On The Eve Of National Day I Spent A Day At Singapore Botanic Gardens, Alone

I have planned this Monday holiday months in advance. Because Tuesday is National Day, a public holiday. I have been wanting to have some time on my own, to reflect upon life and to simply admire nature, to be connected to the ‘bigger picture’. It seems that our souls need nourishment once in awhile especially when day in day out we are stuck in a corporate rat race.

Taken near Orchid Garden
Taken near Orchid Garden. I was told by a Chinese herbs manager that orchid stems make rather expensive Chinese herbs.

In some ways I am happy that my wife needed to work today. When both of us are on leave, we would take our time doing very little, at home mostly. Nothing is wrong with that of course. A different kind of soul nourishment. A mutual nourishment.

After dropping my wife off to work at a quarter to nine in the morning, I drove to the Botanic Gardens, a UNESCO site.

This plan of mine did not get hatched until late last night. Botanic Garden always makes me happy. Be in as in Hong Kong when I was studying or in Singapore. Today felt like a makeup session for a birthday outing that I did not have.

Armed with a camera phone, a book, and a bottle of water, I felt happy even before entering the garden. It took me some time before I could find a parking lot by the street, right at the back of the children’s garden, which is on the far end of the map.

As expected, the day was warm and the air was humid. I got a bottle of water but I forgot to bring some suntan lotion. I got a book but I forgot to bring some insect repellent.

I love my new phone. Finally I could take some photos to commemorate my days, edit and upload along the way with GPS tagging. Six hours my phone’s battery has lasted. I was tired but delightful at the end of the trip.

So where was I? Yes, the parking lot.

I am amazed that so many people hang out in the Botanic Gardens on a working day (though I must say, many must have taken leave today like me). My plan was to have a nice breakfast inside the garden upon arrival. But since I was parking so far away, I took a stroll instead as I headed towards my first destination – a restaurant that serves proper breakfast.

First thing that greeted me besides the toilet at children’s garden was a group of old folks trying to exercise. That scene actually scares me. I am motivated to start doing some exercise asap. I hope my back would bend better than them when I am at their age.

Casa Verde is right in the midsection of the garden. Quite honestly, the food is very so-so. And it is rather pricy. But the decor is rather OK. I managed to find a seat inside the airconditioned section of the restaurant. I could sit outside though. But today was a warm day. Cool air was a welcoming sight.

So I order an overpriced egg benedict that cost S$16. An additional cup of what appeared as an instant coffee that cost an extra S$4. I still enjoyed my breakfast though, because today was a happy day.

Egg Benedict always makes me happy, like I am being smiled upon.
Egg Benedict always makes me happy, like I am being smiled upon.

Over breakfast, I have started reading The Devil in the Flesh by a French author Raymond Radiguet. A book I have borrowed from the library. I don’t know how anyone can read books these days. I was so distracted by my electronic devices.

Talking about electronic devices, what’s wrong with the world today?! Here I was immersing myself into nature, listening to the sound of the insects, of the birds, and of the wind brushing against the tree leaves (of course, the sound of construction nearby can be annoying). I saw waves and waves of people glued to their electronic devices playing Pokemon Go as though they were possessed, living inside a world of augmented reality.

It is very easy to spot Pokemon Go players (more so because I was once an Ingress player).

  1. They are often in group talking to each other while interacting with their electronic devices.
  2. They have a tendency to stop in some random spots again interacting with their phones or tablets.
  3. At times, they look stressed (which is strange because no one should look stressed inside a garden).
  4. They are oblivious to all that is around them. I bet even as Taylor Swift walks by, they would still look for those virtual beings.
  5. Very often, you see them carrying a power pack to charge their phones on the go. Some would actually play with two devices (ah, good old Ingress days of mine).

Also, at times, these players (or hunters?) tend to cast me a suspicious look. As though I am there to steal their price.

Look, this is a garden. The only time I would cast a suspicious look to a fellow visitor is when he or she looks like a terrorist.

But then again, who am I to judge? I have lived through those insane time with Ingress (the step-father of Pokemon Go?). I am still spending a lot of time at home playing video games, even at my age. To my defense though, I think what is going on behind closed doors is none of others’ business (duh, my YouTube channel has betrayed me). Roaming in public places like Botanic Gardens in a zombified state, that is weird.

Or perhaps, I am the weird one. Because if I am to count the number of people whom I have come across playing Pokemon Go versus those who were like me enjoying the scenery and the ambient, we the real lifers are definitely outnumbered.

This is called Sundial Garden. I tried to read in one of the huts but the heat and the insects were too overwhelming.
This is called Sundial Garden. I tried to read in one of the huts but the heat and the insects were too overwhelming.

I got lost a few times inside Botanic Gardens. How often when you read a map by the roadside and even though it has “You Are Here” in a font and color that cannot be missed, you just not sure which road leads to where?

If I were to design roadmaps, I would certainly go that extra mile and draw two things right at “You Are Here”. A simple line to denote where the signboard is from a top down view. And a man or an eyeball showing you where you are facing.

One great thing about getting lost is – besides the extra exercise I so need (remember the old folks at the beginning of this entry?) – I came across places that subsciously I wanted to visit but I was not really looking for them.

Like a toilet and a place for food. The gift shop was a bonus.

By the time my late lunch was served, my colleague at work has already called me for help. The good news was that it was not something unexpected. I was mentally prepared. The bad news was that I was at least two kilometers away from my car, not counting the extra miles I would need to partake once I got lost. That is a story for another day.

Or not ever.

Work.

Ugh.

On another positive note though, I really enjoy reading Devil in the Flesh. It is about a young boy in love in great details. It is about a young boy in love with a girl who is with another man. It is about a young boy infatuated with someone older than him. All three, I can relate.

At times I do wonder the what could have been, especially when I am alone.
At times I do wonder the what could have been, especially when I am alone.

One thought on “On The Eve Of National Day I Spent A Day At Singapore Botanic Gardens, Alone”

  1. I love walking about on my own but to my displeasure I am unable to do that due to kids, house chores and everything else. But when I finally do stroll on my own, I feel a sense of peace and calm descend on my being and there is nothing I cannot overcome. I am glad you are still keeping this blog alive, always enjoy reading about your daily anecdotes. Do take care of your heart. I think we are at that stage our body can’t take a lot of stress because stress do kill. Take care.

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