The route: Braving Singapore’s take-no-prisoners traffic to famous Botanical Gardens and back.
The chat: The final hurrah for pedal power in SE Asia, as we pedalled past impossibly shiny skyscrapers, imposing embassies and if-you-have-to-ask-you-can’t-afford-it designer shops to the venerable botanical gardens.
This park – sizeable, free to enter (bar $5 for the optional orchid garden), and tranquil – is a great escape from the excesses of urban Singapore. Established over 150 years ago, the park has hundreds of venerable perennial giants lording it over the manicured flower gardens, orchids and fountains. As you’d expect, the whole place is immaculate, but we were pleasantly surprised to spot squirrels and snakes respectively scampering and slithering in the trees, and kingfishers flitting over the lake, which itself is inhabited by metre-long monitor lizards and turtles. All in all, well worth the trip.
Back at the Tree In Lodge, S-K, hostel owner par excellence, took us first to pick up bike boxes for the tandem, then onto a hardware shop for bubble wrap and tape, and then to try delicious Singaporean hawker foods – chicken and rice, and soy bean dessert. Tastier and more interesting than they sound! Thanks S-K, you’re a legend.
After a few hours sweating it out with allen keys, rubber gloves and sharp knives (the reality was more prosaic than it sounds) the tandem was dismantled and by dusk had been cajoled into a customised bike box.
After scrubbing the oil from our forearms and brows, we wandered into nearby Little India to meet up with Emily and Graeme (who’d we’d met in the Perhenthian islands) and Emily’s parents, who live in Singapore. Tapas and then curry was washed down with many jugs of beer, as we swapped travelling tales and listened to the oldies (!) reminiscing about their VSO days in Papua New Guinea. Now that was a proper adventure…