Saturday, June 26
Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore
I stopped by a Chinese buffet diner for lunch, ordered some food and asked for a napkin. The cashier pointed at some packages of them, so I tore one open and pulled out a napkin. Then she made me pay for the whole package. It was only 30 cents, but still I must say, that was a new one on me. I'll bet you've never had to pay for a napkin in your whole life. Now I can say I have.
Then I tried to cross a bridge down the street, but some military dudes had it closed off for some kind of parade. I shot a few photos of the Singapore armed forces and their various vessels of national defense. It was amazing to watch a squadron of huge tanks rumble by, as their big engines and treads emanated massive Iannis Xenakis-like drones across the cityscape.
Next, I shot some photos of skyscrapers around Marina Bay and City Centre. There is no shortage of these big contraptions in Singapore! They seem to be endless. I came across some rad street musicians, including one by himself who played a lap guitar in the middle of the bridge, and another group of 10 teenagers, most of whom sang and clapped while two of them haphazardly danced and did cartwheels. They would do this for a couple of minutes at one spot, then move on to another.
I ended up the day at the Asian Civilizations Museum. It was the last day of a big exhibition called Treasury of the World, Jewelled Arts of India in the Age of the Mughals, thus the hours were extended until 1:00 a.m. and admission was free after 5:00 p.m. So, I went for a drink and a snack to kill some time and save $8.00.
Several exhibitions were running at the same time, including a multi-media look at the history of the small and humble yet important Singapore River, an amazing photo exhibit of a Borneo tribesman who struggles for existence amid deforestation, and the aforementioned Treasury of the World, which covers the ultra glitzy jewelry and weapons made by artists and craftsmen in India for the rulers of the Mughal empire from the 16th through the 19th centuries.
Most of the museum is filled with six huge galleries that examine the history of art throughout Asia, including carvings, ceramics, handmade books, pottery, sculptures, statues, textiles, video projections, weapons and much more. And it's all presented in really buttery-looking, dark exhibits with dramatic lighting. There is so much to look at and read, there's no way to do it all in one day. Afer five hours, I was exhausted and called it a night.