Please note refreshment is included. This include bread and nuts, and might not be suitable for those with gluten and nut allergy.
Singapore has embraced its identity and inadvertent branding as a “Little Red Dot”. On the map, it is indeed a little red dot, and yet that same map will reveal that it is an island amongst thousands in the Malay Archipelago and the Malay world. In this tour, we will explore the historic district of Kampong Glam, and through it, uncover the evolution and development of a unique Singaporean Malay culture and identity – something separate and yet connected to the wider Malay world.
This tour will be sub-divided into 5 sections based off a local football chant -
Chapter 0: Tanah // Land
We start first in modern day Singapore, on land that has been reclaimed from the sea. Here we introduce the Malay archipelago, the islands, the seas, and introduce briefly the two major historical events that gradually streamlines the identity and movement of these sea faring peoples - the advent of Islam and Colonialism.
We also take this chapter to give an introduction of where we are currently situated, on Beach Road within the historical Kampong Bugis. We will talk about the Jackson Town Plan, and talk about how this idea of racial identification and division have permeated through to the present day.
Chapter 1: Suara // Voice
We introduce 3 important institutions that give the Malay community voice - the arts, education, and the printing press. We discuss not only the historical development of these institutions, but talk further about how these institutions have developed and manifested themselves in the present day.
Chapter 2: Darah // Blood
Here we will discuss topics relating to the beginning of life (birth), the end of life (death), and perhaps the singular most important event in joining lives in creating more lives (marriage). Apart from introducing lesser known traditions, we will also be using birth, death and marriage rituals to expound on previously explored concepts of identity.
We will also take this chapter to talk about the blood and life line of the historical port city of Singapura, the Rochor River.
Chapter 3: Bangsa // Nation
Just as early settlers gradually ease into the rhythm of daily life, here we uncover topics relating to daily lives - food, festivals, shopping, trade, all while navigating the historical and present day lanes of Arab Street, Bali Lane, Haji Lane and Bussorah Street. Here we delve into the lifestyle, and the common shared cultural memory of the community.
Chapter 4: Negara // Country
Our final chapter brings us to 2 of Kampong Gelam’s most distinctive landmarks - Masjid Sultan and Istana Kampong Gelam. Here we talk about the coming of a national identity.
I enjoyed the tour very much! It’s the perfect mix of Singaporean and Malay culture, history, religion, politics, food and fun. The guides were all very friendly, knowledgeable and experienced but a special mention goes to Mark Tan. He was very engaging. The tour would be an excellent learning experience for our tourism and hospitality students. I will promote it to my colleagues and hope once the COVID situation improves we will be able to include the tour as part of our orientation week activities
Simona, Prof in Architecture
Very interesting content that I’ve not heard before, but can be a lot to absorb. Snack and drink breaks are helpful. Drumming activity was also fun to keep us engaged, and music is nice while we are walking to next spot.
Food was great and unique; In terms of content, I enjoyed the fact that it is linked to music and the sharing of the diversity of Malay/ Muslim culture with the use of language. The content was rich and I feel that I learnt a lot; made me feel interested to want to look up/ understand more.
Kimmy, Urban Planner
The guides were very informative, enthusiastic and thumbs up. In depth explanation about the Malay culture something new for me.
Sasi, MBA Coordinator
Great tour with a lot of solid research done, will appeal to serious history fanatics. Mark Tan's passion for content is infectious and he is very engaging as a guide. Great to have young n knowledgable guides bringing us around!
Ho WL, Tourism Officer