We woke up today to a beautiful clear blue sky and relentless sunshine. We planned to go to the Botanical Garden today, but the best-tour-guide-ever Kevin got lost on the way there. Finally, after a few stops on the tram, we got off at the Shrine of Remembrance.
The shrine was built as a memorial to those who served in World War I. Rising from the grass like a giant acropolis, you can tell that there is a special kind of energy here. Even with the hustle and bustle of the city only a block away, here is a quiet place of peace and reflection.
Nearby is the Eternal Flame, which is a flame that burns eternally, if you couldn’t figure out from the name. It represents eternal life. Apparently some teenage vandals attempted to put it out recently, which makes me sick. Who would mess with a beautiful memorial like this?
This place has special personal significance to my friend Kevin. His mother was a refugee from Vietnam and his father is from Malaysia. Listening to his story and seeing how much this place meant to him, it made me realize that history isn’t something you learn about in a classroom. History was real… wars were real, and they affected real people. And history doesn’t just affect its own century, the aftermath is passed down to generations afterwards.
Inside the shrine, there was a kind and knowledgable docent who explained to us the meaning behind the depictions on the walls, which show tasks performed by the service men and women in World War I, which includes infantry on horses, the navy, and medical corps. There is also a stone in the center of the floor which reads, “Greater Love Hath No Man”. Supposedly, at exactly 11:00am on November 11th each year, a ray of natural sunlight passes through an aperture on the ceiling and onto the word “love”, which marks the moment when the armistice was signed in 1918 to end the first World War. That must have taken some serious calculation and engineering.
Best-tour-guide-ever Kevin needed to use Google Maps to find the Botanical Gardens, which turned out to be… right across the street. -__-
The Royal Botanic Gardens of Melbourne features over 10,000 species of native and exotic vegetation. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to explore too much because as we were walking, a huge cold wind blew by, and we knew rain was coming – we could smell it in the air.
Sure enough, it started sprinkling and ironically, just as we got to the Arid Plants section of the garden, it started pouring. And that put an end to our botanic excursion. Too bad, I wanted to play with some cacti 😦
We ran to the tram stop and went home, by which time I was freezing – Kevin even more so, since he did not bring a jacket. As he explained to me, Melbourne is known to have “four seasons in a day”, which refers to the ever-changing and somewhat unpredictable weather which can go from sunny to pouring rain in half an hour.
Thanks a lot for letting me know, Kevin – after I packed all my summer outfits! 😡