Words || Hans Lee
Yes, I really did visit a winter wonderland in a tropical country. In the middle of January, Singapore really still thought that they were in a winter wonderland. From displays of the nutcracker to wreaths garnishing certain shopping malls, it almost looked like December 24th all over again.
Recently, I had finished up my fifth homecoming tour of the Philippines. Christmas in the Philippines is always special for me – seeing all of my extended family for carols, food and presents. It’s also a rarity that to see my whole extended family get together for Christmas. For the record, every day in the Philippines never dipped below 27﮿.
This tour was also extra special because of all my trips home, it’s only the second time that I’ve paired going home to Manila with another country – in this case, Singapore. Here, it never really dipped below 28﮿.
It’s at this point that you really must be thinking – when I have visited two very warm and tropical countries for Christmas, how did I find any snow?
This “gateway to the Orient” is known for its convenient air hub (Changi), as well as its melting pot of Indian, Malaysian, Indonesian and Chinese cultures. Throughout the city-state, there’s evidence of how the country deals with the eternal challenge of being an island state with the modern challenges of coping as an Asian force in our world today. However, it’s also become a tourist attraction catering to a near-limitless variety of preferences — including if you want to live like in a winter wonderland in the middle of January in a tropical country.
By visiting the Gardens by the Bay- in the middle of January.
Recently, I visited the Gardens when they were promoting their Christmas Wonderland celebration. This involves their regular attractions turning into a light and colours festival for the entire family. From the famous ‘super trees’ becoming riverside eye-candy to the entire main hall becoming Lapland on steroids, the Gardens really put on a show to make sure that tourists from all over the world enjoyed the cold, the various flora displays and even their take on famous Christmas inspired fairytales.
It was a white Christmas everywhere I peered. From (manufactured) snow to carols playing in every part of the premises, the staff made sure you felt like you were welcomed into their own Christmas dream. You could escape from reality despite the actual site located opposite the world famous Marina Bay Sands resort. In here, you didn’t have to go to Lapland to experience Christmas. You didn’t even have to bring a present. The presents (and the flowers) came to you.
However, it was not all fun and games. The Gardens never ceased to try and be a learning process too. In one of its regular rooms (I won’t say which one), there was an informative video on climate change which combined the powers of 3D technology and footage from some of the world’s great filmmakers and photographers. The result was an empowering message that all of us have a responsibility to relate to.
If you want to keep the flowers, the sights and the sounds that we all take for granted – we must all do our bit for the planet.
On that note, I now sit here – some month and a half after I experienced Singapore writing this story. Of all the things I get to experience in my life that may be remarkable, this must be one of them. How they transform a little building on an island into something this vast and cool is beyond me.
On this same note, I am now also raring to go for my second year of university. With another trip booked in July and more writing to come, this could be an immensely busy year. Something tells me I’m going to need more of these travel blogs and stories to keep me sane.
Instagram – @hansshoots
Twitter – @hansleenews
Blog – hansleemedia.wordpress.com/blog
Tumblr – notestosociety.tumblr.com
If you’re enjoying Grapeshot Online, come meet us irl February 27, at the launch party of our next issue, Daddy! It’s at Ubar at 4:30pm, and there will be drink vouchers, temporary tats, and bangers.
Also, if you would like to contribute to Grapeshot’s travel blog either in template form or free verse like Hans, don’t hesitate to contact our online editor, Cameron Colwell, here