SINGAPORE – On board a 17th century Dutch East India Company ship, there was no such thing as toilet paper. Sailors instead used a rope which they threw into the sea to wash before the next person had to use it.

This little titbit of information is illustrated with a thick cable installed in an almost full scale, two-storey recreation of an East Indiaman at the National Museum of Singapore's new exhibition. An Old New World, which opens on Sept 21 and will be on till March 29 next year, is an experiential exhibition that combines accessibility and scholarship to tell the story of Singapore, and Southeast Asia, before Sir Stamford Raffles' arrival.

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