After nearly five months of travelling in Asia, Singapore offered the first substantial change in cuisine: Bread! More specifically some variations on naan with which we were not familiar: paratha (fluffy roti), chapati (similar to wheat tortilla), and dosa (crispy crepe crossed with injeera). We were up to the food challenge. Dahl and curries were offered as side dishes and we dove in head first!
Street food in Singapore are called hawker stalls. There were no push carts. The closest analogy was food courts. They were all over in clusters. There were stand alone restaurants, but these hawker stalls were small establishments, many times several mini-restaurants sharing one stall space. We stayed just outside of Little India in Singapore and within walking distance, we found over 8 of these food courts. Although nearly all proclaimed to be purely vegetarian we had to ask what that meant. For some restaurants that meant halal and no meat (but eggs and dairy were ok), while other restaurants considered purely vegetarian to mean no garlic or onions.
We ate at Satay By The Bay food court twice. While I enjoyed some paratha, Sharleen and Alyssa chomped on some tasty sting ray and the girls had noodles and satay.
The Botanical Gardens in Singapore were an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Large and sprawling, we didn’t know exactly what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised. Manicured lawns and small pond with collections of diverse flora and fauna were all around. There were different sections.
After spending some time in the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden, we went to the center for ethnobotany studies on the edge of the Ethnobotany Garden. Here we explored the amazing exhibits showing the linkages between humans and the plant kingdom. Namely, the uses of plants for food, medicine, and symbolic activities. Kylie went into learning overdrive. She wanted pictures of facts, she did the kids junior botanist activity, and became so excited about learning about all the medicines and uses of plants.
From here we headed towards the rainforest section of the park, but were side tracked by “Symphony in the Park.” We sat and watched a symphony perform a variety of pieces, concluding with a Christmas medleys. It was a great way to spend Sunday afternoon.
The park was erected to study tropical agriculture and rubber production, but within its confines remains less than 1.5 square kilometers of pristine rainforest. Together with neighboring Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, this is all that remains of Singapore’s rainforests. We took a walk through as the sun set of the last vestiges of a forest that once covered the entire peninsula.
We only saw a small part of the gardens. There were floral sections, bamboo groves, orchid groves, palms, and a ginger garden. It was well maintained and we all walked away feeling like we had learned a lot!