I recall my time in Europe where I try my best to visit all the Europe countries once I have the time to. Each and every time before I head to the next country, I will first google search whether or not that country offers free walking tour. Apparently, walking tours are very popular in Europe and the US, and it got me wondering if Singapore has such service. Turns out, they do!
I am very thankful to be invited to Singapore’s very own walking tour – My Queenstown Heritage Trail. This three-hour walk tour (it’s free!) tells the tale of Queenstown and how it has came so far. But before I show you some of the highlights, here’s some stuff you need to know:
1. You’ll get to hear true life accounts from the residents of Queenstown
I appreciate these senior citizens to join us in the three-hour walk and at the same time share with us their recounts decades ago. As they speak, I can tell about their passion in purely sharing with us the history of the place they have been living their whole lives in.
2. Be prepared to talk a long walk
It’s be a long but meaningful walk, so do come in comfortable footwear and dress code!
3. Take the Heritage Trail with your good friends to enjoy the most out of it
You can see from the pictures, we all had our earpieces on because we were each given a a device which is connected to the channel the guide speaks on. In this way, you can still hear him even if he’s walking far ahead of you.
We started the tour at Queenstown MRT station.
I won’t talk about each and every highlights of the Trail since you should be joining the tour personally to truly enjoy it, but I’ll mention a few of them for you.
Former Forfar House was once Singapore’s tallest residential building when it was built in 1956. It used to stand at 14-storey high, but now this building has turned into a 40-storey high skyscraper.
Princess House, unlike Former Forfar House which has been demolished, is still in tact along the Alexandra Road. What makes this building interesting was the “U-shaped” roof that was previously built as a viewing deck. You can still see from afar the clear U-shape on the roof as you drive past it today.
Also notice information boards set up next to these historical buildings and monuments, which documents all the relevant information about the landmarks you’re standing next to.
Another resident passionately sharing his story and experience relating to the Princess House.
The next location was along the previous Lee Kong Chian Gardens School. Although many buildings were no longer around, some of the residents will never forget the memories those buildings left for them.
We then turned into urban explorers and ventured into an undiscovered forest area right next to the Alexandra Canal Linear Park, where we found several deserted buildings and bunkers. It always feels good to trek along these areas, but make sure you get your proper shoes on!
Since the next location was a distance away, the organizers have kindly prepared shuttle buses to transport us to the next location – the Tiong Ghee Temple.
Tiong Ghee Temple is Queenstown’s oldest Taoist temple, build in 1973 to replace the old village temple in the former “Boh Beh Kang” Village. For the non-hokkiens, “Boh Beh Kang” translates to “No Tail River”, and Boh Beh Kang Village used to house many residents back in the old days.
Although many changes have taken place, this does not stop the former Boh Beh Kang villagers to return and gather here at the temple.
Tiong Ghee Temple
The next interesting landmark that is still around is The Butterfly Block. You may be wondering why it’s called ‘The Butterfly’, it’s thanks to the structure of the two HDB flats, which forms a curve shape that resembles a butterfly’s wings. Prior to this being built, most HDB flats were mainly designed as simple point blocks like those we have now, and The Butterfly Block was constructed to instil more creativity in the neighbourhood.
An old resident, a former teacher who has lived here for the past decades, recounted his experience when the flat was being built. It’s very heartwarming to listen to the elderly tell their stories to us, some with humor while some with much appreciation.
I’m definitely not the best person to tell you how great this tour is. Neither do I have the historical knowledge to explain the history and backgrounds of each landmarks to you. But I’ve proven to you that youngsters like us can too join the tour and understand how the Queenstown estate has come along till today.
People living around this area will be particular interested to know the updates of this estate. You can keep yourself updated by liking My Queenstown Facebook Page. Also visit their website http://www.myqueenstown.eventbrite.sg/ to know more about their free tours. Apparently, they don’t only have the Dawson & Alexandra Trail, but also Tanglin Halt & Margaret Dr Tour. Due to overwhelming (positive) response, all 900 tickets for both monthly Dawson & Alexandra and Tanglin Halt & Duchess tours in 2015 were maxed out. The next available tour is in 2016. Nonetheless, if you’re still interested, do drop an email to [email protected] with your name, contact number, 3 preferred dates and number of tickets to put yourself in the waiting list 🙂
PS: Remember to grab the brochure because all the important information about the landmarks can be found inside. Special thanks to Li Yong and Jasper Tan for their effort and time to compile all these valuable memories and details into a handy brochure.
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