UK 20/02 | Arsenal, The British Museum & Les Miserables ♡

This turned out to be one of my favourite days in my entire trip, because of one thing- Les Mis. I just want to ramble on about how much I loved it, but I’ll save that for later where i can write paragraphs without worrying about it becoming too chunky.

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This day started out with my friends and I visiting the Emirates stadium, home of Arsenal. The EPL is pretty big in Singapore, and my friends wanted to check out the official Arsenal store. At this point I thought I wouldn’t be able to catch a live football match here, so I might as well tag along. Oh boy.

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There are actually tours to view the interior of the stadium, but we didn’t have much time so we opted to skip. If you’re in London and want to see one of the EPL stadiums, this one at Finsbury Park is definitely one of the most accessible, along with the iconic Wembly Stadium.

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Our next stop after lunch was the British museum, which is probably the most famous and controversial museum in the UK. Much of the museum’s collection was taken from their countries of origin during the days of the British Empire, and has been since branded as ‘stolen’. This becomes especially sticky when it involves important cultural properties, some of which you can see below.

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The Parthenon Sculptures, claimed by Greece with support from UNESCO. These sculptures once stood at the Parthenon, a temple of the goddess Athena built around 447 – 432 BC. True testaments of the once great city of Acropolis.

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The Rosetta Stone, claimed by Egypt. The single most important reason why we are able to translate hieroglyphics today. It contains inscriptions in 3 writing systems- hieroglyphics, demotic script, and the Greek alphabet. Hieroglyphs were successfully matched with Greek equivalents and translated.

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The Hoa Hakananai’a, claimed by Chile in behalf of Easter Island. It is described as being one of the finest examples of the Easter Island sculptures. This one particularly stings, given how poorly Polynesian people have been historically treated.

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So, what are my thoughts on these artifacts? Well, I’m glad they’re being well taken care of in a well established museum. But more significantly, I recognise how valuable they are to their respective countries – it’s simply not fair that such important pieces of their histories were taken from them. I’ll also add that entering the museum is free, and I chose not to support it monetarily.

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I’ll leave this with a quote from Evangelos Venizelos, once the cultural minister of Greece,

“The request for the restitution of the Parthenon Marbles is not made by the Greek government in the name of the Greek nation or of Greek history. It is made in the name of the cultural heritage of the world and with the voice of the mutilated monument itself, that cries out for its marbles to be returned“.

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Anyway, moving on from that depressing topic, next is what I had been eagerly waiting for all day – LES MISERABLES! I was so damn excited for this, you don’t even understand how pumped I was to finally to get to see it live. I’ve spent so much of my time watching youtube videos of the songs, memorising every single lyric. I love Les Mis, I couldn’t believe that I was actually here, watching it at West End, no less. I paid 80 pounds, equivalent to about 150 Singapore dollars, which was more than what I paid for literal flight tickets here.

I was so glad that I could see the entire stage from where we were seated, I was so afraid that my seat was too far up, but all was good. But far more importantly, the music – Oh my god, it was so good. I had to hold back from yelling all the lyrics out. The entire cast was amazing, but the actor who played Jean Valjean in particular was absolutely outstanding. ‘One day more’ gave me chills, as did ‘Do You Hear the People Sing?’. This is an experience I don’t think I will ever be able to forget. The story of Les Mis, as tragic as it may be, has always struck me as being one of hope, and that really resonated with me while watching it live.

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I stood outside to get autographs of the cast, although only some of them exited during the time I was there. I also bought this pin for like 5 pounds but don’t tell my wallet. Overall, one of my favourite days. Les Mis was absolutely worth it ♥

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