Friday, June 22, 2007


Ah, the good old Chinatown, probably since the time when Sir Stamford Raffles started work in Singapura, is getting new interests. Yes, a new Buddhist Temple and Museum has sprung from where the dead or the dying used to stay. More memories will have to be archived as layers and layers of history would push them further underground.

Nothing is more refreshing than the young - our future - takes an active interest in Chinatown, the past, the present, and possibly shape the future. Chinatown is not just an attraction for tourists, it has to be our town, our home and in that way, the visitors can see and appreciate the lives of Singapores, from past to present. It is not disneyland or any theme park, although from time to time, we could re-create some theme-like-park scenes for locals and visitors to experience the heydays of the old Chinatown.

Chinatown continues to haunt us of the past, of those struggling to lead a decent life, and yet, it also continues to display the opportunities from which one could survive through grit and sheer determination. Reminds me of this old man who collects thrown away cardboard boxes (mostly from cosmetic packings) and newspapers to put his son to school right to his PhD! And this old man now has a stroke and only has the good support of a maid. Life has been tough but he is happy knowing that his next generation will have a better life.
It is with such scenes in the "heartland" of Chinatown that gives it its character, and I am glad to know that Chinatownology is going to capture such stories, on top of many useful tidbits and information both for the residents and visitors to Chinatown. Soon, Singapore Chinatown will have a big window to the world .. and then the door will be wide open. Visitors to Singapore Chinatown could do some pre-trip gazing and decide what he/she could do in the Chinatown, in a DIY tour. Or course, tour groups and tour guides would give the value-added service of stories and give a better understanding in a time-jam-packed tour. But for those who are on free and easy, nothing like sitting down by the coffeeshop and enjoying the ambience of Chinatown. Ah, perhaps, we should have Chinatown-borns to come and sit by the kopitiam to share their stories.


Patricea Chow-Capodieci said...

I think what puzzles people from other countries is why Singapore, having a majority of Chinese as its population, has a Chinatown. Little has been said about how it used to be called Temasek, that the original settlers were Javanese/Malay, and that the Chinese migrated here from China, thus resulting in Chinatown.

chinatownboy said...

Good point. I have relayed your comment to the editor of Chinatownology, who will work on a article on the history of Chinatown. It would be very interesting indeed. Thanks for the suggestion.

Tee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chinatownboy said...

Hi Tee,
How can I reach you? You could reach me at