December 14th, 2006

krazy koati

And I'll always keep your picture

I did other things at Sentosa than be shaken or having liquids sprayed on me. One of them was taking in ``Images of Singapore''. This is a surprisingly convoluted little museum dedicated to showing off various aspects of Singapore's heritage. The exhibit starts with a little semi-movie presentation from the (as far as I can tell) fictional ``Four Winds Trading Company'', with seats made up to look sort of like wooden shipping crates, and as the stage various props of cargo sailing ships. At the center of the theater a movie of a woman, projected onto a fog bank, which looks pretty cool in a spy movie communications device sort of way, introduces herself as sharing the heritage of her four great-grandfathers. Overhead, plasma screen-type screens with people dressed as vaguely 19th century Chinese, Malay, Indian, and British men chat about how they came to Singapore to trade goods and make money. Near the end some cannons blow out smoke rings while the voices express their wishes for family, peace, community, and harmony, and wish ``golden dreams to you.''

After that the guide nudged us out into the main part of the museum, made partly of photos, but also of mannequins replicating various events in Singaporean history, ranging from the pre-British days as a fishing village or a pirate haven, through Sir Stamford Raffles signing treaties to allow the British to build the place, to slices-of-life through various stages of development. The slice-of-life exhibits had me really fascinated; I'm just that way. Some of it was seeing ordinary life like children watching Chinese hand puppet shows (these included some motorized components, so the illusion was pretty effective. Some of that also was the many exhibits featuring advertising or brand name signs from the old days. Given my graphic design fascination, it's really hard to avoid looking long at Frasier and Neave (bottled drinks) advertisements of the 1920s or so on.

Another big exhibit is replicas of apartments and city streets through various festivals, showing different wedding traditions or celebrations for Hari Raya, Deepavali, Christmas, or this Thai fire-walking event whose name just doesn't stick in my mind (I'm sorry; you'd think firewalking would last in my head, or at least my feet). I had started out with one group released from the theater, but quickly fell behind, and I even fell behind the next group (all speaking Russian, incidentally), and the one after that. In the taxonomy of museum-goers I'm a lingerer, the kind of person who has to read every bit of text including the notices on the temperature-and-humidity meter. I realized how badly I was lingering when, in front of the Chinese opera exhibit, a guide came up to me and said, ``I'm sorry, but we actually closed fifteen minutes ago, so if you could please move a little quicker we would appreciate it.'' It sounds like what I would say if I were in that situation from the other side.

Trivia: Soybean flour is about eight percent water. Source: The New York Public Library Desk Reference, Editors Paul Fargis, Sheree Bykofsky.

Currently Reading: Forgotten Armies: The Fall of British Asia 1941-1945, Christopher Bayly, Tim Harper.