Historical figures come to life in Chinatown to give visitors an interactive experience

ST VIDEO: NATHASHA LEE
An STB staff member from the Singapore Tourism Board showing reporters the live historical installation.
An STB staff member from the Singapore Tourism Board showing reporters the live historical installation. ST VIDEO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - At the Pagoda Street exit of the Chinatown MRT station, Ah Chye the Rickshaw Puller asks visitors about their interests before giving them a map that will lead them to different landmarks. Before they leave, he may even shout at them to wait so that they can take a 'selfie' with him.

He is part of a new outdoor digital activation that is a pilot initiative of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), where iconic characters from the past interact with visitors in three installations spread out across Chinatown.

The characters include Ah Chye the Rickshaw Puller, Ah Hock the Street Hawker and Ah Gek the Samsui Woman. Each gives visitors nuggets of information on the area's heritage.

These installations, the first of their kind in Singapore, are meant to engage visitors by blending digital media and storytelling, so they can learn more about Chinatown's rich culture, history and heritage..


A digital installation at Chinatown Food Street along Smith Street. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Meticulously-recreated historical settings surround the screens where characters are displayed. They include props, such as a rickshaw cart and a Samsui woman's food container.

A total of 15 destinations are featured as 'Chinatown experiences' in the new installations, such as HK Soya Sauce Chicken Noodles and the Kong Chow Wui Koon Clan House. Visitors are directed to one of them based on their interactions with the installations, and stand a chance to receive a special copy of the map that lets them enjoy discounts or giveaways at some of the locations.

The pilot initiative will run for six months from today, during which STB will examine its success based on the quantity of interactions as well as the amount of time visitors spend at each installation.

Thai tourist Napaporn Worjesdarom, 37, was on her first visit to Singapore when she stumbled across Ah Chye's installation. The bank officer, who initially planned to pray at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, thought it was a good idea for the special maps to be dispensed to visitors.


An STB staff member showing reporters the live historical installation. ST VIDEO: LIM YAOHUI