The first place on our Bukit List [see Forcing the TLA for an explanation] that we visited on arrival in Singapore was the renowned Singapore Botanic Gardens, or SBG for short. That being our first encounter with Asian dragonflies, we looked at little else. However, as their name implies, the gardens are actually there for plants. The original gardens were established by Sir Stamford Raffles to see what could be grown economically. The current gardens were established as a leisure garden and ornamental park and they include a 3-hectare orchid garden, I believe one of the largest collections of orchids in the world, together with a ginger garden. Being a fan of orchids, Francine was keen to return to have a look.
It is an uncomfortable truth around the world that the worst time to try and get lunch is lunch time; everyone else is also trying to get lunch. This was true on our first visit when we attempted to eat at the SBG eatery around 1:00 PM. We had to leave to find somewhere else. Thus educated, on this second visit Francine and I cunningly turned up at about 11:30 AM and, finding a pleasantly clear section of tables, we sat down to study the menu. Almost immediately, a pair of mums each toting pairs of rugrats occupied the table to my left. Shortly thereafter, more arrived on the table to our right. We were surrounded, though we did have a table. Other representatives of Satan’s Little Disciples were zooming about on scooters. What we needed was a garden monitor to keep order. Where’s the suggestions box?
Francine and I shared a salad and one of Singapore’s more well-known meals, chilli crab, this time in the unexpected form of chilli crab toast. I use the term toast loosely. I wasn’t expecting the sauce, either, which was contributing to the slight sogginess of the toast, but it tasted reasonable.
Francine wasn’t the only fan in the SBG today. Other fans were being wielded by what I think was a Tai Chi class. The lady dressed in yellow appeared to be in charge so I guessed she was the black belt. In an orchestrated fashion, the fans were being snapped open and shut with deft flicks of the wrist, sounding as though they could remove your head almost as efficiently as a Samurai sword. We edged past carefully to avoid injury.
Entrance to the SBG is free but there is a fee to get into the Orchid Garden. I remained outside to look for more dragonflies, including a visit to a pond we had not seen on our first time around, while Francine went in to click away at orchids. We arranged to regroup near the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream stand, not that we had an ulterior motive. Here’s some of her results.
After a spin around all three ponds, I managed to put our SBG dragonfly species count up to 16, being about half of what can supposedly be seen there. Still not sure if all species occur all year round or whether species have seasons but I was happy enough with our tally.
As I was making my way back to Ben & Jerry’s, ruing the fact that Francine had all our Sing Dollars, I was confronted by a 1.3m/4ft long Monitor Lizard, calmly wandering straight towards me along my path. Discretion being the better part of valour, I made way; it went into the hedgerow between myself and the lake. We’d seen a Monitor at Changi but this was a much better specimen with no visible damage and much more cooperative, to boot. As I was leaning on my monopod admiring this magnificent creature just a few feet away, a couple of other Brits wandered up to me and enquired what I was looking at. Thinking the action rather superfluous given its size, I pointed. They jumped.
Our hosts had never heard of Monitors in the Botanic Gardens. Lucky me.