We spent the morning of New Year's Day 2009 at the beautiful Singapore Botanical Gardens. This sprawling park is just about a 15 minute walk from where my brother lived. Haley and I walked there with Edwin, Irene and Elyse. The boys were not feeling very well so stayed at the condo with Elaine.
Unlike the typical New Year's Day morning in Manila where the air would still heavy with gunpowder, the air at the garden was very fresh. The greenery was so fresh and lush. Unfortunately, the sun was very strong that day and the heat was enervating rather than invigorating.
From the brochure: Today, the 63-hectare Gardens is home to a great diversity of tropical plants set in verdant landscapes. Here is a tropical Eden, rich with 150 years of history, where time seems to stand still. Be it a rejuvenating walk in solitude, a romantic rendezvous or a day with your family, the Gardens have plenty to offer.
The main entrance, dear to generations of Singaporeans, is the Tanglin Gate. Today, it is rebuilt and crafted in aluminum by a Singaporean artist using the flowering climber Bauhinia kockiana as his design motif.
The serene Swan Lake was completed in 1866. The island on the lake is a timeless landmark crowned by elegantly feathery Nibung palms.
The Bandstand, surrounded by a rim of Yellow Rain trees, is still more or less in its original 1860s form. Although no longer used for music performances, it has always been a landmark feature of the Gardens.
That night, Edwin, Haley and I went on the renowned Night Safari. The crowd that night was overflowing! Entire tour buses were there. The queue for the tram ride was maybe a mile long the way I saw it. We lined up almost 20 minutes for the Night Creatures show, only to be rained out barely 10 minutes after the show began. When we got out of the show arena, the drizzle already stopped. Rats, what a waste.
So, we tried to hike on the trails. To tell you the truth, the darkness was creepy. Haha! But the experience of seeing those rodents, deer, small wildcats and wolves in limited light was something else.
Fortunately, when we came back out of the trail, the line for the tram had already dwindled, so we were able to get on in no time. The entire ride took about 45 minutes covering about 3 km. Among the many animals there, we saw the Big 5 of the African plains (elephant, rhino, hippo, lion and water buffalo) there all in their natural setting in the shadowy half-light. At a certain point, there are deer and tapir just walking alongside the open tram. That tram ride was really worth the price of admission and should not be missed.
The Night Safari has really improved a lot since the first I visited on its first year back in 1994. I honestly did not see much that first visit and was very disappointed. I do not have any pictures of our visit now because my camera malfunctioned. Too bad. In any case, I do not think I could have taken any decent looking picture anyway, since flash photography is not allowed.