During the 3-week term break that took place after the Mid-Semester Tests  (MST), I embarked on a heritage walking trail. The trail that I have chosen was  Tails of the Survivors.

I chose to embark on this trail as I found the buildings listed in the trail to be really intriguing; I have always wanted to learn more about the history of the building and also why a building was built to look a certain way.

The Tails of the Survivors trail consists of 3 buildings : The Cathay, MacDonald House and the former house of Tan Yeok Nee.

According to the trail’s synopsis (on https://roots.sg/visit/trails/tails-of-the-survivors), these buildings are “witnesses and survivors of Singapore’s tumultuous past as well as Singapore’s development”.

The 1st destination was The Cathay. Here are some photos that I have taken on the trail:

Interesting facts about the Cathay building :

  1.  It is Singapore’s 1st air-conditioned cinema.
  2. The building was of significant importance during World War 2.
  • Before the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, the building was used as a shelter against air raids carried out by the Japanese.
  • During the Japanese Occupation, the Propaganda Department Headquarters and Military Information Bureau was stationed there.
  • The Japanese beheaded looters and other victims and displayed their severed heads outside the building.
  • After the Japanese Occupation, it became the headquarters for Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander, South-east Asia from 1945 to 1946.
  • Was a popular place for film entertainment after the war.
  1. The first movie to be screened in the cinema was The Four Feathers, a film adaptation of a novel of the same name written in 1902. It tells the story of a man accused of cowardice.

The 2nd Destination is the MacDonald House. Here are some photos that I have taken on the trail:


Interesting facts about the MacDonald House :

  1. It is the 1st air-conditioned office building in Southeast Asia.
  2. Widely remembered for the bombing in 1965 as part of the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation which occurred from 1963 to 1966.
  • 3 people died and 33 others were injured during the bombing.
  1. Several parts of the building use natural lighting.
  • There is an open well that runs through the building, providing natural light for the inner offices.
  • Apart from that, there are 6 skylights in the banking hall’s ceiling. As a result, the area does not require any artifiicial lighting during daytime.

And last but not least, the 3rd Destination : The former house of Tan Yeok Nee. Here are some photos that I have taken on the trail :

Interesting facts about the about the Former House of Tan Yeok Nee :

  1. The designer coordinated the entire building’s design to reflect the balance and harmony represented by the five elements – fire, water, wood, earth and gold.
  2. The owner of the house, Tan Yeok Nee, was a rich businessman in Johor and Singapore in the 19th Century.
    • He was well-known among residents as an honest person.
  3. The intricate designs on the walls are carvings telling the story of Tan Yeok Nee’s ancestors.
  4. The building  is a monument to the contributions of early Chinese immigrants in Singapore.

This trail has certainly sharpened my understanding of Singapore as I learned a lot about Singapore’s history through my visits to these 3 historically significant buildings. Apart from that, one thing that I have picked up from embarking on this trail is that Singapore is not as boring as I thought it was; when I was scrolling through a list of heritage trails to choose from, I was rather surprised by the many choices as I did not expect to see many interesting trails. Apparently, there are many possible fun things to do in Singapore. And that is going on a heritage trail.