The Battle Box & National Museum of Singapore
Singapore Travel Blog› entry 5 of 32 › view all entries
Had our first very wet day today - it didn't stop raining from about 11am, but we only got a little bit soaked! Luckily, you dry quite quickly in Singapore, because even though it's raining, the warmth means you don't stay dripping for very long.
We started the day at The Battle Box Museum, on the top of Fort Canning Hill. The Museum is within a series of underground bunkers and you follow the various tunnels around as wax mannequins tell you about the days leading up to the British surrender in 1942. Many of the rooms are set up as they would have been at this time, such as radio and communications rooms, General Percival's office, etc.. It's quite well done, and some of the mannequins even move as they speak - a bit eerie in the semi-darkness! One section has a hologram showing you two radio operators, but many of the picture viewers weren't working, so we got moved on to the next section fairly quickly. Our guide, Dias, is 71 years old and he was actually at City Hall with his father when Lord Mountbatten accepted the formal surrender - he saw the huge march past of the released POW's and liberators, and said it was an amazing experience as a 7 year old boy.
We arrived at the National Museum of Singapore just as the rain started, which was handy. We ended up staying for about 3 1/2 hours - this would have to be one of the best laid-out museums we have ever been to. You start in the Singapore History section, and are given an audio guide which tells you all you need to know. You press various numbers to get an audio explanation as you wander through the sections, and every single exhibit has a number that you can enter to bring up a written description of what they are. You learn about Singapore from about the 1400s up to the present day, including the modernisation of the country in the 1970s. After that, you head into the Singapore Living sections, which showcase film, photography, fashion and food. Our favourite was the food section - it gave lots of great explanations of the various foods being sold at the markets and by street vendors, as well as video demos on how they're cooked and examples of the utensils etc.. The spice section out the back has "smell-o-vision" so you get to sniff the various spices as well (although a couple weren't working). We were lucky to be some of the first visitors to a new special exhibition of Benny Ong's evening gowns from 1988-89. He is one of Singapore's famous international designers, and apparently dressed Princess Diana for her first Australian tour. In all, we could have spent much longer at this museum, but we were getting tired feet!
Had a wonder through Plaza Singapore on Orchard Road before heading home for our last dinner at the food market (before we come back in a few weeks). Unfortunately the drain cleaners arrived just as we sat down to our meal, so it got very noisy, although luckily not too smelly! Off to Borneo tomorrow, so looking forward to that.