03 October 2016

A Travel Back In Time at Chinatown Heritage Centre

Chinatown Heritage Centre is a heritage museum to retrace back in time for the footsteps of Singapore's early pioneers. This place recreated the entire scenes of Chinatown's early residences from the late 19th to early 20th century. Visiting Chinatown Heritage Centre was one of a surprisingly interesting unexpected trip I made because when we went to this place, KL and I were bringing two friends from South Korea to initially only sightsee Chinatown shopping area and unplannedly ended up to this site.

Chinatown Heritage Centre was officially reopened in last January after having a major renovation since 2014. The new exhibits feature a multi-sensory experience of the old Chinatown. They equipped each visitor with a multimedia guide to provide a detailed explanation for each exhibit. Like in the photo above, I explored the kitchen area while listening to the audio guide. For visitors who prefer to be guided by human, they also provide human guides with additional admission fee.

They also included brief audio clips to remake conversations of the personal stories of people who made Chinatown their home in each chapter. In the photo above you can see the replica of tailor shop from the olden day and visitors can learn about what being a tailor was like as well as discover what the tailor interactions with his apprentices and family were like in that period of time.

This is a remake of a physician room. A physician was known as one of a respected profession because he helped to cure people with sickness, just like a doctor in the present time. In his room on the second floor, he purposely had a hole on the floor to take a peek of the guest on the first floor. He also used an abacus (counting frame) as his calculator.

I also get to step into these small rooms by rooms of Chinatown's early residents, depicting the memories of those who had lived and grown up in such cubicles. These cubicles were filled with many historical items that tell a story and giving the visitors an insight into the past folks' lives.

I was amazed by the details of the vintage Chinese feels that they have been successfully rebuilt into each room since I experienced some of the antique items they display here during my childhood. The two pictures above, for example, looked similar to how my grandma's room looked like back then in the 90s. Even the cracked on the collage of black and white pictures frame glass.

And this is how their toilet area looked like. If you're wondering how did that toilet work, it was actually just a hole with a bucket underneath to collect the waste. Yep, they didn't have proper sewer like the modern toilet nowadays, or let's say they just didn't have sewer at all! They manually cleared out the bucket every now and then, or after the bucket is full.

During my exploration, sometimes I wonder where did all of those vintage knick knacks go. Like the metal stackable food box and the kerosene lamp above, my house in Indonesia used to have one too before. And that Chinese vintage fortune telling book, I still remember my grandparents used to read one as well.

These pictures may be disturbing for some people, however, I really appreciate how they faithfully rebuilt the engaging environment of Chinatown's homes of yore. Like the pictures of a cockroach and a mouse trying to steal food above, which looked so unpleasantly realistic!

This museum not only gives a glimpse of nostalgia for me as I can relate some objects to what I saw in my grandparents' house, but also a whole new experience of the rich culture and heritage charm of Singapore’s Chinatown.

Chinatown Heritage Centre

48 Pagoda St Singapore 059207

Operating hours:
Daily: 9am – 8pm

Admission fee:
With multimedia guide (MMG): SGD 15 for adult, SGD 11 for child (7-12 years old)
With guided tour: SGD 20 for adult, SGD 16 for child (7-12 years old)

Visit the website: www.nparks.gov.sg

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