The Rise of Singapore

Today I started my morning with a wonderful egg and cheese prata! Luckily, I didn’t have to go far because the restaurant was less than a minute from our hotel. After a quick breakfast, our group hopped on the bus and explored some stacked wetlands.

Our afternoon was spent at the National Museum of Singapore. This museum is dedicated to the art, culture, and history of Singapore.

Upon entering, I headed towards a hall focused on Singapore’s history. It was very interesting to learn about how Singapore got its name. A Malay traveler arrived on Singapore’s shore and saw what he thought was a lion. He named the land “Singapura”, which means “city of the lion”. As I continued my walk through the museum, I saw two hornbill bird heads. The large crests on the bird’s heads were historically used in the Malay community to make rings, ear plugs, and potions.

After an hour or two, I entered another exhibit at the museum. I learned that Singapore was previously run by the Japanese, who aimed to erase Singapore’s past. To do so, the Japanese released different types of propaganda, which were aimed at softening the image of Japanese soldiers. In this image below, you can see postcards which depict Japanese soldiers participating in different activities. The soldiers do not have faces so that they could be filled in.

Here is a propaganda poster which pays homage to a Japanese spirit. The spirit’s pose reflects its loyalty to the country.

I eventually split off on my own to explore more of the museum at my own pace. I learned even more about Singapore, specifically their market. Around 1943, many shops were depleted and lacked essential items. This led to the rise of a massive black market in Singapore. The market became so big, it overshadowed the formal economy! Many of the goods sold in the black market were sold through middlemen. Due to the growth of this black market, there became a period of time when cash became worthless!

As I started to grow hungrier, I made my way to the last exhibit. I was shocked as soon as I walked in! I was surrounded by digital immersive art. All around me were videos and sounds of the rainforest. As I walked down the spiral staircase exhibit, I became a part of the jungle.

I ended the main portion of my day with a wonderful lunch! Bao buns, dumplings, and more!