Singapore's Chinatown and the Chinatown Heritage Centre
Traditional Costume Worn By Stars of Chinese Opera
A Top Tourist Attraction in Singapore
Enter the world of Chinatown, Singapore, where the senses are awakened by the colourful sights, the sounds, and the aromas that are central to the lives of Chinese Singaporeans. There is much to see and experience—the open-fronted shops selling exotic fruits, coconut water to drink from a freshly opened shell, Chinese lanterns, and traditional dress, the artists who will draw a personalised scroll in minutes, and much more. One of the astonishing and unmissable stopping-off points is the Chinatown Heritage Centre, a highly recommended museum of Chinese arts and culture in three renovated shophouses.
Images of Singapore’s ChinatownClick thumbnail to view full-size
Refreshing Coconut Water Drunk From the Shell
It's hot and humid. Pause to buy coconut water, prepared for you on the spot, and refresh yourself with the cooling drink within the shell. It's an acquired taste but don't miss the opportunity to try it. The taste of packaged coconut water can't compare. Once you have drunk the water, you may feel the urge to carry the coconut to a convenient location, break open the shell, and scoop out the healthful coconut flesh.
Coconut Water Has Many Health Benefits
But hurry past the stalls that are selling durian fruit. The flesh of this spiny fruit is prized in much of South East Asia but the smell has been compared to sewage and rotting flesh. It smells so bad that it is banned on Singapore's rail network and there may be a hefty fine for taking it on board.
One of the Many Open-Front Shops in Singapore's Chinatown
Chinatown Heritage Centre, Singapore
The Chinatown Heritage Centre is housed in three restored shophouses, where the tailor's workshop, his downstairs living quarters, and the first-floor rental accommodation have been faithfully reconstructed from the personal memories of early pioneers who made Singapore their home.
Reconstructed Shophouse in Singapore's Chinatown Heritage CentreClick thumbnail to view full-size
The tailor's downstairs living quarters were comparatively comfortable viewed in the light of the first floor tiny cubicles rented out to people who had left their homeland for Singapore with the hope of finding a better life. Sometimes a whole family ate and slept in a tiny windowless space barely large enough for one person. People lived in these crowded, unsanitary and rat-infested conditions until as late as the early 1950s.
The Reconstructed Doctor's Surgery in the Chinatown Heritage Museum
The front cubicle of the shophouse was occupied by a doctor, who had fallen on hard times. His consulting room was also the place where he, his wife and two of his children ate and slept.The cubicle is superior to the others on the floor inasmuch as it has air and natural light from a shuttered window overlooking the street. A hole in the floor, which overhung the paved area at the front of the shophouse, enabled the doctor to look down to the ground to see who was visiting him.
A third child, the eldest daughter, was boarded in the cubicle of another resident. Her father's surgery has been faithfully reconstructed from her memories.
The Doctor's Possessions
The Third Floor of the Chinatown Heritage Centre
On the third floor the journey of early Chinese pioneers who left their villages in China and made their way to Nanyang, the southern seas. They were driven by famine, floods and unrest, and came to Singapore looking to build a better life.
In 2017, 74.2% of the 5,736,494 population of Singapore are Chinese Singaporeans.
Admission Prices to the Chinatown Heritage Museum
Adults - $15 (Singapore dollars)
Child - $11 (Singapore dollars)
Guided Tours take place at 11.30, 1.30, and 4.30 on weekdays. Price $20 (adult) and $16 (child)
A Chinese Artist and Calligrapher in Singapore's ChinatownClick thumbnail to view full-size
Chinatown in the 1950s
© 2017 GlenR