Taiwanese actor-singer Jimmy Lin was a fresh-faced 19-year-old teenybopper when he was invited by then Singapore Tourist Promotion Board to come here to celebrate the Merlion's 21st birthday in 1993.
More than two decades later, he has been invited again by the tourism board to film a micro-movie to promote Singapore in China. Lin is now 39, a father and still youthful- looking.
Speaking to the media by the Singapore River in between filming on Thursday, he says: "Singapore has changed so much. There are so many new buildings and the ferris wheel (Singapore Flyer).
"I watch the Formula One races, including the Singapore F1 night race. I've seen how the landscape of Singapore has changed, so I've been wanting to come and have a look myself," adds Lin, a motorsport enthusiast who has raced cars since 1997.
Recalling memories of times spent here with local fans, he says wistfully: "My fans were very supportive. I think many of them are now parents, just like me."
In fact, he is now often referred to as "Kimi's daddy" ever since he and his four-year-old son Kimi appeared on the top-rated China reality show, Where Are We Going, Dad?.
The Hunan TV China variety show, currently airing on now Mango (StarHub TV Channel 836), follows the adventures of celebrity fathers and their children on trips.
Lin and Kimi's soaring popularity in China is one of the reasons why Singapore Tourism Board chose the actor to front the 20-minute-long micro- movie, Rediscovering Love, which will be launched on China video website Youku in July.
Lin plays a broken- hearted photographer who retraces the itinerary of his ex-lover in Singapore, visiting places such as The Singapore Flyer, Gardens by the Bay and The Intan, a Peranakan museum in Joo Chiat.
The actor, who was considered to be one of Taiwan's four Little Heavenly Kings in the 1990s along with Takeshi Kaneshiro, Nicky Wu and Alec Su, was thinking of his son while filming here.
Lin, who married 28-year-old Taiwanese model Kelly Chen in 2009, says of the popular local snack, kaya toast: "It's really tasty. I'm sure Kimi will love it and will fight me for it."