I have never understood why companies and associations spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to arrange conferences and business meetings overseas and rarely venture away from the hotel. History and culture don't have to be boring. In Asia, here are my favorite interactive museums and attractions.
- Edo-Tokyo Museum
Since 1993, the miniature and life-sized exhibits at the Edo -Tokyo museum have captured Tokyo's rich historical and cultural heritage.
Cross the replica of the Nihonbashi Bridge to enter the Edo Zone, portraying traditional Edo lifestyle. The amount of detail in the miniature or life-sized replicas of Edo's row houses, shops, and the 19th-century Kabuki theater is amazing. Elaborate and colorful tableaus depict citizens from all walks of life.
In the Tokyo Zone, exhibits trace the evolution of Tokyo into Japan's modern and vibrant capital. There are miniature replicas of modern and historical buildings, stores and important Tokyo landmarks. Step into life-sized replicas from elegant living rooms to 1 room dwellings.
Exhibits also depict the dramatic transformation of the city during the Meiji Restoration and after the Great Kanto Earthquake; and World War II air raids.
- Images of Singapore
Singapore's history and cultural diversity come to life at Sentosa Island's Images of Singapore attraction. Life-sized figures and colorful multi-media presentations engage visitors as they walk through the places and events that have shaped Singapore.
Visit a traditional Chinese shophouse. Sit and listen to Chinese rickshaw pullers converse in the tiny room that was typical of the accommodations for these early Chinese immigrants. Meet prominent business people. Stand beside children playing with traditional toys. Step into a festival parade. See Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles step onto the banks of the Singapore River. Get goose bumps as you walk through the World War II chambers of surrender and watch footage of the actual events as they unfolded.
- Sarawak Cultural Village
A highly interactive attraction, the Sarawak Cultural Village is a "living museum" consisting of 7 homesteads in a lush setting around a large lake. Each homestead represents ethnic groups that have left a major cultural imprint on Malaysian Borneo. A visit to each homestead is like stepping back in time to glimpse the unique lifestyles.
Homestead are built in the architectural style that was typical of the homes of each ethnic group. There are longhouses, tall houses, huts, and a farm house. Visitors get a firsthand look at the furnishings, dress, cooking methods, musical instruments, toys, and games typical in Malay, Iban, Bidayuh, Orang Ulu, Melanau, Chinese and East Indian households.
At the Rainforest Music House, there is a collection of musical instruments from all over the world. There are live recitals at the Rainforest Music House. The cultural performance in the village's spacious amphitheater showcases music, dance and stunning costumes from the 7 ethnic groups.
- Muzium Negara
In Bahasa Malay, "negara" means "our country." Located Near Lake Gardens, Malaysia's National Museum, with its bold exterior, was created as an interactive venue to give visitors an opportunity to explore all things Malaysian. The design reflects the decor of a traditional Malaysian palace. The 13 columns represent the 13 states of Malaysia.
Muzium Negara has 4 galleries each reflecting the design of the period of Malaysia's history that it explores. There is the Pre-History Gallery with stone age tools from Paleolithic, Hoabinhian and Neolithic ages.
The Malay Kingdoms Gallery traces the evolution of the Malay/Melaka Sultanate and the kingdoms that emerged in what is now Malaysian Borneo.
The Colonial Era Gallery traces Malaysia's history between 1511 and 1945. The Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, Japanese and British have left their mark on Malaysia. Finally, Malaysia Today traces the history of the nationalist movement and the modern, independent nation that has emerged since 1957.
Space does not permit a description of the Sultan's Palace Replica in Melaka (Malaysia), Kyoto National Museum or Vimamek Mansion in Bangkok but they are well worth exploring.
Photo Credits: Asia Incentive Travel, Executive Oasis International