Holland Comes to Singapore

It’s time for Tulipmania!  Every year, Singapore hosts a huge tulip festival in the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay.  The theme this year is Vincent van Gogh:

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They had a section where they showed the way that the designers drew some of their flower choices from van Gogh’s color palettes:

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I was excited to see tulips in so many different varieties:

There were also some educational signs sprouting here and there among the flowers, which I appreciated:

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Singapore rarely does things on a small scale.  There were places where the tulips stretched out as if they were in fields:

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They had hyacinths on display, too, which smell yummy.

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And someone sprinkled in an assortment of what I think of as spring flowers, from geraniums and camellias to pansies and pinks.

I spent far longer than I’d expected walking around, taking in the scene, and running down the battery in my camera (I sympathized with the woman who said, at one point, “I think I’m photographed out”).

The Flower Dome quickly grew very, very crowded — but it’s such a cavernous space that you barely notice until you find that four people are all jockeying for the same photo op at once.

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It’s incredible to me that they have tulips growing in the Flower Dome, because this conservatory is largely devoted to plants from much drier, hotter climes than those that tulips usually appreciate (for example, they have an olive grove and one huge area devoted to baobabs).  After I was done with the tulips, I went up and looked at succulents …

… and then I looked at succulent flowers …

… and then I looked at cacti …

… and then I looked at cacti flowers…

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… and I ended by wondering who in their right mind would cover plants with gravel:

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For lunch I went to Little India, where I ate delicious vegetable biryani (think a pile of spicy fried rice with lots of onions and a few potatoes, carrots, and peas) at Bismillah Biryani.  I finished with a homemade kulfi pop (think a dense, cardamom-scented ice cream with walnuts and pistachios) for dessert — delicious.

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While I was walking around, I stumbled for the first time on the amazing Masjid Abdul Gaffoor mosque.  It dates back to 1907.

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I still haven’t figured out how to visit a mosque as a woman.  Do women have a separate entrance? Do I need to wash my feet first? My hands?  Once inside, what are my restrictions?  I’m pretty sure that I can go in some rooms and not in others, but I don’t know how clearly that might be indicated. Without those answers immediately before me yesterday — and without any proper shoulder covering — I decided just to stay outside and admire the view.

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