Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Botanical Gardens of Singapore

I tell you what – I'm starting to like pulp. Time was that I wasn't very keen on it. Time was, I wasn't very keen on Orange juice, but all that changed in Europe where I was bombarded with it – orange juice and hot chocolate, it was the perfect way to start every day. But pulp – I still wasn't a fan of pulp.

Now, you ask me why – I tell you, it gets stuck in the mustache. That's just how life works. But since I've trimmed it a bit shorter in spots, that's not much of an issue. And ever since having the jelly drink in Japan, I've started to come around to drinks that you need to chew. Like bubble tea – but different.

Now, the last few places I've been, have had juice full of pulp – super pulp – a mouthful of pulp in every gulp. And I've decided that I love it. There, I've said it. Moving on.

But not really moving on, because Apple juice, it too is good. But only Minute Maid in bottles nice and cold, the way you can get them – over priced – at the TTC stations in Toronto. The only other place I've found them (and believe me, I've looked) is in a vending machine at costco. Not in costco, but in the parking lot. One day I will roll up with a big box and feed loonie after loonie (I almost forgot about that coin – strange) into the machine and start pulling drinks and boxing them myself. On the plus side, you don't even need a membership card for this.

Why is there not an easier way?

But I can distract myself no longer. For at some point, one needs to embrace their fear. And here is mine – outside. In this part of the world. You see, inside is so nice and cool – even without the aircon, there's still a fan – but outside? Outside there is heat and humidity and other things that want to destroy your life! Like – you know – more heat. Or bears. I hear there are bears outside too.

Our first stop was the Thai embassy where they were having a firesale, ok – ok – that's probably bad wording at this point in time. They were having a wonderful sale on lots of jewelry and food and other Thai related things. It seemed strange in contrast to the country where Bangkok seems to be falling more and more apart by the day.

We only stopped there as that was where the bus happened to let us off, and after seeing the front page of the paper – plumes of smoke shooting up through one of Asia's largest malls, I couldn't help but have Thailand on my mind. Our true stop for the day was the Singapore Botanical Gardens.

This is a place that, no doubt, my father would love. He'd have walked in, not thinking about the sweat the rolled so freely from my forehead, back, and just about every other place where pores can roll sweat from. No – my father would have walked in and started talking ab out how it was still too cold, or how it was a nice winters day in Florida, or something nonsensical like that. Never you mind that it felt like 45, for him – it can never be hot enough. For me? A big part of me just wanted to run through the gardens and be done with it, say I'd seen it, and escape to some place more conditioned with cool air, and with all the cooling coils one can find to remove the humidity.

There was a lovely lake, full of swans, and giant swan statues if the birds themselves didn't feel like making an appearance. Little teacup humans walked around it, with their teacher in tow, trying to make sure none were lost. I thought it might be a fun game to pick them up and splash them into the pond as if they were bicycles left on the Amsterdam streets after the bars all closed down. I felt secure in the fact that the teachers would leave me alone, as I ran to avoid the coming Singaporean punishment, as they would be focused on saving the wee ones. They would be, right?

But no – there was no injustice done today, and screaming the tiny near-people simply walked by. Unaware of how close they were to peril.

Through the botanical gardens one comes to the Ginger Gardens, and let me tell you – I love ginger. I do. It is fantastic. I never appreciated it before Asia, but I have learned the error of my ways, and may I be forgiven for not understanding the power of the root until now. Also, bananas and ginger are related somehow? I don't know – the sign seemed to think so.

Past the ginger gardens, though, is what you really came to see. The Singapore Orchid Gardens. Where for 5 SingDollars you can walk amongst some of the most delightful and fragrant flowers you've ever seen. You know – if you're into that stuff. Once more, I picture my father not simply walking around thinking – neat there's a red one! - but, instead knowing what it was, how to grow it, and all sorts of other things for which I can't even conceive of the questions.

Still – just saying, there's a purple one, there's a red one, there's a yellow one – that's entertaining in its own right – especially for those overhearing who seem to know more than I did.

There were some flows, an unnatural coloured orange that reminded me strangely of my childhood. But before I could think too much on that, there were plants with giant leaves. And I mean giant – bigger than me. The type that people in Egyptian movies use to fan their leaders. Why the leaves had to be that big, I did not know – but they were impressive. Once more it dawns on me that Singapore (a.) is not China, and b.) is a tropical country.)

At one point we entered a cool house – which, while not a concert venue neat a mis-spelled government, was still highly desired. For a few seconds, standing next to a waterfall, I was at peace with the world around me. More to the point, my back wasn't sweating where my pack connected with it. Such are the choices on a hot day – wear the backpack and sweat through my shirt, or don't wear it on both shoulders and hurt one shoulder – oh the damage I've done by keeping this pack on me all these months.

Back out in the sun we continued to make our way through the flowers before finally heading out, and moving through a gift shop where everything you could think of was covered in the slogan “Singapore in a FINE country,” with pictures of all the things that you will be fined for.

Seriously – who makes chewing gum illegal? One thousand dollar fine. Ai ya.

From there we went to the mall. Hours were spent in a bookstore, well maybe just two. I discovered the following:

I want to read Metro 2033. There's a book called Gone that might be good, or might be terrible young adult garbage (I will need to research this some more.) There is a book called The Hunger Games which seems to be a total rip off of Battle Royale, the manga – which is based on the novel – which is good. The Hunger Games, with a title like that, and your choice or either male or female cover, I can only assume is a terrible terrible rip off. I'd like to research this some more too and discover how similar it is. A Lion Among Men is the third book in the “Wicked” series – and while some of me wants to read it, I keep reminding myself how terrible Wicked was as a novel (musical, amazing – novel poorly written. I am sure the author changed gears half way through writing it and then just said, screw it – I'm not rewriting the beginning, explaining all the disconnects.) And the second book, Son of a Witch, as garbage too. So this one? I hold out no hopes.

It also seems I have a note reading Brave Story. Ah yes, I think that's a Japanese novel? It had a neat cover and interesting back cover write-up. Once more, research is required.

Lunch? Okonomiyaki. Well Hiroshima Yaki to be truthful. I thought I would never have it again. And while not as good as the one outside of Tokyo, still delicious.

With some delicious bubble tea (I need to learn how to cook the pearls at home) we headed for the bus, and returned home. I watched a WoW raid (intense crazy wacky stuff) and talked to the guild leader – who, is a buddy of mine from back home. This is how I got to know my current host.

She came to Canada to visit him, and he came up to my family cottage. She came with him. Thus we got to know each other. And one year later, here I am visiting her. Who could have possibly foreseen that turn of events?

I also played some Zelda Spirit Tracks (too hard, I hate it. Curse you Zelda!) and The World Ends With You. My favourite DS game of all time. Sigh, it's so pretty. I wish I could have found an art book for it in Japan, but no.

And that – is - that.

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