The Original Singapore Walks

The Original Singapore Walks
Image Credit: The Original Singapore Walks

Bored with the usual tours and want to see the other faces of Singapore? Then the Original Singapore Walks is definitely the one you are looking for. They operates on a simple principle: to bring people into places most other tours don’t. Fancy going to graveyards, smoke houses, haunted houses, wet markets, gun batteries, funeral shops, archaeological sites? You name it, they have it. Quoting Lonely Planet, “If you just do one tour in Singapore, make it one of these.” Below is the latest schedule, October to December 2014 for The original Singapore walks:

Monday, The Time of Empire™, 0930-1200

A Colonial District Walk

“This place possesses an excellent harbour … Singapore is everything we could desire.” – Sir Stamford Raffles, 1819.

On 6th February 1819, Singapore was claimed as a trading outpost of the British Empire to “secure to the British flag the maritime superiority of the Eastern seas.” In governance, religion, entertainment, and many other spheres, the imprint of Singapore’s colonial past is indelible. This is the Walk where you learn about Singapore’s national flower, the Sarkies brothers, The Straits Times and that wonderful drink called ‘the Singapore Sling.’ Discover Singapore’s colonial legacy from The Time of Empire.

Highlights:
St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Coleman Street, CHIJmes, Armenian Church, Supreme Court, Raffles Hotel

Meetup point: City Hall MRT Station, outside Exit B (North Bridge Road)
Ticket: Adult $35, Child $15

* If you wish to enter the Supreme Court please be appropriately attired. Torn jeans, bermudas/shorts, slippers and singlet/casual t-shirts may deny you entry. Kindly note that photographic devices are not allowed and can be stored in lockers at Security.
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Tuesday, Red Clogs Down the Five-Foot-Way™, 0930-1200

A Chinatown Walk

The street was filled from end to end, with stalls and knick-knacks of every kind. Here a pair of ready-made clogs, there a steaming hot bun.

Sticky cakes, exotic fruits, sweetmeats – it’s food paradise always on the streets of Chinatown. Enjoy the fragrance of Chinese tea, ginseng and herbal eggs. If you’re brave, this tour even help you find your way about a very slippery wet market. Check out paper cars, houses, ‘handphones’, and even lingerie – all part of an accident Chinese funeral ritual. The Walk also introduces to you the Yins and Yangs of Chinese traditional medicine. And finally, they might just show you where to get those ready-made clogs and that steaming hot bun!

Highlights:
Thian Hock Kheng Temple, Ann Siang Hill, Traditional Chinese Medicine Store, Chinatown Wet Market, Ancestral Worship Shop

Meetup point: Tanjong Pagar MRT Station, outside Exit B (Maxwell Road)
Ticket: Adult $35, Child $15
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Wednesday, Dhobis, Saris and a Spot of Curry™, 0930-1200

A Little India Walk

The cries from the abattoirs filled the air while the bhai susu outside rang their bells ‘Milk, fresh milk!’ Buffalo carts bearing goods and people of every shape, size and persuasion went rickety by.

It was once said that there are three ways to India from Singapore: by ship, by plane, and by a short walk to Little India. The Original Singapore Walks still believe that’s true. Look here a spice, there a garland, and hail, an artist who paints on your hand! One always finds it so difficult to resist the charms of Little India and it’s little wonder that this is one of the guides’ favourite Walks.

Highlights:
Betel Leaf and Flower Garland Stall, Fruit and Veggie Wet Market, Sari-tying and Henna Art, Spice Shop, Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple

Meetup point: Little India MRT Station, outside Exit E (Buffalo Road)
Ticket: Adult $35, Child $15
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Thursday, Sultans of Spice™, 0930-1200

A Kampong Glam Walk (Arab Street Area)

How was Singapore sold to the British for 60,000 Spanish Dollars?

Find out about the man who did it, and the man who forced him to. No one remembers the sultans that used to rule, except the Original Singapore Walks. The old Royal Palace, the Sultan Mosque, the Tombs of the Malayan Princes: they all carry an air of royalty snatched away too quickly. Uncover a curious blend of Malay folk traditions and Islam in the legends of the mysterious keris (dagger), exotic perfumes and the story of the faith that is so often misunderstood. Don’t miss this hidden cultural enclave where Singapore’s indigenous culture still thrives!

Highlights:
Sultan Mosque, Traditional Malay Craft, Bussorah Street, Traditional Muslim Supplies Shop, Old Istana Kampong Glam (Royal Palace), Royal Graveyard

Meetup point: Bugis MRT Station, outside Exit B.
Ticket: Adult $35, Child $15

* If you’d like to enter the mosque, please wear a sleeved blouse/shirt and long skirt or pants. A limited number of robes are also available at the mosque.
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Thursday, The Tipple Exchange™, 1800-2030 (discontinuing this tour from April 2015 onwards due to the renovation works along Singapore River)

A Boat Quay – Singapore River Walk

Take a break from the official history of the Singapore River.

Step out of the depths of civilizations and onto the olden alleys of Boat Quay where many a juicy tale and historical scandal lurk. Heard of the English Knight loved by two women but despised by a man of the cloth? The father and son team that did the Empire proud but were labelled as vandals by some? What about the man with no head for figures who broke the Queen’s Bank? Or the lawmakers who pushed opium?

This is the walk if you want the alternative story – a perfect cocktail of bank breakers, vandals, terrorists, drugs and one fine lady.

Highlights:
Asian Civilisations Museum, Boat Quay, Cavenagh & Elgin Bridges, Street of Mercy, Brokers’ Alley, Historical Pubs

Meetup point: Entrance of Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) at 1 Empress Place. Nearest MRT station is Raffles Place MRT Station. Come out from Exit H onto Bonham Street. Turn towards the river, cross Cavenagh Bridge and you’re at the entrance of the Museum.
Ticket: Adult $35, Child $15
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Friday, Cultured Leopard, Rising Tiger, 0930-1200

Finding Your Tao in Haw Par Villa™

‘When a tiger dies, it leaves its skin. When a man dies, he leaves his name’

Enter the tiger’s den. Take an unforgettable magical journey through the whimsical landscape of Haw Par Villa (aka Tiger Balm Garden). Built in 1937, it is the world’s only eclectic Chinese mythological park of its kind, the brainchild of Aw Boon Haw – billionaire philanthropist and marketer extraordinaire – who gave us the famed Tiger Balm. Discover Asia – by walking through these seemingly eccentric and even bizzare vistas, or be surprised that in every Chinese, there is a little Indian. Make sense of the tapestry of Taosim, Buddhism, and Confucianism seamlessly woven into the poetry of the garden. Steeped in symbolism and philosophy, this walk tells the ageless story of good over evil, the struggle between modernity and tradition and the inevitability of death. To find out your Tao in this life, join this Walk in the journey. As the ancient Chinese proverb says, “To catch the cub, you have to enter the tiger’s den.

Highlights:
Tiger’s Den, Aw Family Memorials, Eight Immortals, Vices & Virtues, Ten Courts of Hell, Journey to the West

Meetup point: Haw Par Villa MRT station, outside Exit A.
Ticket: Adult $35, Child $15
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Friday, Secrets of the Red Lantern™, 1800-2030

A Chinatown & Geylang Night Tour

‘The lantern beckoned him. The new ah ku was pretty, fresh from Canton. High on opium, he made his way unsteadily towards the gas-lit brothel.’

In 1887, Chinatown’s brothels were as many and as close together as the teeth of a comb. Together with opium and gambling dens, it was sin city. It is no accident that Chinatown was also known as Bu Ye Tian – The Place of Nightless Days. Discover vice and tragedy in the shadows of Chinatown by night. Then bus across and venture with us down the streets and alleys of Geylang where entertainment, in its rawest form, is still practiced today. Tread with this Walk to where many men have gone before!”

Highlights:
Pagoda Street, Food Street, Gods & Vices, Back Alleys, Red Light District, 14,16,18

Meetup point: Chinatown MRT station, outside Exit A (Escalator side facing Pagoda Street)
Ticket: Adult $55

* Please note that the tour includes the red light district in Geylang. Due to subject content, only ages 18 years and above are allowed on this tour.
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War Trails by Changi Museum
Created by The Changi Museum, these tours are dedicated to the memory of all who fought and suffered during those dark years of WWII.

Tuesday, Through Fog & Fire – The Battle for Singapore, 1942™, 1430-1800

Intricate strategies, subtle plots, great follies, explosive action – this Walk takes you through the intense fire of battle and the fog of war that led to Singapore’s fall in WWII. Called ‘Gibraltar of the East’. Singapore fell in 8 days. Is it really the story of ‘a navy that never was, of defenders in the dark and of guns pointed in the wrong direction?’ Should Percival really bear the brunt of it all? Get to know them – the British, Australian, Indian and Malayan defenders and uncover the realities shrouded in seductive myths and deceptive propaganda.

Highlights:
Battle Box at Fort Canning Hill, Labrador Battery, Drive Past Alexandra Hospital, Kranji War Cemetery

Meetup point: Entrance of National Museum of Singapore, nearest MRT Station is Dhoby Ghaut
Ticket: Adult $55, Child $30

* Drop off point: National Museum of Singapore

Wednesday (1430-1730) / Saturday (1000-1300), Changi WWII™

Once the site of many prisoner-of-war camps during the Japanese Occupation, Changi has since gone down in history as a place of much pain, torture and human suffering. It is said that more Australian PoWs perished under incarceration than in battle itself. Whether it is on the Death Railway or the countless labour camps in Japan and Formosa (Taiwan), the Changi WWII trail commemorates the fight of brave men and women during battle and in internment. Hear their story.

Highlights:
The Changi Museum, Changi Beach, Outside Changi Prison, Drive through Changi Village, Johore Battery, Outside Selarang Barracks

Meetup point: Pasir Ris MRT Station, outside Exit B
Ticket: Adult $55, Child $30

* Drop off point: Pasir Ris MRT Station
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The tours do change as seasons do, so log onto The Original Singapore Walks or reach them at (65) 6325 1631 for the latest schedule.

Source: The Original Singapore Walks’ Brochure and website.

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