Archive for November, 2009

Chinese Garden

Posted: November 27, 2009 in Uncategorized

Captain’s log                          Stardate: 63406.4 (Nov 27th, 2009)

Ever since the first time I opened my eyes to see the world, I had never visited the Chinese Garden. Well, as what people would say, its never too late to start journey into one. Places like this will never run away, and that its part of the heritage in the society we are living in. If you asked me, its not only because of exploring. But ever since my visit to both the National Museum of Singapore and Botanic Gardens, in regards to the reality game, I began to feel more attracted to the idea of exploring those interesting, not to mention, heritage places that also involves the wonders of the nature. There’s a lot of those parks in Singapore that I had never been. The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Labrador Nature Reserve, just to name a few. A colleague of mine once told me, that I might even ended up writing a book about my visit to these places. A collection of them and areas within it that was worth a visit. How I wished =D

Anyway, my visit to the Chinese Garden is not because of the reality game, Uncover Singapore. There’s no mission involved into this. Like I’ve mentioned earlier, I never been there. So why not take this opportunity to step into this 13-hectare ancient paradise and feel what is like in the ancient way of life. It is because, as what I came to found out:

“The design of the Chinese Garden was to provide a spiritual utopia for one to connect with nature, to come back to one’s inner heart, to come back to ancient idealism. Chinese Garden are a spiritual shelter for people, a place they could be far away from their real social lives, and close to the ancient way of life, their true selves, and nature.”

Well, I guess I’m about to find out =)

So 3 days ago, Tuesday, 23th, which is my off, I had began my destination. Taking the train from the East, and journey to the West side of the island. Based on research, the Garden was also commonly known as Jurong Gardens. As the name stated, it was located in Jurong. And there’s even the MRT station named after it, the Chinese Garden MRT station which was a five-minute walk to the garden. The garden was built in 1975, and designed by Professor Yuen-Chen Yu, who was a well-known architect from Taiwan. The garden’s concept is based on the Chinese gardening art, and the main characteristic is the integration of splendid architectural features that suits with the natural environment. Impressively, it was been landscape in such a way that it resemblances much of the northern Chinese imperial style of architecture and landscaping. No wonder it was been describe, “a place they could be far away from their real social lives, and close to the ancient way of life……” Hard to miss that point if you are here quite often =)

Furthermore, it was noted for Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations since the late 1980s. It was been a popular attraction during these festive periods. Understand that each year, visitors are been treated to splendid views of uniquely designed lanterns, which was brought in from different parts of China and that includes, cultural performances by Chinese cultural troupes. No doubt about it, since how the garden was well established.

Apart from that, newly couples also enjoy taking wedding photographs by the bridges and pagodas there. Looks like the Botanic Garden are not the only interesting places newly couples are attracted to.

I had noted some of the interesting spots within the garden I intend to check it out. Especially that 7-storey pagoda that can be seen from a distance. Its typical design does held the resemblances of the Ling Ku Temple Pagoda at Nanjing, China. There’s also a Japanese Garden, where you had to walk across a bridge to get to the other side.

Almost an hour, I reached my destination. Camera……check. Water bottle……check. Small towel……check. I check twice, for your info. Hah! =D

First wave of photos taken before I proceed along the path that leads towards the garden.

I walk across this red bridge, where I was greeted by two cloudy-grained marble stone lions on either side of the gate. Typically Chinese in style, and they guard the main gates of the garden. It is a Chinese belief that the lion is an animal representing authority and fealty. Apart from that, they are skillfully sculptured from Taiwan-imported marble statue.

I stumbled upon the layout map of the garden. Below, there’s two directions to indicate. Japanese Garden to the left and Chinese Garden to the right.

I choose the right side, where right next to it stood the majestic 7-storey Pagoda, which was also the focal point of the garden.

History records shows, that in ancient times, the pagoda, originally a simple tower located besides a temple, used to store human bones by Buddhists. Soon later, with improvements in architectural skills, that incorporated with the traditional art of building, the pagoda was developed into a structure of striking architectural beauty and streamlined

Inside, I followed a spiral staircase all the way up to the last level. Photos below are taken from the top that held a breathtaking view from above.

One look down, and I was struck with a tsunami of dizzyness….=S

Right next to the pagoda, was the Ixora Garden. A splendid shrubs that provide a majestic backdrop for the statues of the Eight Chinese Legendary Heroes. From information I’ve gathered, these eight statues had been commissioned by the National Parks Board in 1990, and had earlier been installed at Marina City Park’s Sculpture Garden. Then, on 15th January 2007, the statues were relocate to the Chinese Garden, and its plaque commemorates the unveiling of the statues by the then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong on 18 September 1991.

Among the statues, were too most promising ones that could easily grab the attention of historians. One is the famous patriotic poet, named Qu Yuan, who had committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River due to despair when his Chu Kingdom was been conquered by the state of Qin in ancient China. That’s how the Chinese Boat Festival came about as to commemorate his death.

The other one, named Confucious, who was a Chinese thinker, as well as a social philosopher whereby his teachings and philosoply have deeply influenced Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese thoughts and life.

“Confucious says…….” =D

I took a 10-minute break by seating on a bench facing the lake. Once I’ve recharge, I resume my exploration.

I cross the lake by moving across large stones that were designed as its bridge. On the other side, stood the Bonsai Garden.

As history recorded, the Bonsai Garden here had cost an estimate $3.8 million to build, and was officially opened in June 1992. It was measured as a 5,800 sq meters, and dominated with Suzhou-style buildings. Therefore, it was also referred as Suzhoi-style Bonsai Garden. Its landscape houses a collection of over 2000 bonsais, which was imported from China and other parts of the world.

It was been stated, that the Bonsai Garden was given a fresh look after spending an estimate wholesome of another $500,000. Talk about a whole lot of renovation and revitalised! Not to mention, a beauty that must be seen to believed. I had seen a similar version of the Bonsai Garden when I was in the Botanics. But this one was truly magnificent, by the way it was arrange within its lush greenery and traditional appearance behind the Suzhou-style buildings. And one step into it, feels like traveling back in time into ancient China. What are the odds! =D

What a place! Meters after meters on every square inch was an impressive collection of beautifully manicured bonsais. And what I found out through comments been posted from one of its officially websites, that this part of the garden offers a perfect getaway from all the hustle and bustle of city life. Its truly freedom down here! =)

Now, this intrigues me. There’s even a small cave beneath this rock, and steps leading up to the traditional hut above it.

I seem to be going around in circles, as what I’ve noticed. Haha! =D It was indeed, a hidden paradise inside paradise itself =)

Adjacent to it, was the Garden of Abundance. It was known to be the newest addition to the Chinese Garden family. Down here, you will find a collection of the 12 Chinese Zodiac animals stone sculptures. There’s the rat, dragon, monkey, rabbit – just to name a few. In the standard English Zodiac, I happened to fall under Pisces. And in the Chinese Zodiac, I was the rat. I wonder if that explains why some people claimed that my ears were big as a rat…

There’s even a sundial, stone bridges and planting of materials. The scenery down here was designed accordingly to Chinese tradition and folk culture. It presents, sincere wishes dedicated to the visitors.

Some of the few Chinese Zodiac animals I’ve taken. Just for you readers to catch a glimpse of them =)

Hmmm…….interesting..=)

Nearby, was the majestic Bridge of Double Beauty where it will lead you to the Japanese Garden. Or refer as “Seiwaen.”

Prior to info, in contrast to the visual appearance to that from the Chinese Garden, the Japanese Garden was designed to be more minimalist and abstract, with emphasis on simplicity which will leave you enchanted. Its based on its own gardening technique through ancient times. As what I noted, local plants were used to depict and create the same effect as traditional gardens in Japan. Interestingly, genuine stone lanterns and rocks, originated from Japan were brought to further enhance the general landscape of this paradise. Also, an arched bridges over ponds and traditional houses all add up to give a sense of a natural look of what its like in Japan! =)

Such a beauty here that lovers and nature lovers just can’t resist. This part of the garden were largely opened, and those spacious area was perfect for a family picnic. All peaceful here, all seems quiet, and feels like as though I was exploring a planet of paradise that lies no inhabitants of any kind =)


I followed down a stretch of path, that reaches out as what I thought it would be a better place “somewhere over the rainbow”, which was based on a popular fantasy movie, Wizard of Oz. What lies ahead was another magnificent bridge. Took me to realize that this is “Pai Hung Ch’iao”, meaning “white rainbow bridge.” It was a 13-Arch Bridge, which follows the style of the 17-Arch Bridge at the Summer Palace in Beijing. Up ahead, was the typical Chinese arch building which contains two courtyards and a fishpond. It was been said, that the main arch building is a favourite spot for photographers. Why wouldn’t? It was such a grand place here, and no visitors could resist every inch and every shot of this renowned and typical Chinese arch building =)

What lies beyond there…=D

Just magnificent. I’m glad that I had taken that opportunity to be here. To a place that I had never explore ever since I was born. haha! =D Now that I’m happy with it, and that my camera is fully loaded with amazing photos, I journey back home. But not before, taking the last stroll around the garden. Re-discover those interesting spots that has been discovered. The Japanese Garden…..Garden of Abundance…..Bonsai Garden…..Ixora Garden….and not forgetting. The majestic, striking and graceful standing tall Pagoda =)

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Last Time, Next Time….

Posted: November 19, 2009 in Uncategorized

Captain’s log                          Stardate: 63384.6 (Nov 19th, 2009)

Do you ever wonder, or even realized that children are apt to say (understandably) last time, when asked about the past. I took noticed of it from my youngest sibling, who is currently in primary three. As such as kids like him used to say: “Last time, my mother took me to school in her car. But now I go on my own by bus.”

Therefore, for some, when they grow older, they may not be able to reject that habit: “Last time, when I was a kid, we used to go to the nearby park to play.”

An undergraduate once pointed out, that many people were quick to point out that all of us were children only once. I really had to scratch my head when hearing that.

This reminds me, of the new Star Trek movie that opens here on May 09. One of the Star Trek fans, or referred as “Trekkies” had commented, when been interviewed to share his side of the story about the new movie: “Oh, this new one is awesome! Director J.J Abrams really created something that what most of us Star Trek fans here wanted to see. The remake one is not like Star Trek movies last time…..” Another case of habits dying hard, I supposed.

As many might voiced out, if there were a last time, is there a next time? Can you doubt it?

Next time when I grow up, I want to become a police officer.”

Pasar Malam (Night Market)

Posted: November 16, 2009 in Uncategorized

Captain’s log                         Stardate: 63376.5 (Nov 16th, 2009)

Let’s talk about this. The pasar malam or night market kind of involves nostalgia for those who remember the street stalls of the sixties. As the name suggest, the market operates at night. As the way I see, it was quite a treat moving from stall to stall, picking up bargains. Even some would bargain for lesser if the current prize just doesn’t feel acceptable. Its a wide range of goods available, usually small household products, clothes, watches, toys, even CDs and books. It was been mentioned back then, with the clampdown on illegal hawking and a shift in shopping habits as more and more modern shopping centers become to establish islandwide, these pasar malam stalls began to disappear without a trace.

Today, they are back in action. And I don’t know how true is this, cause I’ve heard, it was sometimes been touted as part of a tourist attractions in “Surprising Singapore.” I really had to applaud them for their kind of customer service under the shade =D For the now pasar malam, they are in a controlled and organized manner at designated locations. As far as I can tell, the stalls may be grouped together in a square or on some empty land, and may not be necessarily line the roads as they used to be in the early days.

And most surprisingly is that, there would sometimes held an outdoor arcade, or a funfair that merged together with the pasar malam. A special treat, especially for the kids. At this modern age, what more could you have expected? =D

However, at this age also, the stalls may also operate during or throughout the day. But to many people, they are still considered the pasar malam.

No offense to the owners setting up their booths there, but it doesn’t really matter what time of day it is. Does it?

Carpet Of Green

Posted: November 10, 2009 in Uncategorized

Captain’s log                           Stardate: 63360.1 (Nov 10th, 2009)

The last time I’ve visit the Singapore Botanic Garden was two years back on a family outing. As far as I can remember, it was my younger sister’s birthday at that time, so my dad decided to treat the whole family there since my sister loves nature.

So two days ago (Nov 8th, Sunday), I was there again. This time, on solo. This is regards to the reality game “Uncover Singapore” which I had describe it when referring to my destination to the National Museum of Singapore for the Singapore Stone on my previous log entry. For this one, was the picture of a heritage tree which can be found at the back of the Singapore five dollar note. Also, in postage stamps.

Botanic

Familiar with it? If you are the type who treasures history or nature, or even feed this part of information into your mind as part of your learning process, than you definitely know the answer.

Its the grand old Tembusu tree.

My main objective for this mission was to identify the tree, and to locate it. Also, to pose with the tree, and at the same time, revealing the paper where “Uncover.Sg” were written on it. An evidence to show that I was there. Haha! =D

As what I did when spending my time in the Singapore Museum, I will also spend my free hours there exploring the garden. Heard there’s some changes been patch around. Probably turning it into a paradise more than just a garden =)

Besides, had nothing on for that day, and better take this opportunity to kill the boredom. Apart from that, I really needed this break, after all that tedious assignment due to my career as a law enforcement, that involves big meeting from the world leaders. I really need this break just to have some peace in my mind.

First thing first, before I carried out my mission, I had conducted research from the internet to learn more about the garden. Sure, some would say its a common sight of green with lush meadows of flowers, series of plantation, orchid growing and so forth that deals with nature. But who knows, especially for first timers, there could be more than meets the eye.

According to its natural habitat, the garden is a 63.7-hectare (157-acre). Amazingly, it is half the size of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew which was in South West London or around one-fifth the size of Central Park in New York. It is the only botanic garden in the world that opens from 5am to 12midnight every day, and does not charge an admission fee, except for the National Orchid Garden. Its the main attraction within the botanic gardens which store a huge collection of more than 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids of orchids. Wow! Talk about a load of paradise needs to be enhance!

Also, I came to find out that the garden was been categorized in three zones. The Tanglin Core, Central Core and Bukit Timah Core. Here’s the edited map:

Botanic

There are several major gates circulating the garden. As I had pinpoint the exact root of the Tembusu Tree; it was located at Tanglin Core, and I had to use that particular main gate nearest to it. This goes to show that I can get there easily before proceeding to explore the rest of the garden. Also, as you can see from the map, each of the cores had one lake each.

From the internet, it had introduced some of the most interesting attractions that can be found there. Sounds catchy, and hope I can find them.

From where I lived, I arrived there nearly an hour by bus. Thought that I might missed a stop. But luckily, the main gate of the garden that I’m aiming could be seen from a distance before reaching to the bus stop where I will disembarked.

Finally, Home of the Green!

Botanic

Before I go boldly where no nature lovers had gone before, I make my way to the Green Pavilion, which was also the visitor center to grab a copy of the map. From the map given, I began to familiarize with some of the locations, especially the one that I was aiming and best spot in attracting visitors. There’s even the Library of Botany and Horticulture, that store topics such as wildlife, natural history, conservation, scientific journals, landscape architecture references, bibliographies, botanical reprints, gardening, health and well-being and many more. Great for book lovers, as well as nature lovers, as it provides the wonders of the natural world within beautifully illustrated pages.

Here’s some of the pictures taken at Green Pavilion:

Botanic

I began my move. Intrigued by the landscape and lush of green along the way.

Its amazing to notice that majority of the visitors here had used certain areas of the garden for their picnic. Sure, without a doubt, the space here were spacious and open. A perfect place for such. Also, among the visitors here who went for their picnic were mostly foreigners. Either coming from Thailand or Philippines.

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An interesting sculpture I came across. It was title as “Stream of Life 011” designed by Mr Seo Jung Kug. Another one of these was located a few meters down below the path.

Botanic

I came across the Swan Lake, the first lake I take note of. As according to its history, the lake was added as a feature of the garden back in 1866. There’s big clump of elegant nibong plams that has become a timeless facet of the landscape. The pair of mute swans that glide gracefully across the lake was imported from Amsterdam. Besides providing scenic vistas, the lake is also an important water supply for the gardens.

Botanic

From the map shown, the heritage tree was somewhere nearby. I went up and down the landscape, searching for it. There’s few times where I though some of the trees there were the one I’m looking for. Few of them does held some resemblances.

And within five minutes estimated, the tree was sighted. Its located on an open field. A vast spacious area that seems like an ideal place for a game of soccer.

It thrills me to finally found the tree. Or the so-called “Money Tree” in which Agent Damon, who was in-charge of the reality game had identify it as =)

Pictures taken below were at each angle as I study the tree. Through history of nature, Tembusu are very hardy trees which can thrive and bloom even under adverse conditions. A native tree of secondary forest, it is well adapted to grow on poor soils in open areas. A long-lived tree, it can live up to 150 to 200 years. It can reach a height of about 25 metres. Its wood is very hard and resistant to rot and termites. It can be used for making bridges, rafts, chopping boards, furniture, and house building.

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Photo of me posed with the tree. Thanks to the gentleman who had helped me to take a shot of it. Agent Damon, here’s my evidence =D

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Didn’t know that his kid were on it. Oh well, at least Agent Damon accepts it =)

Then, I spend a few minutes gluing my eyes to this part of the garden. Families on their picnic were lay out at different corners of the field. Perhaps due to the shade provided by the trees there.

An interesting plantation =)

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I continued my destination. Following the map provided, I visited the Sundial Garden as well as the Bonsai where it houses the growing plants in pots. This is getting really interesting.

Botanic

From the Bonsai, I followed a sharp right turn – towards the Sun Garden where it displays succulents and other plants of arid regions. Other than that, it actually reminds me of those plants usually found on deserted land. Texas, you named it 😉

These pictures will tell =)

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Most interesting on this part of the field.

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Passing of Knowledge

The 4-Way Test:
Of the things we think, say or do:
1. Is it the truth?
2. Is it fair to all concerned?
3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

From here, I followed a straight path, which later curves up to the main public footpath. Nature lovers were seen here photographing the scenery due to its open and unique natural environment. Without a doubt, dating couples were hard to be missed =)

Botanic

Soon, I came across the location of the National flower, Vanda Miss Joaquim. But turns out to be an experimental field of its roots. Wonder if the botanist team were growing more of them. Cause as to what I noticed, it seems most likely…..

botanic

Nearby, was the rainforest where I began my trekking. Bukit Timah Nature Reserve might had the looks as this one. But this is the only piece of original jungle left on the island. It gives the visitors some idea of the wonderful richness of tropical vegetation. Ultimately, this is still true today, where about 314 species jostle for space in this 6-hectare fragment of forest that forms a multilayered complexity of herbs and ferns, shrubs, climbers and small, medium and large trees. Nature lovers, without a doubt, were crazy into this!

Not only that, the rainforest also includes a wealth of species with economic importance, such as the rattans, fruit trees and the towering jelutong.

Botanic

Soon, I came across this enormous living plant deep within the jungle terrain. I spend a few minutes studying it. I’m amazed by how those large vines and roots been tangle together and reaches all the way up and across the bark of the tree. Seems like nature does have its purpose, for some. And I wonder if there’s any small creatures, the squirrels especially lived behind those thick vines.

Botanic

I continue my trekking. With all the trees towering over you, the atmosphere here was much more cooling. Birds chirp and tweet among the trees. Squirrels could be seen hopping from tree to tree. Nature has it saying, as due to Nature Conservancy, and that these areas are considered important for the survival of certain species, ecological studies, solitude, and recreation.

Botanic

I exit the rainforest, and stepped onto Orchid Plaza. Time for a break, I decided, and treat myself for some ice-cream that were available here.

Botanic

Next to it, was the Palm Valley. Another perfect open field where you can relax and enjoy the peace. A picnic for some, to be obvious =)

So do I. Managed to locate a shady spot where I took the time to relax the mind. At the same time, led my attention to my mini laptop where I had bring it along.

Botanic

I spend my time there for an hour. Then moving across the field where I caught sighted of another lake, which was the Symphony Lake.

Botanic

An artificial lake, it features a large stage known as the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage built on an islet in the middle of the water body. The stage is most known as the venue for the Singapore Symphony Orchestra’s monthly SSO in the Park open-concept concerts, hence giving the lake its name.

Down here, more nature lovers was spotted photographing the place. Surprised me too, that some of them even brought along those huge lenses, that were commonly used when photographing soccer matches. Probably wanted to have a bigger picture out of it =D

Around this time, the weather had cooled down. The wind had started to pick up. Not to mention, how dull the weather had turned out to be. Just hope it didn’t rained…

From the map shown, the nearest point was this Evolution Garden. Sounds interesting, and I believe, its another one of those visitor’s attraction.

Its a long walk. But I enjoyed it, as I get to make the sense of the surroundings around me. Truly an achievement for the gardens! =)

Finally, I reached my next point of destination.

Botanic

It was a new attraction, which was a 1.5-hectare area dedicated to tell the evolution story of how plants gave us life, and how long before we humans arrived, where they started to evolve into the myriad complex life forms that we see today. Its a journey through time, at the start where our world was once a fiery planet through ancient times before memory…

Botanic

As much as I’m able to anticipate, this is probably where dinosaurs started to roam the Earth. Some of the rock here appeared to tell by its age. The roots of a billion years old! The prehistoric moment was revealed here to share its tale.

I’m truly fascinated by these trees. Or were they? I suddenly felt like as though I just set foot on an alien world….. =o

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Remarkable. Those “branches” looked like claws waiting to grab you….

I move on. Amazed by the sight here. Does felt like time travelling as I advanced deeper into this evidence of evolution. What’s been seeded the plant life at the beginning of time, still had the ages that followed. This place may seems more of a scientific mode of exploration for some. They would preferred it that way, and even started analyzing the similarities of one rock to the next. Its astounding from the way I see it.

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I came to the end of the evolution cycle. Arrived back in year 2009! =D

I followed a path that were linked to it, that soon directs me to Eco-Garden, where the Eco-Lake was located.

With its irregularly sinuous shores, it brings a soft and natural atmosphere. Fish swim in its clear waters, and waterhen, heron and migrant ducks call this home. It is delightful to see the colourful bee-eaters swooping and turning as they catch insects above the lake surface. Of course, no visit would be complete without a sight of the black swans. These natives of Australia have been associated with the gardens, and the Eco-Lake is a beautiful setting in which to admire them.

Botanic

Seems a lot quieter down here. Not much visitors roamed this part of the garden. The land here was spacious and many of the areas were dotted with flowers. I supposed when nightfalls, this part of the garden would be perfect for romantic couple on a date. Hehe…=) And you could probably catch some stars twinkling in the night sky =)

The last place that I’m going to visit was the Jacob Ballas Childen’s Garden. Obviously, as the name stated, it was meant for the kids =)

It was actually Asia’s first children’s garden. Dedicated to all children of Singapore, it is designed to provide unique discovery and learning experiences in a garden setting. Through play and exploration, the Children’s Garden will cultivate an appreciation for plants, nature and the environment among the young. It meets the demands for nature education in an increasingly sophisticated tropical Garden City. It is created as a unique and interactive fun place where children up to 12 years of age can discover how plants provide their daily needs. It also gives children a first introduction to the life sciences – an important branch of science as Singapore embarks on life sciences research as a new thrust for economic growth.

Of course, I had no intention of going in. I just wanted to get a glimpse of how it look like from the outside and took at least two shots of it.

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That’s for the day, I told myself, and track back to where I first started.

Along the way, I snap more interesting areas within the garden.

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Now this tree really amazed me!

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Also named as the Tembusu. Just take a look at those roots. It coils from the ground, and snake up to the top. This is fascinating! They remind me of ropes, and I wonder if we were able to climb up using this “ropes” =D Indeed, an eye-opener, and nature lovers will definitely start photographing by every corners and every inch of the tree. “This is great! This is definitely cool!” This is what they might say =D

Here’s some of the tallest tree I’ve came across.

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Though I didn’t really completed the entire ground of the garden, I’m still glad that I had taken the opportunity to be there, rather than rot at home! Haha! =D Though my intention was based on locating the so-called “Money Tree” it still worth for me to explore the rest of the garden. Some of the areas, I realized, I never came across when I was with my family back then. Especially the Evolution Garden. Its great to catch up to those. I wouldn’t want to miss those either =)

Of course, its never too late to explore here again. Especially those areas I have yet to set foot upon.

Never knew that nature could be so fulfilling! Other than that, it will be more fun if you had a friend, especially who was engrossed into nature to accompany you.

Captain’s log                               Stardate: 63337.9 (Nov 2nd, 2009)

When was the last time I visited the National Museum of Singapore? Hmm…as far as I can tell…that’s ages ago! Back in my days of secondary school. Its either when I was in Sec 2 or 3..can’t remember the exact level from there. Haha! =D

Anyway, yesterday (Sunday, Nov 1st), I had decided to drop by to the museum. Basically, my intention was to find out about the Singapore Stone. I had recently took part in this alternate reality game, known as “Uncover Singapore” which was developed by the National Library Board. Basically, it is an interactive game that captures the real world and the latest media as a platform, while at the same time, also as a fun and engaging way of learning about the island. There’s puzzles to solve, and even going for treasure hunts to get those facts about Singapore’s culture, heritage and attraction.

And besides, staying at home with nothing to do seems unbearable to me. So why not travel into the past by venturing through the museum =)

One of the missions was to locate the stone. It was title as “Stone of the Republic.” Obviously, once everybody (regardless whether you are expert in history or not) were asked about it, they will all mentioned the Singapore Stone. As history was stated, the stone currently was a fragment of a large sandstone slab which was originally stood at the mouth of the Singapore River. And that was centuries ago, which was believed to be date back at least the 13 century, before the island’s discovery by Sir Stamford Raffles. Amazing, it bore an undeciphered inscriptions which remains undeciphered to this day.

It was also stated, that the slab may be linked to the legendary stone of the 14th century strongman known as Badang (Asia version of Hercules. Haha!), who is said to have thrown a massive stone to the mouth of the Singapore River. Interesting…..

Before I began my destination truth…errr..I mean, search, I had conducted some self-research (really extensive one) just to find out more about the stone, and some of its related topics from the internet. Including about the strongman Badang, just to get some of the important facts drill into my mind. Not to mentioned, the history of the museum itself.

Located at 93 Stamford Road, it was the oldest museum in Singapore which dates back in 1849 as history recorded. Under the redevelopment work category, the museum was been given a make-over in restoration and reinvention, as well as adding new exhibitions and displays. It turns out that the new one will be twice as large as the old one. It was reopened in December 2006 after underwent a three and a half year make-over. Now that’s a lot of interesting gaps to get you, especially those who love history, to drool over with. Hee..=p

I suddenly find myself interested into history, ever since I started playing this reality game. I don’t know why, and when I was in secondary school, I never learned history cause my level at that time, where I was one of the Normal Technical students, doesn’t included history. We do learn social studies, but I wondered was it related as to history studies? Do pick up some historical topics here and there, but wasn’t all that focus into it at that time. Well, its not too late to start learning one, and doing it by self-study will still get you going there. But you don’t really necessarily have to study the whole BIG thing till your head explode, right?

Of course, my intention is not only for the stone. I too, had decided to spend my time there exploring the place and learn more from the rest of those unique exhibitions =)

Anyway, on that day, I set out my destination. Taking the train from Bedok to Dhoby Ghaut. The Museum was a 10-minute walk from the station. I was a little lost at first. But after viewing the map outside the train station, I managed to find it.

Welcome to the house of Singapore’s National Treasures!

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The entry fee was $10, for adult. But surprisingly, it was free on that day. Free for all galleries, because of some special event taking place. Excellent! My ten dollars is save! =D

I was sooooo drool by the lobby that I didn’t even take a shot of it. I can’t really remember how it looks like when I first visited it decades ago. But I did remember how me and my friends just ran in through the halls without even waiting for instructions, and in the end, was called back outside where we get scolded by our teachers for behaving like monkeys. The management was not happy, obviously. Also, I remember one of the staff there, saying there’s a rumour that some would say that the museum is haunted, cause a few witnesses claimed that they happened to saw a ghost of Sir Stamford Raffles roaming through the halls! Of course, till this day, there’s no evidence to proof of such.

After eyeing the dome from the lobby, I found my way heading up to the second floor, of what appears to be the glass passage, cause the ceiling were made out of stained glass panels. What a make-over!

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Check this out! They reminds me of those life-size Terracotta Army of the Qin Dynasty that was found in China! =D

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Next, I began to explore two galleries on this side of the level. One is Fashion and the other one is Photography. From here, I let the pictures do the talking =) Besides, this are some of the interesting pictures I’ve taken, and very historically unique in such a way.

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Check out this old fashion studio camera. Its about time that I managed to saw it as the actual feature! =)

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And what comes next was a series of cameras that were used from generations before the digital was born. I was so engrossed to it that I ended up spending my time in that particular room longer than I thought as I study their features =) Without a doubt, a few of these antiques might no longer be in the market. Perhaps, the Cash Converter still had those on sale! Hah! =D

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Next, I made my way down. Cause earlier I happened to spotted some hall that looks so grant several meters away from the entrance and after the staircase that I took. I was greeted with activity here. The upper surrounding was enclosed with glass. Took me to realize that this must be the concourse of the museum. On my right was a restaurant, while on my left, some children were displaying their sets of art and crafts. Seems like there’s a “Free Children’s Craft!” taking place.

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Behind the parapet wall where the kids area were, there’s an escalator heading up, that adjoins with the steps that leads up to the Atelier. I’m surprised to notice that there’s a path next to the Atelier that faces Fort Canning. Cool! Easy access from here! =)

I’m amazed by this! Models of cities hangs from the ceiling!

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I descend down the steps, and walk across the vast space of the concourse upper level towards the Singapore History Gallery. Its come to my attention that this is where, history takes place, which adopts a story-telling approach. Unveiling different views as you travel through the past. Ancient artifacts, the struggles that early settlers had to overcome, you named it. Not to mention, the Singapore Stone. All preserved inside here for future generations to get in touch of the past of old Singapore.

I walk across a ramp that leads up to the entry of the Gallery. There, a cute female staff handed me in what appears to be a multimedia handheld device, that was specially designed to guide the visitors once they were inside the Gallery. It was known as the “Companion” and each comprise of an LCD display, a pair or earphones and a keypad which enables visitors to enjoy the audio, visual and content which describes the physical collection of artifacts and history.

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Its literally our personal tour guide, and as according to the staff, each exhibition had certain numbers located on the floor. Such as this one:

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This numbers, also referred as zone code were tagged to each, and all you have to do is to keyed in the relevant number that belongs to that particular exhibition onto the Companion, and the voices will explained the history behind it. Let’s say for example, this exhibition features Sir Stamford Raffles, and its tagged number is 14. From the Companion, keyed in 1 and 4, and pressed the “GO” button. And there you go. You’ll be hearing voices soon. Hah! =D

Really fascinating. Its a wonder why I don’t see any tour guides around. Seems like these “tour guides” or should I say, Mr Companion were effective enough as our personal tour guide =)

I followed down a spiral ramp once I passed the entry. Within 50 meters, it leads to a dim-lit room. There, my eyes went wide opened. I never really expected it to be exhibit as the first showcase. But there it is, still preserved. Still intact. The last fragment of it. Found it at last!

The Singapore Stone

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And me, posed with it as been instructed from the game, while holding up a paper with “Uncover.Sg” written on it =)

As you may have notice that the photos were taken without FLASH. It was one of the rules here that visitors have to comply with. Camera (excluding video camera) can be brought in, but without the use of FLASH.

It turns out good anyway 😉

I began to spend a few moments studying the stone. Also listening to part of its history from Mr Companion. Those inscriptions…..so profound, bore an undeciphered look on such a tolerably hard block of sand-stone till to this day. Ultimately, it is upon the inner surface of the stone that the inscription is engraved. The last of this piece was been saved, after its original slab was blown to pieces in 1843. The same question asked. Was it old Javanese or Sanskrit? Even Sir Stamford Raffles himself had once tried to decipher the inscriptions on the original sandstone slab when he learned about it. Many would have thought, it was such a powerful belief. What secrets lies behind those inscriptions? If there’s any, what does it mean? From all those centuries, it was so profound that I sometimes doubted there would be much difference between discovery and revelation to this. This very artifact, the last piece of evidence had arisen in the shadows, for reasons unfathomable but endlessly compelling…..

Guess I’ve said too much. Can’t help myself get attached to it. As exactly been describe and shown in the internet of how it will appeared. Only God knows what those undeciphered inscriptions means….

Leading the reality game, named Agent Damon, will be pleased to know that the Stone of the Republic is safe and secure =)

Ok, its time to move on. There’s a lot more history here to catch up then just the stone itself. We have time travel into the past. Old Singapore under the British rule. Listening to the most important evidence from Mr Companion as we explore exhibition after exhibition. Within these dim-lit environment, it just feel so magically isolated, as you seeked answers to the ultimate questions of existence. If you just concentrate hard enough, you might even stumble into something unexpected from the history itself.

Here’s the first wave of interesting exhibits I’ve taken.

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Then, I stumble into, where lies of the invasion. The Fall of Singapore on February 15, 1942. World War II is here. The stronghold of the Empire of Japan occupied the island after defeating the combined Australian, British, Indian and Malayan garrison. In their desperate struggle to defend the island, the alliance were eventually outnumbered as their fortress, one after another till the last remaining were destroyed. The British surrender, eventually. As such, Singapore was renamed to “Syonan-to” by the Japs which means “Island of the Light of the South” or “Southern Island.”

Then, the Japs introduced the “Sook Ching” which was a massacre of certain Chinese in Singapore. The killing was been decided on a policy of “eliminating” those who were harboured strong anti-Japanese sentiments. Several sites for the killings were chosen, and the most notable ones were Changi Beach, Punggol Beach and Sentosa, formally Pulau Belakang Mati.

But there are others, who survive the Sook Ching. A narrow escape to say the least. Their stories, their own voices were heard from Mr Companion. Hearing from each one of them really drawn me into it. Especially those who were Prisoners Of War (POW). How they were beaten up, tortured, not been given enough food, that left many of them malnutrition. Those hard times were brutal, been treated inhumanly by the Japs. Can’t imagine what it might have felt. Those horrors, those critical moments, seems unbearable to hear. Yet, these people survive to share those painful memories that shall be remembered from generations to generations when Singapore was under the Japanese Occupation.

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Every part of it does catches me in the eye. Cold hard evidence, as I would prefer. The stories behind were still left preserved, untouched. The artifacts, old documents were a staggering piece of discovery within these grasp of timeline.

Now came to the end of it all. As the years extended, Singapore progress. Our Minister Mentor, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who was then Prime Minister at that time had continued from where Sir Stamford Raffles had left, to improve the country’s image. From third world to first world. From kampong life, to skyscrapers. Our common heritage had lived to its success. Singapore had struggle from its own roots after all those terrible years. In a multilingual society like ours, it is only to be expected what the future will lies ahead.

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Check out this cool stuff. Fancy various of displays, don’t you think? Hee…;)

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I had no clue to this one. Was it some kind of a microwave oven? Or some vacuum cleaner? But one thing for sure, it does reminds me of a space helmet! =D

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From there, the path leads to the exit where I had to say goodbye to Mr Companion. I gave the museum one last look before I left.

So far, I managed to grab some of the important facts of Singapore history. Of course, I can still looked up from the internet or historical books. But if you really want to touch and hear the past, its better to visit the museum. Some things in there just couldn’t be missed out =)

Apart from that, I managed to get an upclose observation of the Singapore Stone. The whole day was such a discovery for me, and I’m glad that I had stepped into the museum once again after my recent trip decades ago =)