Think You Know All There Is to Know About Singapore? I Challenge You!

If you think you know all there is to know about Singapore, I challenge you to go on the Diverse-City Trails which is a collaboration between Ben & Jerry's and The Thought Collective.

Each trail is 1.5hr and costs $25. They run from 16 March till 16 September 2015.
Locations: 1) Little India 2) Toa Payoh 3) Jalan Besar

Is it your ordinary heritage trail? What is there to expect? I think it will be boring, why should I pay to go on such a trail? I am sure these are the questions running through your head because if it was me, I would be asking myself these too. What you don't know is that this is no heritage trail.

Each of the trails will expose us to different issues and allow us to experience something new, something we might have heard in theory but never experienced firsthand. Their aim is to engage the public on a deeper level with current issues affecting Singapore in the hope of inspiring change and action while having fun and ice-cream. Yes, ice-cream! The trail ends with participants having the chance to try out Ben & Jerry's new flavour called the 'Nice Kacang!', a mixture of peanut butter ice cream, chocolate nougats, fudge chunks topped with sweet and salty pretzel swirls.

Let me share with you my experience on the trail at Toa Payoh. At the core of it was the issue of the relationship in a community.

We walked to a few residential blocks in the area and we learned about the architectural design of the HDB flats there. This particular one was a typical L-shaped one but due to its 'programming', social cohesion was something that was more difficult to encourage.

The corridors were narrow which made it difficult for neighbours to hang out at. While there was a park downstairs, it was considered too intrusive and was barely used.

This walkway was known as the Road To Hell. 

We learned about how the boundaries between private space and public space mattered in fostering cohesion in a community and between neighbours. There were many thought provoking questions raised. Would you live in a neighbourhood where everyone had requests or offers? Requests meant that they required a service and offers meant they were willing to offer something. Interestingly, relationships all begin with such a transaction of meeting a need with a service. 

If you think a HDB block of requests would turn you off, what about a block of unsent requests? It means that you know they require help but they do not ask for it. This is certainly scary. We all know that there exists income inequality in Singapore but have you seen this for yourself firsthand? People staying in rented flats with little means to support themselves. A scene you will never forget once witnessed. Your heart just goes out to them. One person can do so little but imagine if the community rises up and actively takes steps to help such a block of residents.

Of course, there were much more examples raised but sharing everything here will spoil the fun. I certainly learned a lot from this short trip and if anything, it made me open my eyes to the things we normally don't observe. Has the HDB community become one where everyone closes their eyes to the things others do with the 'it's not my business' mindset or is it one whereby social cohesion exists and neighbours are willing to offer help?

I hope this article has caused you to think a little more and if you would like to experience all I have felt firsthand, do consider purchasing your tickets via Early bird tickets for the first 300 signups will cost only $20.

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