Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Les Jardins de Singapour (The Gardens of Singapore)

It is said that in French, everything sounds pretty, and hence the title. Singapore has all the essential qualities of the language itself. If you’re a person who likes flora, this island is a rare mix of equatorial beauty with modern infrastructure.

Singapore is essentially an equatorial rainforest. Parts of it have been commercialized over the colonial and later the development phase. However, till date, about a third of the republic is still considered to be covered by forests. That’s staggeringly high for such a densely populous land. This hasn’t come easy for Singapore. The vision of a Garden City started out way back in 1963 under the leadership of hon. Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, under the Tree Planting Campaign.

Citizen and administrative efforts, led to the planned and picturesque city that we witness today. Singapore boasts of wonderfully landscaped gardens all across the island. The most note worthy, and a personal favorite is the Singapore Botanic Gardens. In fact, I took a few snippets of the introductory video for LifeOnCampus at the botanic gardens itself.

Established in 1859, the garden celebrates its 150th birthday this year. An ideal place for sightseeing, picnics and relaxation, the gardens are conveniently located near Orchard, the heart of the city. The garden offers vast pastures of landscaped finesse and is home to an orchid garden, ginger garden, many famous sculptures and even a swan lake. You can find out more about it by clicking HERE.

Another personal recommendation is the East Coast Park (ECP). The park stretches lengthwise over at least 4km if I recall well. As the name suggests, the park stretches along the beautiful east coast of the island offering views of harboring ships in the horizon.

This is a favorite getaway for families, thanks to the wide range of activities that ECP offers. You can hire bicycles or roller skates at very affordable hourly rates or if you’re the more adventurous type, don’t miss the wakeboarding arena (Splash 360) located in Zone E of the park. ECP also provides barbeque pits at very affordable prices (about 15 dollars for 20 hours!). Just get your food and fuel, and you can have your own beach party. Besides you can also hire chalets for the entire weekend. ECP is also home to awesome seafood restaurants and bars that play live music. The bowling alley, too, is a popular feature at the park.

These are not the only green getaways in Singapore. You can find an entire list of parks, activities, events and concerts at the National Parks homepage.
You can find a lot of information about the Garden City on the portal.

So pack them picnic bags and head out to a park near you, and yea, don’t forget the Frisbee J

(All pictures courtesy NParks portal, URL: http://www.nparks.gov.sg)