We seem to have found a Chinese emphasis today. Not hard to do in this predominantly Chinese city. We started off at the Chinese Garden, had a late lunch at a Chinese food court and finished off with a tour of the Chinatown district. No, we are not going to round off the evening with a Chinese movie; that would be altogether too much boxing on Boxing Day.
Chinese Garden is just one of the many gardens in Singapore, and one that we hadn’t had a chance to see before. It was not hard to get to on the new Circle Line, and we went the long way around through the north of the city, as the subway runs almost entirely outdoors through that end of the loop. A short walk brought us to the entrance, and despite it being both Sunday and a holiday, it was not crowded. We walked past, but not up the many pagodas, and past the garden of heroes, featuring statutes of Confucius, Melan and Zheng He, who commanded the largest fleet ever put to sea, which was utterly destroyed at his death, putting an end to China’s brief flirtation with world trade, mere decades before the Portuguese rounded the Cape of Good Hope.
Our favourite corner was the Bonsai Garden, a delightful arrangement of the small ornamental trees that was a delight to the senses, both visual and aural. Asians have a highly defined sense of both the beautiful and the peaceful and their land- and soundscapes are refreshing to the spirit. We counted ourselves fortunate to be caught in a brief rainshower so that we were forced to linger and be still in the shelter of their graceful colonnades while we soaked in the serenity of those gardens.
We had started late, so it was three by the time we left and much past lunch. But foregoing the local stalls, we caught the MRT to Chinatown and a foodstall that we knew of for some decent street food. We were not disappointed with the massive portions of yummy Asian dishes for less than three bucks each. Thus fortified we began a long overdue exploration of the area. Chinatown in a Chinese town may seem like overkill, but the name simply designates the original portion of this Chinese population in this once British colony. The crooked little houses on the crooked little streets haven’t changed much since the days of Joseph Conrad and Sir Stamford Raffles, but they have become fashionable and trendy, and are now the clubs and pubs of this upscale part of town.
The area, like everything Singaporean, was clean and well signposted, with parks, temples and public spaces all thoughtfully mixed with local shops. Having had a good look around and marking out a couple of spots for a later, more extended visit, we caught the local MRT back to our neck of the woods to rest our weary feet – okay my weary feet – and relax in front of the telly for the evening.