Singapore has roughly the same population as Sydney packed into around half the area. Yet it still preserves large tracts of land for verdant tropical gardens. And the plant most closely associated with Singapore is the orchid, most specifically the Vanda Miss Joaquim hybrid cultivar.
Now you’d think this would all be of very little interest to a mechanically minded young boy. Fortunately, you’d be quite wrong!
Most of the day was spent wandering around the local Katong area eating and shopping. Fried mee suah and hokkien noodles from a stall inside Ali Babar, better than many other versions recently tried. We took B’s Mum and friend back to Glory on East Coast Road and were blown away by their nonya cuisine and finally a decent Iced Milo drink.
The heat and exhaustion drove us back to the hotel for an afternoon nap. When we woke in the late afternoon we weren’t quite sure what to do. I thought the UNESCO Heritage Listed Botanic Gardens might be a pleasant diversion and, close to Orchard Road, would allow us to combine the trip there with some shopping at one of the flash centres.
We caught a taxi which dropped us off at the Nassim Gate and were immediately entranced by the lusciously green entrance. It was late, so we set off towards the National Orchid Garden, which closes for entrance at six pm.
Along the way Alex insisted that we divert up to the rainforest walk. Thanks to his year two teacher (currently helping out an remote Aboriginal community in Western Australia and posting updates about bogged food trucks and muddy swimming pools) he has developed an interest in gardens and plants. For the first time in the trip he wanted his camera to take photos of the various rainforest plants and even a big monitor lizard browsing through the leaf litter.
The orchid garden was very attractively landscaped with winding paths, sculpture and plenty of colourful orchids and bromeliads. There was a cool room for mountain orchids and a section for VIP orchids named for various visiting dignitaries and royalty, some for whom this may be the only mention of their names that you’ll ever see.
A grey squirrel raced across a tree above our heads.
Afterwards Alex enjoyed a run around the broad greens of Palm Valley near the Symphony Lake and storm clouds loomed over the high treetops, sharply defined in the evening light despite the haze across the city.
We set off towards the Botanic Gardens MRT station, 1.4 kilometres away, despite it being in the opposite direction to the Orchard Road gate. Alex was excited by the prospect of using ticket gates.
A couple of trains later and we arrived at the Ion Centre. We ate a very disappointing dinner in their food court, much inferior to the far more downmarket food centres we’d been eating at. Then we couldn’t find any of the clothes we required, so we decided to catch a bus back to the hotel.
The bus stop was outside Lucky Plaza and it lived up to its name, as we located the required t-shirts and socks in the shops within.
The buses have proved to be quite a useful mode of transport and the view from the top is much better than from a taxi.
One more day left here…