A walk in Fort Canning Park

– Bright Vision Hospital patients got a sensory treat

31 May 2013, Friday, 9 – 11 am, NParks and Bright Vision Hospital (BVH) co-organised an outing for seven patients on this bright sunny morning to Fort Canning Park. To worry the day before that this morning might rain was a waste of mental energy. On Thursday, it was wet and raining and weather forecast was rain for next three days. The sky smiled on the patients, twelve volunteers and accompanying hospital staff.

It was not the latest attraction such as S.E.A. Aquarium at Resort World Sentosa, venue of the recent outing for patients of BVH. The historic site at Fort Canning has much to offer. Some patients started the morning not as enthusiastic as we hope for. I too felt that the walk in the park could be hot and frankly I had not explored the vast place inside out.

The experience turned out to be really good from start to finish. It started with a cheerful NParks male representative coming to the hospital and gave patients and accompanying personnel a VIP treatment, ferrying us to Fort Canning Park. At the destination, there was a welcoming party consisting of NParks people and volunteers. So many turn out for a small party.

Because the patients can only stay for an hour-plus before returning to hospital to be in time for lunch, the whole event was organised like clockwork – maximum value for minimum time. Two NParks volunteer tour-guides saw to it that the party got to see, smell, hear, touch, all five sensory pleasures sans taste, soaking in the beauty of nature.

The morning sun was intense but there was natural shade from trees that provided cool respite most of the walk. Umbrellas provided were hardly opened. Various birds were singing. Different trees and plants were introduced enthusiastically by NParks guides. We saw beautiful and sweet smelling flowers blooming on trees. The botanic names were told to us, but I could not catch. I am no botanist. Rain tree, flame of the forest, the common ones I knew. I can only recall some gross features of these trees, such as spiky parts on tree trunk, cotton kapok, “tumours” on tree trunk. The sun on our skins was a natural source of Vitamin D. Patients drinking chilled packet drinks and eating cold jelly at break-time completed all five senses.

We were also told where was favourite spot for that priceless wedding photographs. Patients gradually warmed up and appreciated the walk in the park, a visible change from the start of the journey. Nature triumphed. Mental nourishment completed the last sense of our six sense bases.

Volunteers and hospital staff worked a sweat to make sure that these patients were comfortable. Wheeling patients up and down at some slopes were challenging but were happily carried out. We got to love this Fort Canning Park, and a renewed respect for this historic landmark of 19th century.

The same male representative sent us off with a smile and a hand wave. Another VIP treatment moment. We left thinking that we would visit this park another time on our own and giving us more time with NParks volunteer tour-guides. See NParks website for details of free guided walks of Fort Canning Park.

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