Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall (also known as Wan Qing Yuan 晚晴园) is the abode and revolutionary base of Dr Sun Yat Sen (孙中山), the founding father of Republican China, while he lived in Singapore in 1906.
There are numerous bus services that plough through Balestier Road. However, traffic on this road is usually bad making the journey unpredictable. Our preferred way is via the MRT. The nearest is the Novena MRT Station which is situated in the basement of Novena Square Shopping Mall. From there, take a 20 minutes walk to reach the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall.
As you can see from the above map, I’ve highlighted other attractions that are within close proximity to the Wan Qing Yuan. Starting from Novena Square, the above route is a loop which will eventually brings you back to Novena Square.
Other Nearby Attractions
Situated right next to Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall is the Maha Sasana Ramsi Burmese Buddhist Temple. Admire this first and only Burmese Buddhist temple built outside of Myanmar in traditional Burmese architectural style. It also houses the largest white marble Buddha image outside of Myanmar.
Next, head towards Balestier Road for a coffee break at a nostalgic coffee shop and savour its famous Tau Sar Piah (local baked pastry). Finally, walk 15 minutes to the Novena Church (Church of St Alphonsus).
All set…let’s head back to our lead character here, Wan Qing Yuan.
Villa of Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall
This house was originally built in 1900 by a wealthy businessman for his beloved mistress. Years later, it was acquired by a rubber magnate for his aged mother and renamed Wan Qing Yuan, which symbolizes peace and happiness in his mother’s twilight years. In 1906, the villa was offered to Dr Sun for his revolutionary activities. Visitor can read about how this monumental house changes its owners over the years and became what it is today.
Garden of Wan Qing Yuan
In the garden, various tropical fruit trees that were planted by Dr Sun (a fruit lover) then had continued to thrive. One particular tree stood out among the rest. It is called the Tree of the Martyrs.
This tree is the offspring of the original tamarind tree that Dr Sun grew in China for his mother, of which the seedling was brought back from Hawaii.
The other eye-catcher is this 3.5 metre tall stone carving. On one side it reads one of Dr Sun most famous quote “天下为公” which meant “universal harmony”. On the other side, it summarised how Singapore founding father Lee Kuan Yew describes Dr Sun during his interview with Time Magazine. Dr Sun was described as “一个改变中国命运的人” which translate to “One Man Change China”.
Roam further to the back of the garden, there is a miniature Great Wall of China made of stone, and some leftover equipment from World War II as this place used to be the Japanese Communication Centre and Kempeitai branch during the Japanese Occupation Period.
Finally, before moving indoor to the museum, don’t forget to admire the beautiful boundary wall of Wan Qing Yuan which is fully covered with intricate carvings.
Museum of Wan Qin Yuan
Welcoming visitors on the first floor of the museum is a child statue of Dr Sun and a brief history of the Qing Dynasty.
This floor is dedicated mainly to the history of Wan Qing Yuan while the second floor showcases the family background, life journey, thoughts and aspirations of Dr Sun.
It is believed that during Dr Sun’s maiden voyage to Hawaii to study, his fascination of the steamship and the vastness of the sea planted the seed of revolution in his mind. His objective of the revolution according to Dr Sun was “to save China such that freedom and equality is enjoyed by the people and not just the warlords, and also the equality that China will enjoy on the world stage”.
The various stages of Dr Sun’s revolution journey…
There is a life size wax statue of Dr Sun and his revolutionary comrades from the Tongmenghui (later Kuomintang) holding meetings here in Wan Qing Yuan.
Tongmenhui was created through the unification of many other Chinese revolutionary groups. One of those is the Restoration Society. An copy of the Oath of Allegiance from the Restoration Society was on display.
Another not to be missed highlight is an oil painting named ‘Overseas Chinese – Mother of the Revolution’ that measures 6 metres by 3 metres. The painting showed Dr Sun and his comrades propagating their revolutionary cause to the tin miners, rubber tappers and farmers in Malaya. This painting is hung in the Nanyang Gallery which is dedicated to the many Chinese people from Malaya who sacrificed their lives and fortunes for the cause.