Going to the Time Tunnel Museum was entirely by chance. While researching for our trip to Cameron Highlands, the Tiger and I found this place, but decided against it because it looked like a tourist trap. However, since we had some time before tea during our second day we decided to head down.
Now, we take our words back.
The Time Tunnel Museum is a long, underground building at the side of the main road. Connected to a row of souvenir shops and a café, you paid at the front entrance and then make your way down a level into the museum.
Probably one of the first private museums I’ve been to, the Time Tunnel Museum was able to curate their exhibits according to three main tracks – National History, Regional History, and Personal History.
Upon entering the museum, visitors are greeted with a row of exhibits featuring the Orang Asli of Cameron Highlands, the history of Malaya to Malaysia, the Japanese Occupation, and the fight for independence. Stories were also shared, and a story about a screening of a cowboy movie in Ipoh struck me the most.
The story spoke of locals in Ipoh filling the cinema to watch a cowboy movie during the Japanese occupation, only to be beaten and slapped upon exit because the locals chose to watch a western movie instead of the usual Japanese propaganda films.
Likewise, a setting of a mountain hut (commonly used by rebels or activists in the past) also recounted stories from Malaysians who have lived through the times of communist influence and the fight for independence.
Moving on, photographs and write-ups become more focussed, zooming into the development of Cameron Highlands and the towns – Ringlet, Tanah Rata, and Brinchang. Going from the 1800s to present-day, the write-ups featured places like the Ye Olde Smokehouse (1937) and the case of missing silk tycoon Jim Thompson.
The final third of the museum, where Personal History is prominent, takes you through the life of a Malaysian through its National History. From the dozens of collections (mugs, toys, typewriters etc…), to the different set-ups of places of the past, visitors can reminisce with items they have used and take photographs with an old-style sewing machine, hairdresser seats from the 70s, or a household playing mahjong with wooden tiles, among many others.
While it felt slightly messy towards the end, it was possibly due to the sheer volume of things on display. And with each section of the museum, it felt personal, instead of just pure curation. It felt like the museum’s owner genuinely wanted to tell his / her story, and share experiences with people as they come to Cameron Highlands.
And as we spent a wonderful afternoon in this place, I hope to do so again the next time I go back to Cameron Highlands.
The Time Tunnel Museum is located along the main road between Brinchang and Kea Farm. You can find out more about it here.