Singapore for Work
Also, the Yum Cha was pretty good, and with a pretty awesome desert spectacle.
Most importantly, Fatman Satay on Boon Tat street :)
Jurong Bird Park, Singapore
Setup in a roughly similar style as the Singapore Zoo, the park features themed areas, such as African Wetlands and Bird of Prey, with generally comfortable enclosures for the animals.
The diversity on display was impressive, and as always with birds, the range of colours and calls was breathtaking.
Particularly fun has the Bird of Prey show, where some trained falcons, hawks and vultures are taken through some simulated hutning situations and aireal acrobatics. A vulture with a 10 foot wingspan gliding inches above the assembled crowdwas very exciting.
National Day Parade (Preview) 2005
The padang, normally a completely empty patch of grass, had been transformed into a huge stadium. When filled to capacity with red shirt wearing Singaporeans, set against the backdrop of the cityscape, it was quite a sight.
THe displays included various songs, bands, school children marching and dancing in formation, miltary flyovers, drive bys, skydiving, even multimedia and lights. The overwhelming theme being a unified Singapore, the message was well presented and well received as far as I could tell. The sense of civic pride that shone through the proceedings was very strong.
The military part of the evening had a Edinborough Tattoo feel to it, and the 'mobile column' was somewhat Orwellian, a veritable catalogue of US military exports. The Apache gunship that took up a hovering posiion a not so discrete distance from the event after the Speaker of Parliment made his entrance was also a little overt for me.
The colouried lights, floats and dancers afterwards was much more fun, litterally thousands of schoolkids taking part in the fun.
Haw Par Villa (Tiger Balm Gardens), Singapore
I don't think I've ever seen a bigger monument to concrete, plaster, and bright colours anywhere. The park is unbeleivably kitcsh, goudy colours, luridly detail depictions of violence. An excellet place for the kiddies.
The buddist 'Ten Levels of Hell' Exhibit is a must see. Witness the punishment for 'ungratefullness' for example and tremble... (having your heart cut out).
There is also a large collection of jade sculptures in the park which finished things off nicely.
The photo's don't really capture the scale of the place. Its a bit of a jaw dropper.
Singapore Botanical Gardens and National Orchid Garden
The gardens has a huge expanse of natural rainforest in the heart of it, and is surrounded by formal gardens and paved and grassed areas that seemed fairly popular with family groups and picnicers.
I concentrated mainly on the Orchid gardnes, which is the only part of the park that has an admission charge - on corner of the gardens is given over to the Orchids.
I got the impression that it wasn't really the right time of year for the Orchids to be flowering, as many weren't. Those that were though were putting on a mighty fine show of diversity and colour.
Highlights were the coolhouse, showcasing some orchid species from cooler climes, and the Celbrity garden, featuring hybrid orchids named after visiting dignitaries and heads of state. I thought the Orchid named after Margret Thatcher was particularely apt - withered and twisted little flowers :)
The photos tell it better than I can...
Singapore Zoological Gardens
The Zoo takes great pride in having no fences, no bars, no restraints for animals. Most of the habitats have 'psychological' barriers instead like moats of water, raised rock platforms and walls, or just enforced feeding areas. The primate collection has largely free reign of the entire park and you often spied a monkey in a nearby tree.
Some of the habitats were enclosed simply through nessesity. The cool enclosure for the penguins, for example.
The zoo had also taken great care to simulate habitats that are as natural as possible. The cheetahs had grass and trees to climb in, the baboons had dust and rocks to congregate in. I didn't see one animal that looked remotely upset or bored.
We spent about 4 hours at the zoo, walked our feet off and had a ball. An absolutely stunning place, and a photographers paradise.
My favourite of the day would have to be the white tigers.