Friday, August 12, 2011

110627 Day 12: National Museum of Singapore

We had breakfast at home, then lunch with my college friends (Diana, Wennie, Ying, Huiling, Peiying and Cheryl) at Lao Bei Jing, a Chinese restaurant. Its a good restaurant with good food, but being the first customers for the day and still having to wait more than an hour for food (waiter screwed up and didn't process the order after 2 requests to check if everything's ok in the kitchen) doesn't go well with me (or my tummy). Hence, this restaurant will be added to my 'not recommended' list.

chinese pickles appetizer

beijing fried noodles

braised pork

It was fun times catching up with old friends! I haven't seen Diana in a whole year! Hopefully I get to see more of them before we leave... :)

After lunch, we headed to the National Museum of Singapore for its special exhibition - Treasures of Vacheron Constantine: A legacy of watchmaking since 1775. The National Museum is a large, colonial styled building that has been completely renovated inside, leaving the colonial shell with a modern interior. Such renovations are very common in Singapore, especially with Chinese shophouses. Many shophouses that line the Singapore River, or others found in Joo Chiat or Serangoon, have been completely gutted from the inside, leaving only the restored (original) outer shell with a crazy interior. I guess this is what we call 'heritage preservation'.

National Museum of Singapore, one of many big colonial styled buildings

the dome

modern interior of the National Museum

Since we both knew absolutely nothing about making watches, it was a very interesting afternoon there as we learned more about watch making, the history of the craft, and also got to see first hand how it was all done. At the exhibit, they had a master watchmaker talk about how some old Vacheron Constantine watches had different mechanisms to counteract the effect of gravity on the spring, we got to see (and touch), first hand, how the watches made by Vacheron Constantine had changed over 250 years. Pretty amazing!

Other than a master watchmaker, they also had an engraver, guillocheur, enameller, jeweler and 180 watches from as early as the 1800s on show. A highlight of the day was when the guillocheur let us 'try out' his machine and make some carvings on the face of  a watch. It was definitely much more fun speaking to all these people from all walks of the watch-making industry (they're called the cabinotiers), and we definitely learned alot from them. Did you know, that the ruby is one of the best stones used inside watches because it 'lubricates' the movement? Also, we found out what the movement of a watch is. No, the watch is not moving.

some watches...

Jas the guillocheur - yes, he was working a real machine!

Overall, a very interesting exhibit and we definitely recommend everyone to go, especially watch lovers! After seeing this, I appreciate all that goes into making a watch so much more. I used to think it was as simple as fitting a battery into something, but boy was I way way way wrong! There's so much craftmanship and artistry that goes into the art and science of watch making!!

outside the National Museum

Walking out of the National Museum of Singapore, we headed to Fort Canning, which was nearby. Fort Canning is a small hill in the middle of downtown Singapore, that has had a long history. It was the burial place for Malay kings, and still has shrines that we could visit. It was also a WW2 fort, and we could still go visit some of the bunkers today. It was also a Christian cemetary at some point, and so we could also go grave-visiting. These days, it's also a performance venue, with shows such as Ballet Under the Stars being held there every year.

part of a fence from the WW2 period

fort canning green, where all the concerts occur

old Christian cemetery

colonial entrance arch to the fort

footpath along the walls, walking toward the main building

main building

Unfortunately, we were slightly late, and although we could still visit some outdoor exhibits such as the spice garden and shrines, we decided to head back another time because we wanted to visit the underground bunkers at the Battle Box, but missed the last entry by about 30 minutes!!

So we took the MRT back home, and ate a quick dinner before heading out again. This time, we headed out to the airport because my cousin was coming home today! My cousin is working on his degree in maritime studies in Australia, and he comes home twice a year (lucky!)

Terminal 3, Singapore Changi Airport

After meeting my cousin, we decided to talk around the 3 main terminals at the Singapore Changi International Airport. Jas noted that Changi Airport might be the only only-international airport in the world. It's unlikely that it's the only one, but its definitely one of very very few. Changi Airport has also been the pride of Singaporeans as it has always been voted one of the best airports in the world. I guess that is true, since many people actually go to the airport to do other stuff other than just fly off. There's a whole lot of shopping and much much much more food (alot of which are open 24hrs) in the airports, and most shopping there is also tax free (yay!)

The Slide @ T3 (a 4 storey slide in the terminal)

The airport is fun, and I've always enjoyed heading there in my schooling years to study and hang with friends because it was such a great environment for such stuff (think lots of space, and you don't have to buy a drink to hang there!) I never knew why we needed FOUR terminals, but I'm guessing that since its the 18th busiest airport in the world, we probably need all four terminals. *haha*

bobo chacha

Came home to some bobo chacha, a nonya dessert made with yams and sweet potatoes in a thin coconut milk, made by my grandma. Yummy!!

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