Speaking of parks and vegetation, it should be mentioned that there are all sorts of tropical plants in Singapore due to warm and humid climate. The city is actually well famous for its field of orchids. Proud of their natural resources, people from Singapore turned vast portions of land into gardens. Botanic gardens stretch along 52 hectares of land, not that far from the city center, housing some of the extremely rare and respected species. Among them there are the National Orchid Garden, the Ginger Garden and the Evolution Garden.
I was at the National Orchid Garden when such rain poured down that there was no use of any kind of umbrella. Luckily, institutions like this one usually offer raincoats due to the peculiar weather, and you will get small bags for you umbrellas when coming inside, not to leave wet trail behind you while in a cafe or a gallery. Even though its pouring like crazy, it is still warm and pleasant. So, one more time – pay attention to the clothes you are wearing, your shoes. Try not to put on anything that will stay wet and not being able to dry quickly, because it would be unbearable to tour around the city that way. I am sure that it is not your intention to run down to the hotel at the other part of the city every hour or so, in order to change!
The National Orchid Garden
The National Orchid Garden is one of a kind either for specialists interested in new hybrids or for curious visitors who can’t seem to wonder about those harmonious colors and shapes only nature can create.
There is a walking trail through the Garden, among small pieces of land dedicated to specific species, all marked and neat, until you come to the summer house where you will find all the explanations about hybrids and plants. You will find the so called VIP Orchid Garden, reminding you that all the orchid species and botanic gardens were there to promote good relations and diversity of nations. The Garden that was established in 1957 is home to various species where every one of them is named after one famous public figure from the world (thus you will find the orchid named after princess Diana or Nelson Mandela).
Being rewarded numerous times, this is deservedly one of the city’s attractions.
Vanda “Miss Joaquim”
There is also a species that represents the national flower of Singapore since 1981. It was named after Agnes Joaquim who bred this orchid and so it was called Vanda “Miss Joaquim”. This is the flower that was described by the first director of the botanic gardens of Singapore in 1893, and it was actually the first written description of an orchid in Singapore.
The Garden also houses a lot of tropical plants and ferns, nicely accompanied by wooden eaves, small bridges and fountains. You will also find the Orchidarium, the simulation of the natural orchid habitats in lowland rain forests all around the world.
This really is an interesting place to visit, especially for a traveler from the Old Continent. At the small gallery at the entrance it is possible to buy a pendant with the small orchid inside, “wrapped” in resin or silicone. Simple and nice memory from this part of the world.
More than 9,000 birds
Singapore is not only interesting because of its fauna, but it will show off with such a range of bird species which you might find (you have guessed it) in a separate park.
The one I have visited was the Jarong Bird Park with more than 9,000 birds, about 600 species, which will certainly make you admiring their different colors and size. Visits to the Park usually start with some kind of performance where a parrot would welcome you in three languages (English, Malay and Chinese), an albatross would saunter around and a cockatoo is flaying in circles above your head.
The Park is divided into various parts making it easier for visitors to see the species they are interested in, being either African birds, predators, white, red and orange flamingos, pelicans, swans, or penguins.
Bridge above the forest
You can go around the Park on foot and rest on numerous benches along the way (looking at herons that don’t seem to have any interest in you but wouldn’t mind having you around), or take a small train that goes above lush vegetation and ponds. Although it might seem that the train would stick out of the scenery, you don’t even notice it, not until it passes right above your head, and still not intruding the surroundings.
Here, there are no birds locked up in cages, they all have enough space to walk or fly. There is an area for small parrots built in such a manner that you would walk over the hanging bridge, way above the small forest. While strolling over to the other side there will be birds flying out of those trees right next to you and descending down again, making specific noise. Don’t be surprised if you come across a group of Indians who will ask you to take a picture or two with them, with every single one of them actually. But, like the people of Singapore, tourists here were pleasant as well, so why not, put you best smile on and say “cheese”!
The most dangerous
There was one interesting cage I have come across, just like the one I remember seeing in most of the zoos. It was large, empty, with the inscription saying: “The most dangerous creature in the world – homo sapiens!”