Friday, January 30, 2009

A Clarke Quay Eccentric Pub Walk

Taken on Read Bridge.

Friends and readers who know me well enough would have realised that I am an ardent supporter of The Original Singapore Walks' tours, conducted by Journeys Pte Ltd. I am proud to declare that I have been to all their existing walks. Possibly, I may go for the coach tours for my second time because I have a fascination with World War II history in this part of the world.

The Original Singapore Walks tours are not just educational but entertaining. I have yet to find any other tour providers in Singapore who can present succinct and well-researched history and heritage related information in such accessible manner, at such affordable rates.

It brings me a lot of pleasure to share with my readers here about the recent Original Singapore Walks tour that I went for. The walk was officially launched on 20 Sep 2008 and so I would consider it a fairly new tour. It has a pretty interesting name: Of Dali, Barley and Hadhramis. The name is so interesting, that I was all ears throughout the entire tour just so that I can pay full attention to figure out how the name of the tour was derived. I am pleased to tell you that I think I have more or less figured out the answer. If you want to know the answer, go for the tour and find it out for yourself please. For S$25 per adult, I think it is very value-for-money for all the interesting anecdotes and history facts that I get.

The starting point for this walk, which is basically a walk about the Clarke Quay area with visits made to two pubs, is at Clarke Quay MRT station, outside Exit E. I think I was so excited to participate in the tour that I reached the starting point pretty early and was the first participant to report for the tour.

A glimpse of Clarke Quay. Taken from Central.

It is not the objective of this post to share with readers what I have learnt on this tour. Afterall, I think it is so much better that readers go for the tour themselves and learn about the history of Clarke Quay directly from the tour guide.

What I shall attempt to share in this post will be the many lovely sceneries that I had seen while I was onboard this tour. I can say that while my eyes are often not on the tour guide, my ears were listening to her as attentively as I can. I wanted to learn, to learn more about this country of Singapore that I call my homeland. The best way to do so was to be attentive and interested. In addition, I shall attempt to share what makes this walk interesting enough to deserve my readers' patronage.

Heading towards Coleman Bridge.

Yet, before I can share about the lovely sceneries of the present, I decided it would be necessary to have an appreciation of how Clarke Quay had looked like in the past. However, I don't grow up in Clarke Quay and have limited impression how it had looked like. The best I could do given my limited resources would be to point readers to read this post by Vickoo titled Second 2nd-Shot - North Boat Quay In 1979 And Now. Vickoo mentioned that the place in his photo was actually called North Boat Quay. I wonder why people of my generation now refers to the same place as Clarke Quay? Could anyone please enlighten?

A post by Cornelius-Takahama, Vernon written in the year 1999 might have answered my question. According to this post, Clarke Quay stretches from Read Bridge at North Boat Quay to Ord Road/ Ord Bridge and right towards River Valley Road. It was named after Lieutenant-General Sir Andrew Clarke, the second Governor of the Straits Settlements.

Acknowlegment: This photo is taken from SGCool.
Ref: 2000-0682, NHB Collections, National Museum of Singapore.
It shows Singapore River and Boat Quay, with Fort Canning Hill in the background.
Clarke Quay is in the background too, and can't be seen clearly in this photo.
Early to mid 20th century, Singapore.

Anyway, if we were to compare what is referred today as Clarke Quay with how the very same place had looked like in at least three decades ago, we would see a stark difference. Nevertheless, some things remain quite the same. These, in my opinion, are: The large windows and doors of the godowns in the area, the height of Fort Canning Hill, and a couple of buildings in the area.

The redevelopment of Clarke Quay has given the area a major facelift. It is now managed and owned by CapitaLand. As I was onboard the tour, aside from appreciating the rich heritage of the area, I tried to savour the vibrant and colourful facade of Clarke Quay. Does present day Clarke Quay appeal to you?

Peddlers Walk.
There used to be a lot of peddlers along this stretch of pathway in the past.

I had walked across this fountain without getting wet.

One reason that I find worthwhile to go for this tour, Of Dali, Barley and Hadhramis, is that other than getting enriched with well-researched knowledge of the past, one gets very good discounts if one should decide to purchase drinks from the two pubs that the tour brought us to. Essentially, this tour is not a pub crawl, but it is a heritage-tour with an element that allow its participants to chill at the pubs at discounted rates. The best part for yours truly is that we don't just go to the two pubs to drink and to chill. Participants get to learn and acquire new knowledge while at the pub. I am pleased to share that while I was at the pub, I have learnt things that were new to me. For one thing, I have learnt about the people of Hadhramaut and how this group of people had been important in contributing to the development of Singapore during the earlier years.

A Middle-Eastern pub.
Marrakesh Moroccan Lounge & Bar.

Hummus and bread whose name I had forgotten.

Chilling out with refreshing glasses of cocktails at discounted prices.


Each participant onboard the tour could get a glass of beer of that size for $5.

By the way, inclusive in the price of my tour ticket was a tour of the Royal Selangor Gallery at Clarke Quay. Other than viewing the pewter wares displayed in the Pewter Gallery, visitors get to see the demonstration of Pewtersmithing. While we were at the Royal Selangor Gallery, we learnt about the founder of the Royal Selangor Pewter, Yong Koon, and the lady who was the wife of its founder.

Visitors get to try their hands on the art of hammering and knocking.

Concluding, I get to see a variety of interesting things while I was onboard this very tour, Of Dali, Barley and Hadhramis. If you would like to take a look at a building that used to be one of Tan Yeok Nee's houses, learn a bit about Tan Tye Place, find out what are tongkangs, hear about Whampoa's Ice House and enjoy the beauty of Read Bridge in the evening, this is a tour that is worth every bit of your consideration.

River House.

Read Bridge.

Read Bridge.

For more information about this tour, please visit: This is one tour that I would recommend to everyone who wants to enrich himself/ herself with knowledge while chilling out on a weekend evening.

(This post was adapted and first published under the same title at


pinkie said...

$5 for a brewerkz beer?! Cheap! This trip seems good, never know there's so much to learn about Clark Quay. Thanks for sharing :)

Doreen said...

I love that pic with the bicycle. I've never been to Clarke Quay, may be I should make my way there next I pop by Singapore.

oceanskies79 said...

Pinkie: Go for the tour for its enriching and educational aspects. The value-for-money beer is a bonus. There is a lot to learn about Clarke Quay.

Doreen: Do check out this tour if you are in Singapore on the day that the tour is on. It is worth your time and money! I can accompany you on the tour if my schedule permits then.

pinkie said...

Yes py, definitely not for the beer! I just check out the website, seems that they have different tours on different days... interesting...

c a r c a r said...

love this series of building photo! awesome!~

oceanskies79 said...

Pinkie: Yes. Journeys Pte Ltd has one of the most educational and interesting tours that I have attended in Singapore. :)

Carcar: Thank you! Your compliments has put a smile on my face.