Friday, March 23, 2012

Group Reflection!

We enjoyed working with our group it was pretty fun walking around Clarke Quay and gathering information we need, to do the given task, we are very happy and that all of co-operated with each other to get this work done. We have also learned more about the singapore river which is one of singapore's most famous historical landmarks. Some of the challenges we faced are that, it was quite difficult to find our way, at first we went in the opposite direction that we are supposed to go, so we were lost for a little while, besides that, it was quite a long distance to walk, to gather data. There were some miscommunications while doing this project together. Fortunately, we are still able to do the project and this helped us understand that we can never fully avoid misunderstandings. There are many areas we can improve at and one of them is that we can be more aware of our task. While visiting Clarke Quay, we were not sure about the full details about what to do hence we carried out the task using more time. We believe that if we were more focused and knew what to do, gathering information for the blog would be easier and a faster process.

Asian Civilization Museum: Civilization in the Past

As we were looking at the exhibits in the museum, we asked ourselves this questions:

-From the exhibition, identify one civilisation and find out how people in the civilisation deal with their constraints

- From the chosen gallery, find out how their responses contribute to the social, cultural and technological changes that occured in Asia?

Earliest Inhabitants

The Orang Laut or “Sea-Gypsies” were the earliest known inhabitants in the area around the river mouth. The community typically lived off a long dwelling boat known as Sampan Panjang or “Long Boat”.

Modern River Communities

The Hokkiens were located nearer the river-mouth in the South Boat Quay area, and the Teochews were concentrated mostly in North Boat Quay between Coleman Bridge and Read Bridge, especially around the area where Ellenborough Market once stood. For a long time, there were squatters living in squalid conditions which abutted the waters resulting in health hazards and pollution. Until the early 1980s, families still lived in wooden huts along the warehouses on the Jiak Kim Street side of the river.

Economic Activity

Singapore’s free port status and strategic location attracted all kinds of sailing crafts, especially those bound on the trade routes between India and China. The river’s calm waters were ideal for trading activities and served as the harbour for the growing British Settlement.

Recreation and Entertainment

For entertainment purposes, there were storytellers situated on Read Bridge. During certain Chinese festivals, there were street wayangs or “theatre” with a Hokkien or Teochew Opera on a makeshift stage by the river. Gambling in Mahjong and Si-Sek, a Chinese card game, were popular past-times too.

River Transport

The river divided Singapore into the ‘commercial’ and ‘government’ sectors. Before the construction of the bridges, the two sides were linked by Dhonies (English spelling of the Tamil word Thonee), a river-crossing Sampan or “Row Boat” operated by Indians. These boats carried boats or passengers. The much larger bumboats or lighters ferried goods for import and export.


Today, bumboats operate as river-taxis which carry sightseeing passengers. The key features include Anderson Bridge, Cavenagh Bridge, Elgin Bridge, Coleman Bridge; Clark Quay; Parliament House (with the original Court House built in 1827).


  • The Coolies: The coolies had to endure cramped living conditions, gangs, opium addiction and grueling work.

Asian Civilization Museum: Artifacts

Metal works

This metal works are done by tribal south east asia. It is not seen as mere handicraft but as works of creation. Therefore, there are taboos like men doing metal work. Each metal work has a unique design and precise detail that gives the craft character, almost making it come to life. Every little detail that can be seen from the piece of art reflects on the culture of the Tribal South East Asia.

These metal works have different functions to it. The ones showcased act as jewelry and different pieces signify different things. The difference between today’s jewelry is that in today’s context, the jewelrl are generally smaller and easier to wear.

Pottery and other materials

These artifacts are some materials and pottery that were dug from the ground. From the picture, we can see that most of the pottery are broken and eroded. We can infer from this that the pottery pieces are made with cement. The pottery also displays detailed nice workmanship and it is most likely all handmade. In the display, there is a mercury jar. This mercury jar was most likely used to store mercury for medical reasons or to gain gold. It is something we do not see now a days.

In today’s context, cement is hardly used in making bowls and plates. Since cement is brittle, it is not convenient to use it to make kitchen tools, hence plastic and glass are more likely to be used. However, some pots and traditional kitchen still use cement. Technology is more advance compared to the past, hence a more convenient and safer way will be used to store mercury to use it.

Pei-Jeng style Bronze Drum

This artifact is the Pei-Jeng style Bronze Drum. The drum was cast when people in East-Java Indonesia were lost. They would cast the drum so that their family members could trace out where they are. This drum is one of the biggest drum in Indonesia.

It is different from the modern day as now a days we use out mobile phones to contact people and get their address. We do not have to cast any drum and we can use maps on our phone to trace out the location and how to get to the location. We also can take a physical map with us to trace out our locatoin


Inferences made about the Singapore River

While walking down the Singapore River, we noticed a few things about the river and made inferences of the past and present of the Singapore River.

1. The river now is very clean. We can hardly see any litters around although the water is still a little murky. From this we can infer that the government takes care of the Singapore River and most properly send workers to Singapore RIver to clean the river. There is also a foul stench at some parts of the river. Hence, we infer that the water in SIngapore River in the past and now are both polluted although the conditions of the water now is better.

2. There are a lot of shop houses near by the river. The shophouses are now transformed into clubhouses, restaurants and some shops. This causes Clarke Quay to be a very lively place. From this, we can infer that Clarke Quay was a very busy place in the past. WIth all the shop houses around, a lot of trading and business could have happened in Clarke Quay in the past


This two pictures show the shop houses and buildings commercial buildings near Clarke Quay. Also, it shows the relatively clean water of Singapore River.

3. The present day along the singapore river there were many office buildings and restaurants nearby and also it was like a tourist attraction as well, from which I infer that that in the early days Singapore river was the trading port and there were a lot of imports and exports done there. The founder of Singapore, designated the Singapore river as a trading port because it was easy to receive goods through ships by the river. So the Singapore river is turned into tourist attraction for the preset day and it also explains why there are lot of offices alongside the Singapore river.

Walking Down The Singapore River

On 20/3/12 our group started off at the Coleman Bridge to carry out our Singapore River walk.

This picture shows the map of the Singapore River and the main locations that we visited.

This picture shows us starting of the Coleman Bridge.

Course of The Singapore River
The Singapore River’s overall shape and course will remain the same. The Singapore River is one of the most significant rivers in Singapore. It was where Sir Stamford Raffles' signed the treaty with Abdul Rahman. As the river plays an important role in Singapore’s history, the government would want to maintain its original look. However, as time passes, maintenance work will have to be done in order to better preserve it. Pollution to the water in the river will have to be taken care of as well.

Along the Singapore River, we saw a lot of landmarks. This are some of the examples out of all the many landmarks you can find along Clarke Quay.

Asian Civilization Museum

The museum overlooks the mouth of The Singapore River. The museum was originally a government office and was smaller than it is now. The government offices was extended several times and it grew to accommodate practically the entire colonial bureaucracy.

The Fullerton Hotel also known as The Fullerton Building

The building was built in 1928 and was named as the Fullerton Building and also the General Post Office building, now known as the Fullerton Hotel. It was named after Robert Fullerton the first Governor of the Straits Settlements (1826–1829). It was the centre of Singapore’s commercial, social and official life. In the last days before the surrender of Singapore during the World War Two, the building was used as a hospital, with makeshift operation rooms for wounded British soldiers. TheJapanese Military Administration in Singapore soon used the building as their headquarters. During the post war period, planswere initiated to conserve the building but it only took place in 1997.

Today, the Fullerton Hotel is a 6 star prestigious hotel in Singapore filled with rich heritage, neo-classical architecture located in the heart of Singapore's arts and financial districts.

The Old Parliament House/ The Arts House

-The Old Parliament House was completed in 1827 which was known as a Neo-Palladian building which was owned by a Scottish merchant, John Argyle Maxwell.

-In 1823, Stamford Raffles, asked the local chief to move to Telok Blangah so that the current plot of land could be used by the government.

-The building was refurbished again in 1953 to make way for the new Legislative Assembly of Singapore, and works were completed in 1954 .

- In 2004, The Arts House at the Old Parliament was opened as an arts and heritage centre.The building was refurbished and the building was restored and the designs of the buildings were preserved.

Raffles' Landing Site
The Raffles' Landing site marks the location where Sir Stanford Raffles first landed for his first visit in Singapore on 29 January 1819. The site is now denoted by a statue of Sir Stanford Raffles that was first unveiled in 1972.

The two pictures on the top shows our group at the Anderson Bridge. The picture below shows the group at the Asian Civilization Museum which marked the end of our trip. We ended the tour around Singapore River at the Asian Civilization Museum after looking at the exhibits in the museum. The visit to the museum definitely helped us understand more about the history of Singapore as well as Asia.