October 21, 2015

Singapore Journal : Flora and Fauna Tour

The final day of our trip in Singapore was dedicated for exploring the the flora and fauna parks. The first stop for the day was the National Orchid Garden which is a part of the much larger Botanical Gardens. By now we had become pros in traversing the streets of Singapore using the MRT system. We first took a train to the Botanic Garden station and from there it was a fairly long walk to the National Orchid garden.

The Botanical garden was huge, but with it being devoid of any flowers, it can be a bit dull looking place. The National Orchid Garden is in complete contrast with its parent and according to Trip Advisor reviews this is the best place to visit in the whole of Singapore. Even the entry fee of $5 is tourist friendly. One can easily spend an hour or two exploring the various types of orchids that this garden has managed to produce. On this particular day it was drizzling and making the walk through the gardens all the more romantic.

Apart from the various orchids which come in all the shapes, texture and color there was a section wherein certain subspecies of the orchids have been cultured and named after famous celebrities around the world. The only Indian connection we could find was the one named after Usha Narayanan, wife of the former Indian president K R Narayanan. Further there were certain sections of the park which were simulating unique ecosytems found in various parts of the world, such as the mountainous regions of the South American continent wherein we can find the carnivorous plants which feed on unsuspecting insects which get caught in their tubular structured flowers.

After exploring this unique garden we decided to head towards Singapore zoo, considered one of the best zoos in the world and it actually lived upto that reputation. In the vicinity of the traditional zoo there are other animal exhibitions with different themes such as the Night Safari, River Safari and the Jurong Bird Park. We initially took a train from the Botanic Gardens to Ang Mo Kio from there we caught a bus to the Singapore zoo (details). These attractions are infact the farthest from the downtown areas and one has to consider the significant travel durations to reach these places. We reached this place around noon time. We had decided to visit the main zoo and Night safari post sundown.

The zoo was unique in comparison to those I had visited so far. It didnt feel like the animals where put up in cages and on the contrary it felt like they were free to roam around. And in fact they did, herbivorous animals were allowed to roam around the park. So one wouldn't be surprised if we came across orang-utans, lemurs, kangaroos etc roaming around freely without any restriction. The other showcase animals were the giant polar bear lazing through its climate controlled pool, a white tiger couple, leopard, cheetahs and so on. We attended shows performed by elephants and a seal wherein the animals  are "trained" to perform in front of a cheering audience. But I cant complain because no matter what , we were still in a zoo. The zoo closes at sun down and from there we moved to the Night Safari area which opens at 7.30pm.

There was a huge crowd waiting for the Night safari area to open up and it was not even a weekend !!!!. We were welcomed into the safari by a couple of tribal fire dancers which was breathtaking. The Night safari can be divided into 2 themes. First one is where they take you around in an electric vehicle around the park. The second one is the foot trails which takes a completely different route than the one taken by the vehicle. We enjoyed both of these sections. The basic premise of this Night safari is to view nocturnal animal behaviour, wherein they are the most active , unlike during the daytime when they just laze around to avoid the heat. Each animal area is illuminated by minimal light , mimicking the light emitted by a full moon, hence one can expect close to near darkness when moving from one area to another. The initial tram ride lasted for an hour, followed by the creatures of the night show where they give educational information on the creatures of the park such as raccoons, hyenas, pythons etc.

Followed by which we took the foot trail exploring the section of the lions, tigers, hyenas, leopards, wolves, flying squirrels, owls and so on. But the only complaint is that sometimes the lighting will be too dull to view the animals in case they decide to hide away in the bushes. Anyway by the time we were done with the foot trails we were dead tired and it was close to 10 pm and we were able to get a direct bus from here to our hotel in Little India operated by a private entity and costing us 5$ and saving close to an hour over using public transport back to the hotel.

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