When the RHS asked if I would like to lecture on the Voyages of Discovery aboard the MV Voyager sailing from Bangkok to Mumbai I immediately said, ‘Yes Please’. This being the first cruise in partnership with RHS Garden Holidays.
I have always wanted to visit Thailand and India and see the Botanic Gardens and the new Garden by the Bay in Singapore. So this was a chance not to be missed despite the fact that I am seasick even when the boat is in harbour!
In Bangkok we visited the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew where we were surrounded by the Tamarind Tree, Tamarindus indica, which were not only lining the streets but were also trained and pruned.
The young shoots and leaves are edible and are eaten dipped in ‘sambal’. They are also used in the preparation of curry and other food in Asian cuisine where they add the sour taste. Tamarind is also medicinal, the fruit, leaves and bark are all used in various ways to treat many ailments. I have seen this tree before in Malaysia, but never have I seen them pruned and trained.
Our next port of call was SINGAPORE. We started our visit at the Botanic gardens which is renowned not only for its Orchids but also for its Ginger collection. At the entrance I saw this Costus speciosus
which is native to Malaysia . It is used medicinally to treat fevers and many skin diseases. It is also reputed to have magical powers including protection from evil spirits.
Once inside it was, for me, an exciting treasure trove.
This magnificent Ginger is Etlinger elatior, Torch ginger, a native of Malaysia where it is used in traditional Malay cooking; the flower bud, flowers and flowering stem are all used.
Sadly our time there was far too short as we had to visit the stunning ‘Gardens by the Bay’.
It is difficult to imagine that this is all on reclaimed land and that this garden was only officially opened in 2011.
The Cloud Forest Dome has the best living wall I have ever seen, it left me speechless.
However my favourite part, from purely showing how imaginative and innovative these gardens are , was the Super Tree Grove
The Supertrees are very impressive; they are embedded with environmentally sustainable functions like photovoltaic cells to harvest solar energy and they are connected with sky walkways which give a wonderful view across the bay to Singapore.
In my next blog, after our open days which start this Friday 4th and Saturday 5th I will describe the next part of our journey from Singapore to Sri Lanka via the Andaman Island.
Please note all the photographs are ©Jekka 2014. We would appreciate if you would kindly respect this.