Friday, December 07, 2012

A visit to the Maritime Experiential Museum

Maritime Experiential Museum, Singapore.

A few weekends ago, I had the pleasure to visit The Maritime Experiential Museum at Resorts World Sentosa. It was my very first visit to The Maritime Experiential Museum. I have found myself more excited to explore the Maritime Experiential Museum than the nearby Universal Studios Singapore.

Thanks to an event, I had the pleasure to obtain free admission to The Maritime Experiential Museum and the ticket even includes a one-time entry into the Typhoon Theatre.

The Historic Ship Harbour
One of the most exciting parts of the museum to me was the Historic Ship Harbour. Here, I was able to go up to two of the full-sized replicas of a Javanese Jong and a Amoy Junk.

A replica of a Javanese Jong.

The Javanese Jong, I learnt was the main trading vessel in the South East Asian region until the 17th century.

The Amoy Junk, on the other hand, are the trading vessels of southern China. The characteristic features of the Amoy Junk include a high aftercastle and sails that are made of stiff panels of woven bamboo laths. These bamboo laths fold concertina-fashion when lowered.

The woven bamboo laths of the Amoy Junk.

The Historic Ship Harbour is located outdoors, and I might have missed it totally if not for the helpful instructions given by the hospitable staff of the museum. The privilege of going up the full-sized replicas is subjected to weather conditions and availability.

One of the ships at the Historic Ship Harbour.

Zheng He Exhibits and the Bao Chuan Show
One section of The Maritime Experiential Museum lends visitors insights to Admiral Zheng He's life and the fleet that he has commanded. Nearby, there is a full-sized replica of the bow of Admiral Zheng He's 15th century treasure ship. I would say it is enormous!

The Bao Chuan Show.

The Bao Chuan Show that was screened onto the full-sized replica of the bow of Admiral Zheng He's ship gave me an introduction to Zheng He and his voyages across the seas.

The Ancient Maritime Silk Route
A large portion of the first level of the museum is dedicated to educating visitors about the Maritime Silk Route. The routes that were being traced in this exhibition were the travel from the various ports, namely from Quanzhou to Qui Nhon to Palembang to Malaccca to Galle to Calicut to Muscat to Malindi.

Navigational tools used by the Chinese.

I was most intrigued by the navigational tools found at the section on the port of Quanzhou. The drums and masks of Malinda also captured my imagination.

A glimpse of water puppets that are common to Qui Nhon.

Exhibits depicting the produces from the port of Palembang.
I was reminded of a recent trip to Bali. 

African mask.

Fun activities for the family.

Featuring the port of Calicut.

Woven shoes from Muscat.

This section of the exhibitions help me to appreciate the significance of each of the various parts. There were a number of interactive exhibits which will delight both children and fun-loving adults.

Interesting activities for the visitors.

The Omani Dhow, Jewel of Muscat
The most eye-catching exhibit at this museum, was for me the Jewel of Muscat. This reconstruction of a 9th century Omani Dhow impressed me greatly as it was built using traditional materials and construction techniques. No power tool, no screw and no nail was used in the making of this hand-sewn ship that was built by 35 men. I was intrigued by it.

Jewel of Muscat.

Jewel of Muscat

I could not hide my disappointment that visitors will not be able to board this wonderful Jewel of Muscat. I do hope such a measure would help to prolong the display life-span of this dhow. Otherwise, I would have been suffering disappointment for a cause that did not exist.

Typhoon Theatre
This theatre allows visitors to experience the breathtaking simulation of a shipwreck. It gave me a good idea of the uncertain dangers that sailors would have to brave when they travel across the seas. It was worth a try though I must warn visitors that it was rather humid and moist in the Typhoon Theatre as a result of the special effects.

Prelude to the special-effects Typhoon Theatre.

Inside the Typhoon Theatre.

Each entry to the Typhoon Theatre is at an additional $6 per adult, $4 per child (4 - 12 years old), and $3 per senior citizen (65 years and above).

Pirates of the East
Throughout various parts of the museum, visitors will be introduced to infamous Asian pirates. Somehow, I have found this theme a bit confusing to understand. I have simply found it hard to keep track of the theme of Pirates of the East as the information on the various ports along the Maritime Silk Route had competed for my attention.

Maybe an enactment of the lives of these pirates in the form of video-recording may help visitors like myself appreciate these Asian pirates better than through the write-ups?

Maritime Archaeology Gallery
At the basement of the museum houses the Maritime Archaeology Gallery. This section presents artefacts from the Bakau and Temasek shipwrecks and other archaeological finds. I found it fascinating to realize that shipwrecks are like time capsules which can give us a glimpse of a particular moment in history. The artefacts can tell a lot of stories about a time from the past.

The Bakau Ship. An early Ming Chinese Junk.
Sea travel was banned back then, but there were still people who were motivated to sail.

The Bakau shipwreck was quite interesting to me as it showed that there were still trade between China and Southeast Asia despite a ban on foreign trade imposed by the Ming court. I wonder why people still take risk to trade when it was banned?

Overall, I have had a positive experience at the Maritime Experiential Museum. The staff of the museum were sufficiently knowledgeable in the subject matter, and they were very helpful. My heartfelt words of thanks to the friendly staff of the museum.

This is a museum to visit to have an appreciation of the Maritime Silk Route as well as to have an appreciation of the dangers that sailors might have to brave.

Maritime Voyage Tour
During my visit to this museum, I learnt that there is a Maritime Voyage Tour that visitors could sign up for. This tour includes the admission into the museum. In addition to it, visitors on this tour would have the privilege to have a museum guide to share with them about the different ports that were featured in the museum's exhibition as well as learn about Admiral Zheng He and his voyages.

Tickets to the Maritime Voyage Tour is at $15 per adult, $10 per child (4 - 12 years old), and $10 per senior citizen (65 years and above). If I have another chance to visit the Maritime Experiential Museum in the future, I shall make some time to go for the Maritime Voyage Tour.

I was very pleased with my visit to the Maritime Experiential Museum. To me, it was more enriching and stimulating than the nearby Universal Studios Singapore which I had also visited on the same day. This is a visit to be thankful for.

Maritime Experiential Museum
Resorts World Sentosa
8 Sentosa Gateway. Singapore 098269
Tel: (+65) 65778888

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