Day 5. Flora, Fauna and Food.

Day 5. Flora, Fauna and Food.

If all goes according to plan, I’m going to make this a short entry. Firstly, because we saw fewer things than previous days, and secondly, because if I propose making it short it could be that, maybe, no promises, I won’t go over 1000 words this time and even my father will deign to read it, even though it doesn’t mention plant grafting once.

We arose with calm and toast and we went to the botanic gardens, which are… well, that, some botanic gardens. With trees, plants, flowers… if I’m not wrong, my mum’s idea of paradise but with plenty of extra beasties. If I had to summarise it, I’d say that these are the things that most caught my attention (and at the end of the day summarising was my plan):

  • In the tree section, the size and quantity of fruit trees with fruits completely unknown and strange to me: buah pulasan, chikus, etc. The fruit-market in my neighbourhood doesn’t sell those, I assure you…
  • In the flower section, the winner is the flowers that look like birds of paradise and the diversity of orchids, some hybrids (you could also call them grafts, finally I’ve mentioned it!) designed specially in honour of dear, famous people like Margaret Thatcher, utterly adored in the nation I’ve found myself in.
  • In plants… nah, in plants there also wasn’t anything that hasn’t grown before in the hallways of my parents’ house (it’s a joke. Well, almost a joke.).
  • And the most interesting part is in the beastie section: lizards the size of baby dinosaurs (giant monitor lizards, I think), turtles, butterflies, dragonflies, blue birds, enormous carp, eels… and the sound of the insects! Never before have I heard something like that… the insects generate a sound so high pitched and incessant that it dominates absolutely all the other sounds of the garden and which I could never have imagined could come from insects… ah, and another beastie, a lizard that, when it breathes, inflates a little yellow triangle in the throat and that glides from one tree to another…

draco_dussumieri_nelliyampathy
Yellow-throated gliding lizard or Draco dussimieri Nelliyamphati to its mates… Photo by Ajith U [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons
I imagine there must have been lots of other beasties around, but perhaps they were too shy for inexpert eyes…

We spent practically all day in the garden without even pausing to eat, although we did stop to drink and recover the 750 litres of water we’d lost to sweat. There exists photographic evidence of that day in which the camera has immortalized the four of us with an incredible look of “cowlicked hair” (Translator’s note: This appears to be less of a Spanish idiom and more of a Nieves-ism) formed delightfully by the industrial quantities of sweat and humidity. Obviously, that photographic evidence has no hope of coming to light while I still have my head (Brave translator’s note: This is conjectured to have been lost many years ago).

We left the botanic garden to have dinner at a place that made us glad to have skipped lunch: Elemen. We opted for the eight-course menu (we weren’t hungry), which allowed us to choose between several options. Although, well, (untranslatable humour) there were platters, plates and shot glasses and since they were all small we almost finished it all…

When you find yourself in Singapore one of these evenings I recommend you go for dinner there,  because besides being awesome and not very expensive, eating there is very fun. Assuming that your concept of fun resembles mine a little: to have no bloody idea what you’re scoffing down but go crazy because they serve you purple rice or you drink a tree soup that makes you twenty years younger or you’re gobsmacked because your cocktail starts changing colour. It’s like the happy foodie’s version of adventure sports!

And with the happy memory of colours and flowers, I’m going to close off the day but there are two little extra things I want to talk about. The first is that in my notes I wrote soup followed by, in parenthesis, “wachimflomki”. Google has no idea what that is but, eh, I must have written that for some reason, no? I’ll accept theories on what it could mean because I’ve surrendered… (Translator’s Note: Nieves appears never to have eaten wachimflomki before. What a deprived childhood!)

The second little detail that I’d like to talk about is… do you know something about Brunei or are you as uncultured as I am? When the taxi driver took us from the botanic garden to the shopping centre (I haven’t mentioned that the restaurant was in a shopping centre because if you haven’t assumed that its because you haven’t been paying attention…) we passed in front of the Brunei embassy and now I know something about the country that I didn’t know before: they have lots, and lots, and lots, and lots of money, I’d even say too much. So much money that it’s disgusting. And it must be well concentrated because the country is tiny, it’s like a little smudge on the island of Borneo, if you look on your computer you’ll think you have a speck on your screen instead of a country of the world…

Brunei
Brunei, the smudge country.

Now yes, I close the day with my memories of shiitake sushi, purple rice porridge and flower drinks…

Ah, no, I’ve forgotten something else. After having dinner we went to the closest police station to report the loss of my mobile and… freaked out! The police station was totally deserted, there was not a soul in the building. A machine for lost property, a machine for reports (if you have a Singaporean identity card, if not you’re screwed) and a sign with an image that tells you “if you go where you shouldn’t in the police station we’ll riddle you with bullets” (with another device I’m sure). Those machines are eating up our land at such a rate, they take away McDonald’s staff the same as agents of the authorities…

And now yes, I promise. We finish the day with memories of strawberry sauce and vinegar shots (wow, another thing that I forgot… here in Singapore they serve you shots of something they call cider and I call vinegar to cleanse the palate between courses… a little stronger and you’d be cleaning yourself with bleach… eugh!)

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