A Sunday afternoon constitutional. We pass by two small gulls by the side of the path. They’re looking a little lost and bemused. It’s a wetland reserve with lakes and water ways, planted with native New Zealand plants, such as NZ flax and Cabbage Trees. It acts as a filtering system for storm drain run-off; the pools settle the sediment and the reeds and water plants filter out the contaminants; a series of walk ways and cycle paths run through it.
‘All the seats are in the sun,’ says Val, ‘which is what you normally want, but not on a hot December afternoon’
It’s not the only incongruity. We are staying with friends, Barbara and John Hill, in Bethlehem. No., it’s not the famous one. It’s a small suburb of Tauranga; situated in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand…
It’s been many a year since we visited Singapore. A very welcoming city with just a few unique idiosyncrasies.
Everyone says it and it’s true…. The first thing that you notice is just how clean everything is! The train stations on the MRT are spotless; you could eat your dinner off the platforms. There are probably special cleaning staff that come out at night and scrub the floors with special ‘Made in China’ scrubbing brushes.
There’s a no eating and drinking policy on the MRT trains. All air conditioned, naturally. There are no free newspapers and other litter to spoil the pristine effect and everyone has a slower and more carefree demeanour; in strong contrast to London, with the older trains, Metro newspapers and the tireless hustle and bustle to ‘get there’. Rows of mostly the young line the rows of plastic seats, each intent upon the display screens of their Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, rapidly moving their thumbs up and down. One young girl messages a friend and quickly turns on the Facebook ‘ap’ whilst there is a lull in the electronic conversation.
The Botanic Gardens are massive and we walk for miles. We pay to go into the Orchid Gardens, which includes a ‘Cool House’. Orchids grow out in the open between the other plants and foliage. A few dogs pass by with their owners in tow. We note that there are no doggy bins. Neither do we see any evidence of dog mess on the paths or in the grass. The only conclusion that we can reach is that there is a special breed of dog that you have to buy if you live in Singapore. One that doesn’t poo!!