Sprawling orchids spanned out before her. She knew she'd inhabited familiar territory before. Ah yes, she reminisced on sherbet petals which had fizzed something delightful. This time around she wanted to sample something new. Luckily enough, textured red petals looked like love hearts ready to be bitten. She snapped the rouge part which broke like a flat candy bar. She put a piece on her tongue... so this is what love felt like. An electric, unconditional warmth. If falling in this feeling felt this good, why didn't we take this risk more often?
Would she ever tire from strolling through enchanted gardens? Never. Twigs began to contort and rotate before her eyes. It was like seeing wooden puzzle pieces continuously rotate and settle into place. Alongside the structure, stalks erupted into a mass of cream petals. They arched over and shimmied, making a tinny ringing sound like a shower of bells. The petals fell to the earth, danced over and wrapped themselves around her ankles. As she walked, the rows of little bells continued to jingle, making her smile with every step she took.
The forest was home to many. The wooden formations morphed into monkeys which had a calm demeanour. She thought about how the animals went about their day, being in the present. She found herself being able to do that here. The sunshine flowers opened up something good; they felt like warm, deep rays permeating through her being. There were times in her life when overthinking took centre stage and she dwelled on how things could've been done differently. Here, the path which the past had built led to peace in this moment.
Begonias speckled with beauty rippled through the earth. She ventured closer to admire their patterns. The constellation-like mottling began to swirl in front of her eyes; galaxies contained in one single leaf. Pinks merged with deep greens and starry white dots jumped off the leaf to meet her. There was so much excitement in what was considered a small entity. She pondered on how much life was coming from it. In relation to the universe, could she be considered this way? A shiny spark within the vast tapestry that the cosmos was?
Mythical creatures roamed carefreely. Something in her told her she could feel at ease, so she didn't fear the dragons which perched fiercely upon the branches. A wall of draping ferns swished to get her attention. Their pretty and delicate fronds began tinkling in the wind. She pressed a tip to find it chime. She pressed another positioned lower and found a deeper sound emerge. She felt herself embrace the music she was making, enthusiastically pinging multiple ends. She saw angular heads turn her way. Was she summoning the dragons?
She found herself surrounded by a flurry of pink petals. She had sampled the red anthurium; would the pink one be as decadent? She snapped off a piece of the petal and chewed. Ah, this is what it feels like to float on a candyfloss cloud, she mused with closed eyes. She could flit into the pouch of the slipper orchid and take a long nap. It's cushioned pod would be so accommodating. As tempting as that sounded, there was still more to be seen. The comfort of sleep would have to wait, especially when a vast window of opportunities opened up...
A petite cluster of grape-leaf begonias sat in front, drinking in the view of the striking trees. After a moment to pause and take it in too, she found herself in more tropical climates. She startled seeing a speckled leaf morph into a frog, ribbit and hop away. That's one thing she'll never get used to: coming across the unexpected in places like this. Around the corner came a bevy of carnivorous plants. They reached out, curly tendrils entwining around her wrists. She unravelled herself swiftly and decided it was best to appreciate them from afar.
Pitcher plants hung languidly, with their inner sap luring in unwitting flies for dinner. Although she'd opted to admire their surrealness from afar, she couldn't help but venture a tad closer to see the mottled patterns which lined their bells. She imagined a wall of them in her house, like a fanciful wallpaper in an exotic room. Her thoughts stirred when one began to shake and sound a gentle rattle; the ones next to it began to mimic. Was she next on the menu? Her instincts were right the first time - it was time to keep on moving.
A collection of glass orbs hung on branches. She read a title on one of the tags - 'mirage moss'. Her curiosity was piqued. She quickly prised a piece of the moss, avoiding the little Venus flytrap heads snapping at her hand. She let the moss dissipate on her tongue. In her haste, she hadn't bothered to read the text semi-covered by tufts of draping tillandsia. 'Do not exceed a mound the size of a large flytrap head'. Ah, maybe that's what the tiny hostile heads where trying to tell her. She'd had a chunk just smaller than a tablespoon. Now what?
Well, she felt fine for the time being. Maybe the effects had been overridden by the anthurium in her system from earlier. Expansive leaves enshrouding a large window began creeping inwards. The vines swished, lifting and carrying her on their massive leaves. She teetered and swirled as they raised her higher. The vines had wrapped themselves around her torso as extra support but she still felt unsturdy. Exhilaration and an overwhelming feeling kicked in; she let out a scream. She opened her eyes to find herself hear the soft trickle of water.
All the mad momentum of being raised higher and higher had stopped. She was no longer in the air but sitting on the ground. She tentatively opened her eyes to find herself in an enchanted place. All the dizzying sensations began to ebb away as she sat and listened to the water fall. A penny drop moment occurred - 'Mirage moss'. Had her mind fabricated the entire experience? She glanced far into the distance, where she could still see the shadowed wall. The leaves looked totally benign, facing the light in the windows innocently.
The effects of her experience had subsided and she was ready to explore this mystical space. Less of the tasting from hereon in. Large towers of corrugated rock began to erupt slowly from the ground. She marvelled at bulbous calcite beams and sandy stonework standing strong amongst the lush flora. White textured marble brought a warm, sweet vanilla smell. Nope, no more. Her focus fell on crystal beams dribbling from the ceiling. She watched light refract in each bead and thought back to the time she enjoyed evocative crystalline candy.
She crouched down to appreciate the view and reflected. Why did she try something she hadn't before? That was the only way, she thought. We could only truly live by trying things that scared us, yet potentially could be fantastic. She had to keep trying. There was no need to rush into it. She would definitely remember to read instructions in the future, should they come with it The light hit the formation in such a splendid way. The leaves rustled on their chunky stems, almost waving goodbye to her in the last area of this garden. Magic.
Photos taken at Cloud Forest in Singapore