Tuesday, March 02, 1999

Japanese Gardens

Sungei Gedong Camp 2 was a traditional Army camp. Four company blocks surrounding a parade square cum heliport. Each company block had a small carpark and little patches of green which were designated "platoon gardens". Each platoon was responsible for the design and maintenance of their little patch.

'A' (for Attila) Company's 1st platoon, which I belonged to for 5 months as M203 grenadier, was possibly the laziest. Platoons 2, 3 and HQ platoon came up with Japanese Gardens complete with koi ponds and aviaries (they went to the market at Boon Lay to buy canaries. Regularly too, considering the poor birds' lifespans were abysmally short once they arrived at 46th.)

We had a Garden Competition, which was won by Platoon 3 hands down, for their beautiful horticulture and koi pond. Platoon 1, led by Sergeant S. Nathan and 2nd Lieutenant Alan Ang, came up with a theme garden which I thought reflected our ingenuity more than our laziness. We called it "The Grand Canyon". It was made of nothing but rocks and pebbles of all shapes and sizes.

Garden Comp was the brainchild of Staff Sergeant Ang Teck Hock, the cunning but illiterate Company Sergeant Major (CSM) or Encik, as he was formally addressed. The competition’s aim was to foster camaraderie and hopefully provide little oases in an otherwise drab camp environment. "Boost morale", Encik would say. But one look at "The Grand Canyon", you'd only want to look overhead to check for vultures.

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