It may seem bizarre to travel halfway across an island just to see a tree, but it makes perfect sense when the tree in question is a rainbow eucalyptus (also known as a Mindanao gum, also known as eucalyptus deglupta).
Native to Papua New Guinea, the rainbow eucalyptus has orange, maroon, and gray outer bark that looks like it leapt straight off of a painter’s palette:
But peel that ever-changing top bark away, and bright green strips of new wood appear underneath:
As far as I can tell, there is exactly one exemplar of a rainbow gum in all of Singapore — and this is it.
This lonely tree stands somewhat randomly in Katong Park, a neighborhood park near Singapore’s southern shore.
Katong Park sits atop the old fortifications of Fort Tanjong Katong, a fort built by the British in 1879 and abandoned in 1901. An archaeological dig in 2004 uncovered the southeast bastion, which is now becoming overgrown all over again:
Other than that, the only evidence of the park’s history may be found in these strangely whimsical guards — one British and one Sikh — near the park’s entrance:
Katong Park also offers a dog run, a playground …
… and several other beautiful trees:
A visit to Katong Park doesn’t take long, so we walked five minutes south to the much larger, longer East Coast Park.
This park offers access to stretches of beach found in few other places in Singapore.
You won’t find many people swimming here — the container ships aren’t far off shore, and this particular stretch of shoreline was lined with boats and fisherman just finishing up for the day (I nicknamed it “fish guts beach” for the scales and other fish parts littering the sand) — but it’s a great place to walk and enjoy being by the water.