Caturday: Cat in the museum

museum cat

[This post isn’t exactly up on a Caturday but my brain is still jetlagged in a Caturday time zone. Let’s all pretend it’s still Caturday. Meow!]

Cat from Hong Kong Museum of Art

One of the exhibitions at the Hong Kong Museum of Art was about sunken treasures from ancient Chinese ships.

Among the collection was this marble cat. It’s very catlike but the color’s a bit off. It looks like it has skin disease.

I didn’t realize that we couldn’t take photos so that’s why we see it on Caturday. It might also be the oldest cat in the Caturday series.

Getting my fill of museums in Santiago [YQrtw Day 84 Jul 2]

yq at art museum

Location: Santiago, Chile

Sunday was election day so no museum was open while Monday was the day all museums close so I only had Tuesday to visit Santiago’s museums.

Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago
Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago

The Museum of Memory and Human Rights was the #2 tourist attraction in Santiago on Tripadvisor. Being the sheep that I am, I went to the museum just to see what the fuss was about.

There wasn’t an entrance fee for the museum which was “dedicated to commemorate the victims of Human Rights violations during the Military Regime led by Augusto Pinochet between 1973 and 1990″ as noted by Wikipedia.

I shed big fat tears when I watched some of the interviews of those who were around during the coup. Luckily I was wearing glasses and a scarf so the tears could be hidden away.

After the sad museum, I went across the street to the contemporary art museum. I lied that I was a student and paid the 400 peso entrance fee instead of the 600 peso.

Unlike the Museum of Memory and Human Rights, the contemporary art museum made my laugh. Some of the works on display were clearly just trolling the audience and the organizers.

My favorite was a tiny glass bottle with eraser shred. The piece was titled something like “Copy of someimportantdrawing but erased”.

Who am I?
Who am I?
Balls of steel
Balls of steel

After the museum, I got on a bus to the city center. However, the bus stopped halfway and I had to take another bus. I realized much later that everyone got out of the bus because the terminal was nearby.

View from a Santiago bus
View from a Santiago bus

I hung around some sort of rundown mall and had a lunch of hotdog. Even though it was a fast food stall, the queue took forever to end and the food took even longer to come.

My hotdog was garnished with avocado and tomato, an interesting combination that was destroyed by the limpy hotdog bun.

Doggi's hotdog set meal
Doggi’s hotdog set meal

After heading back to my hostel for another round of honey lemon drink, I went out for museums. This time, it was the Museo de Bellas Artes near my hostel.

I went to the wrong direction of the museum and entered another branch of Santiago Museum of Contemporary Art. After this round of modern art viewing, I decided that contemporary art is not my cup of tea.

The collection at the real Museo de Bellas Artes was pretty good. However, there was a large exhibition on Gordon Matta-Clark so I thought the museum had a bit of a confused identity.

The night ended well since I got to try out Pineapple Champagne! (Just regular sparkling wine with pineapple pulp.)

Pineapple Champagne
Pineapple Champagne

Condensing 72 hours of Istanbul museum visiting into 24 hours [YQrtw Day 49 May 26]

Istanbul Shores

Location: Istanbul, Turkey

Yesterday, I did a bit of research on the Museum Pass. On the web site, a lot of museums in different regions of Turkey were listed so I had the impression that the Museum Pass would cover all those sites. That’s perfect for us since we’re visiting Cappadocia where there is the Goreme Open Air Museum.

So while queuing for Haghia Sophia, I told mom that we should just buy the Museum Pass. I forked over 144 Turkish Lira to the man in the van and received our two black passes.

I was rather devastated when I read the pamphlet. It only listed a few museums in Istanbul and none that were out of the city. I looked at the pass again and realized that it’s actually Museum Pass Istanbul.

Worst thing was that we would be leaving Istanbul almost 25 hours after the pass’s first use. *sad music*

Anyway, I decided to make the most of it and cram 72 lira worth of sites into 24 hours so we wouldn’t be wasting our money.

This is also a list of “How to see the most of Istanbul’s museums in 24 hours

Site 1: Haghia Sophia (Day 1 5pm) [25 lira]

Haghia Sophia interior
Haghia Sophia interior

We checked off Haghia Sophia around 5pm on Day 1. This is the one site that everyone must visit while in Istanbul. It was even featured in ARGO where Ben Affleck’s character walked with an U.S. agent who worked in Turkey.

This church/mosque/museum will take about 1.5 hours of careful looking and posed photographs. When inside, the space looks smaller than it does from the outside.

Some renovation work was going on so we saw a bit of scaffolding on one side of the hallway.

The mosaic on the second floor was probably the most impressive among everything on display. You could see each tiny mosaic tile when you stand close. When you stand further, the tiles blend together into a stiff representation of Jesus and gang.

Unfortunately, by the time we finished Haghia Sophia, most of the other sites included in the museum pass was closed so we ended today’s sight seeing.

Bonus site: Blue Mosque (Day 2 8:30am) [0 lira]

Exterior of Blue Mosque
Exterior of Blue Mosque

We learned the hardway about the Blue Mosque’s visiting hours. It’s best to visit here in the morning as visiting hour streches from 8:30am to 12 noon. The timing’s much shorter in the afternoon and evening.

Heading to the Blue Mosque earlier means it won’t take up the time for other paid sites that uses the Istanbul Museum Pass.

Unlike the other sites, the queue for the Blue Mosque is much faster as there is no second queue that you need to go to. Just be sure to wear modest outfits.

What to wear to the Blue Mosque
What to wear to the Blue Mosque

Site: Istanbul Archaeological Museum (Day 2 09:40am) [10 lira]

We needed to check out of the hotel by 11:00am so I scheduled a visit to the Archaeological Museum in the morning and Topkapi Palace later in the day.

The museum is not very big so it’s easy to fit this place in an hour’s visit. We did it in less than that.

One of the best exhibit in the museum is the Alexander Sarcophagus, which wasn’t Alexander the Great’s actual coffin but one that had carvings of the guy at war.

Alexander Sarcophagus
Alexander Sarcophagus

There are a few mummies around if you’ve not seen one.

BONUS TIP: There is a free shuttle service on a golf kart from Gulhane Park (the beginning of the slop to the museum and Topkapi Palace). The service is FREE and saves a bit of time walking up or down the slopes.

SIte: Cheap boat ride across the straits (Day 2 11:30am) [extra 4 lira not included in Museum Pass]

After we stored our luggage at the tour agency, we head out to explore. As we weren’t hungry, I suggested that we take a boat ride (since mom seemed to desperately want to ride the boat).

There are packages for 2-hour Bosphorous Boat Tours which cost about 10 euro. We didn’t have 2 hours in our day’s schedule so we took the public transport boat from the Old City to the Asia part of Turkey.

With our Istanbulkat (public transport value card), we paid about 2 lira each for each way. It’s not exactly a long tour by the coast but we did see parts of the shores and the many houses and buildings crammed on the small land.

Istanbul Shores
Istanbul Shores

Across the straits, food seemed to be cheaper as we bought a doner for 2.50 lira (while it’s usually 4 lira at tourist places).

Site: Topkapi Palace and Harem (Day 2 1:45pm) [25 lira + 15 lira]

We waited for the Topkapi Palace shuttle but it didn’t come in 5 minutes. As we walked up the slope, the shuttle went past us. We waited at the Archaeological Museum for it to come back up. There was only a seat so mom got in and I walked up to the top. It was torturous.

The Topkapi Palace was bursting with tourists. It was a Sunday so it seemed like many locals were there as well.

The Palace has nice exhibit items. The most memorable was Prophet Muhammad’s multiple beards in multiple small beautiful cases. There was also a really really big diamond that was about the size of a chicken egg.

Besides the exhibit, the palace’s gardens is great for relaxing. Roses were in full bloom while we were there.

Attack of the Topkapi Palace roses
Attack of the Topkapi Palace roses

The museum pass also covers the harem so we headed there last. I had read that it was the best building in the Palace but I thought it was a little underwhelming since some walls of the palace were decorated more lavishly.

Eunuchs' dorm
Eunuchs’ dorm

Remember, the Topkapi Palace is closed on Tuesday, as noted by an angry user on Foursquare.

Did fitting 72 hours into 24 hours work?

By the time we finished Topkapi, we were quite tired. If I was travelling alone, I might have forced myself to walk to the Mosaic Museum. Since I was with my mom, we took it easy and went for a tea break instead.

We only used about 75 lira of entrance fees in the end but the pass was still very helpful since we did not have to queue for tickets.

If you are in Istanbul for a similarly short period, the pass is helpful to help you cut down on queue time. Think of it as Time Equals Money and the few minutes count as 1 lira, or something like that.

Do you purchase Museum Passes?

Greece day 3: New Acropolis Museum and Rick Steve’s walking tour [YQrtw Day 40 May 17]

I was planning to laze around and visit the New Acropolis Museum later in the afternoon. But when I checked my notes, I found out that the museum closes at 15:00.

I guess that means lazing around will have to come later. [I just looked at my notes again and realized that I confused National Archaeological Museum with Acropolis Museum’s time.]

I first knew of the New Acropolis Museum when D e-mailed me on June 15, 2009, an article about the museum’s opening. I was in my 9th month at work and my reply to the e-mail was:

I’ve actually forgotten that I want to go to Greece one day.

Then D reminded me that we shouldn’t become work drones. So I put the Acropolis Museum into my mental list of Places To-Go and thought about Greece again.

The Acropolis Museum

When I got to the museum, I thought to myself: I AM FINALLY HERE! (Oh wait, I think I did that at the Parthenon yesterday.)

The museum’s entrance had a surprise waiting. Parts of the floor was clear (with white polka dots), allowing visitors to see the excavation site underneath. There was also an excavated site that was open air and silly people tossed coins into it.

Before the Acropolis Museum's entrance
Before the Acropolis Museum’s entrance

The entrance to the museum was only 6 euro. It was so much cheaper than the other places I’ve been in Italy. I love Greece very much just for this.

Photo taking wasn’t allowed in the museum. I didn’t do any sketches like I did with David but I did sneak photos of the non-exhibits.

Athena guides children in the museum.
Athena guides children in the museum.

There were several of these signs saying “A Day at the Acropolis Museum with the Goddess Athena”. It was the cutest thing I’ve seen in a museum.

The description was in kid-language and was more fun to read than the adult-language sign.

Clear floor of the Acropolis Museum
Clear floor of the Acropolis Museum

The nightshift staff at my hotel, Hellen, warned me about the museum’s see-through floors so I wore pants to the place.

At one section, you can see the museum people cleaning up some of the statues. On the same level, the laser cleaning is covered up with a curtain.

View of Parthenon from the Acropolis Museum
View of Parthenon from the Acropolis Museum

On the third floor of the Acropolis Museum is a segment dedicated to the Parthenon. That floor is specially designed to face the same direction as the Parthenon is facing. It also has steel columns in between the carvings to show how the items look like in the temple.

I felt that the museum was a little small since it didn’t take me much time to finish all the items on display.

Still, it was a good museum because of all the Parthenon carvings and Athena statues.

Lunch at Smile Cafe Restaurant

I didn't eat the dog. Honestly.
I didn’t eat the dog. Honestly.

I had lunch at a tourist restaurant. Why is it touristy? Because it prints out maps of the Acropolis area and invites tourists to eat there.

The food was good for a tourist restaurant. I ordered from the Crisis Menu, a set lunch for only 7.50 euro.

I finally had tasty bread (which I never had in Italy). The cheese in the Greek salad was nice. I ate the tomatos and some cucumbers of the salad, thankful that it wasn’t the regular raw vegetable.

The gyros with pork was lovely, although I thought that I should stop eating Middle Eastern cuisine and be more adventurous.

It began raining while I was eating. Thank goodness I have my umbrella with me. I dropped by a coffee place for a 1 euro cafe latte before setting off to find the travel agency that sells bus tickets to Istanbul.

Silver Star Travel was easy to find, thanks to Google Maps. The 14-hour bus ride from Athens to Istanbul cost 60 euro (or 56 euro after -ahem- student discount). The price is half of flying to Istanbul and the time spent is half of taking connecting ferries.

Since my missions for the day was accomplished, I had to find something to do.

As usual, I hopped on a random bus that took me to a random place. And I took a not-so-random bus back to the city center.

Rick Steve’s audio tour

Rick Steve has an audio tour for Athens city so I decided to spend the afternoon walking around with my headphones in my ear.

His audio tours are really awesome. I went into different nooks and crannies of Athens. Climbed steep hills. Passed pretty Mediterranean houses. And learned more about the city than I would wandering aimlessly.

Overexposed Model in Greece
Overexposed Model in Greece

When the tour ended, so did my day. I bought 1kg each of cherries and strawberries (what was I thinking!) before heading back to the hotel to rest and write.

Until tomorrow!

Greece day 2: Athen’s National Archaeological Museum + Acropolis [YQrtw Day 39 May 16]

Corridor of Athena statues at National Archaeology Museum

Location: Athens, Greece

King Agamemnon's mask
King Agamemnon’s mask (not really his though)

Since I am staying 7 nights in Athens, I have 6-full days for sightseeing in the city. I had planned to slow down my pace and visit only one museum/ site a day.

Today’s plan was to see the National Archaeological Museum which is near by hotel and roam around the city in the afternoon.

When I went out a little before 8:30am, the sky was grey and cloudy and the temperature was cool. It felt like my kind of day.

Using directions by Google Maps, I took bus B12.

The signs for buses here in Athens is all Greek so I don’t think the government recommends tourists to take the bus.

Before the museum, there was a little cafe and the price of its bread was very reasonable. I had a pastry with cheese filling and a cappuccino.

While eating, a little tanned girl with messy hair came into the cafe to ask for money. It was rather awkward for me and I focused on my bread.

I didn’t want to encourage begging and thought that it was better than her going out and pickpocket. Actually,  begging is not any better than stealing.

National Archaeological Museum’s goodies

The museum was large but not overly gigantic like the Vatican Museum.

My Rick Steve’s audio guide for the museum worked perfectly, telling me highlights of the museum and the history behind them.

In fact, I had been enjoying Rick Steve’s audio tours for all the places I’ve been. I highly recommend you to download them if you are heading to Europe. He has mobile apps as well as podcasts and they area all free.

While the museum had lots of great Greecian works (like the gold mask above), my favorite section was the little corridor with statues of Athena.

Corridor filled with Athenas
Corridor filled with Athenas

At the end of the corridor was a small statues of Athena, her helmet decorated with winged beings, her Peter Pan collar decorated with snakes (!) and her shield also decorated with a snake. This was a miniature copy of the gigantic Athena statues that stood in the Parthenon in the ancient time (a replica in Nashville shows the size of Athena).

After the museum, I was thinking of where next to go. The sky was still grey and cloudy so I thought it would be perfect to go to the Acropolis and enjoy a not sweaty climb.

Off I went to the metro, buying a frappe to drink along the way. This time, the frappe had a less sour endnote. I’m getting to like this more and more.


It was about 12 noon when I reached. Based on my experience at the Vatican Museum, this was the best time to visit any famous sites as the tour groups have headed for lunch.

I got my tickets at the Theater of Dionysus so there wasn’t a queue. Even with the ticket, I had to exchange for an electronic ticket at the main entrance so it kind of annoyed me.

Rick Steve’s Acropolis audio tour kept me company the whole way. This is way cheaper than hiring a tour guide and less taxing!

Pathenon being refurbished
Pathenon being refurbished

The path to the Parthenon wasn’t a smooth walkway and I was thankful that my sandals didn’t sprain my feet.

Oh, I forgot to mention, the sun decided to come ot and play when I bought the ticket. The sky was cloudy but the ray of the sun pierced through and made it a little too warm.

Prettier side of the Parthenon
Prettier side of the Parthenon

It got so hot that I had to hide in the shade, thinking if I should wait for sunset and leave at 8pm (it was 2pm then). I didn’t leave that late but I did hang around in the shade, writing postcards.

Postage in Greece is cheaper than in Italy. I had to pay 2 euro to mail a postcard from the Vatican City but here in Greece, it was only 78 cents each.

Postcards from Athens
Postcards from Athens

Oh, I also started eating a chocolate pastry I bought. I was told by someone working at the Acropolis that only water is allowed. Oops.

After my long wait, I finally finished my audio tour and descended from the holy hill.

My phone’s battery was dangerously low then so I decided to head back to the hotel. Before that, I stopped at Carrefour (!!!) for some dairy product to prevent my stomach from having severe gastric.

Carrefour in Athens near Larissis Station
Carrefour in Athens near Larissis Station

I did plan to head out later but my lazy bones decided to stay in with my computer. Let’s hope tomorrow’s more productive!

Italy day 5: Ufizzi Gallery and how my shoes ate my feet in Florence [YQrtw Day 31 May 8]

Galileo's finger

Location: Florence, Italy

[I am writing this slightly tipsy from a 3.60 euro bottle of Italian sparkling wine. Hangovers await me.]

The morning was dedicated to the Ufizzi Gallery. The art museum is described as “one of the oldest and most famous art museums of the Western world” by our go-to resource, Wikipedia.

I was planning to take the light rail from the hostel to the train station to save my feet from too much walking but I found out that I would still need to walk if I take the train and that the travel time would be the same.

In the end, I walked to the gallery with the Taiwanese newlywed and a Chinese couple who came yesterday. The journey to the gallery is a 2km walk but with my crazy shoes, it felt like I was walking in hot coals.

I wore the 5 euro fake leather, made-in-China shoes I bought yesterday at Florence’s Tuesday market. I knew I should not wear new shoes when I need to walk but I convinced myself that I will never be able to wear it anytime during the trip anyway.

The shoes were narrow at the toes after I wore my socks. The sole was a terrible rubber that was a far cry from my darling Crocs. I had a few blisters at the end of the day.

When we got to the Ufizzi at around 8:30am, the line to queue for tickets didn’t seem very long. As I have the Firenze Card (72-hour museum pass), I could skip the lines and go straight in.

I got to the second floor (4 long flights of stairs) before realizing that I could not rent the audioguide there. It was another 4-flights down and 4-flights up before I got to start my tour.

Besides the gallery’s official audio tour (6 euros), I also brought along Rick Steve’s audio guide for Ufizzi. I had to juggle using both audio guides during the visit but it was quite worth it.

The museum was packed with great works. It took me about an hour to finish the very crammed first seven rooms.

I particularly loved the Botticelli room because all his female figures are gorgeous. Leonardo da Vinci’s helping hand in the Baptism of Christ, when he was an apprentice, is lovely. Leonardo drew the angels on the left.

No photos were allowed in the Ufizzi and I didn’t even bothered sneaking any photo. I did see many people not-so-secretly snap pictures.

By the time I was done, it was almost 12:30pm. I dropped into the Galileo Museum right next door since it was covered by the Firenze Card.

In the Galileo Museum, the most impressive things were Galileo’s fingers and the terracotta model of fetuses in difficult delivery conditions.

Galileo's finger
Galileo’s finger

Lunch time in Florence

After the museum, my feet were hurting really badly but I still had to drag myself around.

I stopped by tourist restaurant famous for its Florentine steak but ordered the cheaper lunch menu.

Lunch was lasagna and roast chicken. The lasagna was creamy and thick while the roast chicken pale but well-seasoned.

The bad thing about dining out in Italy is that they don’t serve tap water. Instead, they serve sparkling or still water at cheapest 1 euro a pitcher.

After lunch, I had another awesome cafe latte at the pastry store near Duomo.

The next part of the day was filled with a lot of aimless walking. Correction, I was trying to find obscure museums but my Google Map and physical map and internal map wasn’t coordinating.

Even when found sites with signs of Museo XXX, there wasn’t a counter in sight or the counter person said to come back another time. The mystical Italian business hour at work, I suppose.

I ended up visiting only the Opera del Duomo Museum to hide from the rain and to use the bathroom. In Italy, public restrooms can cost 1 euro a go or 50 cents at the nice coffee shop I like.

The greatest piece in Opera del Duomo was the restored Gate of Paradise. The golden panels were too small and high up so I didn’t really give it a good look.

Afterwards, I was hoping to visit another museum before I call it a day. Thanks to my terrible map skills, I ended up in a library with a nice courtyard. That wasn’t where I wanted to be but I spent about 10 minutes trying to read my book.

In the end, I decided to use Rick Steve’s Renaissance Florence tour but I walked in the opposite direction of its starting point.

I did go to one of the points in the audio tour so I stayed there and listened to the file all the way until Piazza della Signoria. Then I followed the audio guide right till the end. It began to drizzle halfway during the tour.

Since I was at the opposite bank, I walked in the drizzle for the cheap gelato. I picked chocolate chip and coffee in a cup. The gelato melted a little while I walked.

From the gelateria onwards, I gave up on humility and took off my shoes. I walked part of the journey with only my socks and a major part of my journey using my shoes as sandals.

When I got back, I realized that a huge blister formed on my toe and even on the soles of my feet where the skin is deep. Why!!

Singapore for museum lovers (Part 2)

Bukit Chandu

Welcome to part 2 of Singapore for museum lovers. Last week I shared what I thought about the Asian Civilisation Museum, National Museum of Singapore, Singapore Art Museum and Peranakan Museum.

Today, I’ll be talking about three less visited museums: Reflections at Bukit Chandu, Memories at Ford Factory and Singapore Philatelic Museum.

The first two museums are dedicated to World War II so if you are a WWII fan, be sure to check those places out. The only down side about these two museums is that they are really far from other sights. Bummer.

Memories at Ford Factory

Memories at Old Ford Factory

Out of the three museums I will be talking about today, Memories at Old Ford Factory is my favorite. In its past life, the museum was the Old Ford  Motor Factory. I became interested in it because there were rumors that the place is haunted.

The museum was the location where the British signed its surrender contract (?) to the Japanese. The room where the signing is part of the museum collection. You can stand behind glass wall to see the room.

What I like the most about this museum is that it’s not full of artifacts (even though I do love reading). Instead, it has transcription of people telling their experience of what happened during the days of the Japanese occupation. [Or as the website says: “first-hand oral history accounts, archival records and primary documents”.]

Memories at Old Ford Factory

There’s also a theatrette at the museum (same as at Reflections at Bukit Chandu) and the film made me shed tears.

I like this museum a lot but just thinking about getting there gives me a headache. There are public buses to the museum but it’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere. If you do not have a lot of time in Singapore, I think you should skip this place.

Nitty gritty: Memories at Old Ford Factory
Where: 351 Upper Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 588192
Opening hours: Mondays to Saturdays, 9.00am to 5.30pm; Sundays, 12.00pm to 5.30pm
Entrance: S$3 for adults

Reflections of Bukit Chandu

Reflections at Bukit Chandu

Another museum focused on World War II. This time, it’s more about how the Malay community help defend Singapore against the Japanese army.

The museum is located at the top of Bukit Chandu (or Opium Hill). If you are walking, be prepared for the very hilly walk from the Pasir Panjang MRT station. On breezy days, it’s very relaxing to walk uphill since most of the route is shaded.

The museum is very small. A old mansion “close to the former battle site – the Battle of Pasir Panjang, where 1,400 brave soldiers from the Malay Regiment heroically defended the last stand against a 13,000-strong Japanese army”.

The best part about this museum is the little theater where they have great sound and light effects to show how it was like when the Japanese invaded. Be prepared to shed plenty of tears (more tears than Old Ford Factory).

Reflections at Bukit Chandu

The museum was different from the rest since it focused a lot on how the Malay Regiment defended Singapore. In other museums, it seemed like it was mostly the British work (and terrible work at that).

It’s also rather interesting since in the Peninsula Malaysia, Malay gave their bicycles to the Japanese army, giving them a chance to reach Singapore from a direction that wasn’t expected by the British.

One of the artifacts of the museum is drawings by a local Chinese who survived the war. It showed how cruel the Japanese soldiers were during the period.

A large part of the museum is dedicated to Lieutenant Adnan bin Saidi who was portrayed as a hero who never gave up. Honestly, I haven’t heard of Lieutenant Adnan until the visit, I hope he would be upgraded to the position of national hero in other places and not just this museum.

More photos and detail of Reflections at Bukit Chandu can be found at remembersingapore blog.

Nitty gritty: Reflections at Bukit Chandu
Where: 31-K Pepys Road S(118458)
Opening hours: Close on Mondays (except public holidays) Tuesdays to Saturdays, 9.00am to 5.00pm
Entrance: S$2 for adults

Singapore Philatelic Museum

Singapore Philatelic Museum

I’ve collected stamps when I was in primary school. The only reason I did it was because in the books I read, stamp collecting was a good hobby. The books never told me that watching TV, playing video games or reading can be considered hobbies.

My mom was writing to my grandfather back in Taiwan so we had many pretty stamps with the words “Republic of China”. I never knew then why they didn’t just write Taiwan but I accepted it and filed it in my stamp book.

But I’ve never really liked stamp collecting. It was most boring to me since the stamps just sat there and did nothing. At least books told me stories and running around makes my heart beat faster. I pretty much gave up stamp collecting when I was older.

Oh, where was I? Ah, the Singapore Philatelic Museum. The reason I gave a short history of my liaison with stamps is to tell you that I really do not like stamp collecting.

My introduction of the Singapore Philatelic Museum will be marred by my experience with stamp collecting.

Singapore Philatelic Museum

I visited the museum as part of the Free Museum Entrance Month. My head was already full of other exhibits in the other museums so the exhibition at the stamp museum was rather disappointing.

There is a room on how stamps are made. To me, a room showing how cookies are made is a lot more interesting.

There are blown up stamps for different occasions. I saw the Olympic Games stamp when I was there.

Surprisingly, there is a room about different cultures in Singapore. They must have ran out of stamp-related artifacts.

I was quite bored out of my mind at the museum. So I will stop here.

Nitty gritty: Singapore Philatelic Museum
Where:  23-B Coleman Street S(179807)
Opening hours: Mondays 1.00pm to 7.00pm; Tuesdays to Saturdays, 9.00am to 5.00pm
Entrance: S$6 for adults  (Seriously? I would rather take a bus to Old Ford Factory than pay this price for entrance.)

Have you been to the three museums I talked about? How was your experience?

Singapore for museum lovers

I adore museums. There’s something about having pieces of art/culture/history arranged neatly in a central location with captions that makes me go weak in the knees. That, plus air conditioning during hot days.

I had the chance to visit 7 national museums (including one that is not listed as a museum) in Singapore last August.

I want to share my very biased list of which museums to go to (or miss).

Best museum in Singapore:
— Asian Civilization Museum

Best for general knowledge of Singapore:
— Singapore National Museum

Best for kitsch:
— Peranakan Museum

Do not go:
— Singapore Philatelic Museum

For WW2 history buffs:
— Singapore National Museum
— Reflections at Bukit Chandu
— Memories at Ford Factory

For art lovers:
— Asian Civilization Museum
— Singapore Art Museum

One museum to visit if you only have 1 hour
— Peranakan Museum

PS I have not included the Art Science Museum in the list because I’ve not been there. The entrance price S$28 (US$22.6) is just too expensive. Even the Lourve doesn’t charge as much €15 (US$19.8).

Asian Civilisation Museum

Asian Civilisation Museum

The best museum in Singapore in many of my friends’ opinion. Why? Because the collection is the best among the museums around here.

The collection features items from many parts of Asia. I particularly like the part on China and the ghosts guardians.

The museum is near the Esplanade and the Merlion. So if you’re around the area, drop by ACM.

It’s best to allocate about 1.5 hours.

Nitty gritty:
Opening hours: Monday 1pm- 7pm; Tuesday-Sunday 9am-7pm (to 9pm on Fridays)
Entrance fee: S$8 (Discounted admission on Fridays, 7pm – 9pm)

National Museum of Singapore

If you want a good look at this museum, you’ll need at least 2 hours for the permanent exhibition on Singapore’s history. There are two routes on the audioguide: story telling and history telling. I like the story telling since it’s very different from how other museums show their collection.

If you have an hour, the collection upstairs about Singapore’s food, fashion, film and photography is a good place to kill time.

The travelling exhibitions are usually top-notch. I loved the Pompeii exhibition and the Museum of Orsay collection.

Nitty gritty:
Address: 93 Stamford Road S(178897)
Opening hours:
Singapore History Gallery 10am to 6pm, Daily
Singapore Living Galleries 10am to 8pm, Daily **Free admission from 6pm to 8pm **Last admission at 7.30pm
Entrance fee: S$10

Singapore Art Museum (SAM)

Singapore Art Museum

When I first visited the Singapore Art Museum, it was full of rather boring and depressing art pieces. I regretted paying my entrance fee and swore never to come back.

But I did come back because of the free entrance on Friday night. The art work were better and there were more things being exhibited.

The main building (picture in the photo above) was a boy’s school. It’s rather fun imagining how it would be studying at the school.

The cooler exhibition is at the new “wing” at 8Q, which is just a corner away. Things are more exciting at 8Q.

Singapore Art Museum at 8Q

The exhibition at 8Q is more interactive as you should be part of the art pieces. Exhibit A, B, C, D:

Interacting at Singapore Art Museum

Nitty gritty:
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 10am – 7pm Friday 10am – 9pm (Enjoy complimentary entry on Friday evenings from 6pm – 9pm)
Entrance fee: S$10 (Free entry on Fridays from 7pm – 9pm)

Peranakan Museum

Singapore Peranakan Museum

If you like bursts of colors, the Singapore Peranakan Museum is where you should go. Everything about it is beautiful.

Let me try to explain what Peranakan is. (Or you can click on the link there to head to Wikipedia.) Once upon a time, men sailed from China to what is now known as South-Southeast Asia (yes, I made up that term). The men who settled down here and married local women. The children would grow up in a mix of two cultures–Chinese and local–and thus the Peranakan culture was born.

To be honest, this museum is not my favorite museum in terms of content. It does show you how the daily lives of Peranakan is like with reenacted locations of the house filled with furniture. But somehow, it felt like it was trying to commercialize the concept of “Peranakan”.

Unlike the Pinang Peranakan Museum in Penang, everything in this museum has a little note explaining the scene. That’s a bonus point for the museum, I guess.

Nitty gritty:
Opening hours: Monday 1pm to 7pm; Tuesday to Sunday: 9am – 7pm (to 9 pm on Fridays) (50% discount on admission charges on Fridays, 7pm – 9pm)
Entrance fee: S$6 (Free entry on Fridays from 7pm – 9pm)
Asian Civilisations Museum & Peranakan Museum Joint-ticket** S$10

Check out part two where I introduce the lesser visited museums: Singapore Philatelic Museum, Reflections at Bukit Chandu and Memories at Ford Factory.

Trip to Pinang Peranakan Museum

Pinang Peranakan Museum

What do you do when you are planning a trip to a place where you’ve been to with Person A but now you need to Person B to the same place.

That was the question I had to answer when I was planning my parents’ trip to Penang. Previously, I went to the Pearl of the Orient once with L. I didn’t really want to visit sites which I’ve visited because it would be a waste of time for me.

However, I made an exception for the Pinang Peranakan Museum.

Background of Pinang Peranakan Museum

Pinang Peranakan Museum's facade
Pinang Peranakan Museum’s facade

The museum was previously the house of a rich Peranakan family.

Even though the mansion is big, it doesn’t seem be to big enough for a family with 3 generations, including the multiple concubines and their kids. Perhaps the lower ranking people lived in the compound and not the main house.

Pinang Peranakan Museum's interior
Pinang Peranakan Museum’s interior

The museum is divided into two levels. The lower level is the place where guests visit. It includes a gigantic dining table, a room for card games and loads of antique.

Many of the wooden panels or carvings were decorated with a layer of gold (probably only paint) which made the whole floor look a little like the showfloor for houses targeted at the nouveau riche.

Deco of Pinang Peranakan Museum
Deco of Pinang Peranakan Museum

The upper floor is similarly packed with antiques but is more “personal”.

The wedding room is a little ominous with the red lighting which made the room feel like a brothel instead of the suit of a newly wed couple.

Pinang Peranakan Museum
Pinang Peranakan Museum

After seeing Singapore’s Peranakan Museum, the Pinang Peranakan Museum feels like everything was thrown together in haste for the exhibition. This isn’t a bad thing because it feels more approachable. It’s easier to imagine how the family might have lived..

I’m a star

Peranakan-related movies
Peranakan-related movies

Based on the fading movie posters at the entrance, the house was the filming location for multiple period dramas.

A popular Singapore period drama, Little Nyonya, might be filmed here. I’ve never watched the drama but after reading the character bios, I think I might like the show because it doesn’t have a “Happily Ever After” ending.

The parents and I at Pinang Peranakan Museum
The parents and I at Pinang Peranakan Museum

The compound of the museum had a few bamboo-like plants. They were decorated with the entrance stickers which were stuck on by tourists. I like that it gave the green tone of the wall and plants a pop of color.

Comparing Pinang Peranakan Museum and Singapore Peranakan Museum

If I must choose between Pinang Peranakan Museum and Singapore Peranakan Museum, I would choose the museum in Penang as my favorite.

The site feels more friendly and human because all the wares are right in front of you.

If you like reading explanations in museums then Penang’s peranakan museum might not suit your taste.

Singapore’s Peranakan Museum is housed in a beautiful building but the content of the exhibition is a little sterile. It played up the peranakan nostalgia to the highest volume.

Visiting information:

Location: 29 Lebuh Gereja George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Entrance fee: RM10
Time required to look around: ~1 hour

Like Penang? Check out my other posts on the Pearl of the Orient.

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Visited: Mint Toy Museum, Singapore

I had the chance to visit the Mint Museum of Toys courtesy of a Groupon which made the entrance fee slightly less than half price.

The museum is located right opposite the Raffles Hotel, there’s a sign pointing to it right where the street begins. It’s not that difficult to find since the sign is pretty big.

The place has five floors–entrance on first floor with four exhibition levels. The levels are themed and you start from the top floor: Outerspace, Characters, Childhood favorites and Collectibles.

The floor space is really cramped and half the time I have to wait for someone and their date to finish staring/photgraphing/commenting on the exhibitions before I could politely look at the stuff.
Continue reading “Visited: Mint Toy Museum, Singapore”