The next day only one destination was in mind; the Chinese and Japanese Gardens of Singapore. A gift from the Chinese government built in 1975 and designed by Prof. Yuen-chen Yu, an architect from Taiwan. Julian had visited the gardens in 2000 en route to New Zealand and they had made such an impression on him he had promised to show them to me when we first began discussing this journey back in 2009. Finally, some three years later, we approached the gardens.
The gardens whilst flowing seamlessly from one part to another, are punctuated by various buildings which appear to define the nature of the designs around them. First is a structure that appears to be a family home, a simple one story "dwelling" of classic Japanese design with a balcony of sorts overlooking the water garden at the rear. The pond is teeming with small fish and and arched wooden bridge leads to a meticulous island rock garden. Another small stream leads you away from the house and winds its way through a shady portion, the path following the water course which trickled around stepping stones surrounded with Japanese art such as miniature stone houses and stone lamps lining the banks along with exotic flowers, perfectly manicured grass and shrubs before opening out once more into a much bigger body of water, this time covered with lilies, some of which were in flower. Turtles and brightly coloured fish resided here and on the opposite bank another building, this time a large pavilion, open on three sides, a public space. Following the path around we crossed more red painted arched bridges spanning the lake and lost track of which of the waterways were flowing and which were still. A crane fished from an island 200m away and as we navigated the farthest extremes of the garden we turned back towards where we came. A stone archway stood in solitude amongst the lilies as I sat upon a rock, overcome with feelings of peace and well-being.
We strolled beneath a circular whitewashed, red capped arch-way connecting three metre high walls, dividing these individual sections much as the thicker planting vegetation had done on the Japanese side. Beyond lay a complex of buildings housing the turtle collection and a cloistered area around a Koy carp pond. Through these areas lay another white walled bridge similar to the one we had found earlier, this time leading to the main entrance of the
With darkness approaching as it does at such speed this near the equator, we explored the entrance buildings more thoroughly under the thoughtfully set lighting and made our way slowly back across the park towards the pagoda, Julian pausing to punctuate the stillness of the evening with an all too frequent "click" of his camera shutter. Truly, these gardens should be on everybody's "must see" list whilst in Singapore. A Feng Shui gem in a modern metropolis.