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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

In the city for a picnic

People are packing picnic baskets and enjoying the green havens in the heart of the city
The Sunday Times - November 13, 2011
By: Cheryl Faith Wee
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In the city for a picnic Picnickers enjoying the tranquillity on the grounds of St Andrew's Cathedral along North Bridge Road. -- ST PHOTOS: CHERYL FAITH WEE

If you want to have a picnic, there is no need to find a far-off park - go downtown instead. Weekend picnickers are enjoying the green havens in the Central Business District area.

On a Sunday afternoon, it is not uncommon to see groups of picnickers on the field at St Andrew's Cathedral in North Bridge Road.

The tranquil greenery around the cathedral is one of three picnic places spotted by LifeStyle.

The others are Esplanade Park and Marina Barrage. The park is popular with foreign workers while the Barrage is a hit with Singaporeans.

The open field at St Andrew's Cathedral, flanked by tall trees that provide cool shade, holds allure for those seeking tranquillity among the office towers. While cathedral staff say that first and foremost it is a place of worship, they add that if people picnic on the field, they would not be too bothered by it.

Another place picnickers go to is Esplanade Park in Connaught Drive.

The linear park is sandwiched between the Padang and the Esplanade. People spread out newspapers and plastic sheets on the grass and make themselves at home among historical landmarks such as the Lim Bo Seng memorial and Tan Kim Seng Fountain.

Domestic helper Jovelyn Tigalina, 32, goes to the park every other Sunday with a dozen friends. The Filipinos arrive with chicken wings, salted fish, lasagna, crackers, coffee and even a bottle of wine.

Ms Tigalina said: 'We share our food and everybody brings something. If it rains, we will go under the Esplanade bridge or Raffles City mall.'

She added: 'We sit here and talk and laugh. It's our form of happiness every Sunday and it's like a family gathering.'

Confirming the growing popularity of the place, National Parks Board general manager Chia Seng Jiang says the number of picnickers at Esplanade Park has been increasing.

Picnickers are also flocking to Marina Barrage's Green Roof, an open space the size of about four football fields atop the Marina Barrage building. It is especially popular with kite flyers on weekends.

Ms Tay Hui Wen, 25, a brand ambassador, was there with six friends and their pets last Sunday. She said: 'We decided to have a picnic here for humans and dogs. The weather is nice and you can see the Singapore Flyer and kites.'

Besides cookies and potato crisps for themselves, she and her friends bought $65 worth of treats - biscuits and a cake - for the dogs. She added jokingly: 'That's why it seems like the dogs are enjoying things more than the humans.'

Ms Tay said she prefers the Marina Barrage to East Coast Park because she feels it is cleaner. Part of the reason might be due to the fact that Singapore's national water agency PUB provides bio-degradable trash bags for the public at the barrage. On weekends, volunteers remind people to keep the place litter-free.

The sight of swarms of kites soaring overhead against the backdrop of the city skyline makes the Green Roof the perfect place for 19-year-old student Beston Lee to unwind.

'There's no other place quite like this in Singapore with the view and the kite flying. I come here for picnics every few months,' he said. 'I bring my guitar here to play and get into the mood to write some songs. It's easier to talk to my girlfriend here, too, because it is so relaxing we can just de-stress.'



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