After our trip back from Phuket, I got sick (of course I did–one of the many truths about moving to a new part of the world is that for the first year or so, you’re always getting sick) so I missed out on the visit to the Botanic Gardens with my in-laws. However, they had nice things to say about it, so this past Friday I took Elanor and B with me around sunset to do some photography and to take a nice walk.
I was totally blown away. Perhaps it’s because there are tons of “parks” in Singapore that bear no resemblance to my traditional notion of what a park should look like. Back home, a park is always a green space, usually with a playground for kids, and very open. In Singapore, the bike path along the river is a park. It’s nice, and it’s certainly a lovely walk, but it just didn’t jibe with my notion of “park.”
The Botanic Gardens is a very large open park on the same scale as Hyde Park in London or Central Park in New York. Once you’re inside you completely forget you’re in the middle of a major world city. I didn’t even see a tenth of it, but everywhere I looked there was large open green space, families having picnics, kids running, flowers in bloom…you name it.
Because it’s Singapore, it was clean and safe…even after dark fell, I felt totally safe standing there talking with a mom I’d met when our kids took a liking to each other, while Elanor and her son ran around. In Boston, with the exception of the one very well lit path to the parking garage, you don’t really go into the Common at night, and you sure as hell don’t wander around Central Park after dark if you value your safety. Which is kind of the surreal part–in Singapore, a place like the Botanic Garden can be open and totally safe until midnight.
We didn’t make it (although my in-laws did) to the National Orchid Garden, which is the only part of the park (to my knowledge) that has an entry fee, but it’s on my list of priorities to visit with my camera soon.
Perhaps my favorite thing about visiting there was the chance to really breathe. Singapore is a hectic city, and living centrally as we do, it’s skyscraper after skyscraper. Most days I’m grateful for the fact that we got a break on our rent because of the construction next door, but every morning I awake the sound of construction outside my window. It’s rare to have a quiet moment in the city where you can stop and see the sky (especially if you’re basking in the neon glow of Orchard Road), or even more rare, the moon. So it was with great pleasure that I stopped, took a deep breath, and spent a few moments looking up at the moon.
Of course, after we were done with our moment in the oasis, we hightailed it back to Orchard Road–because what’s the point of having a quiet place if you can’t then hit Borders and a 24 hour McDonalds?