It was the month of August. Many years back. My travel tickets for Singapore had just arrived for our organization leadership meet. And then we had a fight. Me and my CEO. I resigned in a huff and my visit got pushed to the shelf.
It took all of twenty years. A case of so close yet so far, especially when my sister-in-law and my dear friend has been staying there for the last ten years. Enough was enough, I thought. So the dates were finalized, airline tickets booked in a hurry and we were off. This time on a trip of a different kind. Four childhood friends together. To live our nostalgia again. In Singapore.
The late night flight was delayed by more than an hour, the food was just about okay though not really required at that hour, but the beer surely was. The flight attendant kept coming back, I kept obliging till he probably felt sleepy. A short nap later, we landed.
The immigration was smooth. The duty free purchases done we were soon on the MRT from Changi Airport heading to our destination, Lakeside. The one hour journey in the wee hours of morning with a quick change in between was just lovely and it gave us a glimpse of the city and a peep into the exciting times to follow for the next one week.
Aro and me arrived at the Lakeside station, a nice green location. Munni, with her trademark smile + laugh combo was there to welcome us and soon we were chatting, laughing and walking to her tenth floor apartment nearby, with a beautiful view. Subesh, my brother and Munni are a couple and he joined us a couple of days later. And we four childhood friends were back together again, to have some fun. This time in Singapore.
The history of Singapore according to a third century Chinese account describes it as “Pu-luo-chung”, which means the “Island at the end of a peninsula” in the Malay language. Later the city was known as Temasek (“Sea Town”), when the first settlements were established from AD 1298-1299. During the 14th century, this small and strategically-located island earned a new name. According to legend, Sang Nila Utama, a prince from Palembang, the capital of Srivijaya was out on a hunting trip when he caught sight of an animal he had never seen before. Taking it to be a good sign, he founded a city where the animal had been spotted, naming it “The Lion City” or “Singapura”, from the Sanskrit words “simha” (lion) and “pura” (city).
The city was then ruled by the five kings of ancient Singapura. Located at the tip of the Malay Peninsula the city flourished as a trading post for vessels from large number of countries. Talking about history, let’s first visit the National Museum of Singapore.
It was Singapore National Day and though I had a press permission, it was not really required as entry for all was free today. We had taken a MRT to first reach ‘Plaza Singapura’ the mall where celebrations were at it’s best. Happy residents, most sporting red tops eating out and enjoying life. Then a short walk later we were at the museum.
The National Museum of Singapore is the oldest museum in Singapore. Its history dates back to 1849, when it was started as a section of a library at Singapore Institution and called the Raffles Library and Museum and exhibited items of historical and archaeological value from Singapore and elsewhere in Asia. The museum was part of an establishment of a public repository of knowledge of Malayan in a school, museum and library. After Singapore’s independence in 1965, the museum focused its collection to nation-building and the history of Singapore and was renamed the National Museum. After several re-locations it moved to its permanent site at Stamford Road.
The museum has a permanent 2,800 square meter gallery space at the new glass clad building within a glass rotunda known as the Singapore History gallery. It features the history of Singapore from the 14th century in a story-telling approach with images, films projected on its 15 meter high cylindrical walls and narration and display of artistic expressions of the history. A ramp spiral in the new building leads down to an exhibition space holding the nation’s treasures which includes the Singapore Stone and 14th century gold ornaments unearthed from nearby Fort Canning Hill in 1928. There is a 250-seat auditorium known as The Mesh for talks, lectures and workshops for the young and old at the Fort Canning entrance. It has retail facilities as well as a cafe and a restaurant at the Stamford Road block of the building.
Today we were lucky. Being National Day, it was not only history but also a complete festive atmosphere with fun galore for the children and their families. Let’s explore and experience.
After our refreshing learning and fun experience at the museum, we took a small walk passing by beautiful churches, old landmark buildings and happy residents and visitors soaking in the beauty of this special day. We were now heading towards Marina Square for the fireworks display on the sea later in the evening. The atmosphere was electric and celebrations unlimited. Come experience fun, happiness, music and beauty at it’s best.
Enjoy the fireworks as we relax a while. We will be back with you soon to explore more in this fascinating journey.
Singapore. There is more to this beautiful country.