Gardens by the Bay – Singapore

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Marina Bay Sands hotel

On my recent visit to Singapore I had a view from the office to the Marina Bay Sands hotel. I have heard about this rather new hotel, but I had never seen it before. The hotel’s architecture intrigued me and I decided that I would go visit it while I was staying in the city.

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Garden by the Bay map

Back in my hotel, I picked up all the leaflets and flyers about things to do while in Singapore and my attention was immediately drawn to Gardens by the Bay in South Bay. Incidentally these gardens are located behind (I guess south) of Marina Bay Sands hotel.

The next day in the evening I walked from Fullerton Bay along the water to the Gardens.

 

 

 

I entered the park from the west side through the car entrance and walked along the road through green meadows. A car exhibition with the possibility for test drives was going on, but that didn’t really catch my attention. I was looking for a sculpture of a big baby that seems to be suspended in the air, as someone had pointed out to me.

Baby in the sky
Baby in the sky

I am not really sure of the sculpture’s significance and meaning (I didn’t follow the guided tour), but it was impressive as the baby is seemingly floating above the foliage. However, it was not as impressive as the tree like structures that I made out in the distance.

Magical Palm trees
Magical Palm trees

I kept walking until I was just beneath them and marveled at the iron designs that closely replicate real trees and leaves. The area is called World of Palms.

As the light was still good, I wanted to get to the greenhouses quickly to catch a few photo moments ;-). The tickets for the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest are not cheap, but the cashier reassured me that it is worth the experience.

I started with the Flower Dome that is the world’s largest glass green house according to Guiness World Records 2015. Firstly, Singapore is not as hot a Bangkok and I thought the temperature outside was quite pleasant, however, the green houses are air-conditioned and I had to wear my cardigan. Secondly, autumn might not be the best time to visit the flower garden: to me the flower displays were not that extraordinary.

But thirdly the views from the greenhouse are astonishing.

Marina Bay Sands hotel
Marina Bay Sands hotel
View from Flower Dome
View from Flower Dome
Waterfall
Waterfall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the fading light, I moved on to the Cloud Forest Dome with 60,000 plants from tropical highlands and the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. The convenient walkway to the top leads past a display of Lego sculptures in the form of tropical plants and flowers, behind the waterfall for magnificent views from behind the waterfall out to the bay and many other interesting displays that one might find in the tropics. Finally I got to a staircase leading up to the “Lost World”.

Behind the waterfall
Behind the waterfall
Lost World ahoy
Lost World ahoy

By now it was dark outside and the light in the dome was eerie and mystical. Some of the flowers and plants were back lid. It was a great atmosphere safe for the many, many tourists who were walking along with me and chattering incessantly to each other.

From these heights, I had a great view of the Marina Bay Sands hotel (from the other side than in the morning). It was drawing me to it…

Flowers in the dark
Flowers in the dark

Slowly walking down from Lost World to the bottom, I emerged from the dome to be engulfed in the magical lights of the artificial trees that were now lid in different colors.

Palm trees by night
Palm trees by night

I didn’t go to the OCBC skyway that is twenty-two meters above ground and connects the trees, because there was long line and I figured that one might get pushed out of the way (or over the side) by not so considerate tourists wanting to get to the best photo spot. It might be something to do on the next visit.

The next destination was the heritage gardens. There are four theme gardens representing Singapore’s main ethnic groups: Chinese, Indian, Malay and Colonial. This leisurely walk, now almost in complete darkness, let me down to the Dragonfly and Kingfisher lake. I strolled along the boardwalk and thought about how dangerous it could be to do this with a child as there are no railings to prevent someone from falling into the lake. At the same time, it was magical to be there as the nightly classical concert started and the World of Palms trees changed colors with the rhythm of the music.

However, I was getting quite hungry and tired and decided to finish my tour by finally walking over to Marina Bay Sands hotel.

I took the pedestrian footbridge that leads directly into the hotel. It is a huge and intimidating building. The buzz of many people talking at the same time was wafting up from the main floor. I felt like this was too much to take in on an empty stomach.

So, I continued to the attached luxury mall on the other side of the hotel. Again, the mall is huge; one has to walk for hours (it seems) from one end to the other. But there were good signs pointing me in the direction of the food court. After about fifteen minutes I arrived in a nice, not too crowded food court with a variety of cuisines.

I went for a simple Indian dish, watched the people around me and enjoyed sitting down for a while. But I did not linger too long, as my mission was to get to the top of the Marina Bays hotel.

Three years ago when I arrived in Asia, I don’t think I would have been courageous or confident enough to just walk into a 5-star hotel and stroll around, but it seems to be a common pastime here and I adapted quite well. I went to the main hotel floor and scouted out the elevators. I saw signs for the “viewing platform” (Observation Deck) that I duly ignored.

My goal was not to spend money to get to the roof of the hotel, but to get there for the view. I choose one of the other elevators and hoped that someone with a key card would head to the top floor. Sure enough, there were several people going all the way up. I easily blended in with the crowd – no questions asked.

We got to the very top and the elevator opened up to a small platform. From there one needs to have a key card to get to the swimming pool and the spa, but I just wanted to get a nice picture of the view. I went to check out the platform and the other locations at the top, got my picture and made my way back down.

Gardens by the Bay from the top
Gardens by the Bay from the top

That was enough sightseeing for one evening, but it was definitely worth the trip.

 

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