Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Just a Walk in the Park - Perdana Botanic Gardens

24 March 2014

Over the weekend, we finally made it to the Perdana Botanic Gardens, or Taman Botani Perdana in Malaysian.  Lovely green oasis in the middle of the city, the way many large city parks tend to be.

I enjoyed the ASEAN sculpture garden.  ASEAN stands for Association of SE Asian Nations, and includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

So the sculpture garden contains not only sculpture designed and created by artists in those countries, it also is designed to represent those nations and to promote peace and understanding amongst the member countries.

The sculptures have names like "Progress" and "Growth" and "Peace" - each one was created by a different artist and represents their vision of the ASEAN region.  Some appear very industrial, like the giant metal thing that looks like a huge fan, or maybe some mad scientist's nuclear reactor or something.  Another looks like monstrous jacks from a giant children's game.  

Then there are marble columns turning into steps and winding their way skyward - obviously growth.  Even though it kind of looks like a wing, from a distance.  And the walkway was equally decorative!

We had fun walking around viewing all of this, and enjoying the quiet green of the park.  We walked, wandered, lost our way, found the road we wanted, found it was under construction and blocked off, backtracked and formed a new route through the park.  All in the tropical heat and humidity that characterizes KL and Malaysia.


We had a nice long walk around part of the park, and somehow found a Malaysian TV drama being filmed - the man in the plaid shirt plays the father of the little girl, whose head you can just see over his left shoulder.  She had to sit as if she just fell off the bottom of the slide, and sat crying for her dad.  He runs in.

Well, of course we somehow ended up chatting with some of the production staff - the guy at the food center, the production assistant or something, eventually the "talent" (also known as actors).  Richard asked what the story line was - I told him the father was a single parent, this was his little girl, and he probably was dating a slutty woman on the side who the little girl hated.  (It's a formula for daytime TV, right?)  The food center guy laughed and agreed that was pretty much the plot.

The funniest part was when the very cute little girl, maybe age 6 or so, came over and shook Richard's hand and then mine - I guess maybe she's a local celebrity?  We also chatted with the guy who plays her father, and joked with the director about being extras in the show - but they didn't need any white tourists wandering around.

So, after that excitement, we found the little golf-cart-bus that goes around the park.  For two ringgits each (all of $.60 US) we could ride around the park.  After our two miles or so, in the heat, we decided to ride.  It was well worth our two ringgits!  Plus one of the riders ran up to the driver and co-driver, offered them mini-cupcakes, they said to give them to us - I said I didn't need one so they gave it to a little girl in back of us, but Richard enjoyed his very ornate little cupcake!  

So we rode around the park, seeing the lovely grounds, a variety of bridges over the man-made lakes and connecting channels, and went by some of the attractions:  the bird park, the herb garden, the orchid garden, and of course several tea houses.

Oh, and remember how some of the previous KL posts had photos of the lovely decorative street lights?  Check out the gorgeous hibiscus street lights around the garden!  How absolutely appropriate to have giant red hibiscus blossoms on the multi-lane highway cutting through the city!  I think the hibiscus must be the national flower, or maybe the state flower for whichever state this is - the currency has a red hibiscus, we see it on signs, the national emblem, and now these Alice-in-Wonderland-like street lights!  I love it!

Our taxi on the trip back went past several beautiful old government buildings.  These were over 100 years old, and are wonderful examples of what is called Moorish architecture - meaning the design is based on the mosques built in northern Africa and Spain.  The buildings definitely had a mosque-like look, with towers, domes, intricately-shaped arches, and even the alternating stripes of stucco and brick.  So exotic, and so unexpected in the middle of SE Asia!  Really, they were reminiscent of the Mezquita in Cordoba, Spain, which we visited several years ago - so they seem (to me) just sort of incongruous in Malaysia.  But the sultan who converted to Islam way back in 1400-something apparently invited some Muslim architects as well as scholars to come to Malaysia, as did subsequent sultans, and so Malaysia has a heritage of these gorgeous Moorish buildings.  One more unexpected treat!

It was just one of those crazy days!

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