PORT DICKSON: Ever been to Port Dickson? Of course you have. Many people have visited the famous seaside getaway at some point in their lives.
It is a place deserving of its reputation, with lovely beaches, luxurious hotels and an idyllic town to wander in.
In addition to being a tourist magnet, Port Dickson is home to many military personnel, with several bases located in the area.
The Muzium Tentera Darat, dedicated to the history of the Malaysian Army, was opened in 2005.
In addition to preserving the stories of Malaysia’s brave men and women, the museum strives to educate visitors on the military capabilities of the country.
There is ample parking and as soon as you step out of the car, the loud whirring of aeroplane propellers hits your ears.
A decommissioned cargo plane seems poised to fly over the parking lot, with loudspeakers being the source of the ambient whirring sounds.
Close by is a fighter jet that has seen better days, looking in need of a mechanic to get it ready to take off again.
At the entrance walkway, military enthusiasts will grin from ear to ear to find themselves surrounded by an assortment of artillery guns.
From medieval cannon to modern-day anti-aircraft guns, there are many photo opportunities for those who wish to pose with these armaments.
Appropriately enough, a locomotive of yesteryear is on display nearby, possibly evoking memories for elderly visitors.
Again, the ambient sounds of a steam train chugging down its tracks will be playing.
At the centre of the museum’s compound is an imposing monument, dedicated to Malaysian soldiers who fell in the line of duty.
The monument consists of a towering obelisk, its fountain base surrounded by four smaller obelisks, which are etched with the names and rank of the fallen.
After paying your respects, move on to the museum proper, which consists of three buildings with viewing galleries.
Entrance to the museum is free, and guided tours can be arranged with the army personnel on duty if you have come with a big group.
The contents of the galleries are arranged in a chronological fashion, with the history of the armed forces and the Malay Kingdoms being the first to be told and lastly, the military might of Malaysia today.
With a large number of galleries, it might be daunting to choose where to head first, but the museum helpfully lays out a trail of yellow footprints to follow.
There is a wide range of artefacts ranging from weapons, uniforms and medals to documents.
The exhibitions cover the colonial era, the Malay Regiment, the Japanese occupation, the Emergency period and the modern-day army.
For the most part, the information panels explaining the exhibits are well-written, though it should be noted that much of the information is written solely in Bahasa Malaysia.
English translations are noticeably lacking and these will be welcomed by foreign tourists.
Dioramas are also aplenty, particularly in the gallery covering the Emergency period.
Outside the gallery, more military vehicles can be found, with transport, armoured cars, tanks and motorcycles displayed for photo opportunities.
Another highlight of the museum is the recreation of a Communist tunnel network that runs beneath the museum.
Walking through the dark, dusty and surprisingly lengthy tunnel is quite an interesting experience, replicating the poor living conditions that Communist insurgents endured during the Emergency.
Once daylight shines on you again, pay a visit to the small recreational park at the back of the museum.
The many shady trees keep the park cool for a pleasant walk, to enjoy the ponds teeming with fish. The brave of heart can cross a short suspension bridge hanging from the trees above.
As is to be expected of any museum, there is a café and a souvenir shop, offering cheap meals and somewhat overpriced souvenirs for sale.
Military enthusiasts will definitely like this museum and photography aficionados often take advantage of the military equipment scattered throughout the museum to hone their skills.
It is certainly a good way to educate yourself on the military might of Malaysia and the sacrifices that brave Malaysians have made throughout history.
Muzium Tentera Darat
Batu 4, Kem Sri Rusa
71050 Port Dickson
Opening hours: 10am – 5pm daily, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays
Contact: 013-278 4047