Jurong Bird Park

This may be one of those posts that is more pictures than words. I am never sure what to think of Bird Parks as generally what you are going to see is being kept in a cage. They had an offer on at this one though so I thought I would check it out.

The pictures are a selection of what I saw: penguins, parrots, flamingos, terrapins, vultures, owls lots of other birds I don’t remember the names of. The aviary was particularly good as you were then inside the large cage, in this case a net, rather than being on the outside looking in. It even had its own waterfall and it was here I saw the nasty looking spider. I have seen this type once before spanning the path on my running trail and ever since I keep my eyes open for them. Nobody wants to run through the web of that beastie!
All in all quite a nice day out although I think that mostly depends how much you like birds!


Kampong Glam Heritage Trail

Once the home of Javanese theatre, blacksmiths, diamond craftsmen and traders, Kampong Glam is an area of Singapore rich in history.  A diverse community of Javanese, Sumatrans, Baweanese, Banjarese, Arabs, Chinese and Indians all used to call this area home and many have left their mark on this corner of Singapore. Here are some highlights……..

Malay Heritage Centre – this former residence of Malay royalty in Singapore was previously referred to as ‘Istana Kampong Glam’. This building now showcases the culture, heritage and history of the Malay community in Singapore.

Arab Street – This area was designated for the Arab community in the 1822 Singapore Town Plan and is one of the few streets in Kampong Glam that has kept its original name. In the past Arab street was home to eating houses, goldsmiths, textile shops, flower and fruit stalls. There is even a bookshop, H.Hashim bin H. Abdullah, which opened back in the 1900s and is still run by the decedents of those who started the business.

Madrasah Alsagoff  – Established in 1912 this is the oldest surviving Madrasha in Singapore.  A Madrasha is a type of Islamic school and the female students of today learn Mathematics, Science and Malay language in addition to Islamic studies, Arabic and English. Its origins trace back to Syed Mohammed bin Ahmed Alsagoff who started a small school in his family house. To ensure it continued after his death he left money in his will for the cause and his nephews  went on to found the school that is still in place today.

Masjid Sultan – You can’r fail to notice this prominent landmark from all around the Kampong Glam area. During the fasting month of Ramadan Musilms will gather here to await the prayer call to break their fast. This important focal point for Muslims in Singapore was built in the 1920s and in 1975 was declared a national monument.

Traditional style ‘Shop houses’ can be seen all round Singapore with the upper story used for residential accommodation and the ground story used as a shop.

Gardens By the Bay

Singapore Gardens By the Bay is fast becoming one of my favorite places. We were told by a taxi driver on one occasion that when the reclaimed land became available there were many ideas about what to use it for but the Singaporean government were firm that they wanted an iconic park like Central Park in New York. As always the steadfast vision of the Singaporean government has produced something very special.

The above picture was taken in 2011 from the Singapore Flyer (big wheel). At that time I had no idea what I was taking a picture of, it was just clear they were developing something. Three years later a similar picture shown below shows that the structure they created is now surrounded by lush greenery.
The Singapore Flyer taken from the Gardens.

The Gardens consist of two green houses maintained at 15C, one dry, one humid. The government wanted to make the gardens sustainable so they came up with a method to cool the greenhouses without the need for electricity from the grid. Green bio fuel from around Singapore (plant waste) is burned to generate power which enters a local grid within the gardens. This power is used to cool the greenhouses and by any other power needs around the gardens. The by-products of this process are ash which they use around the gardens as fertilizer and then they vent of the water vapor generated through special funnels. These funnels were incorporated into the garden design as super trees, shown below. These supertrees have been planted up the sides of their metal structure and a raised walkway created.

The ‘branches’ contain solar panels which absorb sunlight during the day and light up the gardens at night without the need for grid electricity. You can even have dinner in a restaurant at the top of the main super tree. Its a formal garden and reminds me a little of Kew in London but obviously with a very modern twist. I am always impressed by how much green space they can cram into this little island.

To add to the sustainability rainwater caught on the greenhouse roofs is collected into a nearby reservoir where it is naturally filters through the plants until it is ready for use around the gardens for plant watering, toilets etc. I won’t put too many pictures for now, don’t want to spoil it for those who might get the see it for themselves!