Who donated ancient buildings to the island?

Image: leehsienloong FB

Did you know that in 2009, film star Jackie Chan donated a pavilion, opera stage, and two houses named Da Tong and Du Zhe to Singapore? Each one is said to date back to the Qing and Ming dynasties (around 380 years ago), and they stand proud at Singapore University of Technology and Design at 8 Somapah Road. Significant restoration work was carried out by a team of 24 craftsmen from China, who were brought in to restore the properties to their original glory.

What was Bugis MRT station originally called?

The station as we know it today was named after the Bugis people – a seafaring tribe from South Sulawesi who were among the first groups to arrive in Singapore after the British established a trading settlement on the island in 1819. The wider area was known as ‘Rochore’ (and still is today), but the station was originally called Victoria. It was renamed Bugis in 1985.

Where can you find a stash of soy sauce bottles?

We’re all familiar with Sultan Mosque, or Masjid Sultan, the biggest mosque in Singapore. It stands resplendent in Kampong Glam and is one of most photographed locations on the red dot. But if you look a little closer at its majestic, glistening gold domes, something else might catch your eye. The reflective black strip that follows beneath the dome is lined with soy sauce bottles! According to historians, the bottles were sourced from poor Muslim families when the mosque was built in 1826. A reconstruction in 1924 led to the bottles today symbolising the entire Muslim population, regardless of wealth, who contributed to the most important mosque on the island.

What ‘World Day’ was pioneered by Singapore?

An achievement to go potty about (Image: Jack Sim FB)

The red dot is a famously sanitised city-state, but you may not know the island pioneered ‘World Toilet Day’. Yes, back in 2001, dunny-lovin’ Singapore proposed making 19 November ‘World Toilet Day.’ A whopping 122 countries backed the idea, and the World Toilet Organisation (worldtoilet.org) was born. That’s what we call a flushing success!

In what unusual place is SG’s national anthem?

Money is big business in Singapore, so it’s no wonder they decided to go for it with their S$1,000 banknote. Until 2021, not only was it possible to get a note in this hefty domination, but written on the back in micro text was the entire Singaporean national anthem. Issuance of S$1,000 notes was discontinued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, although notes in circulation remain legal tender.

Has the red dot ever disappeared?

The red dot is firmly on the map now, but it wasn’t always this way. Back in the 1600s, the island and its attractive trading port were generating much interest. This caused pirates to attack and burn the early settlement down in 1613, leaving it obsolete for more than a hundred years. It wasn’t until Sir Stamford Raffles established Singapore as a British trading post in 1819 that SG returned to the map for good.

Which body part was once deemed unacceptable in SG?

Chewing gum, vaping, and being a public nuisance are all out in Singapore, but did you know that having long hair was a big no-no for males from the 1960s to the 1990s? Back then, flowing locks on guys was deemed to be detrimental to the country and men with it were turned away at immigration checkpoints. As if that wasn’t enough to get Head & Shoulders weeping (perhaps), bands with unruly manes such as Led Zeppelin and the Bee Gees had to cancel their Singapore tours. In June 1970, lengthy-haired male performers were forbidden from appearing on locally recorded television programmes.

Sources: Monetary Authority of Singapore, National Library Board, biblioasia.nlb.gov.sg