About Denisa H
Lives in London, United Kingdom
Since Oct 2008
25-34 year old female
i need to be on the move constantlly. Slovakia born, but also Malaysia bred and fed on sunshine, football and travelling. London has been my home on and off for the past 13 years. I love South-East Asia. I consider Malaysia home. Singapore has been my stopover home destination for years, always seductive with all it has to offer. Myanmar was a revelation, Thailand is always a pleasure to visit and Laos is my next dream destination, followed by Vietnam and Cambodia. Indonesia will have to wait for some time yet. I love history, botany, languages and pottering around museums and galleries on rainy days.
Housed in a beautifully preserved building on the Singapore river, right opposite the skyscrapers of Boat Quay, this museum is a treasure trove for anyone wanting to look at beautiful things and learn about the history of not only Singapore, but also the whole region. Rice farming, the monsoon system, the spice trade, the opium dens... It is all explained here. Plus, the museum offers lots of interactive content, and if time is tight the guided tours (included in the price of the ticket) will show you the top highlights.
Peranakan is a culture very specific to Singapore and Malaysia. It's the result of centuries-old traditions, first forged when traders from China began to marry local Malay women in the 16th century. This gave rise to a very colourful fusion culture, sometimes referred to as Baba Nyonya, which is today most well known for its delicious cuisine, traditional dress and even its own language (a patois of the Malay language). You will discover a wealth of information about the Babas (men) and Nyonyas (ladies) in this museum, which is housed in a former school and very representative of the Straits style of architecture.
Har Par Villa is not a museum as such, but more of a garden with exhibits, making for rather a peculiar and unique place to visit. Its history is interesting too: The sons of the inventor of Tiger Balm – who brought it to Singapore and made it hugely successful – built themselves a lovely villa near to the big harbour. No strangers to philanthropy, they built a public park around their villa in 1937, and dedicated the park to displaying various stories from Chinese folklore and mythology. Though the villa no longer exists, the statues and stories remain; and while some are gory, some are fun, and others are intriguing, they are all captivating and photogenic. If you have some extra time, this little piece of Singapore of old is definitely one for the curious and is guaranteed to stay on your mind for a long time to come...
Housed in the former jail and chapel of the prisoners of war, Changi is dedicated to the sad history of Singapore during WWII, and the stories of everyone involved. Singapore played a crucial role in WWII, but was forced to surrender to Japan in 1942, when Japanese occupation and tough times ensued. Churchill called it 'the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history', and you can learn all about it here, either by browsing the exhibits, or by following the very well-narrated and moving audio guide.
Housed in a former palace of Malay sultans, the Malay Heritage Centre is located in the middle of Kampong Glam, a lovely quiet area full of nice restaurants, shops and cafés (just east of Bugis Junction). The centre itself holds various exhibitions throughout the year and organizes cultural performances and talks. Although Singapore is predominantly Chinese, Malay culture constitutes a major part of its history and language, and this is a nice place in which to learn more. Spend a little time here, sheltered from the heat, and explore the lovely green surrounding the former 'istana' (palace) once you're finished inside.
In recent years, National Museum of Singapore has gone from strength to strength. Housed in a beautiful colonial building under Fort Canning Park, it offers plenty to see, learn and do. I strongly recommend the Food Galleries, where you can see and hear the stories behind Singapore's popular hawker fare, complete with sounds and smells. There is also some great photographic and film footage of the country's history, arts and culture.
Of all Singapore's museums, the Art Museum is the coolest and the most 'happening'. Situated in a former school in the lovely Bras Basah neighbourhood, this gallery hosts one excellent exhibition after another, each offering a great insight into the creative Asian minds of today.
Memories at Old Ford Factory is the place for history buffs and Art Deco appreciators alike. Located in the middle of the lush belt of Singapore (Bukit Timah), the factory was the first Ford vehicle assembly plant in Southeast Asia, but its history was short-lived. On 15 February 1942, Singapore surrendered here after the Japanese shocked all with their rapid advancement all the way from Malaya's north. The whole story is well explained here, with plenty of first-hand experiences documented about the ensuing life under Japanese rule.