Thursday 11th December
Our hotel has no breakfast so we have a cuppa before we head out for breakfast at Subway. After this we decide it is a bit late to utilise a day pass on the hop on/hop off bus – we would have to split it over the afternoon and tomorrow morning, so we take the metro to the Botanical Gardens. These were established in 1859 and now cover 74 hectares. Originally established to cultivate farm crops, there has also been room for other trees and bushes – not to mention orchids. We wander down the Evolution Walk, set up to show how plants have changed over the years along with the movement of the continents. As it starts raining we stop for lunch and try something Natasha recommended last night: Singapore Laksa, a coconut soup with prawns and vegetables.
Continuing along the trail we reach the Orchid Garden, which contains more than 60,000 orchids, which the gardeners are constantly moving to maintain a fresh look. In one area 12 personnel are working (15 hour long days) to set up a ”A Winter Wonderland” - placing white /cream coloured orchids around arches and tree stumps and white reindeers. It looks fantastic – all this work for something that will last about two weeks – as long as it doesn't rain too much! They began to cultivate / breed orchids in 1923 and we see some of the orchids that have been named after famous people, from British and Dutch royalty to Laura Bush to Bindi Irwin, Steve's daughter. The Cold Room features orchids from the cooler regions. Back to the main Gardens and the trail continues past huge palm trees and the forrest walk through dense tropical trees. The Gardens are open until midnight, but we are on our way out when we get caught in the rain. The bouganvilla tree doesn't give too much shelter so we don our rain coats and quickly make our way to the metro. By the time we are back at the hotel our pants are dry again.