We’d been to Singapore in ’09 and ’11 so on our third visit, we made sure the kids would have a totally different set of activities. Watching Jessica Sanchez on AI has helped; thru Star World we learned that a new museum-the Arts & Science Museum- has been built and it’s right in front of the iconic Marina Bay Sands.
So Day Two’s highlight in the Merlion city excursion was a visit at the strangely designed museum (Sorry I don’t have a word for such architecture). We were very lucky- it was a few days before the TITANIC exhibition concluded. Even on the cab, we’d conditioned the kids for the experience they were about to have and they were both excited to know about the then -called ‘unsinkable ship’. At the entrance, each of us was given a character card, that is a bio of a real passenger of Titanic on its maiden voyage. Mine was Dr. Henry Frauenthal (a 49-y.old orthopedic surgeon), my eldest son’s was Mr. Kurt Bryhl (a 25 y.old Swedish), the junior’s was Sir Cosmo Gordon (a 49y.old Olympic fencer) and wifey’s was Mrs. thomas Potter Jr. (a 56 y.old mum); all our of ‘us’ were in first class accommodation except the young lad from Sweden. We read our character cards and predicted whether or not they’d have survived the tragedy. Of course we all thought they all did but that was to be found out at the end of our Titanic ‘journey’.
Before the first section of the gallery was a photo site. If you remember the scene where Rose (played by Kate Winslet) spread her arms and said she was flying, that’s were we posed for a family shot. Then we went to different rooms divided among Pre, During, Post and Recovery phases. At the Pre-departure section, brief accounts of the designers, engineers, workers and owners were mounted on massive wall frames. Displayed were a number of artifacts like the blueprints, tools, furnishings, and amenities of first class, second class and third class cabins accompanied with facts, literature and interesting stories. What was most striking was that as early as 1912, first class bathrooms had hot and cold water taps already! And each class had significant differences in materials and quality of their furnishings. By merely looking at them, I could see the disparity among people in different social strata. What’s more interesting to know was that third class facilities were comparable to the first class of other ships during that period in maritime industry.
The rooms in ‘during’ and ‘post’ phases were a bit familiar-most of them were shown in Jame’s Cameroon’s epic adaptation that gave Leonardo DiCaprio his first big hit. The boiler room, the ballroom where my family posed for another photo, the cafes, the decks, etc.- the film has captured all of it. More relic displays, more facts and we arrived at the ‘post’ phase. The background music this time was so moving that we felt we were among the passengers in panic. A wall-mounted silver screen showing how the giant ship split into two was placed opposite a life-like part of an iceberg which left us in awe-visitors could touch it and feel its subzero temperature. Pictures of notable passengers, together with their very emotional stories of sacrifice and struggle for survival, were among the highlights. Then there’s a section that posted headlines and efforts of the international community to know the truth behind Titanic’s ill-fated journey.
Finally there’s the inventory section that lists the passengers and crew who went missing and survived. Visitors of the exhibit-each of us-took a moment to scan for our characters’ names. Some shrieked in joy after knowing ‘they’ survived. Others anxiously traced the names on the canvas only to find out ‘they’ did not make it. As for us, only one did not survive and he happened to be the only one who was not from the first class accommodation. With the stats, the lower the class the higher the fatality rate. And this saddened me the most- from that time until now, it is unfortunate to be poor!
The recovery phase was a bit light-more videos of technologies trying to salvage what was left of the Titanic. I couldn’t thank these people enough for bringing the remnants of the wreckage to us, dwellers of modern-day world. Had it now been for the Titanic, maritime laws wouldn’t have given more focus on safety, rather than design and superficial beauty.
After the 2.5hour tour, we were all exhausted but happy. With all the new information we have discovered, we have learned to appreciate living in this age.