Travel with chozun

Uncovering the past: The Most Underrated Museums in South East Asia

By Justin Vidamo (2012)

It’s a lovely experience walking around a museum by yourself. You can move at your own pace, allow yourself some solitude to mentally engage with carefully curated artefacts, and welcome inspiration from introspection and self-reflection. Travelling can sometimes end up in a flurry of things to do, see and taste, without having the time to really take in the subtleties of the foreign environment you’ve entered. Museums can empower you with archives of knowledge, and give you the opportunity to pay respect to the extraordinary cultures and histories of thousand year old cultures . As noble peace prize recipient Orhan Pamuk put it, a museum should not just be a place for fancy paintings but should be a place where we can communicate our lives through our everyday objects.

To pay our respects to International Museum Day this Friday 18 May, we’re uncovering what we think are the most underrated Museums in South East Asia. We believe that the following historical archives pay due to the liven experiences of, and beauty of South East Asian cultures.

Vietnamese Women’s Museum – Hanoi, Vietnam

To best summarise Hanoi’s Vietnamese Woman’s Museum, the word “inspirational” would suffice. Although the Museum features the word “Women”, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s not equally fascinating and enjoyable for both men and woman. The gallery offers a fascinating introduction to the life of Vietnamese women, their hardships, achievements, and historical milestones which assisted in progressing Hanoi into Vietnam’s magical capital of today. Besides displays on everyday life, marriage and childbirth (which are far from banal) it also brings to life the lived experiences of women in the wars against the French and Americans.

Other rooms deal with contemporary phenomena like the roving merchants of Hanoi, and the cult of the Holy Mothers with Mother Goddess. The museum’s final floor features traditional clothing of women from each of the 54 ethnic minorities in Vietnam. Another floor exhibits a collection of agricultural and domestic tools used by women throughout the country. The exhibits in this one museum will begin to open any traveler’s eyes to much that is compelling and special about Vietnam.

Angkor National Museum – Siem Reap, Cambodia

As the largest religious monument in the world, it’s no surprise that World Heritage listed Angkor Wat is the most popular tourist destination in Cambodia and in everyone’s top 5 must see places to visit in South East Asia. The once in a life time experience can be quite overwhelming in the humid Cambodian tropics, crowded with millions of patrons each year, all trekking through miles and miles of fascinating temple, Fully absorbing all Ankor Wat has to offer can be an arduous if not impossible feat while immersed in the ancient temples. Take some time to explore Angkor National Museum before heading to Angkor Wat. 

Angkor National Museum is an archaeological museum dedicated to the collection, preservation and presentation of Angkorian artefacts. The museums 7 galleries feature collections mainly dated from the Khmer Empire‘s Angkor period. There is an extra gallery dedicated to history of hundreds of years of Buddhism, with 1,000 Buddha images highlighting the religion’s significance in Cambodian culture.

Penang House of Music – Penang, Malaysia

Travel to one of the most-loved cities in Malaysia is always a good idea, especially when it has some of the best food, festivals, street art and museums. Some of these include the Upside Down MuseumCamera Museum and Ghost Museum, but here at chozun 途赞 we think one of the most underrated museum in not only Penang, but the whole of Malaysia, is Penang House of Music. Located in vibrant George Town, the museum hits the sweet spot between meticulous research and an engagingly fresh vibe.

Penang House of Music vividly display a plethora of traditional Malaysian musical instruments, holds jam sessions with respected local musicians, live sets, and has interactive exhibits to fully immerse yourself in rhythmic sounds of Malaysia.

Instagram @penanghouseofmusic

Ock Pop Tok Living Crafts Centre – Luang Prabang, Laos

Laos is the super chill capital of South East Asia, with awesome food, stunning sunsets, copious amounts of roaring waterfalls, and world-class hand crafts. Weaving, silk work and dyeing run deep in Laos culture, and The Ock Pop Tok Living Crafts Centre offers insights into these age old tradition.  The centre is a cultural hub of artisans where Lao textiles truly come alive. Ock Pop Tok is a wider community of talented artisans, founded 18 years ago with 5 weavers and has expanded to provide employment for over 500 women in Luang Prabang and nearby villages. Fifty percent of the revenue from Ock Pop Tok goes back into the government and NGO supported Village Weaver Projects.

Set in the grounds of a thriving tropical garden on the Mekong, it’s the perfect place to absorb the fascinating culture Laos has to offer while learning more about this unique art form. Free guided tours are available where you can  meet the weavers, immerse yourself within the artisan community, and even observe the silkworms. Unforgettable classes are provided for a small donation, specialising in traditional weaving and dyeing techniques. On site they have the Silk Road Cafe, where you can grab a coffee or refreshing sugar cane or coconut juice to. They’ll even pick you up in a tuk tuk and provide a scrumptious Laos lunch.

#chozunday: Exploring Freihausviertel, Ho Chi Minh City, Malaysia, Lake District & Shikoku Island this CNY

Every week, chozun celebrates a day with #chozunaday – a new event or celebration, each day, in a new destination, around the globe. Here’s a list of where we celebrated this last week for Chinese New Year and some new travel destinations to check out in 2017.

30 January

Where: Freihausviertel, Vienna

What chozun celebrated: Croissant Day

Croissants were actually created by Viennese bakers.

Freihausviertel thrives with great food, bars in the quaint and creative neighbourhood. Be sure to check out the arty cafes, workshops, speciality food shops, galleries & delis!

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