Tour the Past in Singapore

We stopped for a few days in the city-state of Singapore on our way to and from Kerala, India. In mid- November, Singapore was seriously decked out for Christmas with blue lights and “Have a Glitzy Christmas” banners everywhere. The 3 towers under construction in the picture below are gambling hotels. Singapore wants a piece of the action.

Singapore is well organized, clean, safe,  and new. Some freedoms, such as free speech, are restricted. Drug traffickers get the death penalty. On the other hand, Singapore is an economic success and its 5 million multi-cultural inhabitants enjoy a high standard of living. They seem to be content.    Singapore is not easy to figure out.
Look to the Past
Singapore is so modern, but there are some great museums where you can travel back in time to learn of Singapore history.

The Asian Civilisation Museum in Singapore is a treasure, with focus on cultures that had an impact on Singapore. We spent several hours viewing displays and artefacts from China, India and southeast Asia. The exhibits are well presented, with extensive information about the culture, religion and migration of Asian peoples. We didn't expect to, but we learned lots about India, our next travel destination, in the Asian Civilisations Museum. (There are  beautiful Buddha statues on display, too).

The early days of Singapore are described at the entrance to the museum -the role of the British in the creation of Singapore for the 'Empire', the immigration of Chinese workers, and the brutality of the Japanese in WWII.

The Chinatown Heritage Centre

The Singapore Chinatown Heritage Centre was also exceptional. It is in an old ‘shophouse’ in Chinatown, with realistic re-creations of the lives of Chinese immigrants to Singapore. The displays are artistically and thoughtfully presented and we left with understanding of the tremendous hardships Chinese immigrants faced in Singapore, the poverty, opium addiction, disease, the struggle to survive.

Both museums added depth to our visit to Singapore. We escaped the modernity for a few hours and saw beautiful archeological displays in the Asian Civilizations Museum.  The Chinatown Heritage Centre, by delving into the recent past, provided some insights into Singapore of today.