Touring a cemetery is probably not the most thrilling idea for many people, especially in Singapore where superstitions still dictate the daily lives of some locals.
But when the Covid-19 pandemic brought international travel to a standstill, tourist guide Chris Ng decided to turn to death to survive.
Ng, who is affectionately known as Uncle Chris, began to conduct walking tours around cemeteries, a territory that was relatively untouched in the realm of guided tours in Singapore.
And to Ng’s pleasant delight, people were actually interested to walk among the dead.
That tale of perseverance is just one of 10 stories highlighted by Singapore Tourism Board (STB) Malaysia in a docuseries.
The agency recently premiered Hello From Singapore, an inside look into how industry players in Singapore are reimagining their businesses amid the pandemic.
STB area director (Malaysia and Brunei) Dawn Ng said the production is an avenue to ensure Singapore remains an aspirational destination for all as the island city works towards the safe return of travellers.
“We want to share a glimpse of how our community is making the best of their everyday lives and reinventing their work as we recover from this pandemic.
“We hope these stories will give a healthy dose of assurance, inspiration, and seed the desire for future travellers to discover and reimagine Singapore when travel resumes, ” she said in a statement.
New episodes premiere every Tuesday on the VisitSingapore Facebook page.
The first episode featured Marcus Foo of PPP Coffee fame. The coffee boutique (formerly known as Papa Palheta) specialises in sourcing, roasting and serving speciality coffee.
According to Foo, he is “really missing travellers who bring coffee from their hometowns, to exchange coffee with us”.
That sentiment to reconnect with visitors is also shared by Mastura Didih who is the second generation co-owner of popular eatery Hjh Maimunah.
On its part, the restaurant has used the pandemic period to look inward and help the local community tide over these difficult times.
“We understand that this is a very difficult time, so we have this idea to give back to the community. We give free food to healthcare workers on certain days, and give free food to the less fortunate, ” said Mastura.
Another personality featured on the docuseries is Tan Li Ling, owner of Wheniwasfour. The Singapore-based design studio and label creates local-flavoured lifestyle products.
Tan said the pandemic has inspired the company to “bring some encouragement to our customers and social media followers with more motivational content”.
On Tan’s part, she is crafting items like cushion covers and notebooks as gift ideas for loved ones.
While extending care for others is great amid the pandemic, self-care is equally important – something that Slowhouse founder Bella Koh can attest to.
Koh, who is featured on the third episode, suffered extreme work stress and regular gastric problems several years ago.
Those turbulent years then propelled her to promote a movement of slowing down life’s pace, taking the time to be aware of one’s surroundings, and seeking the right balance as a conscious consumer.
Koh manifested this through Slowhouse, an event space used to offer workshops for healthy cooking as well as gatherings to share thoughts about embracing slow living.
Amid the pandemic, Koh has been focusing on curating items on behalf of customer’s requests, like offering sustainable products such as organic brownies, essential oils, hand wash and hair de-frizzers.
Other personalities to look out for in the docuseries include indie-electronic duo Weish and Din, heritage keeper David Wee and sustainable living advocate Mayur Singh.
For culinary lovers, tune in to the episodes featuring The Old Man Singapore co-founder Andrew Yap and Caviar Colony co-founder Benjamin Goh.
Hello From Singapore is part of an ongoing effort to allow Malaysians to relive old favourites and discover new travel experiences through the SingapoReimagine campaign.
While the fate of international travel is still uncertain, Singapore recently announced several new attractions – such as the Museum of Ice Cream from the United States – to spur tourism recovery.
“These projects are a welcome breath of fresh air among all the negativity and bad news in the last year. Since the pandemic hit, we have focused on how to weather this ‘long winter’, ” said STB chief executive officer Keith Tan at the Tourism Industry Conference.