Swingin’ In The Rain

 

If this were the view from your hotel room window you might spend some time looking at it. And I did. On this particular day there was something happening on the middle tower, about half way up, far left..

 
 

 

Window cleaning, but definitely not for the faint hearted.

These guys were suspended only from ropes, all that way up from the ground.

 
 

 

Take a half turn to the right and this was the view, the Singapore business district. When we took this shot the weather was glorious. Want to see what happens in a monsoon?

 
 

 

Yikes. Believe me, that was serious rain.

 
 

 
 

 

It typically began raining in the afternoon or early evening. On this occasion the deluge lasted about an hour before the setting sun broke through again.

 
 

 

The storm retreating and moving on out to sea.

 
 

 

Another rain shower passing through the Supertree Grove. We struck lucky again, I took the shot while we were safe inside the Cloud Forest dome. Gentle mist I can cope with. Those people standing atop the tallest ‘tree’ might have got more than they bargained for.

That tallest tree is the big daddy of them all. There’s a restaurant up there where we had lunch one day and very pleasant it was too. Singapore is of course renowned for its food, Michelin starred restaurants to street food and all stops in between. ‘Food Centres’ were initially built to address the problem of unhygienic food preparation by unlicensed street hawkers, a practice once commonplace in Singapore. Local authority pressure to increase hygiene standards has driven them increasingly upmarket. Each vendor tends to sell just one type of food, for example a single rice dish, but does it exceptionally well. So much so that there are two which now hold a Michelin star of their own!

 
 

 

The Bat Plant, Tacca chantrieri, Singapore Botanic Gardens

 

At the other end of spectrum many restaurants and hotels serve up extensive buffets. Ours was no exception. Indeed, breakfast was a revelation. I do believe you could have found anything your heart desired. A thai chicken or prawn stir fry to start off the day? An Indian curry? Absolutely no problem. The selection on offer was so huge it was spread across several rooms, necessitating a certain amount of ingenuity to find your table again once you had left it. The challenge was further compounded by the hotel’s penchant for floor to ceiling mirrors, effectively doubling the size of the maze and the number of entry and exit points available. I considered the possibility of leaving a trail of cornflakes but in the end resorted to a series of complex mind maps. Turn left at the Egg Station, then right at the Salad Bar and if you round a corner only to be confronted with a life size representation of yourself then you’ve gone the wrong way.

But there was one aspect of eating out that I couldn’t come to terms with at all: the Chinese practice of keeping live fish in a tank in the restaurant itself. Make no mistake, they weren’t there to enhance the decor. Those poor creatures. Bad enough that you’re hoiked from the sea and forced to live in something scarcely larger than a goldfish bowl. No, an evening will come when the finger pointing through the glass is aimed squarely at you. It did put a limit on the number of places we could go to. Call me a wimp if you want to, I couldn’t bear to watch.

 
 

 

The iconic Raffles Hotel

The odd photo composition came about as an attempt at avoiding the builders’ hoarding which currently surrounds the hotel. Ever since we’d decided to come to Singapore I’d been keeping an eye out for a ‘soft’ re-opening, when prices are generally lower to reflect the guest’s role in finding items for the snagging list. It was the only way we’d ever have been able to afford it. Sadly the decision never needed to be made. The re-development is running behind schedule and the hotel is still closed.

 
 

 

The Old Hill Street Police Station. Looking nothing whatsoever like the infamous urban American cop shop and available in many more shades of blue. The windows of this one were only painted the rainbow of colours when the building was restored in December 1997. Prior to that they were grey.

 
 

 

What strikes you the most about walking around Singapore is the constant juxtaposition between old and new..

 
 

 

..often with a touch of the completely bizarre.

 
 

 

Frangipani, Singapore Botanic Gardens.

The botanic gardens are enormous, 203 acres, impossible to do justice to in a single day. The setting is that of a large city park with lakes, long sweeps of grass and even a fragment of original tropical rainforest. In the rainforest, ironically, the heavens opened and we got soaked. There is only so long the canopy will keep you dry. Eventually the rain penetrates, the only options being to get further soaked or to leg it. We opted for the latter and found an information board suitably equipped with a roof, which we shared with several of the gardeners until the storm passed us by.

But we weren’t falling over exotic blooms at every turn. The above was the only cluster of flowers in the entire frangipani grove and we’d walked a considerable distance in the heat to see it. Maybe it was the time of year, but the trees at the Gardens by the Bay were heaving.

 
 

 

The SBG also houses the National Orchid Garden, a much more colourful affair. It is at the forefront of orchid studies and a pioneer in the cultivation of hybrids, reflecting the nation’s status as a major exporter of cut orchids. Perhaps my expectations were all wrong but in this part of the world it would have been nice to see at least some of the species plants growing naturally, as they might in the wild. The display did seem to focus exclusively on the hybrids, the potted plants switched around frequently judging by the activity on the day we were there.

 
 

 

Renanthera ‘Paloma Picasso’

 
 

 

The highlight of the day came from an unexpected source. Look carefully centre of shot, amidst the giant water lily leaves.

 
 
 

 

Malayan Water Monitor Lizard

 
 
 

 

Not one but two. And perhaps not the best of buddies?

 
 

 

Nope. Definitely not.

 
 

 

The vanquished returns to the pond. But not for long..

 
 

 

Oh-oh.

 
 

 
 

 
 

 

Ouch!

 

And on that note we had, reluctantly, to leave Singapore ourselves and board the flight back to England. It’s been a magnificent trip and it only remains for me to thank you, sincerely, for your company along the way. Perhaps, someday, we can do it all again. But for now it’s definitely a return back to earth. And a none too gentle one at that. Isn’t there an unfinished bathroom around here somewhere?