16 Things I Learned by Walking Around Chinatown, Singapore (Part 3/3)

August 22, 2017

Part 3!
11. Sacred tooth. 
This new temple is know as Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. It works as museum as well.

Temple surrounded by giant concrete buldings
Relic = physical remains of a saint (in this place, it is a tooth).

It is said that Singapore is given this sacred tooth from Myanmar and the temple was built to house the tooth relic. Outside this temple, I've been approached by a Singaporean Chinese uncle and he said it is uncommon to see a Muslim girl with hijab entering a temple. 

The other entrance.

Yep, it is uncommon. 

Some people said it is haram to enter these places. I once watched Ustaz Azhar Idrus's video on this and he said you can enter but never do anything like they do to worship the idols. Since the tour is explaining about the temple, I grab this chance to listen and to see with my own eyes how it looks like inside. Always remember the verses in Surah Al-Kafirun, one of them is:

"For you is your religion, and for me is my religion." - 109:6

I've been to all those places, but alhamdulillah seeing them myself makes me more grateful with my own faith, my belief to Allah.

Chinese love continuous flowing water like this.
They also believe crystal as a good source of inner energy.

12. Clan Association
The 'office'.

It was originally founded to help immigrants from China. Well, just imagine you are in a new place, somehow you may need help to settle down there - in terms of places to stay and jobs. Nowadays, other than helping for social welfare, this place also helps Chinese to send items to their family back in China and also to trace the family root. 

13. Singapore's Last Water Well 
Before the mountains were cleared for land reclamation, people in Singapore relied on water well as a source of clean water. The clean water was kind of limited, but people back then was clever enough to find underground water. This well was used to provide water around Chinatown and transferred with the help of bullock-drawn carts. 

The other wells need to be abolished for development. This one remained there for the sake of history for younger generations.
It is located at Ann Siang Hill Park.
As most of us know, water in Singapore is imported from Malaysia. There is a contract between these two countries but it seems like the agreement will end in 2061. Singapore is now a global water research to find solutions for failed negotiations for 2062 and beyond.

Right now, there are 4 sources of water there:
  • Mostly from rainfall - collected in artificial reservoirs (like Marina Bay - if you study the map of Singapore, you can see a lot of reservoirs)
  • 30% imported from Malaysia
  • Reclaimed water - recycle water from wastewater
  • Seawater desalination

14. Malay is the national language. 
Honestly I did not expect this as I thought the national language is Chinese or English.

All four languages are used widely there. Even on any announcements so far that I can remember.
 To Singapore, Malay is always the lingua franca especially when it is surrounded by Malay-speaking countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei. :)

15. Interactive wall mural.
The wall is brought alive via an application called LocoMole. There are steps shown on the wall and we can aim the phone on the wall for more surprises. They can be footnotes and even videos.

Painted by Yip Yew Chong (13 April 2017)
The mural shows the history back then on how immigrants left their countries for Singapore (as it was a new trade center) by ships and boats, waving goodbyes to their families. Basically this wall tells you stories about most of things I have shared earlier :)

16. Telok Ayer and Land Reclamation.
Telok Ayer Street.
Telok Ayer Street was named after Telok Ayer (Water Bay in English).

On this street, we can see Thian Hock Keng temple - one of the first temple built as the seafarers and immigrants arrived to Singapore. This temple was originally located very close to the coastline (means the water of the sea was just few meters from the temple). After few years later, land reclamation started to begin (that makes Singapore a bit bigger than before).

Land reclamation by British was done by clearing all mountains. So, Singapore does not have any mountains left. For this reason, Lee Kuan Yew wanted all buildings to have nature plan inside. Every meter square of land used for construction, the architect need to make sure the nature is replaced in the buildings (horizontally). When I was there, I can say there are huge trees almost everywhere - very helpful to provide shades. 


Dani and our tour-mates.

Chinatown has been declared as heritage sites and cannot be abolished. It is said that Singapore only has 200 years worth-histories so at least with the conserved and preserved Chinatown, it helps to bring back history to Singapore. Otherwise, the only things we can see there are concrete sky-scraping buildings.

In conclusion, I believe I made the right decision of joining this free walking tour. Instead of just taking pictures of buildings with no ideas of what they are, this tour helped to enlighten me the history of Singapore... basically a bit of history about my own country as well. Malaysia and Singapore was together before we separated in 1965. 

I am thinking of joining any free walking tour in Malaysia very soon. :) InsyAllah. 

SS, Perak, Malaysia

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