Day 208: Lights, Gardens, Action

Walking, walking, walking, walking, walking. For the second day running we spent the entire day on our feet. Back home Ann and Simon would go out for walks just for fun, but by the end of today even they’d had enough. Yes readers today we explored Singapore by foot, and it saw us going to the botanical gardens, where we spent a good 5 hours exploring the grounds. We had a brief rest when we got back, before setting off for another 4 hours to watch some light shows. I had come to learn that flip flops are certainly not the ideal footwear for such a feat – no pun intended. Now that’s the short story, but if you wanna know the long story, stay aboard the train because here we go…

• We didn’t have Ann to wake us up this morning, which was nice, instead we woke up of our own accord. Even the alarm clock didn’t get a say in the matter. We agreed to meet Sarah’s parents at the lobby of their hotel at 10:30, this gave us 45 minutes to get ready. We each showered and packed our bags, then I carried them to the lobby of our hostel. We had to switch rooms from the smaller 8 bed dorm, to the cheaper 12 bed. The reason for this was because they didn’t have any space the first night. Just as soon as Sarah started making breakfast, a female receptionist came by and told us we could check into the new room right away. While Sarah prepared us some toast I quickly carried the bags back up the stairs and ditched them beside our new bunks. After we had breakfast we met Simon at the lobby as promised.

• Ann was still upstairs in the room, which was lucky, as we had to leave a few items with them. We could’ve just used the lockers at our hostel, but it seemed more secure to leave it in their hotel room instead. When Ann was ready we all set off for the botanical gardens. Unlike last time, we rode the MRT all the way to the gardens. Until today we hadn’t realised such a stop even existed. Previously we ended up getting off one stop too early and had to walk 20 minutes before we reached the front gates. It was another scorcher of a day, and to begin with Ann found it unbearable. Even her large hat couldn’t stand it, it drooped either side of her head like two floppy dog ears. Much like the zoo, I gave a descriptive account of what Singapore’s botanical gardens are like last time. But seeing as its Ann and Simons visit I will include some of the things we did and saw.

• We arrived at a gate on the opposite side of the park to last time. And all the gardens, such as the ginger and orchid gardens, were a little way away. So for the first part of our visit we simply walked the many long and windy paths admiring different plants and flowers along the way. The first area we reached was that of the “Healing Gardens”. In this section there were various flowers that had healing properties in one way or another. The highlight of our time there was when a group of Asian women in military uniform asked Sarah to pose for a photo with them. It had been a while since that had happened, and I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself as she stood awkwardly in the middle of them. After the healing gardens we ventured to the “muscle, skin, and skeleton system” section. This area contained flowers and plants that were used to help the human body. The most popular plant being Aloe Vera. We made countless breaks along the way, mostly under shady pagodas, and every time we saw a drinking fountain we’d fill our bottles. Even if it did have an earthy taste to it, it was still free. Eventually we reached the restaurant area and decided to stop for a drink.

• I was quite annoyed as we sat there. I was starving, and the family beside us was rather wasteful with their food. They must have had some money to be as frivolous with it as they were. It wouldn’t have been so bad if their food was Asian dishes, but it wasn’t, instead this family picked everything I loved. On their table was a large family sized plate of penne pasta in a tomato sauce, and an even bigger pizza. It was two parents and three kids, and somehow they couldn’t finish it all off. Had they left before the waiters showed up to clear the table, I’d have done it myself. There was half the penne and a slice of pizza remaining. I’d learn to forgive them for what they did, but my stomach was the one holding a grudge. After our drinks we continued to follow the pathways, following the occasional sign, and stopping to refer to the map whenever we got lost.

• Before we left England my next-door neighbour, and part time mother, gave me two small trolls for good luck. Well, today they made an appearance. Every now and then throughout this trip I’ve put them in various locations and taken photos for Tracie (my part time mum). This proved to be so much fun today in fact, that even Simon was joining in as we attempted to get creative. By the end of the visit those trolls had had their own photo shoot. Amongst trees, fountains, flowers and statues were just a few locations we’d used. I wanted to throw one on the large spider’s web we saw, but thought against it when I saw how quickly it could move. The funny thing was, we deliberately went through the rainforest section to show Sarah’s parents what they were like, but didn’t find a one. It wasn’t until we came out the other side and were back on the pathways again that we saw the big black beast. During our time at the gardens we couldn’t help but to notice all the dog walkers. The botanical gardens are a lovely place to walk a dog because of its sheer size and things to see. It’s a win win for both parties. Eventually we reached the heart of the gardens… “the orchid gardens”.

• This was the only section where you had to pay an admittance fee. It was 5 dollars, but this money went towards the conservation, which helped keep the place looking so nice. Unlike my last visit, we managed to see everything, including the celebrity garden. This area had flowers, beautiful expensive flowers, which were named after celebrities who had either visited the park, or who had accomplished great things in their designated fields. In the brochure it mentioned Jackie Chan, but we couldn’t find his flower anywhere. There was also a VIP section which was designed for political members that had visited, one of which was Margaret Thatcher. Love her or hate her, they gave her a very exotic flower, and there was a placard in her memory. We spent around an hour in the orchid garden, taking more photos of the trolls as we went, before ending up in the gift shop at the exit.

• By now 4 or 5 hours had passed, and our legs were aching. So we decided to finish the visit with a walk around Swan Lake. The lake was alive with aquatic animals, our particular favourites were the terrapins bobbing along on the surface. In the distance we could see swans swimming in pairs. The botanical gardens truly are spectacular, and I know I’ve said Thai before, but I’d love to be able to take my nan there. She’d appreciate it so much more than I ever could. As pretty as all the flowers are, after a while they all look the same to me, and it’s a shame that I’m like that. I’d like to be better educated on the subject, as flowers really help cheer people up when they’re feeling down. Perhaps it’s something I’ll get into with age. But for now I have other interests to keep me entertained. By the end of our visit we were in a bit of a pickle. We had made it to the other entrance of the grounds, we could either turn around and go all the way back, or use the same MRT we used on our last visit. Either way they were about a 15-20 minute walk away from where we were. And by now we were pretty hungry. Remembering there was a mall on the way to the MRT, we decided to go in that direction.

• After a further ten minutes of walking we reached a large complex which housed a food court and various department stores. Sarah and her parents chose to order from the Asian store, again for Sarah’s parents this food was a novelty, whereas I was sick to death of it. I was too hungry for that nonsense so I ordered from the Australian section. I walked away with calamari rings, chips and beans. It wasn’t that great but it filled a percentage of the hole. I figured I’d fill up the rest with something from the 7Eleven next door. That decision turned out to be a mistake. I thought I could buy myself a slurpee as I hadn’t had one in a while, and the sugary goodness it provided would act as a sweet dessert. Then, after filling my cup to the top, I saw the holy grail of drinks in the fridge… Monster. Immediately I walked over and picked up a can and bought both items. It was too much. Halfway through the slurpee I had to throw it away. It was less flavoursome and more sickeningly sweet. From just the little amount I consumed I felt as though I’d eaten three giant tubs of candy. I thought it would be better when I drank the Monster, but again I was wrong. My favourite fizzy drink from home turned out to be more syrupy than fizzy, and tasted a lot more like the Asian Redbull. It was disgusting. By the time I saw off the last few drops I was surprised I didn’t have diabetes. For the rest of the day all I drank was water.

• By the time we reached the MRT we had been waking for around 6 hours. Rather than visit anywhere else, we rode the train all the way to Chinatown. We were waking with older people, they weren’t supposed to have this much energy!!! Sarah and I were dying. Because we walked at a slower pace to accommodate our new travel buddies, it meant we weren’t waking properly and other muscles had to pick up the slack. Never had we been so happy to gaze upon our hostel. We agreed to meet back up with Sarah’s parents in an hours time. This would give us enough time to go back to the room and get showered and changed. At 7:15pm we had managed those objectives and found ourselves waiting in the lobby of Ann and Simons hotel. The plan was to take them to see the two different light shows Sarah and I appreciated last time we were in Singapore. To do this it would involve another visit to the MRT.

• We were against the clock from the get go. Sarah’s parents took an extra 15 minutes getting ready, putting us behind slightly. Fortunately there was more than one showing each night. The first show we wanted them to see was at the “Gardens by the Bay”. This was where the tall tree structures amazed visitors with its flashing colourful lights and loud music. All was going well until we tripped at the first hurdle. All of our tickets worked bar Simon’s. He ended up running around like a headless chicken for 5 minutes trying to get his train ticket approved, unfortunately it was no use, and he ended up having to pay for another. They weren’t expensive so it didn’t matter, but the time it took to accomplish meant we’d missed the first showing. We soon got back on track, and after a few train changes we arrived at Bay Harbour. It was pretty hectic when we arrived, there were lots of people commuting, making the place look more like a colony of ants. We followed the crowds through the underground passageways and up the escalators to the surface. All around us were the famous landmarks, the Marina Bay Sands hotel, the Singapore Flyer, and what we’d come to see, the Gardens by the Bay.

• It was so much prettier at night. Everything which was lit up was reflected in the slow moving river below. Sarah ran around like a mad person snapping up everything on her parent’s camera. Every few feet there was something else worth capturing. We crossed the dragonfly bridge and took a seat underneath one of the large trees. Sarah and I only knew of this place thanks to Nora and her amazing scooter tour. Had she not took us there we would have missed a spectacular show. As we waited for it to begin I noticed their were pieces of information about the trees dotted around the platforms at the bottom. I didn’t know before that these trees were actually living organisms, and they were a natural source of energy. There was a whole map showing the process in the order it happened. I can’t remember the full ins and outs of it, so I won’t bother embarrassing myself. or you the reader, by pretending to. You’ll have to google it if you’re interested. At 7:45pm the show started. It was different to last time, and it was nice to see Ann and Simon’s reaction. Ann liked it so much that she wanted to go back in a couple of days to simply sit and admire the lights. Not necessarily for the show itself. When it ended we moved across to the other side of the Marina Bay Sands hotel to watch the Harbour front show.

• To get there we had to walk through the expensive hotel. It was funny to be there again. The last time we visited we were sneaking to the rooftop bar. As we walked along the bridge we got a much better perspective of the inside of the hotel. I took a picture, as did Simon, and we both thought the security guard didn’t look to impressed about it. When we reached the bridge outside the hotel, the street below was alive with traffic. It was gridlocked. Nobody was going anywhere, but it made for a beautiful photo, especially with the large Singapore Flyer in the background. We followed the signs pointing towards the Harbour Front, then ended up in all too familiar territory. The large shopping complex attached to the expensive hotel.

• This place was only for the rich or famous. There’s no way any of us could afford to shop there. It was filled with such shops as: Ferrari, Marc Jacobs, Gucci – you get the idea. The last time we were here it was Jenna, Meg, Anna, Sarah, and myself trying to navigate our way around this building. It was after the MRT was closed and we ended up stuck, and lost, within the confines of the complex. At the time it felt like something from “Dawn of the Dead”. This time however we knew where we were going. We manoeuvred our way through until we were at the Harbour Front. We then had the task of finding somewhere to sit amongst all the other waiting tourists. At 8:45pm the show began. It was identical to last time. The show was called “Wonder Full”, and involved steam clouds of water action as a screen, as the boats behind projected images on to it. Sarah and I felt like the roles were reversed, and we were the ones treating our kids. Because we’d seen it before we knew what to expect, but for Ann and Simon this was all new. They loved it, and when the show ended we got back on the MRT to return to Chinatown.

• The return journey went without any issues, everyone’s tickets worked. After a few changeovers we were in Chinatown. By now the time was getting on for 10:30pm. It was a funny time to think about eating, but we were all very hungry. The problem with sightseeing all day was it didn’t leave much time for food. We had noticed we’d been cramming a lot in, and it was beginning to take a toll on all of us. Usually we wouldn’t move at this pace, but because we only had a few days in Singapore we had to do it like this. The first restaurant we stopped in had a very bizarre menu. Because we didn’t feel like eating a pigs large intestine in soup we closed the menus and walked out. We walked, and walked some more, until we found a secluded, yet popular restaurant. Once again I found myself fed up with the menu. I was really beginning to miss potatoes. All I could think about was potatoes. Roasted, mashed, boiled, sweet, the more I thought about it, the less I wanted anything on the menu. In the end I ordered the deer meat, only because it came with chips. When it arrived I found myself slipping back into negative ways. All I could see was the flaws of the dish:
The portion was that of a child’s.
The beans were served cold.
The chips were practically deep fried air.
It was another let down meal, and it left me yearning for home food, and looking all the more forward to Australia.

• When we’d all finished, we left the restaurant and called it a night. We said goodnight to Ann and Simon at their front doors, then walked the 8 buildings to our hostel. The sad thing was, now that we were hanging out with Sarah’s parents, we weren’t getting to bed until gone midnight each night. When left to our own devices we’d go to bed around 7pm. Because breakfast was served all day, by breakfast I mean self served toast, I had 4 pieces before bed.
“That should be enough to keep me going while I type in bed” I thought to myself. Afterwards I washed up the plate I’d used, and Sarah and I went to bed. Back in the room I led in bed typing for another 2 hours. While all around me were snorers. It was like an unconscious symphony. Luckily we agreed to meet Sarah’s parents at 11am the following morning. I think they’d also appreciate the lie in as much as us. One things for certain though, they’d certainly both done well to keep going for this long. Maybe tomorrow would be the day we’d break them.

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2 thoughts on “Day 208: Lights, Gardens, Action

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