At the age of 70, Chris Ng or fondly known as Uncle Chris steps up – quite literally. From organising walking tours to constantly learning new things, the sprightly senior has a daily programme packed to the brim. Ask any of the participants who joined the freelance tour guide in his exploration, and you are likely to hear many of them marvelling over his boundless energy even at the end of a four-hour itinerary.
Uncle Chris credits his vigour to a life rich with activities that he loves doing – going on travel adventures and forging connections. His foray into organising walking tours arose out of a desire to stay active during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Prior to the pandemic, he was a tour guide for overseas destinations. When international travel came to a halt, Uncle Chris was not prepared to cease his active lifestyle nor let that discourage him. With the encouragement from his family members, he decided to curate unique walking tours by including the roads less travelled and sharing hidden tales of sights and sites.
(Uncle Chris conducting local walking tours with participants at Chinatown. / Photo by Maven Potter)
A self-professed “heritage nerd”
Calling himself a ‘heritage nerd’, Uncle Chris dedicates a large part of his time to researching on the heritage and culture of Singapore. He spends hours poring through information online and reading materials in the library, before putting together the itineraries of his walking tours.
(Uncle Chris doing online research before curating his walking tours’ itineraries. / Photo by Maven Potter)
The preparation work does not end here. He makes frequent trips to the locations of interests to speak with residents or people who are familiar with the area, hoping to uncover interesting stories, which he could incorporate into the tours.
(Photo by Maven Potter)
“One of the most satisfying things is to hear from Singaporeans that they have discovered something new about our country after they joined my tours,” says Uncle Chris.
An insatiable appetite to learn
Understanding that constant learning is the best way for him to stay relevant in developing and marketing his walking tours, Uncle Chris embraces upskilling with enthusiasm. He took up SkillsFuture courses to enhance his digital skills.
(Uncle Chris signing up for SkillsFuture courses to expand his knowledge in digital marketing. / Photo by Maven Potter)
“As I saw how digitalisation has advanced, I signed up for many computer courses and started from the basic.” He adds, “Honestly, I am not the fastest learner but at least I can now communicate via email, organise a Zoom meeting, design simple PowerPoint slides and of course, do my research online.”
Uncle Chris’ appetite for learning does not stop here. Having seen how some of his youth participants took TikTok videos during his tours, Uncle Chris hopes to upgrade his social media engagement skills, with the help of his young friends and family members.
“I’ll Keep Walking”
Beyond curating new itineraries for his walking tours, Uncle Chris also looks forward to trips together with his family. “While I plan the programme of my walking tours for others, I leave the planning of our family trips to my children. I’ve enjoyed all the travels we did together – they seemed to know exactly what I like!”
(Photo by Maven Potter)
When asked about his plans for retirement, Uncle Chris was certain that he would “keep walking”. His active lifestyle is probably what helps him keep fit, though he admits to not having a workout regime. In fact, conducting frequent walking tours is as good as retirement for Uncle Chris who is always up for a fun adventure and making new friends. His advice for someone who is retiring is to simply find something that you enjoy and keep doing it.