Review Detail

Parks & Gardens R ryeohyunelf December 03, 2012 342
Gardens waiting for a purpose
(Updated: April 02, 2013)
Overall rating 
Overall Experience 
Singapore has so many beautifully kept parks and gardens. The Botanic Gardens is the crown jewel, but there are numerous others dotted throughout the city including Fort Canning Park, Bishan Park, East Coast Park and so on. The Chinese and Japanese gardens are spacious enough occupying 13.5 hectares in the vicinity of Jurong Lake. They are pleasant places for an afternoon stroll, though by themselves they are not worth the trek from the city.

The gardens are actually two islands in the park with a few uninspiring Chinese and Japanese style pavilions. The main pagoda, all seven storeys of it, gives you the chance to take in the view such as it is. There are a few mediocre examples of penjing (Chinese bonsai) in the garden, but apart form that, ho hum. The bridges? Stone boat? Tea House? They are not without merit, but once again, ho hum as a must see tourist destination.

As a centre for surrounding residents to exercise in green surroundings, the Chinese Garden is fine but as a destination it just doesn't excite the visitor. The so called attraction, the tortoise house and the pagodas are OK, but I got the impression that these are afterthoughts. The potential for a fascinating cultural experience such as is implied in the title of the garden is immense.

It is not attained.

As for the turtle and tortoise museum, think twice. Don’t shell out your money.

If there is one place to not bother with in Singapore it is this place. I may be biased. I don't like zoos. I don't like caged animals. Mind you, I suppose that at least the animals in such places will live longer than most left in the wild given the rate at which humans are destroying them.

I grant you, Singapore zoos are great. They let you almost feel and touch the animals. I exaggerate of course.

‘Here you! Come stroke this little kitty’.
‘But that is a tiger!’
‘Oh, sorry! Yes. Did you really need that hand?’

But the turtle and tortoise museum? This is a totally depressing place. Granted, there are parts of the building and its gardens which are quite impressive, beautiful even. Is it a temple? Is it a museum? The garden is passable with its turtles and tortoises in various reasonably well-maintained ponds, but inside the building with turtles nudging the walls of their glass prisons? No thanks. As the creatures bob about trying to get out, are they wondering why they can’t cross the Indian Ocean?

Mind you, the kids liked it. The turtles blinked back blearily at them as they tried to stuff turtle food down their throats (the turtle’s throats, not the kids).

And the museum claims to have almost 1,000 of these creatures. In captivity.

Not a place I would recommend, but then neither are the gardens in which they are set. The authorities could do so much more with the Chinese and Japanese gardens. Maybe, as they do with Nusa Dua in Bali, they are keeping the tourists out of such minimally funded heartland recreation areas, so they don’t encourage people to come here. 

If this is the sort of thing that is meant to attract tourists, it won't.

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