牛车水 / Kereta Ayer. Where water used to be delivered via bullock cart, hence the Chinese and Malay names for what is now known as Chinatown. It was formally designated a Chinese enclave by the colonial powers in the early 1800s, as there were already Chinese immigrants settled in the area, way before the British came around.

There are numerous Chinese temples everywhere, the most prominent being the monolithic Buddha Tooth Relic Temple right in the heart of the tourist zone, where old men play checkers and drink kopi next to the hawker center / market complex, and enthusiasts line dance on Saturdays.

Stone’s throws away, are also places of worship built by Tamil immigrants in the early 1820s:

Sri Mariamman Temple, built by Hindus from the Nagapatnam and Cuddalore districts of South India.

Masjid Jamae, built by the Chulias, Muslims from the Coromandel Coast of Southern India. The low green wall ranging through the left of the photo above, belongs to the mosque.

Singapore’s been a melting pot for hundreds of years. Being a crossroad on a major maritime thoroughfare,  immigrants have been shaping its future for a very long time. I hope we never forget that, and all the messy complexity that comes with that history.