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China is an amazing place to visit with its history, diverse culture and nature. Singapore is made up of more than 70% Chinese and because our ancestors mainly came from the Southern parts of China, they have brought over many of these.

Ironically, most parts of Chinatown in Singapore doesn’t quite feel like China despite the fact a lot of the Chinese of different dialect stayed there in the early days. This is due to the shophouses being uniquely Singapore and to the Straits Settlement and the original town plan was for Indians to stay. (We did include 1 entry from Chinatown.)

As VTL to China is unlikely to launch anytime soon due to the country’s tight covid measures so here’s an article for you to enjoy China without leaving Singapore.

Sun Yat-Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall vs Memorial Hall of Wuchang uprising (Wuhan) and Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall of Guangzhou (Guangzhou)

Sun Yat-Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall in Balestier was offered to Dr Sun Yat Sen, leader of the Tong Meng Hui, for his revolutionary activities.

With the support of the overseas Chinese communities, Dr Sun’s forces launched a series of uprisings against the Qing dynasty and eventually overthrew the Chinese imperial government in 1911. 

Similarities between the attractions:

  • Revolution plans were made in each of the actual preserved sites.
  • Each has an architectural style which is NOT of the East. The main building of the hall in Guangzhou was constructed in a traditional Chinese palace style with an octagonal shape from the outside while the inside is all western style. Singapore’s style is typical of the Malaya shophouse called Straits eclectic whereas Wuhan’s two-storey red building is exclusively Western.
  • All had a bronze statue of Dr Sun Yat-sen at the front of the building.

Tulou (土楼) earthen structures in Xiamen vs Tulou in Singapore

What? You may ask, “There is a Tulou (土楼) in Singapore?”

The Hakka columbarium in Singapore was completed in 1991 after the nearby cemetery was exhumed in the early eighties. Build by Fung Yun Thai Association (丰永大公会), the clan dated back to the 19th century, when the early Hakka immigrants from the three counties of China (Fung Shoon 丰顺, Yun Teng 永定 and Tai Po 大埔), arrived at Singapore. (The latter is where my grandfather is from.)

Fung Yun Thai Association (丰永大公会) decided to monetise part of the property by developing Eleven@Holland, a semi-detach housing completed in 2014 in the prestigious neighbourhood. A tall circling wall, just like a Tulou (土楼), was built around the columbarium for free by the developer and the association decided to mimic the traditional building. (Though it was not built in the traditional manner.)

There are many Tulou (土楼) mostly in the southern region of China and the oldest is said to be about 700 years old.

Guilin in China vs Little Guilin in Singapore

Having travelled to Guilin and Yangshou before, I think Singapore’s Little Guilin is a pale comparison to the original. However, since covid-19, it is a good alternative if you want to experience the splendour of Guilin.

Singapore’s version is an abandoned granite quarry and has a little man-made park around it.

Summer Palace in Beijing vs Chinese Garden in Singapore

Do you know that the Chinese Garden in Singapore is actually modelled after famous historical structures in China?

Built in 1975, the 13.5-ha garden was designed and constructed based on classical northern Chinese imperial architectural style. Some of the key features of the garden, such as the 13-Arch Rainbow Bridge, followed the style of structures found in Beijing’s Summer Palace. The seven-storey pagoda, known as the Ru Yun Ta or “Cloud Piercing Pagoda”, was inspired by the Linggu Temple Pagoda in Nanjing, China.

However, the Chinese Garden is currently under renovation now (2021) but you can still see the bridge and pagoda from across Jurong Lake Park.

Tooth Relic Temple in Singapore vs Dule Temple in Tianjin

Built in 2007, the Tooth Relic Temple gets its name from what the Buddhists regard as the left canine tooth of Buddha, which has been recovered from his funeral pyre in Kushinagar, India and displayed on the temple’s grounds.

This Tang-styled Chinese Buddhist temple was conceptualised and designed by the temple’s Chief Abbot Venerable Shi Fa Zhao, with the help of local and overseas consultants. It costs S$75 million to set up and is based on various elements of Tang Dynasty architecture.

Dule Temple in Tianjin City, built in the Tang Dynasty and dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy, is one of China’s most ancient wood constructions.

Let’s hope we can travel soon and not get trapped on our small island of Singapore. If you want to more overseas-like travel in Singapore, check out Balestier as well.