Best of Asian Travel
5 cutting-edge exhibitions to see while in Singapore
A wonderful collection of imposing new museums and cutting-edge exhibitions are fostering Singapore’s growing reputation as an arts capital in the South-East Asian region. Don’t miss these:
1. National Museum of Singapore
A soaring new atrium by architects studioMilou Singapore (in partnership with CPG Consultants) links two historic edifices – the former Supreme Court and Town Hall – to create the mammoth new National Gallery of Singapore.
The hulking buildings become artworks in their own right when viewed from the atrium, which lets in diffused, dappled light through its glass façade, while on either side of this galleries are filled with permanent as well as touring exhibitions that aim to celebrate and foster the reputation of south-east Asian art.
Make sure you take the time to wander the lovely Ng Teng Fong Roof Gallery Garden for its calm green space and million dollar views across Singapore.
2. Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
Part of the Faculty of Science of the National University of Singapore, this architectural marvel, with its verdant vertical garden engulfing one corner of its black box design, is filled with some 2000 natural history specimens in two permanent galleries, including some collected by Sir Stamford Raffles himself.
But the undisputed stars of the show here are the trio of Diplodocidae dinosaurs discovered amazingly intact in Wyoming in the USA from 2007 to 2009, and cheekily named Apollonia, Prince and Twinky.
3. Indian Heritage centre
Little India’s delightfully shambolic, frenetic surrounds can be an assault on the senses, but respite can be found with the elegant new Indian Heritage Centre in the heart of the fragrant neighbourhood.
Within its crisp modern lines, the history of Indian settlement, culture and industry in Singapore is explored through a permanent exhibition of artefacts, displays, video and wonderfully interactive elements for young ones.
4. Future World at ArtScience Museum
Resembling a giant, metallic lotus flower, the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands is an established part of the landscape now, but its new permanent exhibition is worth a repeat visit if you already think that you have been there, done that.
Future World: Where Art Meets Science is a mesmerising 1500-square-metre digital universe created in collaboration with the Tokyo-based teamLab, an award-winning art collective of ‘ultra-technologists’.
The resulting installations are at once beautifully ethereal and brilliantly cutting edge, from an interactive projection room where blooming flowers and floating butterflies cover every surface, their ephemeral beauty shattered with a mere touch of the walls, to an LED light maze that can be customised with the touch of a button, and my daughter’s favourite: an enclosure of massive orbs that change colour and create a subtle noise symphony when bounced against each other.
5. The surroundings of the city – Parkroyal on Pickering
Singapore refers to itself as a city inside a garden; after decades of construction and expansion the government is doing a great job to redress the balance, with guidelines overseen by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) dictating that all new builds must incorporate a garden element into the design.
The resulting architecture is arresting, with the three-year-old Parkroyal on Pickering featuring six curvaceous sky gardens (the multi-award winning design also incorporates myriad energy-saving features, including an innovative solar energy system that has resulted in the gardens being ‘zero energy’), gleaming multi-storey glass apartment blocks seemingly bursting to life with trees and flowers metres above street level, and a black box of a new museum, one corner apparently hewn away and replaced with a verdant vertical garden.
According to the BCA, by 2030 80 per cent of Singapore’s buildings will be certified green, utilising energy- and water-efficient technologies, constructed from eco-friendly materials and integrating green spaces.
My personal favourite remains the soaring Cloud Forest in Gardens on the Bay.
The 7 things you never knew (but need to) about Okinawa
The unique charms of Japan’s southern islands make for an alluring proposition indeed.
***This article was created in conjunction with our sponsors Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau***
1. Okinawans live long lives
Okinawans on average live longer than most people in the world, especially women, who on average live until 90 (for men it’s 84).
It all has to do with diet, staying physically active and having a famously laid-back outlook.
Visit Ogimi, located in the north-west of Okinawa island, known as the Village of Longevity, to learn some of the secrets to living longer.
2. Life’s a beach, literally
Okinawa is made up of 160 islands – known as the Ryukyu Islands – so there are endless idyllic beaches to sample and lots of clear blue water to soak in.
Try snorkelling off Ishigaki or cycle to deserted beaches on tiny Taketomi, past wild flowers swarming with butterflies.
3. The food is totally brilliant
The Okinawans pride themselves on their individuality, and nowhere is this more evident than in their food.
They have a diet that is not only health giving and totally their own, but it tastes fabulous too.
Try Ishigaki beef, bitter melon, purple sweet potato and salt ice cream. And then there’s freeze dried pig’s face (chiragaa), a delicacy found in markets all over the islands.
4. Aloha shirts are all the rage
The Kariyushi shirt, introduced in 1970 to promote tourism, is Okinawa’s own version of the aloha shirt.
Reflecting the relaxed island vibe, when the G8 leaders wore them in 2000 they became a must have item.
5. It’s a site to behold
One of the most sacred sites in Okinawa, Sefa-utaki is where the creation goddess Amamikiyo is fabled to have come to earth to create and populate the Ryukyu Islands.
Visit early, before the tourist starts crowding the forest setting.
6. Good luck is everywhere
curious little statues called shisa, a cross between a lion and a dog, are everywhere you look.
Placed at the entrance of dwellings to ward off evil spirits, they are A must-have souvenir.
7. Karate was invented here
Legend has it that karate developed from the teachings of an Indian monk, Daruma, who travelled to the Shaolin Temple in Honan, China, to instruct the monks in physical and mental conditioning.
An Okinawan traveller brought the teachings back with him, where they developed and adapted into a unique form of martial arts.
More information: Go to Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau to find out more.
Make Okinawa your next destination and check out:
- A closer look at Japan’s island life
- Okinawa: Ultimate Couples Getaway
- Authentic Japan: the less-trodden path
All IT reviews are conducted anonymously and our writers pay their own way - so we experience exactly what you would.
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