Saturday, September 19, 2015

Gardens by the Bay - Singapore

This post has been on the cards for ages. Garden's by the Bay is a nature park located in central Singapore adjacent to the Marina Reservoir. The sprawling garden is an integral part of a strategy by the Singapore government to transform Singapore from a "Garden City" to a "City in a Garden". It is one of Singapore's premiere attractions and a place I highly recommend that you visit. I myself have been there a dozen times. Over my numerous visits, I have amassed a huge collection of photographs which I was saving for a blog post (that never happened). The other day, I was combing through my albums looking for something in particular and found several folders containing photos of Gardens by the Bay. That jolted me out the procrastination mode I was in and is the reason you are reading this post right now!

I decided not to split this post into two or more parts since this tourist attraction comes under the label 'Singapore' on my blog and I would rather have all the information in one place (I'm just finicky that way). The downside to that is that this post may come across as long-winded and photo-heavy. I like to be thorough even if it is at the cost of giving you a headache! 



The park consists of three waterfront gardens: Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden. The largest of the three gardens is Bay South Garden which showcases the best of tropical horticulture and garden artistry. The Bay East Garden has a 2-km promenade frontage that embroiders the Marina Reservoir. It is an ideal picnic setting with lush lawns and tropical palm trees. From the waterfront promenade, you will see a picturesque view of the city skyline. I had been to this part of the gardens a few years ago to watch the New Year fireworks. Bay Central Garden serves as a link between Bay South and Bay East Gardens. It has a 3 km waterfront promenade that allows for scenic walks stretching from the city centre to the east of Singapore.

The Bay South Garden is the one that receives the maximum number of visitors because of what it has to offer. Inspired by an orchid, the design resembles Singapore’s national flower, Vanda ‘Miss Joaquim’. Take note that all the photos in this post were taken at the Bay South Garden.

The Bay South Garden has two cooled conservatories - The Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest situated along the edge of the Marina Reservoir. The two imposing glasshouses are a sight to behold and are special due to the fact that they are columnless (i.e. without additional interior support) and because the architecture aims at reducing the environmental footprint. Rainwater is collected from the surface and circulated in the cooling system which is connected to the Supertrees (man-made revolutionary trees that dominate the garden's landscape). You can’t miss the massive Supertrees here. These alien-looking vertical gardens are between nine to 16 storeys tall. You can walk on the aerial walkway between two Supertrees to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the gardens.

Let me take you on a tour of the different attractions within the Bay South Garden

The Meadow
The Meadow is touted as Singapore's largest outdoor garden event space. The panoramic view of the iconic Conservatories, Supertrees and Singapore's downtown cityscape provides a stunning backdrop for events and nights to remember. 

The Meadow showcases 'Planet', a giant sculpture of a sleeping baby by internationally acclaimed artist Marc Quinn. The sculpture, which is a depiction of the artist's infant son, appears to float above the ground and is a technical tour-de-force.


Dragonfly & Kingfisher Lakes
The two lakes reinforce the scenic element of the garden and serves as the perfect place for a leisurely walk, an intense cardio workout like running or even to enjoy some quiet time. These lakes are also rich with aquatic life from fish to plants.

A while ago, my husband had a marathon at the Bay South Garden for which I accompanied him. While he was off breaking a sweat, I spent a lovely morning taking a stroll on the boardwalk by the serene lakes and clicking pictures to my heart's content!






Heritage Gardens
A walk in the Heritage Gardens that is located adjacent to the conservatories will familiarise you with Singapore's diverse history and culture. The Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Colonial-themed gardens will shed light on the association between the plants and Singapore's culture.

I don't have any photos of the Heritage Gardens simply because I didn't find any subject interesting enough to photograph.

Flower Dome
The first time I stepped into the glass conservatory of the Flower Dome, I let out an audible gasp!

Inside the Flower Dome, you are transported into a magical world of perpetual spring, where unique plants bloom in every nook and corner. You can revel in the delight of discovering plants and flowers that you would have never seen or even heard of before. The Flower Dome is spectacular and innovative in design and it is no wonder that it is considered one of the icons of Bay South Garden.

Just look at that!

The Flower Dome replicates the cool-dry climate of Mediterranean regions like South Africa, California and parts of Spain and Italy. Home to a collection of plants from deserts all over the world, it showcases the adaptations of plants to arid environments.





The sheer number of trees, plants and flowers just takes your breath away. I distinctly remember thinking in amusement about how much me and my husband struggle to maintain the 3-4 houseplants that we have! It is a mystery of 'Bermuda Triangle' size proportions to me as to how the management is able to successfully maintain such a staggering number of plants!

The Flower Dome is divided into different regions based on the type of vegetation. You can experience the eerie profile of the baobabs and bottle trees, surrounded by fascinating succulents. You can continue the journey through the Mediterranean Basin, South West Australia, South Africa, Central Chile and California all while admiring the brilliant view of the Marina reservoir skyline. Don't miss the ancient olive trees - there is one that is thought to be more than a thousand years old!

A walk through the Flower Dome is not only a visually stunning experience but also an educational one. There are audio guides, signboards and information panels available to enrich your knowledge. 







If you are an avid flower-lover, you can't help but gawk at the colorful flowers in a constantly evolving and changing display at the Flower Field, which reflects the different seasons, festivals and themes.







You will find an assortment of fruit and vegetables growing too



Cloud Forest
The Cloud Forest, is a mysterious exotic world veiled in mist; designed differently from the Flower Dome. You will be greeted at the entrance by a 35-metre tall mountain covered in lush vegetation flaunting an insanely tall indoor waterfall on one side.

The mountain has been densely planted with a mixture of fascinating orchids, delicate ferns, colourful bromeliads, dazzling begonias and menacing carnivorous pitcher plants. All of these are said to be epiphytic and live on top of other plants in nature, requiring little substrate and also perfectly adapted for growing on vertical walls.

As you approach the waterfall you may find yourself gently sprayed with water if you get too close. Nothing to complain about let me assure you! If anything, the moist cool conservatory brings out a sigh of relief. You can bring along a cardigan or light jacket if you are not used to chilly weather.







The Cloud Forest has different levels which are as follows:

Level 1 - +5 Degrees & Secret Garden
Level 2 - Earth Check
Level 3/4 - Tree Top Walk
Level 4 - Crystal Mountain 
Level 5 - The Cavern
Level 6 - Cloud Walk
Level 7 - Lost World

Photo Source: The Official Website of Gardens by the Bay

The best way to go about exploring Cloud Forest is to take the elevator to the mountaintop where you will find The Lost World. After you are done there, you can enjoy the aerial view of the canopy and mountainside below as you descend through the Cloud Walk and Tree Top Walk via the spiralling walkways that wind down. You can then finally end your journey at the lovely Secret Garden located at the foot of the mountain. 

Since I have been here numerous times, I have begun my journey from the Lost Word, ending in the Secret Garden and vice versa as well. 

There are plenty of great photo-ops inside this tropical paradise. Take these interesting looking sculptures for instance. 


And this miniature model of a small village that depicts the transportation modes in mountainous regions



Or even this moss and fern covered vehicle!

Just like in the Flower Dome, there are a lot of things you can take away from the Cloud Forest. You can learn about unique biodiversity and geology of cloud forests and the environmental threats they face within the nine unique zones in this conservatory.

Most of the times I have been to the two conservatories, the weather had been cloudy or it had been raining. Good thing is that once you are inside the conservatory, it doesn't matter! On the contrary, the pitter patter sound of the raindrops against the glass panes feels like nature's symphony. It makes for a pretty picture too, don't you think?



I love orchids and for fellow-orchid lovers, you will be delighted to see the many colorful varieties of this flower growing along the way.


At the highest point of the mountain, you will be dazzled with a tranquil, dreamy lake and a garden full of unique plant life that thrive about 2000 metres above sea level in tropical highlands. From here, you will get an unobstructed view of the Marina Bay waterfront. Be sure to look out for carnivorous plants such as pitcher plants and the Venus Fly-catcher, against a carpet of delicate ferns and moss.




As you ascend to higher levels, you will be shrouded by a mysterious mist and the cool breezy weather envelops you.

There are a few areas where you can stand on the walkway and a camouflaged fan blows chilly air right at you with considerable force. Every single time, I make it a point to receive the full blast! Hey, we live in perpetually hot and humid Singapore right? A blast of chilly air is a welcome change any day!

If you are hard pressed for time and have to choose between the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest then in my opinion, the Cloud Forest is the conservatory that is the better choice. 

OCBC Skyway
A visit to the garden is incomplete without a stroll along the OCBC Skyway. At a height of 22 metres and surrounded by panoramic vistas of the Gardens and Marina Bay skyline, this 128-metre long aerial walkway is quite an experience. Do not miss it!




Supertree Grove
As you can see from the pics, the Supertrees seem right out of a futuristic science fiction movie! The trees harvest solar energy and are said to eventually be home to over 160,000 plants. These uniquely designed vertical gardens of 25 to 50-metres tall have large canopies that provide shade in the day and come alive with an exhilarating display of light and sound at night. 

As you walk through the outer garden, you will be wowed by clusters of Supertrees - twelve at the Supertree Grove, while the remaining six are placed in clusters of threes at the Golden and Silver Gardens.

You can take a stroll along the aerial skyway that connects two Supertrees at the Supertree Grove, and take in the marvellous sights around you. You can enjoy panoramic views of the outdoor gardens, the conservatories, the Supertrees as well as the iconic Marina Bay Sands. If that isn't enough, you can chill out at the Supertree-top bistro. That is one thing I haven't done yet so I'm saving it for the next time 

When night falls, the vertical gardens come alive with a mesmerising choreographed light and sound show - also known as the Garden Rhapsody amidst the Supertrees. It is a visual extravaganza that will leave you captivated. Be sure you are there between 7:45 to 8:45pm to get in on the excitement.



That wraps up my experiences at the gorgeous Gardens by the Bay. It took me a few days to prepare this post (since I don't get uninterrupted stretches of free time) but better late than never right? I wanted to take my time and convey my thoughts wholeheartedly because this is one of my favourite attractions in Singapore and a place certainly worthy of a comprehensive review.

There is something for everyone at Gardens by the Bay. Of course, there are detractors who will argue that the garden is man-made/artificial, expensive, will be passé in a few years and so on but even the harshest critic cannot deny that what has been achieved here is no mean feat. Whether or not, you are into plant life and floral displays, you will enjoy a visit here for the innovative design and brilliant architecture. The throngs of visitors will attest to that! For children, there is a waterpark and adventure playground, designed to encourage children to interact with nature.  You can easily spend half a day or even an entire day so I suggest that you plan ahead and go with plenty of time on hand. Arriving at the gardens at about 4pm would be perfect because you can easily spend an hour at each conservatory followed by a stroll on the OCBC skywalk and finally settle on a good location to watch the Supertrees come alive in the Garden Rhapsody before calling it a night.

Make sure you check when there is a scheduled maintenance before your trip since some attractions may be closed. The official maintenance schedule is available on the Gardens by the Bay website.

I hope I have convinced you to make your way to Gardens by the Bay whenever you visit Singapore or have been living in Singapore and haven't had the chance to visit yet.

Gardens by the Bay
18 Marina Gardens Drive
Singapore 018953
Website: Click here


Ticketing information and operating hours:

Outdoor Gardens
Hours: Daily
5:00 AM - 2:00 AM

Rates:
Free Admission


Conservatories
Hours: Opens 9:00 AM - 9:00 PM daily
Last ticket sale at 8:00 PM daily
Last admission at 8:30 PM daily

Rates:
Local Resident Admission:    
Adult  $12
Senior Citizen $8
Child $8

Local Resident Admission (includes entry to the other conservatory):
Adult  $20
Senior Citizen $15
Child $12

Standard Admission (includes entry to the other conservatory):
Adult  $28
Senior Citizen $28
Child $15

OCBC Skywalk
Hours: Opens 9:00 AM - 9:00 PM daily
Last ticket sale at 8:00 PM daily
Last admission at 8:30 PM daily

Rates:
Adult  $5
Senior Citizen $5
Child $3

Senior Citizen (≥ 60 years old)
Child (3 – 12 years old)


Cheers,



P.S. - A big thank you to my cousin Vivek (who accompanied us on one of our visits) for some of the photos in this post 

2 comments:

  1. What a lovely place. A photographers delight.
    Love those green and red tomatoes.
    It may take a long time to cover the complete garden.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow...thank you.. U covered everything we need to know..

    ReplyDelete

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