SINGAPORE - Heritage buffs who wish to learn more about the history of the River Valley and Boon Keng areas can sign up for new free guided tours launched by My Community, a non-profit organisation that champions community heritage.
The tours, which start this weekend, offer glimpses of Singapore's rich Jewish and Sikh heritage and take participants past 38 Oxley Road, the residence of the late Singapore founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Mr Kwek Li Yong, My Community's co-founder and executive director, says in a press release that the tours "will offer a window into a long-gone world and present locals a chance to examine the little-known historical and cultural significance of landmarks and infrastructure along the various routes".
The first of the two tours - My River Valley Heritage Tour - launches on Saturday (May 21) and will take place on every third Saturday and Sunday of the month.
Situated along the Singapore River and close to Fort Canning Hill, River Valley served as the economic lifeline and seat of government in colonial Singapore, says My Community in the release.
It was also where immigrants settled to pursue economic prosperity and a comfortable life.
This tour, which took more than a year to research and develop, will give participants a chance to learn more about the area's string of pre-Independence community gems, such as the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple, Teochew Building and Chesed-El Synagogue.
My Community volunteer guide Patrick Lee, 43, himself a River Valley resident, notes that many passers-by would pause outside the Oxley Rise residence.
He says: "What was once foreboding - what with the heavy security presence and all - has become a spot for Singaporeans to exchange nuggets of history and experience a tender moment reminiscing the contributions of the nation's early founders."
The second tour - My Boon Keng Heritage Tour - will start this Sunday and subsequently be conducted every fourth Saturday and Sunday of the month.
It takes participants to historical sites in the Boon Keng area, including the Central Sikh Temple and Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital.
It offers a glimpse into the history of Kallang River and the communities that live, work, play and pray along its banks.
My Community volunteer guide Corliss Chong, 43, who lives in Boon Keng, says: "While many old buildings have been torn down and pioneer businesses shuttered, what remains a constant is the friendly neighbours I have encountered over the past 30 years. I want to introduce Singaporeans to the neighbourhood I call home".
The two new tours add to My Community's stable of volunteer-run tours in Alexandra, Dawson, Holland Village, Mount Faber and Sentosa, Redhill, Tanglin Halt, Telok Blangah and Tiong Bahru. Each tour is free.