Monday, July 28, 2008

Early Chinese settlers in Singapore.... starring eastcoastlife

Robust like bamboo, able to thrive in rich soil and stay alive in poor soil, the early Chinese immigrant had to bend and blend in to survive.

The beginning of a new life to uncertainties

Thousands of immigrants come to Singapore attracted by the economic activity and opportunities centred here. Many of the early migrants first set foot on the banks of Singapore River. Most of these people were Chinese, but there were also Indians and Malays.

The migrants and their descendants had to learn how to assimilate into their newly adopted land. They tried to preserve their identities while nurturing a relationship with the locals. Chinatown was largely occupied by Chinese.

At the Chinatown Heritage Centre, stories told are based on the real-life stories of former Chinatown residents.

cramped cubicle of a migrant

Life was much poorer and desperate. They lived in dark and cramped living quarters, which were usually overcrowded and disease-stricken. Loneliness and the hard life of the immigrants caused many of them to turn to opium smoking, prostitution, gambling and secret societies.

settings for a funeral

For some, they never get to see their homeland again. There were death houses, a place where the terminally ill and dying waited out their last days among coffins and offerings to the dead.

This coming 43rd National Day of Singapore, appreciate the spirit of adventure and enterprise of the early Chinese migrants who made countless sacrifices, seized opportunities amidst adversity, showed great fortitude and industry to make good in Singapore.

For my foreign friends, you can learn how one ethnic community can become so successful internationally.

The Chinatown Heritage Centre is a joint project between the Singapore Tourism Board and the National Heritage Board.

Special thanks to :

Chinatown Heritage Centre
48 Pagoda Street
Singapore 059207

Chinatown Heritage Centre Website:


  1. Life was tought then. People worked extremely hard only to survive. Now, life has been too good that people just waste their lives away for nothing. What a big contrast!

  2. Cool shot for WS! Have a great monday! Mine's up too hope you visit.

  3. Doreen,
    In the past, people eat to live, now it's live to eat.

    And wasting too much time on the internet.... :P

  4. Voted again.

    Nice post. It edifies Chinese descent generation on how they end up in certain region.

  5. ECL is that you in the last photo? I like it. The bamboo really characterizes chinese ppl isnt? They are all over the world and wherever they go, they survive!

  6. This is a very interesting and informative post.

    I'm coming to Singapore next month :)

  7. Hi dear! Quick drop and vote for u! So busy with work, catch ya later! :)

  8. This is one museum I have yet to visit since it is rather out of the place. Thanks for sharing.

    Gosh, how did you manage to convince the museum to star you in this eastcoastlife movie involving early Chinese settlers? *winks*

    Good luck for the awards.

  9. our ancestors fought a lot for the country. this event will definitely make you remember of the things worth reminiscing.

    enjoy enjoy!

  10. That was an education. People who want to survive sure find a way!

  11. hmm.. very interesting weekend. thanks for the info!

  12. this is interesting stuff! thanks for sharing! =)

  13. pretty life onlne,
    haha... thanks. You have a great week ahead!

  14. leonard,
    Thanks! You're so sweet to Aunty. :)

  15. andie summerkiss,
    Thanks for your vote!
    I hope you find it interesting enough to find out more.

  16. tigerfish,
    They should have cast me in that TV drama... but then at that time, I was very young. :)

  17. my bug life,
    Yep, that's me.

    The Chinese are versatile like the bamboo, it is a suitable reference.

  18. emmyrose,
    Thanks for your comment, dearie.

    Coming to Singapore for a holiday or work?

  19. mariuca,
    Thanks for voting despite your busy schedule! *hugs*

  20. oceanskies,
    This museum is not out of the place! It's in Chinatown.

    I wrote to NHB and it helped me to write to Mt Faber, the company which owns this museum, for permission to take photos.

    Photography not allowed in this museum. You need a special pass.

  21. the dong,
    Yes, many people including the government forget that these people and a few of my ancestors helped to build Singapore.

    It's sad that many of them, especially those were single, were not well taken care of when they were old and dying.

  22. sandy,
    Tough times never last but tough people do! :)

  23. Hi just another day,
    Thanks for stopping by. :)

  24. the chinese are really known to be hardworking. My FIL is pure chinese and he did the same thing by migrating here in PI

  25. hipncoolmomma,
    I have many Filipino Chinese friends in Manila. It's not easy to find work in a strange country at first, but through hard work and some luck, they are doing well.

  26. hi again ECL,

    just casted my vote...

    I'm coming to Singapore just a few days for a holiday :)

  27. emmyrose,
    Thanks for your vote. :)

    Email me, let's see if we can meet up.

  28. thank you for sharing this, I am off to the next link