Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Holi Celebration at East Coast Park

While Kathy and Shira were visiting, our friends Swati and Gaurav invited us all out to East Coast Park to celebrate an Indian holiday called Holi. Holi is a Hindu festival celebrated throughout India (and other places with substantial Indian populations, like Singapore). The holiday marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring, and is thus a joyous occasion, full of celebration and fun, and of course, eating. The most exciting aspect of the holiday is that involves throwing colored powders at each other. But I'll get to that.

Shira is a dedicated ultrarunner, and the Holi celebration at East Coast Park happened to coincide with a triathalon (the Aviva Ironman 70.3) in which one of her running buddies was competing. So Shira woke up bright and early and beat us all out there to cheer him on, and we made plans to meet up with her later. Bryan, Kathy, and I took our time getting out there, but still beat Swati and Gaurav (who said they forgot to tell us that when they said to meet at 11 AM, that was actually Indian Time, which means 11:30 or later, haha). None of us had ever been to ECP before, so we spent some time roaming around Castle Beach, wading in the water, and watching the happy little kids building sandcastles.
Overlooking the Singapore Strait
Makes me want to play in the sand!

After we were done digging our toes into the sand, we tracked Shira down and cheered on the runners for awhile. I'd never watched a competitive racing event before, and I had mixed feelings about it. I thought the event itself was really exciting, but I felt bad for the runners, who were running on a track that was clogged with families meandering along, baby carriages, kids learning to rollerblade, and people lugging fishing poles. The laid-back weekenders and the dedicated athletes trying to share a track seemed like a horrible idea. Although there were volunteers on hand to clear the path for the runners, they didn't appear to be doing a very good job. I can't imagine training so hard to compete in an event like this, flying all the way here to do it, then having to dodge sticky-handed toddlers. Ugh. Anyway, Shira's friend was doing well, so that was exciting.
Triathalon ad

Eventually Swati and Gaurav found us, and we joined their friends on a beach adjacent to the race route. There were about fifteen of us total, and we made some brief introductions before getting down to the serious business of clobbering each other with colored powder. Actually, I missed the beginning of the festivities because I'd run down the beach to find a bathroom. When I got back, I was conspicuously cleaner than everyone else, so I was immediately doused with powder, and Bryan and Gaurav picked me up and hauled me down to the water and threw me in! The water makes the powder liquefy and smear even more effectively, and before long we all looked like we'd been caught in the middle of a paint fight.
Adults acting like kids : )
Being tossed into the ocean!

It was so fun! We all chased each other up and down the beach and into the water, flinging powder on each other, sneaking up on people who were starting to look a little too clean and wiping colors all over them. I think I have a new favorite holiday!
Bryan and his mom
Shira and me

After we'd all thoroughly doused in each other in every color of powder there, we took a group photo.
Happy Holi!

All through our raucous party, the triathalon was still going on about twenty yards away. Although we never went onto the track or anything, the two events seemed to be such a bizarre juxtaposition! Serious dedication vs. carefree fun. Weird. Anyway, our little groups was only one of several groups at East Coast Park celebrating Holi, and after we'd emptied our bags of powder we went over and watched another group who was playing music and dancing. I got a kick out of a little Indian girl who was running around throwing sand on people. She seemed to be just thrilled by it, apparently thinking that sand was pretty much the same as colored powder. It was cute.
How did the drummer stay so clean?

As is always the case when we hang out with Swati and Gaurav, Swati had prepared some delicious food, a rice dish I'd never had called....pua? pusa? puah? I don't exactly remember, BUT it was really good! After we'd had a snack and done our best to rinse off in the ocean, we parted with our friends, after many thanks for introducing us to such a fun-filled holiday. Shira, Kathy, Bryan, and I headed for the park's showers and did our best to rinse the color off. As we'd departed, we'd remarked upon how the colors seemed to be staining us pretty well, and Gaurav laughed and said, "Oh yeah, we forgot to tell you to rub oil on yourselves beforehand so the colors would come off more easily. Oops!" But he promised that we'd be back to our normal white selves after a few showers. Well, it was certainly going to take more than one, because our first shower at the park only got the worst of it off. But we'd all had such a good time that none of us minded being stained for awhile. Besides, if anyone asked, we had a good story!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Surprisingly Wild Day at Chinese Garden

Bryan and I have been very lucky in the month of March to have not one but TWO visitors (hence my somewhat spotty updating of the blog). Bryan's mom, Kathy, made her first trip out of North America to come see us all the way on the other side of the planet for two weeks. While she was here, my friend Shira, who I met while working in the Boundary Waters, also stayed with us for a few days as part of a larger trip she was taking around Southeast Asia. Both Shira and Kathy enjoy nature like Bryan and me, so we had fun showing them all our favorite places. We took both of them to Pulau Ubin and East Coast Park (post about that coming soon) and since Kathy was here longer, we also took her to MacRitchie, Bukit Timah, Sungei Buloh, and Chinese Garden. In the course of all these outdoor escapades, we saw lots of fun stuff!

First we took Kathy to Chinese Garden, which is only about a 15-minute walk from where we live, and a nice, tame introduction to Singapore wildlife. Usually it's just birds, some lizards, turtles, and fish. That day as we were walking in, we were surprised to see a molted snakeskin right beside the path! Although Chinese Garden seems like a fine habitat for snakes, we've never actually seen any there, so this was neat.

We also found this acrobatic little plantain squirrel, munching on a morning snack. Plantain squirrels are also known as red-bellied squirrels (notice the rust-colored stomach), and they are adorable.

We stopped awhile at a shady little pond where a family was feeding bread to the fish and turtles (which you're actually not supposed to do, according to posted signs). There were huge catfish surfacing and sucking in huge chunks of soggy bread, along with big gulps of water. The catfish were intermingling with lots of smaller fish and the inevitable red-eared sliders, one of Singapore's most successful invasive species. Swimming around with all the others was a freakishly deformed turtle that looked like someone had flipped the edges of his shell inside out.
We named him Invertle.
Hungry catfish

The garden is a great place for birdwatching, and we saw more than a few that day- sunbirds, the usual mynas and sparrows, and even a few heron. I'm not sure exactly what type of heron these are, so if you know, please share in the comments! other birds! The first one is a yellow bittern and the second is a little or striated heron. (Thanks for the help in the comments!)
Bittern, looking for some lunch
Not a fish's best friend

We moved on to go check out the pagodas. On our way there, we got a big surprise. A snake! The first one we've ever seen in Chinese Garden! And it was a paradise gliding snake (a.k.a. paradise tree snake)! I'd seen one in Thailand, but although I knew they're also native to Singapore, I've never seen one here. The paradise gliding snake I saw in Thailand was greenish yellow and black, while this one was red and black. The Singapore one was also a lot thinner than the one I saw in Thailand. It also had eyes that were really large in proportion to its head (a common trait in young animals), making me wonder if it might be a juvenile. It was pretty exciting!
At first I thought it was a coil of electrical wire!

The snake was really active, so we hung around a while and watched it. When I first spotted it, it was coiled up on a pipe jutting out from a building. As we observed it, it began slithering into another position, with the front part of its body sticking far into the air. Then it leaped off of the pipe and into the tree! It was pretty awesome to see the little guy in action, although it would have been especially exciting to see it glide. Paradise tree snakes can flatten their ventrum and launch themselves into their air and glide (kind of like colugos).
Gymnast snake
So cute.

The day's wildlife was nicely rounded out by this cocky, photogenic changeable lizard.
King of the castle

Of course, most people go to Chinese Garden not for the wildlife, but for the idyllic scenery, and we enjoyed that too. Unfortunately the bonsai garden, which is my favorite part of Chinese/Japanese Gardens, was closed for maintenance, but there was still plenty to see.
Peaceful garden stream
Intimidating mythical creature
Seven-storey pagoda
Kathy and me in front of the pagoda

After tromping all around Chinese Garden, our day had only just begun! We caught a cab and headed over to Bukit Timah for the Monkey Walk that I was leading...but that's a post for another day!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cooking Classes at Coriander Leaf

Our research group went round and round over where to have our staff retreat. Sentosa? A spa? Universal Studios? Much to the chagrin of some of the boys, their suggestion of drinking beer at a bar all afternoon was not taken seriously. Causing them even further distress, we finally settled on corporate cooking classes at Coriander Leaf in Clarke Quay.

As it turned out, the cooking class was awesome, so everyone was happy! We got there early in the afternoon and were shown into a spacious kitchen with lots of counters and workspace. The kitchen was on the second floor, and offered a nice view of the Singapore River and the quay. Food and spices were laid out and waiting for us. Plastic aprons and chef hats (too small for my giant American head, causing everyone to laugh when I jammed it on and ripped it right up the back) were distributed, along with the world's best cooking aid (red wine!).
I wish my spices were this neatly organized.
Ummm...I hope no one wants me  to touch that dead duck...
Assad and Yock Theng, looking stylish

After we'd all donned our unflattering trash bag aprons, we were broken into teams and given menus. Each team was assigned a few dishes and we were told to try to time it well so that all teams had our dishes ready at once. I laughed when I heard my team, which included Kiersten (who doesn't own a potholder and didn't own anything sharper than a butter knife until recently) and Assad (who, when I asked him if he had an oven, replied " think so," and then later discovered that it was, in fact, just a cupboard). We also had three other team members, one of them looking a little wide-eyed and frightened at the prospect of cooking. Our assigned dishes were Vietnamese rice paper rolls with peanut dipping sauce, and minced chicken kebabs.

Cooking class menu booklet
Our very patient instructor

 Our instructor gave us some last words on hygiene and kitchen safety, then we all dug in.  It was a bit hectic at first, with everyone scrambling to snatch up the right ingredients. I'm usually a pretty decent cook, but we needed to cook shrimp and chicken, and I've never cooked either one (I've been vegetarian since I first started learning to cook), so I stayed out of that part. Instead, I set to julienning carrots and radishes for the spring rolls. I was super excited by the funky contraption I got to use to do it! 
Fancy carrots!
Kiersten's expecting a call from Food Network any day now

Before long, all of our spring roll ingredients (shrimp, radishes, carrots, mint, coriander) were ready, and we were ready to roll them up. As it turned out, although Kiersten doesn't have much cooking experience, she can wrap a mean spring roll. Mine were a little sloppier than hers, but Assad's were in a league of their own. They were...special. Unique. Unusual. OK, they were giant and ugly, and we had to either take them apart and redo them or convince someone to eat them so we wouldn't have to put them on the plate. After three attempts, each resulting in renewed gales of laughter and ridicule from Kiersten and me, he gave up on spring roll-ing and went back to plucking coriander leaves off of their stems. But he was a good sport. In the picture below, he's trying to tuck the ends under his roll to make it look better.
Kiersten's masterpiece on the right, Assad's sad bundle on the left
Apparently "plastic apron chic" isn't really my look.

Before long, the other colleagues on our team had whipped up some kebabs and peanut dipping sauce, and Assad, Kiersten, and I were finishing up our spring rolls. We took a break to look around at the other teams and I was really impressed by how much everyone had accomplished in just a couple of hours. All around people were saying things like "Hey! It doesn't look as bad as I thought!" or "LOOK! I COOKED SOMETHING!!! AND NO ONE'S HURT!" Inspired by the fancy plating being done by some of the other teams, we set to trying to make our spring rolls look beautiful. Some of the Coriander Leaf staff helped us out by showing us how to cut fancy flowers and decorations out of lemons, tomatoes, and eggplants. The end result looked fantastically gourmet!
Bon appetit!
Not bad!! I hope Bryan doesn't start expecting me to present dinner this way...

Once everything was ready, we laid it all out on a banquet table in the next room. Our colleagues had all performed amazing culinary feats!
Top: Baba Ghanoush, Curried Chickpeas, Minced Chicken Kebabs; Bottom:
Spinach Phyllo Triangles, Duck Crepe Rolls (note the severed duck head), Bananas with Chocolate Ganache Baked in Phyllo

And I didn't even get photos of everything! Probably because I was too busy deciding what I was going to eat first. As it turned out, there was plenty of vegetarian stuff for me to eat, and I had an excuse to not have to try EVERYTHING. There was so much food! My favorites were the curried chickpeas and the awesome banana dessert.

As we chowed down, our instructor handed out some awards for best team, best chef, and best of all, sexiest chef ("for the person who handled the food in the most sexy way"). Sexiest chef went to my over-60 boss, which gave us all a good laugh. He handled it with grace, and proudly wore the awesome hat they gave him.
An award to be proud of

It was a wonderful time, and we all lingered for awhile, talking, laughing, and drinking wine. Eventually we packed up leftovers to cart home and we all dispersed with full stomachs! I'm going back to Coriander Leaf next week for a work dinner, and I'm excited to see what the food will be like. I figure that if the food we cooked tasted so good, the food they make is probably pretty great!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Singaporean Movie Night: Forever

As part of a blogging club, I was offered a pair of free tickets to a showing of the new Singaporean movie "Forever."  I'm a sucker for free stuff and for Singaporean movies, so naturally I accepted.  The movie was showing at Plaza Singapura, so we went in and met a representative from the club.  I felt special when all I had to do was say my name in order to be handed movie tickets!

As we settled in and the ads began, I joked to Bryan that this was a true Singaporean experience – we were seeing a Singaporean movie that is set in Singapore, all of the ads were Singaporean, the movie is in Mandarin with English subtitles, and even the way we were seated in the theater (everyone crammed into the last four rows, the rest of the theater totally empty) is something I’ve come to think of as uniquely Singaporean.  Another interesting tidbit: Bryan and I were the only Westerners in the theater, and we found that there were several points in the movie where we laughed and no one else did, and some points where everyone was laughing except us.

The movie’s first scene took place in Japanese Garden, which is about a 15-minute walk from our apartment, so that got me all excited (am I the only one who gets a huge kick out of recognizing landmarks in movies?  I can barely watch a movie that takes place in S’pore without blurting out “I’VE BEEN THERE!” every 2 minutes).  Anyway, the movie was about a woman who works for the (fictional) Singaporean Wedding Education Department (W.E.D.).  She falls in love with a man who is already engaged, and proceeds to stalk him relentlessly.  I won’t ruin the ending for those of you who want to go see the movie!

Overall, the movie was pretty good.  My favorite parts definitely involved the Wedding Education Department talking about how to fix Singapore’s low wedding index (This is actually a real problem.  Singapore has low marriage rates and low birth rates, which the government has tried to address in a number of ways, to varying degrees of success).  The W.E.D. even alluded to the oft-ridiculed Romancing Singapore campaign.  But my favorite part of W.E.D. were the pro-marriage ads (LONELINESS KILLS) hanging in the background, because the ads were a little silly, but not so over-the-top that I couldn’t picture them plastered onto the side of the MRT.  I’m going to run the risk of sounding a little bit film snobby here for a second and say that I also really enjoyed the art direction of the movie.  Some of the scenes were so aesthetically pleasing that I wanted to take stills and frame them!

The movie did suffer from being illogical sometimes.  For example (*spoiler alert*): How did Joey manage to get all of that stuff into the freezer at the restaurant?  Didn’t the restaurant owners notice that there was an ice sculpture of a swan occupying half of their freezer and a crazy girl in a wig hanging around? And how did Gin get out after she locked him in there? In the last scene, why did all of those women buy Joey a cake but no one ate any? And I wasn’t crazy about how it ended. 

The movie obviously had its flaws, but overall it was an enjoyable, and very Singaporean, night at the movies!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Kent Ridge Park and More More More

Last weekend Bryan and I continued our conquest of Singapore's nature parks by checking out Kent Ridge Park, near NUS.  We took a bus to near there and ended up roaming around and coming in what was the back end of the park.  On the way in, there were lots of lovely flowers.
Remember Koosh balls?
These flowers look plastic

The park was quiet for a weekend- Bryan and I were the only ones around.  The entrance we came in was next to two small ponds, busy with birds, turtles, and squirrels.  We were surprised by how friendly this little bird was- he perched calmly between us and a plantain squirrel as Bryan snapped away with the camera.
Oriental magpie robin
Chillaxin' red-eared sliders

Eventually we moved onto a path and started making our way through the park.  Bryan spotted this slimy little slug/snail (snug? slail?) on the underside of a leaf.  It looked like he was just starting to form a shell.  His shell looked like a toenail- ick!

As usual, Bryan and I were playing the lizard game, and he was in the lead (for once, haha).  He spotted this bright orange changeable lizard, showing off his fancy getup.

At the end of the path we were on was a nice overlook, with a view of the sea.  It was a stiflingly hot day and we were excited when we saw a pop machine (sorry Singaporeans, I mean a *soda* machine).  An ice cold drink sounded perfect!  Too bad we didn't have any change.  Instead we stared longingly at the refreshing drinks.  And took pictures.
So close...but so far

Nearby was a stand of trees where Bryan spotted a flying dragon (he was on a roll, what can I say?). "Sumatran flying dragon" is still one of my favorite names in the animal kingdom.  SUMATRAN FLYING DRAGON calls to mind some fire-breathing behemoth with big, bony wings, soaring over mountains and terrorizing villages.  Instead it's a wimpy little lizard that hides behind a tree branch if you get too close.
Should probably be called "wimpy gliding lizard"

In a pavilion in the stand of trees, we discovered a wealth of insect life.  Bustling ants were struggling with the herculean task of carrying a caterpillar up a wall.  Pretty impressive.  Farther down the wall, a smaller group was hauling a beetle, and near them was what I think was a scorpion spider, but I'm not sure.  I need to make friends with an arachnologist.
Ant dinner
Scorpion spider?

We decided to check out the canopy walk. I always enjoy canopy walks, because it's interesting to get a different perspective on the forest- to be up in the trees with the birds and butterflies, looking down on the forest floor.  Although this one wasn't very long, it didn't disappoint. In a short period of time, we saw dragonflies, butterflies, birds, and even monkeys!  This first bird was interesting- it had a patch of bright red on its rump.  I don't remember having seen it before, and I couldn't find it on the Singapore birds website.  Maybe I need to befriend an ornithologist too. (Thanks to Nikita Hengbok, I can tell you that this is a female scarlet-backed flowerpecker. Thanks!)

There was a group of four monkeys hanging out on the narrow walkway.  It was kind of an unusual group: two large males, an adult female, and an adolescent male.  I couldn't help but wonder whether the rest of their group was hanging around somewhere in the distance.  The ones we encountered were certainly active.  The female was pulling on branches to munch their young leaves, and the young male was racing back and forth between the other three monkeys, pulling tails, wrestling, jumping, swinging, and generally acting like an overly caffeinated 6-year-old boy.  The larger of the two big males was clearly in charge, and whenever he would get close to the other adult male, the poor thing would cower and crouch down and fear grin exaggeratedly.  The adolescent seemed to enjoy the protection of the top dog, so he frolicked around, pestering the crap out of the other adult male.  Whenever the alpha turned away, the adult male turned on the little guy, squeezing his face and pinning him to the ground, all while keeping a watchful eye on the alpha.  It reminded me of my big brother Kevin, poking me repeatedly in the forehead while watching my mom intently to make sure he wasn't caught in the act.  That's OK though, because I always got him back by screaming "MOM!  KEVIN'S HITTING ME!" at random points throughout the day, even when Kevin was doing something like quietly playing video games while I colored.  Then I'd suppress my laughter while she yelled at him.  Ah, the innocence of youth.  Anyway, the macaques seemed to be acting much like my older brothers and me.
Er...just let me get out of your way, sir!
Hangin' out...this monkey looks like it's doing the happy baby yoga pose!
Monkey Battle

Somehow, amid all the action and monkey chaos, Bryan managed to get this artsy photo of a macaque hand, with a flower petal lightly resting on her fingertips.  I like it so much I want to frame it and hang it on the wall!

After spending quite a while with the monkey gang, we decided to move along.  It can be tricky to move past monkeys on a confined space like a bridge or a walkway because it's easy to get trapped and to not be able to give the monkeys the wide berth that you should usually give them.  But we cautiously squeezed by them and moved along.  The rest of the canopy walk was a little dull after the monkey excitement, but we still saw some neat stuff, like this shiny dragonfly and this fun staghorn fern.
Pretty dragonfly
Gotta love an epiphytic fern!

When we came out the end of the canopy walk, we were right in front of a little museum called Reflections at Bukit Chandu.  Admission was only S$5, so we decided to pop in and check it out.  I was immediately glad, but I have to admit that my first impression was pretty much based on how fantastic the air-conditioning felt after having walked out in the heat for hours.  After basking in the delicious processed air for a few seconds I started to actually notice my surroundings.  The museum was small, dim, and full of World War II memorabilia. Before we had much time to process it, a kindly Muslim woman was hustling us up some stairs to watch some sort of "multisensory presentation."  The presentation told the story of a small but heroic Malay regiment that fought bravely and heroically against invading Japanese forces outnumbering them more than ten-to-one. The battle took place right near the museum's location.  The presentation was multisensory indeed.  Sounds of exploding mortar shells assailed our ears, lights simulated explosions, smoke machines filled the air, etc. It only lasted about 10 minutes, and then we were free to explore the rest of the museum.  I've heard the story of the Malay regiment before (in The Singapore Story) but it was touching to see actual artifacts from their valiant struggle.
Mural outside of museum
Statue outside of museum
A rather graphic battle re-creation
Air raid siren
Old-school binoculars

To me, one of the most striking things about the museum wasn't the contents but the people walking around inside.  Most of them were Singaporean and as I watched a dad talking to his two little boys about the military, I realized that this is a shared experience that all Singaporean men and boys have.  You can tell any little Singaporean boy "You'll wear a uniform like that one someday," or "Someday you'll learn to shoot a gun like that," and it's a fact.  Every Singaporean man serves two years in the military, and they know growing up that this is ahead of them.  I think that's really interesting.  And apparently I'm not the only one who's intrigued by it- the National Geographic Channel will soon be airing a special called "Every Singaporean Son," about the experiences of Singaporean men serving their compulsory military time. If you're in Singapore, it'll be on Nat Geo on Tuesday, March 8th at 9:30 PM.

After Reflections at Bukit Chandu, we went back into the sweltering jungle heat. We found a mapboard and decided to take a path that would lead us to a place called HortPark, which sounded interesting enough to me.  It was a pretty short walk to get there and I was immediately glad we'd gone.  For one thing, the path went by plenty of small, skinny trees, which meant lots of changeable lizards and a chance for me to catch up on the lizard game.

But the real treat was when we actually got there.  I'd heard of HortPark in passing before, but neither Bryan or I really knew anything about it.  We were pleasantly surprised to find that HortPark is a large gardening space, with lots of different gardening projects.  The space is unlike anything else I've seen in Singapore- there are lots of gardens with different themes.  For example, we entered through the back end, near a cluster of greenhouses full of different types of plants.  Other gardens had sculptures, ponds, vertical walls made of living plants, recycled material turned art, gazebos, and more.  The outside area around the greenhouses was lush with all kinds of flowers- roses, daisies, morning glory, and loads that I didn't recognize.  One awesome flower that I'd never seen before was the monstrous pelican flower.  We both originally thought that the pelican flower must be related to the Rafflesia, the world's largest flower, owing to its huge size and stinky aroma, for which the Rafflesia is known (Rafflesia is sometimes referred to as the "corpse flower").  Anyway, we were mistaken, but the similarity is still interesting.  The pelican flower is so named because the bud is said to look like a sleeping pelican.  I see the resemblance now, but when I first saw it, I said it looked like a human stomach.  Maybe it's good I'm not in charge of naming the flowers.
Sleeping pelican or human stomach?
Pelican flower
Size comparison: my hand vs. giant flower

I liked the pelican flower a lot, but I think my favorite thing in the park was the lush living gazebo.  It was awesome!  Branches had been carefully twisted as they grew, and contoured to a frame.  The result was this earthy structure that blends seamlessly with the greenery around it!
Bryan in the plant gazebo

The park seemed to be a great habitat for birds and butterflies, and we saw lots of both, including a spotted dove, a yellow-vented bulbul, an olive-backed sunbird (a.k.a. a yellow-bellied sunbird), and a zebra dove.
Spotted dove
Yellow-vented bulbul
Yellow-bellied sunbird female
Zebra dove all fluffed out

What with the HortPark's focus on gardening, there were loads and loads of flowers, many of which I'd never seen before.  Flowers and plants are really not my area of expertise, so I will just present some here under the catch-all category of "pretty plants!"

Pollination action shot!

Eventually we weaved our way through the park from the back all the way to the visitor centre at the main entrance.  The front entrance had a large fish pond full of koi and other brightly colored fish.  I liked the funky effect Bryan put on this photo of one of the fish.

When we finally left HortPark, Bryan and I were kind of ready to call it a day, but we didn't quite know where we were.  Somehow we ended up on a neat pedestrian bridge called Alexandra Arch.
Alexandra Arch

From Alexandra Arch, we found ourselves on a long metal walkway that weaved through more green park area.  We decided to follow it awhile to see where it led, but once you were on it, you were kind of committed for awhile, so we walked and walked and walked. But that's all right!  Because finding this little guy made it worthwhile!
Stick insect!  He was just hanging out along the railing, being awesome!
Walkway where we embarked on our unintentional adventure

After getting across the metal walkway we really didn't know where we were, and we ended up roaming awhile longer before we found Henderson Waves.  At that point we were too hungry to stop and snap photos, so we pushed on until we got to the road, where we caught a bus to Harbourfront and ate lots of delicious sushi.  Adventure accomplished!

(By the way, for those of you pulling for Bryan, he did win the lizard game that day.  But I'll get him next time).