The Botanic Gardens and Little India

Singapore Travel Blog

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Along Orchard Road
On Friday I checked out Singapore’s Botanic Gardens, a lush oasis in the city.  The gardens consist of sprawling, manicured landscaping and an extensive orchid collection -- proclaimed to be among the best in the world.

I took the subway to Orchard Road and walked to the gardens from there.  It didn’t look very far on the map, nor was there a nearer station.  Dear god was that a schlep.  It was early -- just after 8am (I’ve been told by many that the garden is at its prime in the morning, and to be sure to get a jump start) -- but the sun was already out in full force.  It was freaking HOT.  Block after block after block -- it was never ending.
Along Orchard Road
  My feet already hurt and I was sweating my ass off.  So much for a serene morning.  I kept checking and double-checking my map, going how am I possibly not there yet??  Finally I managed to find an entrance and make my way into the grounds (after having walked nearly half the length of the gardens along the outside).

I have to say, my first impression of the gardens was “this is it?”  I mean sure, it’s a nice garden.  But it’s just a bunch of manicured lawns and palm trees and tropical plants.  I suppose if you hail from North Dakota that’s cool, but it was pretty underwhelming to me.  I was all “what’s the big deal, we have this stuff at home.”  Those sentiments stopped at the orchid garden.

The orchid garden is sublime.
Along Orchard Road
  It’s out of this world.  It boasts hundreds of species of orchids, artfully displayed across several acres.  You wander up and down along different clusters and concentrations, through bromeliads (related to orchids, I suppose), through a “cool house” that has orchids from wetter, cooler climates, around several fountains -- it’s just lovely.  A beautiful space to simply stroll through.  One woman stopped and said to me “Isn’t this amazing?”  Oh yes.  So amazing.  Sure the rest of the gardens are nice and all, but the orchid garden is where it’s at.

Initially I had thought I’d walk back along Orchard Road and maybe do a little shopping, but seeing as it turned out to be such a haul there was no way I was doing that again.
Botanic Gardens
  So I hopped in a cab and enjoyed the AC for a bit.  (Quite the lazy vacationer I’ve become in the last few days, ah? What happened to roughing it and walking hither and yon with the backpack? City mindset and footwear, that’s what.)  I had the cabbie drop me on Race Horse Road in Little India, directly between two temples.  I thought, erroneously, that these temples would be noteworthy and interesting and meriting the trip.  They were, after all, listed as highlights on the map.  Wrong.  Leong San See Temple was a Chinese temple, and as you might imagine I’m a bit Chinesed out.  Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple was a bit more unique and interesting (to me), with Indian or perhaps Malaysian influences.
Botanic Gardens
  However both of them were small, and really just a space housing a buddha and some incense, and weren’t particularly striking.  I suppose that makes me a jaded traveler.  I was just looking for something different, something with a little zip.

From the temples I walked down to the Banana Leaf Apollo, a restaurant recommended by the guidebook.  Banana Leaf Apollo is supposedly known for its fish head curry, but thanks to the pictures included in the menu I was able to confirm that the dish was in fact exactly as it sounded: a massive fish head staring up at you.  Um, no thank you.  So I had some other chili fish sort of thing, as the waiter suggested, with discrete chunks of white meat not resembling any sort of dead animal.
Orchid Garden
  I also ordered garlic naan and a mango lassi, and would have outdone myself with the lentils (which I was jonesing for) had the waiter not held me back.

So the food comes, and the different dishes are spread out around what I perceived to be my placemat, and not directly on it, in front of me, as would normally be the case.  Off the food runner scampers and I grab the dishes and put them in front of me and start chowing down.  Back the food runner comes, this time with a massive vat of rice.  Rice?  Yes please, sign me up.  So the dishes get moved back to where they had been initially placed, and heaps of rice dolled out directly onto my banana leaf.  Oh.  I’m supposed to eat off this thing.  The restaurant is, after all, called BANANA LEAF.
Orchid Garden
  Amateur that I am.  He then came back a third time with side dishes to plop along next to the rice: cooked veggies and some sort of hot cabbage thing.  Thank goodness I was told to hold the lentils.  Halfway through the meal I was so full I was fit to burst.  Delicious.

From lunch I wandered a bit more through Little India, but the sky turned black and thunder started to rumble, and before I knew it I was being heartily rained on.  I didn’t scope out as much as I’d wanted to, but I did check out the recommended market and again, having just spent five weeks in China, found myself a bit marketed out.  (I can’t begin to tell you how disheartening it is to realize that EVERYTHING is made in China. Consumerism is ruined for me. Which is probably a good thing.)  I imagine Little India is a good place to visit with a local, or at least an ex-pat who knows the area well.  I’d like to see some of the more unique temples, and check out better eateries.  Perhaps in the days to come.
fransglobal says:
Tres drole. Do you think I have not heard that one before?
Posted on: Dec 08, 2009
domnicella says:
Four months in India is a long time! Holy cow man.
Posted on: Dec 08, 2009
fransglobal says:
After four months in India, I have enough lentils for the rest of my life, thank you.
Posted on: Dec 08, 2009
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Along Orchard Road
Along Orchard Road
Along Orchard Road
Along Orchard Road
Along Orchard Road
Along Orchard Road
Botanic Gardens
Botanic Gardens
Botanic Gardens
Botanic Gardens
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden
Leong San See Temple
Leong San See Temple
Leong San See Temple
Leong San See Temple
Leong San See Temple
Leong San See Temple
Leong San See Temple
Leong San See Temple
Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple
Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple
Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple
Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple
Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple
Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple
Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple
Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple
Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple
Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple
Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple
Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple
Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple
Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple
Little India
Little India
Little India
Little India
Little India
Little India
Lunch at the Banana Leaf Apollo - …
Lunch at the Banana Leaf Apollo -…
Little India
Little India
Little India
Little India
Little India
Little India
Little India
Little India
Little India
Little India
Little India
Little India
Little India
Little India
Little India
Little India