Gardens, Gods, and Goods

Prescott, Quinn and I started our morning with a short walk along the rail trail to Springleaf Prata (which we just call “Rail Mall Prata”) for a breakfast of pratas, masala dosa, mango lassis, and tea and coffee tarik.  Then Quinn and I left Prescott at home and struck out for Gardens by the Bay.

Chinese New Year is finally here, and the decorations remain out in full force.

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There are roosters all over the place, of course, from the awful to the elegant:

We started out in the Flower Dome, one of the two giant conservatories at Gardens by the Bay.  They have a special display of dahlias, a flower that really does not want to be growing in Singapore.  I was excited to see them because I used to grow them in my garden in Baltimore.

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Quinn and I had a great time wandering around and looking at the flowers.

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Our next stop was the Cloud Dome, which does an impressive job in six stories of simulating a mountain rainforest.  It’s really cold and quite spectacular.  The entire “mountain” is covered by a living wall:

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And they have different displays of plants on the different levels.  The pool at the top is striking:

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Walking along the river that borders Gardens by the Bay (all of which has been built on reclaimed land) affords a great view of the edge of the downtown skyline:

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And as we left to walk toward the Marina Bay Sands area, we looked back at the impending thunderstorm:

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We continued heading toward shelter.  The raised walkway that we took gave a us a view of the Marina Bay Sands I’ve never seen before:

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Once inside the Marina Bay Sands complex, we headed downstairs in search of lunch.  I had been warned that Singapore would be empty and that it would be difficult to find places to eat on Chinese New Year, because everything shuts down while people are home celebrating with their families.  But while this may be true for hawker stalls, the mall at Marina Bay was more crowded than I’ve ever seen it.

After a long wait, we had lunch at Din Tai Fung, a restaurant that makes out-of-this-world dim sum.  You can watch the incredibly fast and efficient dumpling makers at work at the front of the restaurant:

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If you’re ever lucky enough to find yourself at a Din Tai Fung outlet, be sure to try the steamed veggie dumplings and the xiao long bao (steamed pork and broth dumplings).  So yummy!

Quinn and I then took the MRT to Little India, where we wandered through the very busy streets taking in the sights and smells.  We stopped at the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, one of the oldest Hindu temples in Singapore, where we received a long, barely audible explanation of Hinduism from an elderly Indian man. Some of what he was saying sounded interesting — I did learn a few things about Hindu temples — but unfortunately, it was largely lost in the surrounding street noise and murmurs of temple-goers and ringing of bells.  Still, I never fail to be fascinated by the statuary.

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We met up with Everett at the Mustafa Center, a windy, confusing, crazy, delightful store that takes up two full city blocks.  To give you some sense of what one might buy there, between the three of us, we purchased a plug adapter, a iPhone case, a tennis racket, dental floss, and two mangoes.

Prescott met up with us after our shopping trip, and the four of us went down to Mustard to try Bengali food.  It bears only a passing resemblance to what westerners think of as Indian food, and it’s delicious.  The biggest winners were the prawn curry (chingri malai) and the lentil cakes in curry (dhokar dalna).

As for the signage of the day, we appreciated this:

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