“Singapore? That’s in China, right?”
Many a Singaporean traveller has encountered this question abroad, and has, with well-disguised calm, answered that this is not the case. It is, nonetheless, an easy impression to form for the only country to have an ethnic Chinese majority outside of Greater China. In this tour, you will encounter the Singaporean Chinese story through its life, food, rituals, values, and gods, and get up close and personal with a striking example of cultural evolution. In this multi- sensorial experience, you will be able to see how Chinese culture on this island has taken on a life of its own – similar, and yet so very different from mainland Chinese culture.
This tour will be divided into 4 chronological sections -
Chapter 1: Across The Seas // 漂洋过海
Kreta Ayer: The migrant Chinese left their homelands in search of a better life, a search that often led them to lives of hard manual labour. Homesick, they brought with them sources of comfort - gods, customs, rituals, superstitions, and values. Over time, in a land far away from home, these cultures started to take on a life of their own, remaining the same, and yet so very different from what they used to be.
Chapter 2: Taking Root // 落地生梗
Keong Saik & Bukit Pasoh: Over time, as the memory and prospect of return to China became increasingly remote, the migrant Chinese started to become "local". While regional and linguistic identity remained important in the form of clans, slowly the communities started to lay their roots here. This is a journey we will explore through aspects of daily life - the evolution of housing from shophouses to HDB flats, aesthetics, and food.
Chapter 3: Loyalty to Country // 尽忠报国
Bukit Pasoh & Tanjong Pagar: With their fortunes tied to the island, the concept of 国 or nation started to change. While originally fundraising activities of "nation building" focused on events in mainland China, this started to shift towards the building of Singapore as a country in its own right. Decolonisation was the focus of various leftist elements but the most successful and enduring political player was the PAP, led by an ethnic Hakka man, Lee Kuan Yew. His vision of what it meant to be Chinese in a multi-racial new nation required a lot of sacrifice from the Chinese community. Here we will explore what they had to compromise for the sake of Singapore.
Chapter 4: Ending At The Beginning // 落叶归根
Telok Ayer: Walking through the modern city, it can be easy to forget just how fast change has come to the island of Singapore. Over the years, Chinese identity has changed with it, setting it apart from Chinese cultures elsewhere in the world. And yet, the values and sensibilities of this migrant community continue to contribute significantly to the Singaporean story, and if we return to the beginning of this journey, the gods themselves will tell us how this has come to be.
I thought the use of music to express and elaborate on the culture is a very good and under-explored form of storytelling in tours and it was a very engaging part of the tour.
I thoroughly enjoyed the tour. It was well narrated and I am impressed with the guides; Jamie, Mark and Mark. They were articulate, fabulous story tellers, and definitely put in much effort in research, internalising and regurgitating all the stories like it was their own.
I truly enjoyed the tour. Combined with the K. Glam’s one is a excellent learning experience on Singapore’s cultures, history and identities. The team is simply AMAZING! Mark(s) and Jamie are not only very knowledgeable but also friendly, funny and very passionate about Singapore’s history. I feel very privileged to attend this tour. I will definitely recommend it to my colleagues, students and friends.