I had an obsession with James Clavell books in college. I consumed all of his books one after the other not because I love stories on power, but because I loved the fictional historical accounts of old cities. Clavell is famous for setting his books in Asian cities, notably Hong Kong. King Rat, his first book, was based on his experience at the Changi Prison. So, whenever I think of Singapore, I don’t think of Universal Studios or Gardens by the Bay. I think of King Rat and the conditions of the people in the Changi Prison during World War II before Singapore became the modern city it is now. Because I loved the book, it is no wonder a trip to Singapore would not be complete without visiting The Changi Museum.
Our first attempt to visit this prison-turned-museum in Singapore was a big fail. We did not know there are only 2 buses — SBS No. 2 (from Tanah Merah MRT) and SBS No. 29 (from Tampines MRT) that ply the Changi Chapel and Museum and the interval is about 5-15 minutes each bus. We arrived at the museum 22 minutes after 5. The museum, which can be considered a war museum, is far from the city center so a visit must be well planned. From the Changi City Point mall, it took us about an hour to get there.
Fee: Free! The museum is small so a visit will not take that long. There is a free audio tour. The museum is actually not impressive but I love that it is well maintained and very clean. There is also a souvenir shop, which sells books about the history of Singapore, illustrations of Singapore scenes, World War II, and, of course, copies of King Rat.
How to Get There: Ride Bus No. 2 and Bus No. 29. The museum is across the bus stop. To get back to the city, wait for the bus at the bus station beside the museum. Along the way, you will get a glimpse of The Changi Women’s Prison.
Must or Not: Not! I love the museum especially because of King Rat, and I am glad I did not miss the chance to be there. But the museum is super out of the way if you are staying at the city center. It was good for us because we were staying at Pasir Ris, which is one town away from Changi.