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From Botanical Gardens to black-tie dinner

Mornings I wake up to my friend's radio alarm clock at 7 am, before the sun shines on my face. No matter how late I go to bed, I get up like a robot to maximise the little time I have in Singapore.

Usually a swim in the pool wakes me up. This routine originates from my life at Bayshore by the southeast Singapore coast and the loft apartment in Houston. Both had empty swimming pools for me to monopolise even in winter.

This morning my friend suggested going to the Botanical Gardens for breakfast. It's a place I've yet to visit because of the inherited prejudices of a friend who, after spending hours on the non-air-conditioned bus, arrived there only too exhausted to get out. She travelled back to my five star hotel on the same bus and later complained that there weren't enough things to do in Singapore. Mentally I registered never to go there, thinking that it was beyond reach.

My friend said that it was only a short ride by car. By 8:15 am we were enveloped in a tropical paradise of sweet scenting frangipanis, jasmine, and colourful orchids against a background of monstera and succulents. It reminded me of my discovery that my houseplants in London were miniature versions of the flourishing tropical plants growing outdoors in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.

As exciting as being in the heart of this bustling skyscrapered city was, I needed to get back to nature to feel at peace. Being in the Botanical Gardens did just that. It was the same in Taiwan last week, when my energy levels had become depleted by city living and I was taken to the botanical gardens in Taipei.

By nightfall, my day was spent. My friend surprised me by telling me that we were invited to a black-tie dinner at last minute. Quickly we tried to find something to wear without knowing who else was going to be there. Only upon arriving at the tallest hotel in Singapore did we find out what occasion it was.

Dressed in silk and satin and pearls, we could have been mistaken for local movie stars at the 14th Silver Screen Awards of the Singapore International Film Festival. While waiting for another friend, I found several Yamaha grand pianos on the fourth floor of Raffles City Convention Centre. I couldn't resist opening one up and settling myself into improvising a medley of pieces that echoed throughout the lower floors.

As each fashionably dressed movie star passed us by, I felt even more part of this salubrious event. The baby grand piano was the first that I touched in nearly three weeks. It was the first and only piano that I played that was not out of tune.

Afterwards, a young photographer approached us to take a photo. When asked who he represented, he replied, "Harper's Bazaar."

25 April 2004 Sunday

Related links:
Singapore 1989 neighbours and friends
Singapore 1989 colleagues
Shop till you drop (in Singapore)
A sea of faces, a life of a party
Singapore International Film Festival
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Anne Ku at Ilp in May 2001
Anne Ku

writes about her travels, conversations, thoughts, events, music, and anything else that is interesting enough to fill a web page.
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