On our first full day in Singapore, we spent a lot of time in the just opened ‘Gardens by the Bay’. The first part of the garden (South Garden) cost $1 billion and other sections of the park will open in later phases.
The gardens cover 54 hectares with its highlights including the Supertrees, the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest conservatories, the Heritage Gardens and World of Plants; the Dragonfly Lake. They make the old botanical gardens look rather plain!
Supertrees are tree-like structures that dominate the Gardens’ landscape with heights that range between 25 metres and 50 metres. They are vertical gardens that perform a multitude of functions – planting, shading and working as environmental engines for the gardens. The Supertrees are home to enclaves of unique and exotic ferns, vines, orchids and also a vast collection of colourful bromeliads. They are fitted with environmental technologies that mimic the ecological function of trees – photovoltaic cells that harness solar energy which can be used for some of the functions of the Supertrees, such as lighting, just like how trees photosynthesise; and collection of rainwater for use in irrigation and fountain displays – just like the way that trees absorb rainwater for growth. The Supertrees also serve as air intakes and provide exhaust functions as part of the conservatories’ cooling systems. Between them is an elevated walkway.
We also visited the conservatory complex which comprises two cooled conservatories – the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. The Flower Dome is the larger of the two, at a little over a hectare in size. It replicates cool dry conditions and features permanent displays of plants found in the Mediterranean and semi-arid tropical regions. A changing display area has also been incorporated to enable flower shows and displays to be held within the conservatory. We watched local people taking photos of all the plants that we take for granted, but are not seeing growing here – sweet peas, roses,delphiniums, snapdragons etc.
The Cloud Forest is slightly smaller at 0.8 hectares. In this glass building, they have created the cool moist conditions found in tropical mountain regions between 1,000 metres and 3,000 metres above sea level. It features a “Cloud Mountain”, accessible by a lift so that then you can descend down the mountain via a circular path and under a 35-metre waterfall. Needless to say, the coolness in this environment was a very welcome difference from the hot, tropical air of Singapore. I can’t imagine how much energy is used to create the cool mountain atmosphere when Singapore sits pretty much on the equator. It must be OK, as long as the Super Trees keep performing their task. These gardens are the latest part of Singapore’s long term strategy to become a world tourist destination.
On this, our second day, we explored the shopping mall in the hotel complex. we have seen just about every designer shop that exists in the world – over 350 shops on three levels. The mall even has an ice skating rink! After five hours of walking, and exhausted by the window shopping, we are in need of a rest and have returned to our room for a ‘Nana Nap’.
That’s almost enough for one day, but I’ll probably venture out at around dusk to see if I can take some more pictures of this area at sunset.