An afternoon out


Most weekends in Singapore, I don’t really do much, apart from sleep, to recover from the week. That’s not very satisfying, so today I forced myself to get off the sofa and go outside.

We headed up towards Boat Quay, but on the way I realized what I wanted wasn’t to walk from one urban area of Singapore to an adjacent urban area. I wanted some greenery in my life again. I wanted to go to a park and see something natural.

Fortunately, from Chinatown it’s only 35 minutes by train to the Botanic Gardens MRT station, a relatively painless journey even with a baby. This afternoon, with the sky half a threatening dark grey, and half clear blue, there weren’t many people around, so the train out there was fairly empty.

When we got to the Botanic Gardens, the first thing we did was walk down to the parade of shops nearby and eat ice cream. Which suggests I wasn’t as obsessed with seeing greenery as I’d thought. Or I really, really like ice cream. (The ice cream shop we went to, Island Creamery, does have wonderful flavours like Milo with marshmallows, and burnt caramel.)

Felicity slept for a while, but was waking by the time we finished our ice creams, so we took her to the Gardens. Behind us, the sky continued to darken.

There’s a large pond near the Bukit Timah entrance to the Gardens. At first, it just seems to be full of mud, dusted with a few pigeons and the occasional duck. If you stand around for a while you start to see turtles, carp, a thriving ecosystem of waterborne life.

But it looked like rain, so we pressed on.

We took Felicity through the Foliage Garden (it does what its name suggests) and then the rain began. First, the odd drop here or there, so you almost believed it hadn’t started. Then there were two loud crashes of thunder and a flash of lightning … and then nothing much. I almost thought it was the metereological equivalent of performance anxiety when we got to the restaurant in the Gardens and suddenly the downpour began, raining so hard the water would bounce off the ground and wet my back, even though I was well under the roof of the restaurant.

There are two restaurants, close to one another. We went to Casa Verde, which has friendly staff and too many customers all at once (more so today as everyone sought refuge from the rain, but pretty much always so) and not Jardin, which is a posh restaurant (poshturant?) that you never see anyone go to, perhaps because it’s too expensive. Perhaps the staff there sit sad and lonely, wishing one day for clientele, furious that Casa Verde has got everyone. Or maybe they’re all zombies. Or maybe it’s just an expensive French poshturant.

We had our very late lunch at 5pm, and Felicity got to sit in a high chair again. This is the first time I’ve seen her outside in a thunderstorm, and it didn’t appear to faze her one iota. Then again, she’s growing up in Chinatown, a place where there’s often somebody practicing crashing cymbals until 11 pm, or there’s a high impact karaoke night on Saturday evenings, or there’s just somebody yelling at the top of their voice every morning, so I think she’s probably inured to loud noises by now. Certainly she seemed very happy, a blissful state of affairs that lasted all the way home.

Until we tried to put her to bed.

I’ve learned from this to always take an umbrella with me everywhere, and that if I cultivate a child’s wonder at the world around me, I won’t be perturbed by thunderstorms. But on the other hand, neither umbrellas nor babies pay for ice creams. It’s difficult.


2 responses to “An afternoon out”

  1. Does high impact karaoke involve a cross with martial arts? Or renditions of Kung Fu Fighting on a loop.

    Nice picture. She’ll be eating the chips in a few months. “Very nutritious” as someone in a pub in Bristol told me approvingly as I fed my baby chips.

    • Well, she grabbed hold of my salad this lunchtime and started throwing bits of lettuce on the floor. I don’t think that bodes well for getting her to eat her greens later on.

      High impact karaoke is just … more than I could possibly try to explain. A final attempt to prove that quantity beats out quality

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