Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Trip To HortPark

Yesterday I wrote a blog post about Sengkang Sculpture Park which is a park dedicated to sculptures. Today, I'm going to show you something a little bit different. HortPark is a garden/park with the theme of horticulture and gardening. It's an interesting place and if you're lucky enough, you may even get to spot some monkeys roaming around.

The HortPark is actually part of a walking trail called The Southern Ridges which links HarbourFront MRT Station to Kent Ridge Park. The bridge that you see here is Alexandra Arch which is also part of the trail. I'll do a write up on the Southern Ridges on a later date. Anyway, HortPark is located in a secluded area and I do really recommend going with a friend as the place is quite empty and who knows, monkeys may follow you around. Don't worry about the monkeys though. When I was there, no monkeys can be found. (Unless you count humans as monkeys).

When you first enter the park, you'll find the visitor centre pictured above. Although unlike regular visitor centres, this has no convenience stores, gift shops and whatsoever, unfortunately. Instead, there's a restaurant, a landscaping store, several halls for events and like I just mentioned, a visitor services centre. I do wish they could maybe sacrifice one of the halls for a 7 Eleven though. Anyway, when you come here, I recommend you to bring your own food or maybe buy some from a nearby shopping mall. Thankfully, there were tables and chairs, a snack vending machine and a drinks vending machine here. Have your lunch here first before venturing out into nature.

Here are some more shots of the visitor centre. The architecture is splendid and the theme of 'the gardening hub' can be found all around the building itself. I forgot to mention that the toilets can only be found here at the visitor centre. So, I recommend you to visit the toilet first before proceeding.

Notice the plants that line along the walls? It's beautiful isn't it? At the back of the visitor centre, there's a big lawn with a shallow pool of water. Known as the HortLawn, the scenery is lovely and breathtaking. I even took a photo of the reflections of the cloud made by the shallow pool of water.

At the HortPark, you will come across some sculptures made by artists to further beautify the park. No, this isn't a sculpture park like the one I mentioned yesterday. (Check it out here). The metal sculpture looks interesting although what it is. There's also another sculpture of a lady who's partially nude, covering herself with a small cloth. Her 'something' at the back is exposed whereas on the front, one of her 'something' is also exposed.

Here are some more sculptures that can be found at HortPark. Try to figure what they represent and what they're trying to show. I know some of you art buffs can figure out what the sculptures are trying to say.

Here's a shelter. Bounded by beautiful landscaping and a small water sculpture, this shelter is nice to sit in especially on a hot day. Although be warned that there may be flies and bees flying around. They won't hurt you unless you hurt them.

Here are some more landscaping works that are found in HortPark. If you walk in further, you may come across a few playgrounds and a fitness corner. Great for your kids and for exercising. So, HortPark isn't only a place for you to check out different landscapes and greenery, it's a place for you to have fun and exercise too.

I also came across this cute lion mascot here at the playground of the HortPark. If you don't know, the cartoon lion is a mascot and is part of campaign that encourages Singaporeans to be more kind to one another. It was launched long ago in the 1970s and the campaign is still ongoing till now. To find out more, look up 'Singapore Kindness Movement'. Anyway, that mascot's cute and a friend of mine took a photo of me with the mascot.

The photo below the photo of the cartoon lion is something weird and cannot be seen anywhere else. It's this ball maze where the goal of the game is to make the ball go into the middle using the maze. It works better if you have some friends so that they can help you navigate the ball. It's difficult to get in so me and my friends gave up soon after. You have to keep pushing and pulling the structure to make the ball navigate around the maze. It's cool and unusual.

Another interesting feature of HortPark is this double seated swing. If you have some friends, get in with a friend and get another friend to push the both of you together. It's fun and a little bit scary as the swing can get very high if pushed with a lot of force. There are also individual single seated swings nearby if you don't want to swing with a friend. This swing reminds me of the good old Kampong days where swings were quite common.

Right over here is the end of the HortPark. You can walk further up if you are planning to head to Kent Ridge Park for more nature and greenery. Anyway, this glass building you see in this picture is actually a science lab and a research facility. This is also the research facility for the conservatories at Gardens By The Bay which will open in June 2012. You can check out a sneak preview of Gardens By The Bay right over here. Nearby is a butterfly garden in which you can enter and learn more about the different species of butterflies and learn more about their habitats. Only opened every last Saturday of the month unfortunately.

Here are some more features you can find at HortPark near the end of the trail. Just make a loop back at the other direction and you can find more interesting things. There's a bandstand for you to take shelter and rest and also a beautiful sculpture of another semi nude woman.

Now this is definitely my favourite feature of HortPark. Half a car with plants on the interior. Talk about hardcore recycling. This is seriously amazing and creative at the same time. It's a scrapped car cut into half with plants in it. You can't find this anywhere else. When I first saw it from far away, I thought it was a car belonging to a gardener who's gardening beside it. Then, upon closer inspection, I realised that the car was halved. You have got to check this out when you visit HortPark.

Now we're back at the visitor centre after going one whole round around HortPark. Different species of plants lined near the carpark and a few staff trams can be found here. Although, I would recommend HortPark to maybe offer tram rides around the HortPark for visitors since it's quite a big place and it would be tiring to walk back. Also, I recommend having a shuttle bus that goes into HortPark itself and to HarbourFront MRT Station which is nearby. That would definitely bring in more patrons to HortPark.

Last but not least, it's time for me to exit HortPark but before doing that, me and my friends wanted to try out fish feeding at the Koi Pond which is located off the visitor centre. You just have to insert a $1 coin into the vending machine nearby and a capsule full of fish food will dispense. You can then use the fish food and feed it to the fishes at the pond. Although do be careful as some of them may crowd and splash water at you if you were to throw a lot at one spot. After that, just return the empty capsules into the sock which is beside the vending machine.

Although I've finished visiting HortPark and sweating heavily, my friend insisted on going up the Southern Ridges walking trail. I'll do a write up on that on a later date.

HortPark is located in the south of Singapore and the park's theme is gardening and horticulture. The HortPark encourages you to donate old gardening magazines if you have some in a bid to encourage reusing and recycling. HortPark is also a nice place for joggers, kids, explorers and nature lovers alike. HortPark is totally free and available to visit every single day of the week. Just don't feed the monkeys and only eat at the visitor centre which is safer.

Getting Here 

Bus services available: 51, 61, 93, 97, 100, 166, 963 (Bus stop along Alexandra Rd outside SP Jain)

Nearest MRT Station: CC27 Labrador Park MRT Station (Circle Line)

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