From Tales to Legends: Discover Singapore Stories at Gardens by the Bay

Flower Dome Display

In honour of our nation’s Jubilee, Gardens by the Bay has unveiled a new floral tribute with the theme of “Singapore Stories” from now till end September.

I thought it was particularly clever to use postage stamp frames to showcase each of the ten local folk stories that make up this theme. Designed by award-winning Singaporean landscape architect, Damian Tang, and featuring more than 8,000 orchid varieties, strolling through the displays make for a meaningful history lesson.

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It was lovely to see so many orchids, and my favourite of the lot are these striking white ones with the purple and yellow dashes of colour in the display of Sang Nila Utama sighting “Singa” below.

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Beyond the folklore, I thought that the displays of old Singapore, ranging from defunct occupations of coolies, Samsui women, nightsoil carriers, and the movie cart man were really meaningful. It gave the older folks a chance to reminiscence, and the little kids an invaluable chance to learn about the Singapore of yesteryear. At the same time, these nostalgic scenes constructed in the paper tole style, also pay tribute to the pioneers who helped to build Singapore.

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Our very friendly, accommodating and patient host recounted the myths at each special display. Most of the stories, we realised, were either gory, tragic, or both. I suppose that’s what makes it a yarn that sticks in people’s memories for generations……

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We had a delightful chat with the security guard near the kacang putih installation too. Just for display, but a wheelbarrow of memories indeed.

IMG_0303It was certainly a deliberate decision to display these beautiful white and red flowers together – and how lovely our national colours do look here.

And below, at the centrepiece display within the Dome, our little patriot looks like she’s taking the pledge (actually she wanted to hold her flag sticker in place).

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The Gardens always produce extremely informative pamphlets to accompany every exhibition, and this time, apart from guiding people through the stories, it has a section on “Understanding Orchids” which explains the parts of an orchid (petal, sepal, lip and column). Did you know that orchids rotate 180 degrees as they mature? The process is known as “resupination” (supine means to lie flat), and begins several days before the buds open.

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It is also from the brochure that I learnt that these gorgeous flowers at the Kusu Island display are the Phalaenopsis Ox Golden Star, which are light yellow flowers with a contrasting red lip. Apparently they were chosen for this display as a reminder that there will always be sunshine after a dark storm.

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There were very helpful plaques at every station succinctly explaining each folktale. But four year old B can’t quite read, so our very sweet host answered her queries of “What is the story here?”, repeated at every station.

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Garden Rhapsody – Light and Sound show

Soon it was time to head for the SG50 edition of “Garden Rhapsody”, the nightly light and sound show at the Supertree Grove. With music by Bang Wenfu, and recorded vocals by Singaporean artistes like Rani Singam and Benjamin Kheng, the laser imagery and choreography of lights around the trees made for a wonderful singalong session to familiar favourites such as “We are Singapore”, “Home”, “Count on me Singapore” and the like. It certainly put us into the mood for the final week in the lead-up to National Day!

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IMG_0338Red and white lights also featured prominently – and the Singaporeans had a great time singing along. This special SG50 edition of the light show with laser projection will only occur from 6-10 August, so pop down then if you would like to see it. The free shows occur at 7:45pm, 8:30pm. 9:15pm and at 10pm.

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Personally, I love orchids because they are so hardy, and yet have such a distinct look. There are a myriad of varieties, yet it is not difficult to immediately recognise them as part of the same family. Much like Singaporeans, no? : )

Satay by the Bay

Hungry after all that feasting of the eyes? Treat yourself to a yummy meal at Satay by the Bay, a mass – in a garden setting by the waterfront, 19 stalls serve local hawker fare, alongside 6 Satay Carts. About a third of the stalls serve halal/no pork and lard food to cater to Singapore’s multi-religious community too.

We sampled the cereal prawns, nasi briyani, masala chicken, various satay, sambal stingray, and BBQ chicken wings, amongst other local delights. The “Geylang Lor 29 Fried Hokkien Mee” and Coin Prata from “Stall 20” are worthy of special mention. Pictured below is the “Kung Pow Love Bucket” from “Wholly Crab” which I heard is a stall set up by Felicia Chin.  Spicy and very delicious.

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The price range of the dishes on offer vary from $8 to $20 per person, and there is plenty of space since the sheltered dining area can seat more than 650 people. We had a great time, having our dinner with the sounds of rushing water in the background, from the landscaped mini-river right next to our table.

Our hosts thoughtfully provided some old school games for the kids to entertain themselves.  And they had such fun!

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Thanks Gardens by the Bay! It was a really fun family night out for all three generations of our family.

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There is no better time to head down to the Gardens by the Bay, especially with all its ongoing promotions in honour of our nation’s birthday.

For a start, senior citizens (aged 60 and above) who are Singaporeans or Permanent Residents enjoy free admission anyday, and anytime from now till the end of August 2015 to both the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. Very thoughtfully, one accompanying caregiver per senior citizen can also enter at 50% off.

New and existing members who sign up or renew a one-year Friends of the Gardens membership between 7-10 August will also enjoy 50% off the usual membership fees. $34 for a year long adult membership (ages 13-59) is a steal. This is valid both for walk-in and online applications.

 

Gardens by the Bay
Opening hours of Flower Dome and Cloud Forest:
9:00 AM – 9:00 PM, Daily
Last ticket sale at 8:00 PM
Last admission at 8:30 PM

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