Orchids!

We went to the National Orchid Garden this morning, which may be one of the most beautiful gardens I’ve ever seen.  Most orchid displays I’ve seen in the States have been indoors, but here you can put orchids pretty much anywhere outside.  They’ve planted the orchids in stunning displays among other plants, along walls, and in trees.  It’s more than worth the crazy-cheap $5 entrance fee.

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They had more varieties of orchid than I can possibly count…

…in all kinds of stunning displays (these are some of the more precious orchids, which they keep in a screened “mist house” rather than having in the full outdoors):

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They even have orchid archways:

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The Orchid Garden includes Burkhill Hall, the old home of the gardens’ superintendents, which is supposedly one of the last Anglo-Malayan style plantation houses left in the world:

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The garden is filled with artificial waterfalls:

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And here is Miss Joaquim, the National Orchid of Singapore (who knew such a thing existed?):

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Prescott had fun while we were there playing with the edit functions on his phone camera:

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The garden does have flowers that aren’t orchids, including this black flower that I’ve never seen before:

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And just outside, in the Botanic Gardens, I found this rooster flower (ok, it’s really a kind of ginger, but I thought it looked particularly silly):

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It was a good morning for finding silly things, from vending machines that sell a beverage called “Sweat”…

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…to this funny moss-covered statue…

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to signs for “No Feet!”

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It was also good day for unexpected signage:

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The “hoarded areas” remain a mystery to us, though they’re clearly related to a construction site in some way.  We also found out that Singapore engages in serious dog discrimination:

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We spent a long time trying to figure out how to get past construction and out of the Botanic Gardens.  On our walk, we found this monitor lizard splayed out in the sun:

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The next part of our day’s adventure took us just a kilometer away to Dempsey Hill, the site of British military barracks for over a decade.  The barracks have now been made over into shops:

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Many of the old barracks also now house fancy restaurants with open-air seating (if you look really closely, you can see Prescott over toward the right):

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We ate at a restaurant called Chopsuey, where I had some of the best tofu I’ve ever eaten.  It was a lovely spot, the only place I’ve ever been where I’ve sat and thought, “this place is truly civilized,” and then spotted a monkey crawling along a tree branch and up over the restaurant’s awning.  The menu had yummy things all over, and the young coconut panna cotta deserves a special shout-out.

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This is probably my new favorite restaurant in Singapore (though I’m not sure we’ll be spending much time there; in addition to being a bit of a hike from our apartment, it’s also one of the most expensive places we’ve been here).

We then wandered around the antique shops and furniture shops and restaurants of Dempsey Hill, pausing to puzzle over this sign:

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We soon realized that there were several large cages of parakeets and cockatoos nearby.  When Prescott said “hello” to the cockatoos, one of them said “hi” back — and then it said “bye-bye” as we turned to leave!

We also stumbled on the Dempsey Hill fish ponds, one of which holds koi, and the other of which holds two arapaimas, one of the largest freshwater fish in the world.  They don’t photograph well, sadly, but they’re impressive.  I’m pretty sure they’re larger than most fifth graders.  The pond also holds two pignose turtles (which also don’t photograph very well, but you get the point):

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