayer, settled lunch at Maxwell Food Centre before finishing our trail at Tanjong Pagar.
The children got to see the different architectural style of Chinatown’s shophouses; how these styles vary because of changing economy and socio-political circumstances. A wonderful chance to sing 童谣 (“Tong Yao”) while walking along the five-foot way!
The history of these pre-war buildings come alive as we learn how they were used during World War II. For instance, the Chin Kang Huay Kuan was used by the Overseas Chinese General Mobilisation Council to help the British in supplying labourers and volunteers for the defence of Singapore during the war.
We discovered how early immigrants contributed to early Singapore. Like Tong Ah Eating House (above) which occupied this triangular plot for over 70 years. Started in 1939, the great-grandfather of Mr Tang Chew Fue who originated from Fuzhou, China started his coffee shop here.
The Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple was built in 1925 by Nattukkottai Chettiars, a noted money lending community from Tamil Nadu. The temple was given the name Layan Sithi as it was originally located at the old Sepoy Lines where Indian soldiers , known as Sepoys, used to be housed.
Keen to start walking? We found these things came in handy:
- Umbrellas/raincoats (not much shelter to hide from occasional showers)
- Sunblock and hats
- Snacks (all the walking can get the kids really hungry!)
- Heritage Trail Booklet
Lastly, we ended the Chinatown Heritage Trail at URA Centre. It was a treat for the children as they found pianos to play! As part of the Play It Forward movement, pianos are placed in open spaces in various parts of Singapore for anyone to tickle the ivories. Sweet!