Monday, October 30, 2006

Heritage Sneak Peak

As I rush around in the Raffles Place City Business District (CBD), Mondays to Fridays, from carpark to office to meetings to lunch, I sometimes see foreign tourists walking the CBD with their cameras in tow, and I've always wondered what in the world is there for them to snap in this steel and glass contained concrete district.

So, a couple of weekends ago, I took my camera out for a walk in the CBD. But this time around, instead of taking wide-angle shots of steel mammoths and towering glass reflections, I settled for 'sneak peaks' into Singapore's heritage tucked into little corners of the CBD hustle and bustle. Looking through my camera's viewfinder, hopefully I will be able to show you a bit of that 'exotic' heritage that some foreigners find intriguing, and which has beauty worth rediscovering for ourselves.

1st view - a pair of golden ancient guardians
Door Guardians
This happy pair graced the entrance doors to the Fuk Tak Chi Museum at Far East Square along Telok Ayer Street, and is a sight which can only be seen in the early morning or late evening when the Museum doors are closed to the public. The rich golden hues and the intricate lined drawings on these doors are good enough reasons to visit this small street museum, which contains only a single square courtyard and a shrine room. The first Chinese temple in Singapore built in the 1820s by Hakka and Cantonese immigrants, it was dedicated to Tua Pek Kong (the Earth God, but more commonly considered as the God of Prosperity).

2nd view - lotus trunks
Lotus Trunk
Moving away from the doors, my viewfinder found these carved 'lotus' trunks that were set at the two ends of the entrance beam - lovely carpentry-work that one hardly ever sees nowadays with our preference for modern simple lines in our furniture and homes.

3rd view - delicate curly wurly
At the Tip
At the tip of the roof beam of this traditional Chinese temple architecture, a beautiful wood carving curves in a wavy leaf pattern, its lines enhanced by the yellow wall in the background and tiny weeds growing on the roof.

4th view - treasures of old
A Silver Pair
A silver or more likely pewter container with intricate engraving in the background and a jug in the foreground. Converted into a museum in 1998, this heritage building is no longer used as a temple and now contains old artifacts, probably used by Chinese immigrants once upon a time.

5th view - a sienna scene
A Sienna Scene
More of these lovely artefacts, but the shot has been color-processed to create a warmer tone in order to highlight the copper-paint on the basket-container and the dark-red wall in the background.

6th view - what's beyond this wall?
What's beyond this wall?
Walking another five minutes or so towards Philip Street, I find these beautiful embossed blue tiles lining the outer wall of the courtyard of the Wak Hai Cheng Temple. It's so sad that we don't build houses anymore using such intricately detailed tiles.

The Wak Hai Cheng Bio Temple was built in the 1820s by Teochew Chinese from Guangdong Province and dedicated to the goddess of the sea, and is one of Singapore's oldest Taoist temples. The temple is also known as Yueh Hai Ching Temple, which means Temple of the Calm Sea. Traders and travelers of old returning from China visited the temple on disembarking to offer their thanks for a safe journey.

7th view - coils of wishes
Coils of Wishes
Beyond those blue-tiled walls, my viewfinder saw rows of incense coils/spirals hanging from strung wires across the courtyard of this Taoist temple. Cast your wishes onto the red pieces of paper and stick them in the center of the coils and as the incense slowly burns, the smoke carries your wishes to the heavens! Apparently, these coils can burn for days and hopefully your wishes come true by then.

These two temples are unusual in that they are sited right in the midst of the CBD area, the first in a row of shophouses and sandwiched on its left and right by small restaurants and eating houses, and the second sitting in its little courtyard with hazy incense smoke rising up to the skies surrounded by concrete skyscrapers all around.

The little gems in CBD that perhaps, you may wish to pause for 5 seconds to admire when you next pass them along your route to office!


Blogger Precious Moments said...

I grew up around that area and you definitely captured the true essence of that place. Great job!

10/31/2006 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger mingyou said...

Great pictures...I was walking around the area myself and I found the place where my alma mater was born on 70 amoy street! This is a beautiful area and I'm glad that we've conserved this little spot in Singapore!

10/31/2006 10:03:00 AM  
Anonymous evan said...

stunning photos as usual cath! you always make the "cheena" stuffs look beautiful :p

10/31/2006 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

@PM, oh... you're so lucky to have grown up in this vibrant area.. my hubby grew up in the Boat Quay area during his younger days!

@mingyou, thanks.. agree with you and only hope more local people become aware of the beauty in these historical sites

@evan - what to do, I'm a 'cheena'-lian myself, LOLZ!

10/31/2006 10:22:00 PM  
Blogger Precious Moments said...

wow, my aunt was living there too. A corner house, I remembered there was a textile shop beneath.

11/01/2006 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Those pictures are wonderful; perfect light, perfect subject and perfect eye! I love them all...

11/01/2006 05:29:00 PM  
Anonymous evan said...

haha cath, you're so NOT cheena ok. in fact i think you hv really good taste, and exquisite one at that too. someone who enjoys the finer things in life, no? afterall, how many ppl use organic apple walnut muesli from bunalun when most of us get our fix from the post cereal or quaker oats? LOL

11/01/2006 09:18:00 PM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

@PM, what can I say... small world then? hubby's childhood days in the Boat Quay was in the late sixties, early seventies before his family moved off to the then spanking new satellite town of Toa Payoh.

@rosa, thank you *smile*

@evan...hahaha, bunalun muesli now and then doesn't change a 'cheena'-lian - it just makes her a more globalized 'cheena'-lian!!

11/01/2006 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger hinata said...

Gorgeous pictures cath! I work at Raffles Place too and always wondered about the temples and tourists in the neighbourhood as well. Thanks for the insight!

11/02/2006 08:02:00 AM  
Anonymous slurp! said...

great shots! you certainly have an eye for beautiful details!

11/03/2006 12:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

Lovely pics... how I miss Asia... I've been back in Australia for two years after living in HK for four... took my camera out on the streets here in Melbourne yesterday and couldn't stop myself wistfully thinking how I wish I could get out on the streets in Singapore, or Bangkok, or HK, or Angkor, or Saigon.....anywhere but here!

11/04/2006 09:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Tanna said...

I'd love to take my camera on a visit there. Thanks for being my eyes! Beautiful pictures and words.

11/09/2006 01:01:00 AM  
Blogger pfong said...


I really enjoyed this series. It's wonderful to see details of Singapore captured so beautifully.

11/15/2006 08:31:00 AM  
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11/21/2006 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger Meeta said...

Oh Cath I loved this post and the pics are incredible. You have inspired me to look for gems in my town too. I hear loud and clear girl, we need to take a break and see the world through our cameras.
Thank you!

12/02/2006 05:06:00 AM  
Anonymous keiko said...

Cath - these are stunning shots, what gorgeous colours and textures... look forward to seeing more some time, take care!

12/06/2006 03:15:00 AM  
Anonymous spots said...

u are right abt the cbd - i'm lucky enough to live in the city and appreciate its beauty everyday! how i miss it so!

12/08/2006 07:24:00 AM  
Anonymous toycon said...

very nice photos, I personally love the dioramas at Fuk Tak Chi Museum. We've highlighted your post at Fuk Tak Chi Museum's pretty popular with heritage enthusiasts, given its historical significance. I believe one of our members recently got some photographs previously as well.

12/18/2006 04:03:00 PM  
Blogger Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

You haven't posted since a time now. I hope that you are doing well...

Happy New Year 2007!

1/04/2007 05:48:00 PM  
Anonymous pfong said...

Had to drop by and view this again. This is just an outstanding set.

3/01/2007 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger Godknows said...

Wow, amazing photos.

3/15/2007 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger wenwenzz said...

Your picture looks great! Nice shoot!

3/27/2007 10:10:00 PM  
Blogger Jean said...

Merci pour ces belles photo qui témoignent tellement du génie humain !
de vraies merveilles !

4/06/2007 08:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how come no more posts??

4/28/2007 03:03:00 PM  
Blogger catalyst0527 said...

Wow! The exotic pictures in your blog are really beautiful.
Some pictures makes my heart-beating faster. :)

5/03/2007 03:20:00 AM  
Anonymous stef said...

Are you still blogging? I miss the posts and pics!

6/25/2007 11:13:00 PM  
Anonymous cash gifting riches exposed said...

very nice to see such old figures from our histories.

3/04/2009 10:38:00 AM  

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