Asian Civilizations Museum / Old Supreme Court, Singapore

The first thing one notices about Singapore is the neatness and order in everything. Buildings are tall and squarish, roads are clean and grid-like, there are cafes, banks and classy looking shops everywhere. The entire city has a very metropolitan feel to it, not at all like the dirt and grime, smoke and dust of good ol’ KL. But then again, I only visited a small part of Singapore.

My local friend Jaryl, who was very kind to show me around during my entire stay, is a great tour guide. He knows a lot of places and his way around the streets, which buses and trains to take… if it was me being tour guide around KL, I would probably suck. I can’t find my way anywhere without a GPS, that’s how bad my sense of direction is.

After dumping my bag at the inn (check in was at 3pm), we took a bus and started walking to our first stop – the Asian Civilisations Museum.


Passing by the famous Raffles Hotel. There are a lot of posh hotels in Sg, seeing as how it derives a big chunk of income from tourism. I can’t afford a night’s stay here, so I can just snap a picture from afar. 😛


This is the Padang, or field, which also houses the SCC (Singapore Cricket Club). Here we are making our way across to the Business district. You can tell it houses important commercial and official buildings – it’s a cluster of mega-structures all hulled up in one area.

20131217_113908-tileJust opposite the field is the old Supreme Court of Singapore building. With it’s murals and Corinthian columns, it screams European influence. Singapore was once under British rule, and the architecture of this building reflects it. Now, the place has been converted into an arts and culture center.

Photo courtesy of Asia Europe Museum Network

After a hot and sweaty walk, we arrived at the fully air conditioned museum, much to our relief. The building, which overlooks the Singapore river, used to be known as Empress place and has a long history. It started off as a government office in the 1800s, before being converted into a museum in 1997.

Entry to the place is SGD8 for tourists. Locals get in for free.

Funnily enough, Singaporean casinos charge locals SGD100 for entry. So I guess they’re encouraging their citizens to go to museums instead of gambling. :3


The museum houses a big collection of interesting artifacts from all over Asia, S/E Asia in particular.  If you’re a history buff, I would recommend a few hours exploring the exhibits, as they are extensive and there are lots of items to look at. The stuff isn’t very interactive. There are a couple of screens to touch, but no hands on stuff to do, mostly. There are also guided tours at intervals throughout the day.

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Old coins

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A lacquered wooden box, which was very well preserved even til this day. Really pretty. They have a section entirely dedicated to the art of lacquering and how it has evolved through different ASian regions through the centuries.


Ash urn for the dead, done in the likeness of a water buffalo.

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If you look closely at the Hmong garment (above), notice how they wove their beautiful traditional garments with a modern day character? :3


The keris is a deadly Malay archipelago weapon that has a distinct shape. And while it’s pretty to look at, the curvy shape of the keris was designed for maximum damage, as it would pull a person’s guts out better as opposed to a straight blade.


I was surprised to find that the colourful, wooden figure of a mythical creature was from Kelantan, Malaysia. Most Malay states have rich cultures handed down from ancient times, but since these cultures clash with religious beliefs, they are often eradicated as being pagan beliefs. It’s sad that a culture or history is lost because of something else. Religion should learn to preserve a culture, not destroy it. 😦

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Spent a good few hours in the museum. It was worth the visit: Well kept and extensive collection; shame we didn’t have more time to explore. 🙂


1 Empress Pl, Singapore 179555

Open daily: 10AM-7PM, 10AM-9PM (Friday) 




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