Jeng Recommends: 8 Locations in Singapore if you want a taste of Heritage
Updated: Oct 21, 2019
Singapore National Museum: The National Museum gives you a great overview of Singapore as a colonial outpost, and a young nation. The use of technology to tell stories is also engaging.
The Museum currently has an exhibition on “Growing Up” in Singapore during the turbulent times of 1950-1960s when Singapore was self governed (1959) till its merger with Malaysia (1964) and then to independence (1965). The exhibition showcases how it was like being a child in a period teeming with uncertainties where there was no cultural identity to call of your own. More details for the exhibition can be found here: https://www.nationalmuseum.sg/our-exhibitions/exhibition-list/growing-up
To learn more about the importance of cultures and how it has shaped the identity of Singapore through the years, you can also check out the exhibition “Voices of Singapore” happening concurrently with “Growing Up”. For more details, click here: https://www.nationalmuseum.sg/our-exhibitions/exhibition-list/voices-of-singapore
Finally, for a thorough understanding of the various factors that have shaped Singapore into the current Crazy Rich Asia Nation that it is, you can also explore the exhibition “Singapore History Gallery” that showcases the transformation of Singapore through the installation of the various art pieces and artefacts. More details on the exhibition can be found here: https://www.nationalmuseum.sg/our-exhibitions/exhibition-list/singapore-history-gallery-2015
Location: 93 Stamford Rd, Singapore 178897
Jurong Hill: If you’re feeling adventurous, go to Jurong Hill, which is about 20min by Grab from Holland Village. The hill itself has not really been updated as a tourist attraction, but was clearly a major showpiece in the 1970s when the Government brought ALL foreign leaders here to showcase Jurong Industrial Park, the heart of Singapore’s industrialisation. You’ll see trees planted by Queen Elizabeth, Emperor Hirohito and other Heads of State in the 70s. You can spend 15min on the hill itself, then spend a few hours at the Jurong Bird Park close by.
Jurong was originally dubbed “Goh’s Folly” after its mastermind Dr. Goh Keng Swee, as many thought it would fail. To read more on the fascinating turn of events that transformed Jurong from Goh’s Folly to Goh’s Glory, do read National Heritage Board’s article on Jurong: https://www.nhb.gov.sg/~/media/nhb/files/places/trails/jurong/jurong%20heritage_24042015_preview.pdf or you can conversely read up on the prolific profile of Goh Keng Swee: https://roots.sg/Roots/learn/stories/in-memory-of-dr-goh-keng-swee/story. This solution was also provided by the then leader of the UN Industry Survey Mission, Dr. Albert Winsemius.
Location: 60 Jurong Hill, Singapore 628926
Chinatown: While Singapore’s race relations is good today, we 1960s was a decade of major racial strife, particularly the Racial Riots of 1964 and 1969. Why I like to bring visitors to Chinatown is to show how a Chinese Temple, and Hindu Temple and a Muslim Mosque can co-exist side by side in modern Singapore.
Location: 288 South Bridge Rd, Singapore 058840
The Sri Mariamman Temple is one of the first Hindu Temples built in Singapore which worships the goddess Mariamman and was constructed early 19th Century by southern Indian immigrants. It still retains its historical, social and cultural significance among the Hindu community through its daily rituals and programmes.
Location: 244 South Bridge Rd, Singapore 058793
The Thian Hock Keng Temple is one of the oldest Chinese temples in Singapore built in the early 1840s. The main deity is Mazu, the goddess of Seas but the temple also encompasses Buddhism, Taoism and ancestral worship.
Location: 158 Telok Ayer St, Singapore 068613
Masjid Jamae (218 South Bridge Road)
The Maxwell Food Centre: Apart from the various temples in Singapore, you can also take a cultural trip of Singapore through its diverse cuisines. The Maxwell Food Centre is just a stone’s throw away from the temples and it is the place to try out the myriad hawker food.
Location: 1 Kadayanallur St, Singapore 069184
Alternatively, you can sign up for food tours that give you a taste of the Singapore culture: https://monsterdaytours.rezgo.com/details/155833/asia-101-cultural-food-tour-a-mix-of-chinese-malay-indian-peranakan-heritage?_ga=2.169036129.1743053911.1570179921-863292279.1570179921
HDB Hub at Toa Payoh: HDB (Housing Development Board) provides good quality subsidized housing for over 80% of Singaporeans. This is already a great achievement. What is less well known is that racial quotas are imposed so every precinct has a good representation of all major races. When you live next to someone of a different race and see them every day, it’s difficult to demonise the “other race”. Go visit the HDB Hub, and take a walk around Toa Payoh’s, one of Singapore’s oldest Heartland Towns. https://www.lonelyplanet.com/singapore/activities/singapore-heartland-tour/a/pa-act/v-42574P26/357350
Location: 480 Lor 6 Toa Payoh, Singapore 310480
Punggol Park and/or East Coast Park: Punggol is the first Eco-Town of Singapore, where the residents are encouraged to do their part of the environment. You can rent a bicycle and have a full day outside in the open green spaces of Punggol Park, Coney Island and Punggol Settlement.
Location: Hougang Ave 10, Singapore 538768.
If Punggol is too far away, you can also consider checking out East Coast Park which stretches 15km along the coast line. The East Coast Park is the result of the Singapore government’s desire to create a coastal urban area which would be a stepping stone to the development of the modern Singapore.
Location: East Coast Park Service Rd