Sharks on top!

Spend this school holidays exploring the sea world at Resorts World Sentosa Singapore,

writes Hanna Hussein

SCHOOL holidays are just around the corner and if you haven’t planned anything yet for your young ones, here’s an idea — go on a kiddies getaway!

Really, it’s such a waste to let the children spend their holiday at home doing nothing.

Why not treat them to a fun educational weekend at Resorts World Sentosa Singapore, where they can explore, experience and learn new things.

Good news, the Maritime Experiential Museum has recently done an extensive overhaul featuring five brand new zones. Be the first to experience the revamped attraction where your children will learn interesting bits about the world’s famous explorers.

Psst, if they love unique unseen sea creatures, you may want to arrange to visit the South East Asia Aquarium (S.E.A. Aquarium) too.

The attractions appeal not only the young but also the young at heart, like myself.

GREAT TRAVELLERS JOURNEY

For the historical buff, the Maritime Experiential Museum is definitely something you should look out for. The newly-unveiled museum is dedicated to the exploration of the iconic Maritime Silk Route.

With knowledge about maritime history, one can learn about the progress of humankind, the rise and fall of civilisations and most importantly, the origin of the things we eat and use today.

I have always been amazed with the widely travelled Moroccan scholar Ibn Battuta and curious to know more about him as well as about other world-famous seafarers. So I head for the museum for a visit.

It’s quite a huge exhibition featuring 15 unique galleries and begin with a greeting by the holographic effects of four famous explorers — Marco Polo, Sang Nila Utama, Ibn Battuta and Zheng He in the Briefing Room.


Fun and educational

One by one they introduce themselves. Marco Polo the merchant from Venice who journeyed through Asia; followed by Sang Nila Utama, the Palembang Prince who founded Singapore; my favourite, Ibn Battuta; and the Chinese admiral and fleet commander Zheng He, formerly romanised as Cheng Ho.

These explorers were important people who had braved the treacherous seas and endured years away from home through the Maritime Silk Route and helped introduce us to the many things we use and consume today.

Formed by the traders buying and selling goods from port to port, the Maritime Silk Routes most profitable goods that they traded were spices. However, silk, porcelain, metals and gemstones were also on demand and offered huge profits.

But these were not the only things exchanged between the traders, as cultures, religions, languages, arts, science and technical skills were also traded during those days.

Through the exhibition, visitors will get a glimpse into how the maritime trade and cross-cultural exhanges had contributed to the progress of civilisation and shape the world today.

In the immersive Learning To Navigate chamber — an all-new interactive gallery designed like a lower deck of a ship — visitors will be able to interact and try their hands at reading nautical charts, navigate a mariner’s compass or learn more about the ancient art of celestial navigation.


Among the imported goods

They also get to see the replicas of the early trading vessels such as the Chinese Junk, Javanese Jong and Borobudur Ship, and learn how these sturdy ships were built.

Another exhibition that I like the most is the Coin History. A long time ago, before the emergence of money, traders practised barter trading. Through this exhibition, I discover the myriads of currencies used in the Maritime Silk Route and the intriguing process of coin-making such as the differences between Chinese and European coin production. I also learn about the evolutionary timeline of this important intermediary in the exchange of goods and services.

The museum is not only very informative but it’s also very fun as there are many instagramable spots all around!

FEEL OF SHIPWRECK

When you’re at the Maritime Experiential Museum, do not miss the Shipwreck at Typhoon Theatre. It will cost an extra S$3 (RM9) but it is totally worth it!

The show starts with a pre-show that displays the pier in Guangzhou Harbor in China, where you’ll see the ship’s crew on duty. The five-minute preview explains the mission of the ship, which is to carry a valuable chalice on board, as well as discuss the strategy for the trip.

Then we are invited into the Typhoon Theatre, where the drama begins. The inside of the theatre is circular and filled with benches that accommodate up to 150 visitors at a time.

Its curved wall surface effectively creates a 360-degree experience display on the catastrophe so that you get to experience the whole feel of it.


Great for all ages

The show starts with a clear sky that dramatically turns dark and gloomy. The crew then immediately prepare to brave the typhoon but the storm and the sea are too rough which cause the vessel to sink.

The show is realistic in a way that you can actually feel the sensation of the storm as the audio sound systems surrounding the theatre gives thrilling effects.

It is very a melodramatic, sad story that deeply touches me. I can feel the difficulty and the panic the explorers went through while braving the sea and the storms.

The show lasts for five minutes after which the floor drops as the ship sinks deep into the ocean, while the image display then turns to show the underwater landscape.

UNDER THE SEA

My visit does not end at the Typhoon Theatre. Learning about the explorers and the shipwreck experience makes me want to see more of the underwater landscape and so I head for South East Asia Aquarium next.

The aquarium is one of the world’s largest aquariums home to more than 100,000 marine animals representing 1,000 species. It features more than 50 diverse habitats and exhibits close to 80 threatened species, including the manta ray, Clarion angelfish and a variety of beautiful corals that mirror a pristine aquatic environment.

Take the aqua-tour, where you get to experience the immersive underwater journey of the ocean life that starts at the Strait of Karimata and Java Sea, where you will see the shipwreck. This is where you’ll get a glimpse of the Pompano, Yellowtail fusilier, Cleaner wrasse species.


Finding Nemo and Dory!

The Shipwreck Habitat is also home to the threatened shark ray, known to be difficult to breed under human care. S.E.A. Aquarium boasts the world’s most successful shark ray breeding programme (with 25 shark rays born) and is one of the few aquariums in the world to have successfully raised the species.

Want to see more? Head for the Shark Seas tunnel. This exhibit is home to more than 100 sharks from 12 species, including the nurse shark, black-tipped reef shark, grey reef shark and the endangered scalloped hammerhead shark that has 360-degree vision.

The next zone is the Strait of Malacca and the Andaman Sea, where you can spot the seagrass meadows which are found in shallow coastal waters, exposed to sufficient sunlight. The seagrass is a source of food and shelter for the small fish and crustaceans. Of course, among the cute colourful fishes that you can see here are the Goby, Razorfish and Blue Tang.

Do also look out for the Touch Pool, where visitors are able to touch sea cucumber, sea star and more marine invertebrates.

The tour continues to the Bay of Bengal and Laccadive Sea, followed by my favourite zones, the Ocean Journey and the Open Ocean, where I encounter all sorts of exotic species such as sea jelly fishes, Yellow line scad, Emperor nautilus, Giant pacific octopus, Moon jelly, Sea nettle, Japanese giant spider crab and more.

The centerpiece of the aquarium is at the Open Ocean Habitat, which provides one of the planet’s largest windows to the ocean with a floor-to-ceiling viewing panel measuring 36 metres long, 8.3m tall and 70 centimetres thick.


Sea of colourful fishes!

Be immersed in the enthralling views of the Open Ocean Habitat that contains more than 18 million litres of water and home to over 40,000 marine animals representing 120 species. Super awesome!

The S.E.A. Aquarium boasts impressive, world-class exhibits and unique species for visitors to discover the wonders of marine life.

You can also discover and learn about the underwater life of the Arabian Gulf and the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea, East Africa and more. And don’t forget to look out for the playful dolphins!

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