New dialect tours in Kreta Ayer precinct, includes gallery and key landmarks

The tours, conducted in Cantonese, Teochew and Hokkien, shed light on the history of the precinct through gallery artefacts and retelling of lesser-known stories.

Caleb Lau

Grew up a musician, found a calling in photography and writing. Still in love with all of them.

Published: 24 March 2022, 2:59 PM

Dialect tours will be conducted from March to December in the Kreta Ayer precinct, offering a curation of lesser known stories and visits to various landmarks.

Titled Discover Through Dialects: Kreta Ayer Heritage Tours, it will take participants through the Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery and several key landmarks in the area, said the National Heritage Board (NHB) in a press release on Mar 23.

The launch is part of NHB’s outreach efforts to make the history and heritage of Kreta Ayer more accessible to seniors as well as families with members who are primarily dialect-speaking. 


The sessions will be led by volunteer guides like Low Kah Meng (left) and Ang Bee Lian (right), who are part of a pool of docents whom NHB co-developed the content with. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/CALEB LAU


Beginning the tour at the Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery, participants can learn more about various elements of the cultural heritage celebrated in the precinct, including Chinese opera, nanyin music, Chinese puppetry, calligraphy, and tea appreciation.


The gallery, which opened in 2019, gives an overview of the history and heritage of Kreta Ayer through numerous artefacts and audio-visual displays. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/CALEB LAU


After which, the tour will be brought outdoors to nearby landmarks, where guides will point out distinctive architectural features and share stories about communities who lived in the area.


Participants will head to pit stops such as (from left) the Tong Ah Building, Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple and Cundhi Gong Temple. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/CALEB LAU


Though mainly catered to the older generation, Alvin Tan, NHB’s deputy chief executive of policy & community, said the tours provide an informal and interactive environment for youths to fully immerse themselves in dialects.

“They can also come with their grandparents, as a good time to bond and learn more about their elders and their culture,” said Bee Lian, one of the docents conducting the tours.

The dialect tours will take place once on the last Saturday of each month, kicking off on Mar 26 and slated to end in December. Each session is roughly 90 minutes long and can accommodate up to 15 participants.


Each dialect tour will be conducted in one of the three dialects and slots will be available for booking two to three days prior to the session date. PHOTO CREDIT: NATIONAL HERITAGE BOARD


At the same time, the gallery is also conducting similar tours of the precinct, titled Community Gallery Tours: Discover Kreta Ayer’s History and Heritage, in English from March and Mandarin in the second half of the year.

The Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery, which is the start and end point of the tours, is located at the ground floor of Kreta Ayer CC, 28 Kreta Ayer Rd.  All tour tickets, priced at $5 per pax, need to be purchased through Peatix and are on a first-come-first-serve basis.

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