Singapore (Day 2)
On March 15 we set out on foot after breakfast to see the Gardens By The Bay, a huge horticultural installation built about a decade ago containing some 250,000 plants. You won’t see pictures of all of them here but by the time you get through this long episode you might feel like you had.
There is a very long covered walkway leading from the port along the waterfront to near the Gardens By The Bay entrance. We stopped to talk to our daughter on the way there.
We reached the nearest entrance to the Gardens, which appeared from there to be a large park with lots of trees & flowers. So here are the flowers we passed as we walked down the path from the entrance.
After meandering along a nice stream among all these flowers for quite a while we suddenly came to the main event: two huge domed greenhouse buildings. The Flower Dome, the first we entered, is the largest greenhouse in the world.
The flora, gathered from all over the world, is divided into separate gardens. We started in the cactus/succulent garden.
There was a Palo Borracho tree, with a fat bottom, & a Baobab tree, with Desert Rose flowers in front of it. We saw some Queensland Bottle trees & some Monkey Puzzle trees. There was also a grove of Olive trees, some said to be 500 years old.
Some whimsical sculptures were scattered throughout the gardens. For example, in the succulent garden were figures from Alice in Wonderland (called “Aloes in Wonderland”). Some wood sculptures appeared to have been carved from bundles of wood, most strikingly a spectacular dragon overlooking the cacti.
To make a long story a little shorter, here is a grab bag of other flowers on display in the Flower Dome.
We left the Flower Pavilion and walked next door to the Cloud Forest Pavilion. In this giant greenhouse was a mountain of flowers with an artificial waterfall more than 100 feet tall. A group of school children entered at the same time we did & each one exclaimed “Oh my God!” as he or she walked in. They were very cute.
This pavilion is designed to show plants native to higher and higher altitudes as you climb the mountain. As we walked the path up the mountain we passed incredible numbers of very colorful flowers hanging out from the mountain, along with ferns & other leafy plants. Quite lush. We came out at one point on a platform behind the waterfall, from which you could see Singapore & the Ferris wheel on the other side of the river.
We continued up the spiraling path around the mountain, seeing ever more flowers. As we gained altitude we got a different perspective on the mountain & waterfall.
The paths near the top veer far out from the mountain, giving you a good view of all the flowers hanging there.
After leaving the second pavilion we walked over to the grove of Supertrees. On the way we saw some more exotic flowers & a floral clock. The clock is about 25 feet in diameter & is operated by GPS technology.
The giant Supertrees are made of metal and have vines & flowers growing on them to make them green. It looks like maintaining these takes quite a lot of work. At the top is a pathway where you can walk among the treetops; the view is probably good but we didn’t spend the time & money to go up there.
At night a light show illuminates these supertrees with various changing colors. It made quite a show from the Amsterdam’s aft deck.
We left the Gardens by the Bay & headed across the bridge to the city. We passed the ArtScience museum, looking like a giant lotus blossom, and what looked like an inflated playground.
We walked on over the double helix bridge, called “The Helix,” which is lighted at night & looks like a strand of DNA.
At the other end of the Helix Bridge we came to the Merlion fountain. What is a Merlion, you ask? Well, it is a mythical animal worshipped by the ancients in this area . . . not! Actually, it was created by the local tourist board several decades ago to be an advertising emblem of the city (although Singapore does mean “Lion City,” so its not entirely made up). Passing the fountain we walked up the waterfront to find a place for lunch. We ended up in a tiny restaurant where we had excellent fish & chips & local beer.
We walked back to the shuttle bus stop for the return trip to the ship. On the way we walked by the Theaters on the Bay. A very controversial building that many consider to be ugly with its spike covered domes. It is known locally as “The Durian,” after the notoriously foul smelling fruit that is endemic in this area of the world.
Today was Mary’s birthday. In the main dining room on the Amsterdam the waiters gather around and sing an Indonesian birthday song when there is a birthday, and a birthday cake is also provided. The waiters seem to enjoy this ritual & you hear the song once or twice just about every night. Mary’s birthday was no exception & she held up to it well even though she really doesn’t like this kind of thing. We divided the cake into 9 pieces so our waiters & wine steward could have some, in addition to the three couples at the table.
If you thought we were finally done with this long episode, you were wrong. That evening we attended a performance by a Singapore cultural group, presenting song and dance of various ethnic groups in this diverse city. In particular, there were Malay dancers (Singapore was once part of Malaya), Chinese dancers, Indian dancers and a lion dance. There were two guys inside the lion, and when the lion stood up the front guy jumped onto the other guy’s arms.
So that’s more than enough for today. After a very full & taxing two days in Singapore we went to bed as the ship headed for Thailand.