Pottery Jungle

The road signs to Pottery Thow Kwang say “Dragon Kiln — Pottery Jungle.”  That in itself is reason enough to go to this place.  Based on descriptions from friends, I was expecting a giant pottery studio in the middle of nowhere with hundreds of pots for sale.  At its most basic, I suppose that describes what I found.  It was definitely in the middle of nowhere.  It was definitely a pottery studio: there were wheel throwing classes going on when I arrived, and the first thing I saw when I walked in was the dragon kiln.  A dragon kiln is is more formally known as an jagama, which is a hugely long, sloping, tube-shaped chamber that you can actually walk into.

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The dragon kiln is so big and requires so much heat and manpower that they now only fire it several times a year.  It’s a huge production — they have people stoking it 24 hours a day.  If I want to see it in action, I’ll have to return in December.

I thought I would find hundreds of pots made by students and local craftspeople.  But pieces made locally took up only a few sad shelves.  Instead, I found thousands (maybe millions) of pots made in China.   It’s almost dizzying; there are large pots and small pots, vases and planters and plates and bowls, pots that look handy and pots with no discernible purpose, pots I could fit in my pocket and pots I could stand up in.

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There are wild figurines…

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… including multiple takes on the ever-popular dog-lion:

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It was a little overwhelming, but fun once I figured out what was going on.  The pottery also has a small pond with actual lotus flowers!

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The surprise of this outing was the fact that the pottery warehouses are surrounded by the Jurong Eco Garden.  This is a very odd nature park, which seems to be part walking area, part stormwater management system.  It’s very well signed and paved.  The park includes random sculptures:

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The “nature trail” was unexpectedly lovely.  It included many beautiful tall, sturdy trees:

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I’m a huge fan of the bird’s nest ferns, which were everywhere:

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But the park also had confusing features.  This was the view from the “Summit Lookout”:

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Only in Singapore would a designated lookout give you a view of a construction site.

I also ran across a number of these signs, placed in locations that had no obvious photographic value:

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Stormwater management was a major feature of this park; they had lots of carefully designed swales and ponds and swamp areas.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a park with such a focus on drainage and runoff.

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There were lots of “here’s what you should do if you encounter wildlife” signs at the park, but the sum total of my sightings were one tiny turtle, one green-yellow lizard, and bunch of unidentified birds, butterflies, and fish.

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