Walking trails, guide to help new S'pore residents learn more about their neighbourhoods

Heartland Orientation Trail participants at the Geylang Serai Heritage Gallery on July 24, 2021. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - New residents can now easily get more familiar with their neighbourhoods here.

The Heartland Orientation Trail (H.O.T) programme and Your Neighbourly Welcome Guide allow them to learn about the culture and heritage of where they live. They can find out where landmarks such as community centres and places of worship are located.

Mr Mohd Fahmi Aliman, mayor of South East District and adviser to Marine Parade GRC grassroots organisations, launched the two initiatives at Geylang Serai Community Club (CC) on Saturday (July 24).

Mayor Fahmi said these initiatives would allow new residents to learn about the culture and heritage of their neighbourhood, and also meet and get to know their fellow residents in the community.

He said: "When any of us travel overseas, the first thing we want to do is get some bearings on our surroundings - it is the same for foreigners who choose to settle in Singapore."

The walking trails start from Geylang Serai CC, Joo Chiat CC, and 85 Fengshan Market. The guided walks are free and take about an hour each.

Stops on the trails include the Muslim Converts' Association of Singapore, Geylang Serai Heritage Gallery, Chinese Development Assistance Council Building, and Palelai Buddhist Temple.

Under current Covid-19 restrictions, group sizes are limited to 10 people each time, including H.O.T guides. Participants must walk in twos and adhere to prevailing social distancing measures throughout the walking trail.

They will also get a copy of the Welcome Guide, a booklet with information about the area. An electronic version can be downloaded from the People's Association (PA) website.

Residents can register their interest at the CCs. H.O.T guides will then organise the walks according to residents' interest.

They can also use e-H.O.T, a Web-based application jointly developed by the PA Integration Council and Nanyang Polytechnic.

The e-H.O.T website provides an immersive experience for users to learn about Singaporeans' way of living, focusing on the neighbourhoods of Geylang Serai, Joo Chiat and Katong.

Stops on the trails include the Muslim Converts' Association of Singapore. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Participants outside Haig Road Market & Food Centre as part of the walking trails. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Retiree Jyoti Mundy, 75, is a British citizen who has lived in Singapore with her husband for seven years. They are residents of Haig Road.

She said: "When we first moved to the neighbourhood, we weren't familiar with the area, but our neighbours were a great help in getting us settled. But even today, there are some buildings and monuments that I walk past without knowing what they are or their significance in the community."

Mrs Mundy and her husband plan to apply for permanent residence soon.

The customised H.O.T programme will be curated for the other four districts while the Welcome Guide will be progressively produced for all 17 GRCs islandwide.

Mayor Fahmi said: "In terms of next steps, we hope to get new citizens and PRs involved with the community as well. They can become volunteers, or even join our grassroots organisations."

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