P.Ramlee Memorial, Kuala Lumpur – A Tribute to Malay Cinema’s “Golden Boy”

Hollywood’s Golden Age had figures such as Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, James Dean and Clark Gable.

Early Malay cinema had Tan Sri P. Ramlee.

Potret P. Ramlee.jpg
CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Born Teuku Zakaria Teuku Nyak Puteh on the island of Penang, Malaysia (then the Federated States of Malaya) in 1929, P. Ramlee was a man of many hats. Beginning the late 1940s, he acted in, produced and directed numerous films (some of which are still considered beloved classics till this day), and also performed and wrote hundreds of songs. At the height of his career, his fame reached as far as Brunei, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Japan – cementing his name in the annals of classic Malay music and cinema. Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack at the relatively young age of 44.

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My dad is a big fan of P. Ramlee’s black and white films, and as a kid, I often joined him to watch movies like Bujang Lapok, Nasib Do Re Mi and Tiga Abdul, which were usually shown on weekend afternoons on national TV (or during the patriotic month). Being young, my comprehension was limited – but I still enjoyed the acting and stories, which often had a moral behind them.  Now as an adult, I can fully appreciate the simple and heartfelt artistry that went into the characters and the film, something which I think is missing in many modern films, despite the big budget CGI, better equipment and techniques, and whatnot. Old films had soul. 

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If you’re keen on finding out more about our national icon, there are a few places dedicated to remembering his contributions, such as the P.Ramlee Memorial House in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur. Tucked within a housing estate, the building is one of Ramlee’s old homes, and was converted into a mini museum in 1986. The space is small, but there are a couple of interesting exhibits. I suggest pairing a visit with nearby attractions such as the Visual Arts Gallery and the National Library.

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PS: Filming is not allowed within, but you can take photos.

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The exhibition space is neatly divided according to themes. There are sections dedicated to his childhood growing up in Penang to Achehnese parents, his directorial debut, and his love story with another iconic Malay actor, Saloma. Ramlee was married twice, but it seems third time was the charm for these two lovebirds. In fact, Saloma was so overwhelmed with grief at the death of her husband, she suffered from depression and various illnesses, and passed away at the still young age of 48, 10 years after Ramlee’s death.

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There is a small AV room within where visitors can watch old P.Ramlee films.

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Ramlee’s impressive filmography. My favourite is Tiga Abdul, which draws inspiration from old Malay folktales. Set in a fictional Middle Eastern Country, the movie tells the story of three brothers, who are tricked by the cunning businessman Sadiq Segaraga, who uses his three daughters to force the brothers into parting with their wealth. The story is lighthearted, humorous and dramatic all at once, but with a moral lesson behind it about greed and honesty. Another must-watch is Anak-ku Sazali, where Ramlee shows off his acting chops playing dual roles as both the father and son characters.

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Films were not the only thing Ramlee was known for – he often sang and wrote/composed the soundtracks for them as well. In total, he wrote about 400 songs throughout his career.

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He was also apparently quite a tall man, judging from these clothes!

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Ramlee’s old piano.

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Although he is celebrated today as an icon of Malay cinema, it was said that Ramlee’s final years were mired in financial trouble and setbacks, with his once celebrated movies flopping, as the entertainment scene moved on to better, shinier things.  Some even saw him as a ‘has-been’, and Ramlee died a broken man, ridiculed by the public and the industry he loved so much. Recognition might have come too late and he might have died poor, but he left behind a rich legacy – one that will hopefully inspire and entertain new generations for years to come.

“Karya seni adalah satu daripada kerja Tuhan. Oleh itu, buatlah sungguh-sungguh dengan penuh kejujuran.” (Art is god’s work. Do it with diligence and honesty.) – Allahyarham Tan Sri P.Ramlee

P.RAMLEE MEMORIAL HOUSE 

22, Jalan Dedap, Taman P Ramlee, 53000 Kuala Lumpur

Opening hours: 10AM – 5PM (Tuesdays – Sundays, closed Mondays). On Fridays, they open from 10AM – 12PM and 3PM – 5PM to allow for Muslim prayer break.

Admission: FREE

*There are no designated parking spots, since it is a residential area – so you can park by the side of the road. Do be mindful of where you park the vehicle though as you don’t want to block someone’s front gate! 

 

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The Lost Kingdoms Exhibition @ Muzium Negara, Kuala Lumpur

Southeast Asia was once home to many Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms, such as Angkor in Cambodia, Kedah Tua in modern-day Malaysia, as well as the mighty Srivijaya, Sailendra and Majapahit empires in what is today Indonesia. Their legacies can be seen in the form of ancient temples, relics and artefacts that have survived through the ages. Good news for history buffs – you can see them for yourself at The Lost Kingdoms exhibition, currently running at Muzium Negara in Kuala Lumpur until the end of April 2020. The entrance fee to the main section of the museum is just RM2, and covers entry to this exhibition as well!

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Working with the National Museum of Indonesia and the National Museum of Cambodia, Lost Kingdoms maps out 12 ancient Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms of Southeast Asia, featuring 103 items that are a mix of real artefacts as well as replicas. Through these items, one can see that there are many similarities between the cultures of the region, from the techniques used to create beautifully carved statues of the gods, to the elaborate decorations found on the hilts of traditional weaponry.

Here are just some of the exhibits that visitors will get to see at the exhibition:

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A 9th century statue of the Hindu god Vishnu, from pre-Angkorian times (on loan from the National Museum of Cambodia).

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Angkorian/Banteay Srei style seated garuda from the late 10th century, carved from red sandstone. Half man and half bird, the garuda is an important mythical figure in Hindu folklore, being the bearer of the Hindu god Vishnu. The garuda features heavily in Javanese and Balinese culture, and is also featured on the Indonesian crest.

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Another statue of Vishnu, this one from the pre-Angkorian period in the Prei Khmeng Style. The statue is made from sandstone and dates back to the mid 7th century. The full, round forms of the face demonstrate the strong Indian influence in the region. Vishnu holds a conch in his raised left hand, a war discus (chakra) in his right, while his lowered left hand rests on the remains of a mace.

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If I’m not mistaken, this is the head of a Kala, a common sight at many Hindu/Buddhist temples in Central Java. The Kala is a mythical lion-like creature – its name in Sanskrit also symbolises ‘time’, which is why the kala is said to devour everything, just as time does.

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One of my favourite pieces from the exhibition is an elaborate relief of Vishnu riding the Garuda, dedicated to the king of Airlangga from the Kahuripan kingdom (9th to 10th century). The image of Vishnu was made in the king’s likeness, to honour his contribution to rescuing and rebuilding Java after the kingdom almost collapsed from war with a neighbouring empire. This is on loan from the National Museum of Indonesia.

 

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Statue of the Hindu elephant god Ganesha made from granite stone, from the Kedah Tua (Kataha) kingdom, 6th to 7th century. Unlike the Hindu Buddhist kingdoms in Java, Indonesia, or even Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, not much remains of the Kataha kingdom in Kedah, other than a couple of candis (shrines).

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Prajnaparamita Statue from the Singhasari Kingdom, 13th century. Prajnaparamita is the goddess of transcendental wisdom in Buddhist tradition, and this particular statue is said to have been modeled after the beauty of Ken Dedes, an ancient Javanese princess who was the consort of Ken Arok, the first king of the Singhasari Kingdom. It is said that the kings that ruled from the Srivijayan to Majapahit eras were direct descendants of Ken Dedes, making her the literal mother of kings.

The Lost Kingdoms Exhibition is running until April 30 at Muzium Negara’s Gallery 2.  Entrance is RM2 for Malaysians (included with the ticket to the main museum).

Museum opening hours are from 9AM – 6PM.

We Spent Six Hours At The National Museum in Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand has a rich and colourful history, and it’s chronicled incredibly well at the National Museum in Bangkok.  From the early days of its ancient Buddhist kingdoms of Sukhothai, Lan Na and Ayutthaya to the more modern eras under the Rama kings, the museum offers visitors a look into the history and various facets of what makes up Thailand today – and it’s absolutely fascinating. N and I spent six hours exploring the vast museum grounds, and would have spent more if it wasn’t for the fact that we had other items on our itinerary to go to :’D

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The museum was about 1.5 kilometres from our hostel in Rambuttri, and it was packed with tourists, locals and students, despite being a weekday. From the outside, the museum didn’t look very large, but there were actually many buildings within. There was an entrance fee of 200 baht (RM27) for foreigners.

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Our timing was excellent as the museum was running a temporary exhibition, “Qin Shi Huang: The First Emperor of China and Terracotta Warriors” during our visit. The showcase included historical artefacts and items from the rule of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, some of which were flown in from Xi’an.

QSH was a bit of an obsessive personality and during his lifetime, drank mercury in an attempt to prolong his life (mercury was believed to be the secret to immortality back then). When he died (presumably from mercury poisoning), he was entombed in a necropolis, complete with 8,000 life-sized terracotta warriors. The mausoleum, which was designed as a reflection of a palace / city so that QSH could continue ruling in the afterlife,  has never been fully excavated due to fears of possible damage.

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Although it said ‘life-sized’, I felt like the sculptures were actually taller than normal, averaging about eight feet.

The original statues that were discovered were actually coated in paint, so they weren’t all grey and dull looking. The paint evaporated into the air after the mausoleum was excavated.

 

 

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Terracotta horse-drawn chariot.

Beyond just his odd practices of drinking mercury and burning books, SHD was an extraordinary figure who united China’s many warring factions under one banner. The exhibition also detailed this, explaining the economic and political reforms that took place during his rule, as well as cultural and historical impact that can still be felt two millennia later.  On display to tell the narrative was advanced weaponry, decorative statues, household items, ritual objects, and more.

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A distinctive stone armour worn by soldiers, made up of hundreds of interlinked stone pieces connected by bronze wire to offer more flexibility.

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Decorative / ritual objects in the shapes of farm animals like horses, cows, goats, pigs and sheep; or scenes from everyday life like a rice mill, shrines and small houses.

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N was fascinated, and I had to literally drag him out to the main courtyard (lest we stay there the entire day). We next ventured into the Buddhaisawan Chapel. Built in the early 18th century, the main hall houses one of the most sacred Buddhist images in all of Thailand, the Phra Buddha Sihing.

The vast hall had sleek wooden floors, with a red ceiling and walls decorated with images of the Devas, as well as old paintings telling Buddha’s story. Some of these were faded with age and were difficult to discern, but you could still see the meticulous attention to detail poured into creating each one.

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The entrance to Buddhaisawan Chapel is guarded by garudas – mythical creatures in Buddhist and Hindu mythology that sport avian and human features.

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Another building you can check out within the museum is the vibrant-looking The Red House. Constructed from teak, it was originally the private living quarters of a princess. Today, it houses items used by royals in the past, including those of Queen Sri Suriyenda.

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A beautiful gold pavilion with intricate decorative features and exquisite detailing on the ceiling.

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The halls within the museum seemed to go on forever – there were just so many things to see. There were sections dedicated to Buddhist art from Thailand and neighbouring regions, the evolution of the country’s monetary system and currency, paintings, weaponry, clothing worn by royals, palanquins which were used to mount onto the backs of elephants, war drums, dioramas and much more.

 

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Royal throne. The colour gold is prevalent in Thai colour, as it is an important colour in both Buddhist and Thai culture.

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Life-sized replica of an elephant with a palanquin strapped to its back. Elephants are the national animal of Thailand.

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Students writing notes down as they observe a diorama, complete with war elephants, cavalry, foot soldiers and archers

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Thai royals were a fashionable lot, with ceremonial and everyday costumes featuring rich fabrics, elegant colours, beautiful detailing and patterns, and slim silhouettes.

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Everyone likes beautiful things – and there were sections detailing Thai art, such as how artisans apply mother of pearl to everything from furniture to sword scabbards; as well as a section for enamel pottery.

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Another impressive section was a hall containing numerous royal funeral chariots. Built from teak, the chariots were ornately carved, painted and gilded in gold, with mythical / religious figures and decorative fixtures such as nagas and devas.

Thais have deep respect for their royalty (they have some of the world’s strictest lese-majeste laws), and they revere them as much in death as they do in life. When a member of the royal family passes, the chariots are pulled by hundreds of men in a parade down the streets with the urn carrying the ashes of the deceased royal sitting atop a tall roofed shrine.

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Grand send off.

The Bangkok National Museum is, by far, one of the most impressive museums I have been to in Southeast Asia, and it’s definitely worth checking out if you love history and culture. Allocate at least half a day for the place if you’re planning to have a more in-depth experience.

BANGKOK NATIONAL MUSEUM 

Na Phra That Alley, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand

Opening hours: 9AM – 4PM (closed on Mon – Tues)

 

Melbourne’s Best Kept Secret: The Lyon Housemuseum in Kew

Melbourne is known for its vibrant arts and culture scene – and while art galleries and museums abound within the city, the quiet suburban neighbourhood of Kew houses one unlike any other.

Enter the Lyonhouse Museum at 219 Cotham Road.

Part museum, part home, it is where the owners, the Lyons, display their extensive collection of contemporary Australian artwork – the largest in Australia. It is also where they live.

Photo by Dianna Snape

The Lyon Housemuseum was designed by architect Corbett Lyon. Together with his wife Yueji, the couple have been collecting art for over 29 years, and now have over 350 pieces. When they decided to move into a new home in the mid-2000s, they decided to have a purpose-built residence-cum-museum, inspired by private art collections displayed in residential settings, such as Sir John Soane’s Museum in London and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.

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Stepping into the living room, we were welcomed by art pieces and installations blending harmoniously together with regular furniture like a cosy sofa, couches and bookshelves. In a corner were two large and cute-looking ‘baby’ trucks, one in pink and the other in blue, by Patricia Piccinini.

Yueji Lyon brought us on a tour of the home. She pointed at the ceiling and walls, which were covered in text that came together to form the word ART. “You get the names of the girls’ (Yueji’s daughters) best friends, places we’ve visited, and there’s also text in Chinese, which is my first language,” Yueji quipped. “It’s like a history of the house’s occupants.” She then flipped open a cupboard to reveal a collection of trinkets and souvenirs that the family has collected from their travels. It was certainly a unique thing to see, how the space blended both the public and the private.

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At the hallway was The Carrier 2012, also by Patricia Piccinini – featuring the figure of an ape-like creature carrying an old woman. The sculpture was extremely life-like, from the texture of the ‘skin’ down to the minute detail of folds, creases, fine hairs, moles and blemishes. Many of her works follow the same vein with humanoid/artificial elements blended together; fascinating but also somewhat unsettling. Imagine stumbling across this late at night!

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The Central Music Room was a large auditorium-esque hall with a massive, modified pipe organ that extended up to the ceiling. Yueji tells the group that if Corbett was the one leading the tour, he’d usually perform a piece for the audience! I was touched by how the family has opened up their home and their private collection for others to be able to enjoy them.

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There was another room downstairs which I didn’t manage to take a picture of – a ‘Black Cube Space’ for video art. The cavernous ceiling made it feel like a movie theatre, and Yueji tells us that her daughters used to have friends over for sleepover nights there, where they’d watch films. Must be nice to have your own cinema at home!

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The central space in the house is the White Cube, which resembles more of an actual art gallery, with white washed walls hung with paintings and artwork, as well as a central installation. Visitors are able to look down at it from the upper floor, as there are glass windows surrounding the space.

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The dining room.

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Even paper/print bags from their travels / shopping make for great decoration for the walls.

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My dream home will have a book collection as big as this.

There are parts of the housemuseum that are not open to the public, such as the bedrooms, so visitors can’t just barge into wherever they like. It is, after all, still a private residence, and must be respected as such.

Visiting the Lyon Housemuseum was certainly a unique experience, and one that was very different from a regular art gallery. A must if you’re in Melbourne! Bookings for tours may be done at lyonhousemuseum,com.au. and cost AUD25 per pax (tours are limited to groups of 25). Alternatively, there is a more conventional gallery space adjacent to the Housemuseum building.

Economics 101 – Visiting The Bank Negara Money Museum & Art Gallery, KL

For most people, the mention of ‘economics’ conjures up images of financial analysts in crisp business suits, jargon-filled reports and complex mathematical stuff no layman can understand. Or maybe it’s just me, lol. 

If you really think about it though, economics is pervasive in our everyday lives – you just don’t think about it that much. You draw a pay for your work = economics. You pay money for goods and services = economics. The price of your favourite bubble tea increases because cost of raw materials increased + the gov implements a sugar tax = economics.

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To learn more about economics, the banking system and the evolution of money in Malaysia, I visited Bank Negara‘s (ie the Malaysian Central Bank) Money Museum & Art Gallery in KL. The museum is housed within the left wing of Sasana Kijang, a modern state-of-the-art building which also hosts some of the bank’s partners, including research and training bodies, business schools and financial services boards.

To enter the museum, you go through a security check and leave your bags in provided lockers. There are lifts, but you can also opt to go up via the spiral staircase in the middle. There is a souvenir shop and a cafe on the ground floor.

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The museum is spacious, spanning three floors and seven galleries. The Bank Negara Gallery chronicles the history of the Malaysian central bank and also includes general displays related to money and economics, such as tools used for minting, old cheque machines, a replica of a vault room and more.

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To make it more interactive, there are fun quizzes that you can take. Try your hand at trading stocks, or managing the economy using interest rates. (Failed at both and caused the economies to crash. Welp.) There is also a section where you can spin blocks and compare how inflation has caused prices of goods to increase over the years.

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Have you ever wondered how a Central Bank Governor’s office looks like? Here it is!

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The Islamic Finance Gallery chronicles the concept of economics in the world of Islam. You can listen to and view excerpts from the Quran relating to finance and trade. As Islam came from Arab, there are also sections dedicated to the development of the Arabic numerals, which forms the basis of the numbers that we use today.

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This was one of my favourite exhibits – a dark room with a stationary bicycle, which you have to pedal as the video takes you through a history on mankind and economics. If you stop pedalling, it’ll stop playing!

The cute animation style and the easy to understand narration takes visitors through the beginnings of trade, how it evolved in Europe through the middle ages, the industrial revolution, and finally its impact on our modern lives.

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Moving on to the Economics Gallery, which detailed economic policies and how it affects nations, there was an interesting ‘container ship’ exhibit which visitors can pull out and reveal what Malaysia exports to different countries. Very creative presentation !

They also had information on ‘tulip mania’, which I found super interesting. Basically in 16th century Netherlands, a speculative bubble created a huge demand for tulips, and prices for the bulbs rose so dramatically people were selling off their houses and land to get their hands on tulip bulbs! Needless to say when the bubble burst, the Dutch economy took a severe hit and many people lost their fortunes.

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Collectors and researchers will enjoy the Numismatics Gallery, which boasts an impressive collection of coins and paper money – thanks to Malaysia’s unique history. In the 14th century, the Sultanate of Melaka was an important port and saw traders from as far as China, India and Saudi Arabia. Later on, the Malay straits would be colonised by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British. The ‘River of Coins’ section showcases the flow of coins through time, with helpful displays on the screen giving detailed information on coins from a particular era.

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Rooster-shaped coins used in the Malay sultanates. Animal-shaped tin money in the form of crocodiles, fish, elephants and even grasshoppers were used currency between the 15th and 18th centuries, as were ones shaped like flowers with coin ‘petals’ running along the stem.

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Portuguese coins featuring crosses and shields.

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A British Malaya commemorative note featuring a young Queen Elizabeth II.

There were also samples of ‘banana money’ – the currency issued by the Japanese during their invasion of Malaya and Singapore. These were rendered useless after their surrender in 1945.

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The evolution of Malaysian coin design through the years.

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Bank notes from countries around the world.

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There is currently an exhibition running on Bank Negara’s second Malaysian governor (the first Governor was British), Tun Ismail Mohd Ali, with various personal items (diaries, a recreation of his office space, university robes, signed documents etc.) on display. An economics graduate of Cambridge University, Tun Ismail was one of the longest serving governors for the Central Bank, and played a huge role in implementing and shaping many of the country’s economic policies. He was the brother in law of our current prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

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Another part of the exhibition features Tun Ismail’s art collection – including a large glass bottle with matchsticks collected from his travels.

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Ventured up to the top floor to check out their Art Gallery, which houses the Central Bank of Malaysia’s art collection, with works by prominent local artists such as Yong Mun Sen and Hossein Enas. (Above) Wayang Kulit by Long Thien Shih (1964).

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Precious Gift by Adizain (2015).

I was expecting a boring place and was pleasantly surprised by how interactive and interesting the study of economics and banking could be! Definitely worth paying a visit if you’re around the area, and best of all, entrance is free.

Getting There

Getting to BNM Museum is a bit iffy if you’re using public transport as it doesn’t arrive directly at the building’s doorstep. A ride hailing service is probably your best option, but if you want to try the trains, the KTM Komuter is a 10 minute walk away (Bank Negara Komuter station), and the RapidKL LRT is a 15 minute walk away (Bandaraya station).

BANK NEGARA MALAYSIA MUSEUM & ART GALLERY 

Sasana Kijang, 2 Jalan Dato’ Onn, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Opening hours: 10 AM – 6 PM (daily)

Phone: +603 9179 2784

museumbnm.gov.my

Teratak Za’ba, Negeri Sembilan – In Memory Of A National Scholar

We learn of him in history books, but ask many young Malaysians and they probably can’t tell you who Za’ba was. Which is a shame, because the contributions he made to the country and the Malay language are phenomenal.

Born Zainal Abidin Ahmad in 1895, young Za’ba displayed an affinity for languages and knowledge from a tender age. He became the first Malay to pass the Senior Cambridge test in 1915, when Malaya was still under British colonial rule. Through the years, he played the role of scholar and educator, teaching at various schools whilst writing essays. He wrote the Pelita Bahasa – a series of monographs which became the basis of the modern Malay language that we use today – and his social commentaries in newspapers and magazines contributed to the rise of nationalism, subtly influencing the way to independence. The pen is mightier than the sword, indeed.

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Za’ba was born in Batu Kikir in Negeri Sembilan. Teratak Za’ba – a museum and monument to his legacy – was opened here in 2001, to honour his memory and contributions. The museum is done to resemble a traditional Negeri Sembilan Malay house, the likes of which are difficult to find today, and is well worth a visit if you’re in the area – if not for the history then the architecture.

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The slightly curving roof hearkens to the state’s Minangkabau roots. The building sits on stilts and is made of chengal, a type of hardwood tree that is resistant to rot and weather.

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Entering the house, it feels cool, even with the scorching heat outside. Our guide explains that the first section of the home – a spacious corridor – was basically the men’s quarters, where they would eat, sleep and convene. The inner quarters were for the women, and men were not allowed in.

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Photos of Za’ba through the years – family portraits, at work, snapshots of a life well lived.

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The museum is home to some of his personal possessions, such as his trademark round glasses, watches and clocks.

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Old typewriters, phones and a dressing table complete with mirror. What has it seen?

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I will not sully these beautiful words with translation.

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Books written by Za’ba.

Although small, Teratak Za’ba is worth a visit for those who like history. It also offers a glimpse into the life of a great scholar and writer, whose writing paved the way for a better future, for the nation and its people.

TERATAK ZA’BA 

Kampong Bukit Kerdas, 72100 Batu Kikir, Negeri Sembilan

Opening hours: 9AM – 6PM

Admission is free.

Visiting Pusat Sains Negara – The National Science Center, Kuala Lumpur

When I say it has been ages since I last visited Pusat Sains Negara, aka the National Science Centre, I meant AGES. Like 20 years. So I think I can be forgiven for having very fuzzy memories of the place lol.

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Perched on top of a hill in Bukit Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, the National Science Centre opened its doors in 1996, covering two levels of exhibition space. The original building was completely green, but it underwent a year-long refurbishment to update its exhibits and emerged with a rainbow-coloured exterior lol.

Parking is limited on weekends, but you can park your car across the road and walk over via a connecting bridge.

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At the foot of the hill is a “Prehistoric Trail” featuring several dino statues. The kids (and some adults, lol) will probably love this!

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Before venturing into the centre, do detour to check out the garden, which features enclosures housing critters like frogs, salamanders and scorpions. There is also a small pond with beautiful tropical water lilies. Love the purple!

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Koi fish in hues of gold, white, red and black. The water ripple effect created a very picturesque shot even with my non-existent photo-taking skills lol

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If you like butterflies, there are lots of them fluttering within the garden!

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Entry to the center is RM6 for adults and RM3 for children. Unlike some tourist attractions that charge different rates for foreigners, the rates are the same here at PSN. Maybe it’s because most people visiting are locals anyway.

The entrance houses a tunnel aquarium with various fish, stingrays and other aquatic life.

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The first themed gallery, dubbed Wonderspark, is dedicated to natural phenomena related to water, light and wind. There are many interactive (albeit simple imo) exhibits that you can try your hand at, such as this panel that lights up according to touch, and a ‘vacuum’ circuit/maze where you insert ping pong balls and try to move the ball towards various exits.

PS: I would recommend visitors to come on a weekday. While our visit was not entirely unpleasant, it was filled with screaming, out-of-control children and weak-ass parents who didn’t know how to talk to them about lining up, or being gentle with the exhibits. 

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The central hall has a playground and benches for people to rest on. The skylight made everything look really yellow lol.

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Another gallery called Eureka, which was further split into several themed exhibitions such as Challenge Your Mind, Colour and Sound, Illusion and All About Numbers. We enjoyed doing the number puzzles, such as attempting (key word, attempting) to line up numbers 1-9 in a grid where everything totaled up to a certain number.

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The Kids Discovery Place is all about building the minds of children, with fun, interactive and hands-on exhibits – because kids learn best when they’re experiencing things! Here you will find a maze of mirrors, this complicated looking circuit which lets you launch balls and watch as they roll down to the bottom, musical instruments such as xylophones and drums, and mini cranes which kids can try to operate.

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There are more exhibits on the second level. Unfortunately I have no pictures of this section because I was too busy trying to reign in the Boy who decided to age 20 years backwards and run around like an excited child. The upstairs level was more of a mishmash of different disciplines, from chemistry to biology and physics.

For a mere RM6, I think the National Science Center is a great, educational place to take the kids. Granted, some of the exhibits may feel dated/worn out (even though they just reopened after their refurbishment) but I hope that they’ll continue to keep the place maintained well.

PUSAT SAINS NEGARA / NATIONAL SCIENCE CENTRE

Persiaran Bukit Kiara, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Opening hours: (Tues – Sun) 9AM – 5PM, closed Mondays

Entrance fee: RM6 (adults), RM3 (children)

psn.gov.my

Getting There by Public Transport 

There is a feeder bus (T818) from the Pusat Bandar Damansara MRT station which stops at PSN.

BONUS 

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Since we were so close to Publika, drove there for ice cream at Inside Scoop. 😀

 

Travelogue Manila: Science And Discovery @ Mind Museum, Bonifacio Global City

Whenever I come to Manila, I make it a point to visit as many museums as possible. I like how much effort is put into maintaining the culture and heritage of the Filipino people, and how well preserved some of the artifacts are.

But while I’ve been to plenty of historical museums and art galleries on my past visits, I’ve never been to a science /discovery centre (besides Manila Ocean Park) – so the Boy and I bought tickets for the Mind Museum in Bonifacio Global City.

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It doesn’t look very large from the outside, but there are plenty of things to keep you occupied for hours. True to its science theme, the museum has a solar reflective exterior as well as natural wind ventilation and rainwater flow drainage.

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Spanning two floors with over 250 exhibits, the museum is divided into several sections, each with its own theme. We start off in the Universe Gallery. No points for guessing what this space is about lol.  Here, visitors will discover the story of the cosmos and how the universe came into being. I really liked the décor they’ve done with the place, especially the glittering tapestry of ‘stars’ on the ceiling.

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You can interact with some of the exhibits, like this one (which I actually forgot what it was supposed to demonstrate lol).

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The evolution of stars exhibit was my favourite because the pieces were so well made and colourful. Visitors press buttons to see how the star ‘evolved’, gradually expanding into a ‘red giant’ which is its dying form. Going out with a bang, amirite?

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We also caught a planetarium show, where you sit in a reclining chair while the projector plays on the dome-like screen above you – kind of like giant VR. The only other time I watched one was in LA, and I fell asleep (because I was fatigued after a 20-hour flight lol), so I was looking forward to this.

Sadly, the show didn’t live up to expectations – mostly because the projections were so dark and out of focus that I couldn’t really see what was going on.

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Moving on, we made our way to the Earth Gallery which houses exhibits on prehistoric life and geology.

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The star of the section was definitely the life-sized T-rex replica! PS: His name is Stan.

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The Life Gallery showcases the rich flora and fauna that once, and some that still, inhabit the Philippine archipelago, such as the beautiful whale shark (above) – commonly found off the waters of Cebu and parts of Luzon. There are also replicas of great apes, a life-sized giraffe and a huge figure of a brain.

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Colourful glass that you can switch the positions on to form different colour combis on the wall. Pretty cool!

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A ‘piano’ staircase that was really popular with the kids. There are motion sensors on the sides, so every time someone walked on the ‘key’, there would be sound.

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Neon rainbow tunnel.

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The second floor, which is much smaller than the first, has several arcade games like Guitar Hero that visitors can play for free, an X-ray machine that you can pass your bags through to see how it works, fun house mirrors and technological exhibits.

All in all it was a fun and educational experience at the Mind Museum! There are quite a number of interactive exhibits that will make it fun to visit with the kids, and it definitely beats walking through generic malls and enriching capitalist pockets for vanity and self gratification. At least here, you learn stuff.

Tickets can be purchased here. 

**There are all day passes and three-hour slots. I recommend getting the cheaper 3-hour slot because the museum isn’t that big and everything can be covered within that time limit. 

*imho the prices are pretty steep (adults – PHP625 for a three-hour ticket) but I guess that’s how they can maintain the place. 

Mind Museum
JY Campos Park 3rd Avenue
Bonifacio Global City
Taguig City, Philippines 1634

Business hours: 9AM – 6PM Tues-Suns, closed Mon