Category Archives: Singapore

Weekly wisdom – live well

It’s too easy to wait until we get really unwell to do something about how well we live:

Eat and exercise like you’re a diabetic heart patient with a stroke – so you never become one.    

                                                            Author unknown

A great reminder – um, if only I could remember where I read it (apologies to the author).

Girl on bike (bronze)

A bronze sculpture in Singapore’s Botanical Gardens

Wildlife adventures in Singapore

Food may be a national pastime in Singapore, but you can’t eat all day. Sometimes you have to lie down.

…or visit some of the fascinating places in and around the city.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Singapore Botanic Gardens

First stop, the 150-year old Singapore Botanic Gardens. These are simply amazing – and a tribute to the passion and hard work of an army of horticulturalists and gardeners.

Open from five in the morning until midnight, the Gardens are clearly a favourite for locals and tourists alike. And with Singapore’s rules and regulations, they’re a safe place to be (see Getting into the Singapore swing).

Spread over 63 hectares, it’s a great place for a run (I wasn’t about to test that theory…) and huge enough to find a peaceful corner to hang out in or do a few tai chi moves.

And even if you’re not into plant-gazing, it’s impossible not to be blown away by the stunning tropical orchids, bromeliads, ferns and other horticultural wonders.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

So if you’re ever in Singapore, make this number one on your list. But go in good walking shoes and light clothing, otherwise you’ll be like so many other tourists we saw melting in their heels and woollies (the cranked-up air conditioning in those hotels can be deceiving).

Sticking with the gardens theme, the recently-opened Gardens by the Bay is another incredible display of Singapore’s vision and determination.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Gardens by the Bay from the viewing deck of Marina Bay Sands resort

Unlike the botanic gardens built around original stands of vegetation, these gardens were created from the ground up… and up.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Supertrees…a mere 25-50 metres tall

The grove of ‘supertrees’ look extra-terrestrial and, when the vines, ferns, elkhorns and staghorns cover those enormous frames, it will be beyond surreal.

Then there’s the Flower Dome, Cloud Garden, Dragonfly Lake (I do love those dragonflies, said the dragonfly), and more. Just incredible…

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Dragonfly dreaming…

But enough about plants, let’s talk about Singapore’s nightlife. Wildlife, not wild-life.

Dusk is my favourite time of the day… so dusk at the zoo? Who could resist.

Night Safari Singapore is the world’s first nocturnal zoo. It’s an open-plan zoo in a rainforest setting, and the animals get heaps of room to move in environments that emulate their natural habitat.

You’re taken on a guided tram ride through eight different geographical regions and there are also walking trails where you can get (relatively) up-close and personal with the animals.

Being eyeballed by a hyena almost my size, across a ditch I’m sure it was contemplating leaping, set the nerves in my neck fizzing.

There are tigers and lions and leopards all up and about – but no, I had to have some weird connection to a hyena. Great.

With no flash allowed and my night photography on the dodgy side, the only pic we came away with was a cheesy shot in the tram before we set off. And that’s staying in the dark, where it belongs.

Then the sun came up and the humidity maxed-out again…

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Little India bling…

In Little India I fell face-first into vegetarian culinary delights (and got enveloped in bling). At the ArtScience Museum, we absorbed the photography and Andy Warhol exhibitions. We even took the lift up 50-something floors to Marina Bay Sands’ viewing platform.

So at the end of four days in Singapore, I had to come back home for a rest. Which, it turned out, was wishful thinking. But that’s another story…

Getting into the Singapore swing…

Copyright: Louise Ralph

We’ve been hanging out in Singapore for the past few days. EB finds the humidity energizing. Moi? I’m suffering from serious France-lag.

Even my mobile kept French time for two days. Perhaps that’s why they call it a smart phone.

As always, we hit the streets on day one – stepping out into 33-degree heat, complete with 90 percent humidity. Joy.

One local just laughs at us and shakes his head. “Nobody walk in Singapore. Everyone take bus or taxi,” he says.

I wish. I already feel like I’ve run a marathon. Unfortunately, I look like it too. Wringing wet and half dead.

Which makes it hard to blend in along Orchard Road, Singapore’s posh shop-til-you-drop strip. The only person about to drop is me – and I haven’t even started shopping.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Flood levels in Singapore get that high?
No, it’s just Marina Bay Sands, a humble casino resort…

But what do the locals think of their city? “Singapore is fine city,” one lady says.

This isn’t a quirk of language. She’s not the first – or the last – to tell us about how highly regulated life is in Singapore.

There are fines for littering, fines for not emptying the overflow from pot-plant trays, fines and loss of taxi-licenses for drivers ripping people off, fines and jail terms for handbag snatching and other petty crime, a complicated car-ownership permit system, and more. You can even get the cane here, and not just at school.

The pot-plant thing? That’s about making sure mosquitoes can’t breed. It’s part of a vigilant program to stop dengue fever (check out the NEA ad).

All these strict laws may be annoying to live with, but they’re designed to create a litter and crime-free tropical city that’s healthy and safe for tourists and residents, with maximum green spaces and minimum pollution – especially car emissions.

And it works. It’s the safest, cleanest, most relaxing Asian city we’ve been in so far.

It’s also one the most environmentally-responsible and innovative cities in the world.

For us, it’s been a pleasant surprise and we’ve had a great time exploring the city.

Not always on foot. EB relented and we did eventually take taxis and buses – sometimes.

Coming soon! Some of our favourite places in Singapore. Until then, here’s a trip down memory lane – by bike.

This reminds me of how I felt on the last downhill run into Tournus. Nice.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Memories of cycling in Burgundy – a bronze in Singapore’s Botanical Gardens