Tulipmania at Gardens by the Bay was a freaking disappointment. There wasn’t anything much about them that inspired me. I was more excited when I saw fields of tulips in the Netherlands many years back. In fact this brings me back to the point that Gardens by the Bay has been a consistent disappointment to me. I’m not certain if my disappointment with the attraction draws from the comparison of the many gardens and glasshouses I’ve visited around the world. It’s not the size of the space that matters, rather it’s more of the variety it offers. The Flower Dome contains more non-flowering plants. I wished it houses a collection of local and regional flowers and plants. Yes, I see the hibiscuses, but… Surely there’s more than that in Asia!
I found consolation in the roses there. But I was wishing to see more orchids… Maybe I should head to the National Orchid Garden instead.
One of the small caves of five at the Dambulla Cave Temple. Much wear and tear is apparent on the wall paintings and Buddha statues, but the interiors still look amazing. The climb up Dambulla rock may not be that easy, but it’s a well-worth effort.
There was hardly any space left to squeeze past the van at the back alley in Pinnawela, Sri Lanka. Honestly I wasn’t expecting any back alley traffic. It was after all a quiet part of day in the village. Looks like any road’s a road here. Nice to see a Datsun Vanette from the 80s moving on the road. I highly doubt there’s any of this model left in Singapore. Probably is the case.
A Buddhist devotee prays in front of a granite carving of the Meditating Buddha at the Gal Vihara in the ruins of the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. The carving is one of four depictions of Buddha sculpted out from a single giant granite rock. This has got to be one of the most amazing rock sculptures I’ve ever come across. Be it the size (the fact that all these were carved from one single granite rock) and the attention to details on the carvings, they are mostly well preserved. This is the largest rock temple at Polonnaruwa. The scale of the carvings is just magnificent. I’ve no idea how the sculptors did their work, but it sure speaks volume on the accomplishment of the island’s rock carving scene.
The Polonnaruwa Vatadage is an ancient temple built by King Parakrambahu I to house the tooth relic of Buddha. This is what’s left of the building. The Buddha tooth relic is currently housed at the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy.
A muragala (guard stone) is seen at the Polonnaruwa Vatadage, which is an ancient temple built by King Parakrambahu I to house the tooth relic of Buddha. Specifically, this is the Naga-raja (cobra-king) guard stone. It is a popular local belief (more likely Buddhist-influenced) that people die and reincarnate as cobras to safeguard their treasures they had buried in their previous lives. It is with this belief that the zoomorphic symbol of a cobra-prince is erected at the steps of the Vatadage to protect the structure. Two of each guard stones are erected on four cardinal directions of the structure. The sculpture itself is pretty ornate, though much of it has deteriorated from natural weathering and destruction from warfare.
My driver-guide had taken the trouble to get a local guide/archeologist to bring us around the ruins of the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. However, his efforts went to waste when the man he had entrusted turned out to be no more than a petty cheat. This local guide not only did not thoroughly explain the unique architectural details to the vast structure of the Vatadage and the other structures at the ruins. He also ended up entrapping us into buying pointless souvenirs from street vendors that plague the otherwise serene archeological site. In the end, he further attempted to extort us off a heavy tip in US dollars, making wild claims that Americans pay him an average of US$50 for his tour. Fortunately I refused to budge because I later found out from my driver that he already paid the man 1500 rupees for the tour, and had specifically told him to bring me to the vantage points to get great shots of the place. Needless to say none of that was done.
If you ever visit this place, do beware of touting and local guides that may extort you to paying a hell lot of nothing for a tour of the place. Keep to buying the entrance ticket and do some background research before visiting the ruins is a much safer bet.
The majestic Asian elephant crosses the Ma Oya river during morning bath time. The waters of the river are rather rough though, but the elephants take it in the stride like a walk in the park.
I wonder what sort of relationship these three elephants share…
I was at the Pinnewela Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka looking at the elephants taking their morning bath by the Ma Oya river. I was here a long time ago, when I was a kid. The memories back there were hazy… But now that I’m revisiting this place as an adult and with much better photography skills, I’m better able to record the memories of my encounter with the wildlife.
I got these rabbit-shaped pastries from Minamoto Kitchoan during my mooncake shopping at Takashimaya last week (last minute seasonal shopping -.-). I’ve been wanting to try them since I first chanced upon them 3 years ago. They aren’t exactly cheap. But considering the dedication and effort put into crafting them, I suppose it’s worthwhile. It’s definitely one of the less sugary wagashi I’ve tried. I like the mildly sweet and zesty taste of the yuzu filling. It’s definitely the perfect snack to go along with a hot cup of green tea.
A 40,000 square feet water lily pond surrounds the perimeter of the ArtScience Museum, which not so coincidentally resembles a flower of a water lily. Many people were snapping the lilies, which were at full blossom. The good thing was that most of them were pretty out of reach. I can totally imagine people pulling the plants out if they were too near to the edge. When I think of Moshe Safdie (who designed both Marina Bay Sands and the ArtScience Museum), I think of stark geometry and concrete. It’s interesting there was an attempt to complement the structure with some organic elements.