Snapshot: Botanic Gardens
Bats swoop over prostrate figures on yoga mats and dodge the stately movements of the Tai Chi shadows, the tinny sound of a transistor radio rattles through the cool of the early morning as groups of women sway rhythmically behind their fans.
Early morning in the Botanic Gardens: a running track, yoga studio, meditation space, concert hall and playground. All things to all people. A green hiatus in the marching concrete of the city state, this is the refuge of towering primary forest forest leavened by the delicate kaleidoscope of hybrid orchids. Nature tamed but not totally submissive, where monitors slip in and out of neat pools, cocky moorhens scuttle across obediently meandering paths and squirrels leap between the branches of carefully nurtured Heritage trees.
Hard to think that perhaps the defining commodity of the region in the early 20th century, Hevea Brasiliensis or Para Rubber, sprung from the work of this, Raffles' 'Botanical and Experimental Garden', relocated from Fort Canning in 1859 and tasked with the discovery, development and propagation of potentially useful agricultural plants.
Today the study of interesting horticultural and botanical species continues in hidden recesses but to the wider world this is a place of coming together: picnickers sprawl across the swathes of grass, groups gather for concerts and couples murmur to each other in shaded corners.
In a city of vaulting towers and aspirations, the Gardens are the reminder that there is a slower pace of life; a cleaner, greener way to replenish the self.