I know, I know, I’ve been away for a while and I’m going to take this time to apologise.
Right, that’s done. The reason I’ve not been doing a lot lately is that Mum came to stay, and I was waiting for her imminent arrival before I restarted my sightseeing. Luckily for me, we did enough sightseeing and general Singaporean activities to last me quite a while, so I’m pretty sure this is going to take more than one post to cover. It’ll hopefully be two but I’m not ruling out the possibility of 3. I apologise in advance… but you can blame her, it’s all mum’s fault with her enjoyment of physical activity and walking. Before I start on with all the stuff that we did, saw and enjoyed I will break my number 1 blogging rule and do a quick list so you know how much prattling on you’re going to have to drag yourself through before it’s finally over. Luckily I have a quite detailed itinerary to remind me what we did across our 9 days. So here’s what you’ve got to look forward to:
Gardens by the Bay, Pulau Ubin, a nighttime river cruise, a walking tour of Little India, dinner in a carpark, Bintan Island, a World War II walking tour, a Singapore Sling at Raffles, the Singapore Botanical Gardens. Obviously there were a few more things but I’ve covered them all before, so they’ll get only a passing mention in this post, otherwise I would literally go on forever. So, let’s begin, somewhere near the beginning. Before mum arrived there were quite a few weeks where we bandied ideas back and forth about how we could fill our time while she was in Singapore. At one point it seemed like we would have to forego sleep for a week just so we could fit everything in, and it was here that I realised making an itinerary would be no bad thing. Now I love lists, and organising things, so I can tell you right now that I loved, loved, loved sitting down and coming up with an itinerary… and in no way is that statement sad…
Our week began, as all visits to Singapore should begin, with what I like to call ‘Leah’s Swanky Singapore Walk’. Basically, this is the walk from Orchard Road down to Gardens by the Bay, a distance of around 3 miles. I’ve done this walk more than once before, and I’m pretty sure I’ve written about it, so I’m not going to linger on the route, even though the journey through Fort Canning Park and along the Quays in particular is definitely worth doing. It was a very, very hot day, and we were grateful of any chance to experience some aircon, so our walk took us in a few directions I’ve not ventured in before. Firstly, we ended up in The Shoppes at Marina Bay, which is the craziest shopping centre I’ve ever been visited. It’s your usual mix of restaurants and high-end, designer shops on the top floors with the affordable stuff in the basement, but one feature wholly unique to this mall is the fact that it has a bloody great river running through the middle. Now, the Shoppes at Marina Bay are at the base of Marina Bay Sands and are therefore next to an actual river, but a little thing like that has never stopped the ridiculousness of Singapore before, and it certainly didn’t when this mall was built. I don’t know if they’re trying to channel Venice but there are actual boats on the river that you can row up and down in, despite the fact that it’s really not that long, and just to add that little extra bit of ‘wow factor’ (if that’s what you can call it) there’s a concave glass domed portion to the roof where the river can be replenished in a waterfall-come-water fountain fashion. It really is crazy. Every time I’ve visited Gardens By The Bay I’ve approached from a different route, but I took the decision a little while ago that the most impressive way to get there is along the walkway that connects the gardens to MBS, as you get the whole supertree experience from above. Only, it turns out getting to this walkway from the mall is surprisingly difficult. Since I’ve been in Singapore I’ve noticed that they don’t like making signage easy, and that statement is as true when you’re indoors as it is when you’re on the street. A fairly innocent looking sign in the mall points you up an escalator or two until you realise that you’re wandering around on the roof. This seems normal, oddly, there were other people wandering around up there too (although I’m not sure it’s the most logical route out to create when you’re building a shopping centre), but we then had to walk the entire length, and depth, of the mall just to end up at another door that took us to a walkway through Marina Bay Sands. I’ve never been in MBS before, mainly because it’s a posh hotel and I was quite excited to get to walk above the rabble and look down in the lobby area. I have to say, I was a little disappointed with the place. Obviously it’s designed to be eye catching from the outside, but this has caused the inside to look a bit like a futuristic Holiday Inn, with the reception/ lobby area seemingly doubling as a restaurant and bar, complete with an open, circular kitchen smack bang in the middle (I imagine cooking in there is like being on Hell’s Kitchen). All the way up the tower there are room doors off open corridors, which I can only imagine leads to a lot of noise pollution from below. It’s not entirely what I imagined it to be.
Anyway, I’ve gone off topic, I was trying to get to Gardens by the Bay and, thank god for that, it’s only taken a thousand words to get there. I’ve seen, and written about, the Super Trees before, so for the sake of sanity I’ll skip over those and go straight to the Cloud Dome and Flower Dome, the two huge greenhouses at the gardens which I had never visited before. After the Super Trees it’s probably fair to say that the two domes are the toast of the gardens. Climate controlled, they give an insight into plant life across the planet and are both pretty darn impressive. Because we were so hot we thought we might melt into the asphalt we decided to start with the Cloud Forest, the greenhouse which mimics the conditions in mountainous areas, and promised a welcome change in temperature. There’s a similar area at Singapore Zoo, which I visited on my trip there, and where I was almost brutally attacked by massive pigeons (a harrowing experience you can relieve here) and I kind of presumed this dome would be pretty similar, but oh was I wrong. The Cloud Forest is basically a massive mountain-like structure you climb up and then back down which simulates the conditions of various rainforests and climates at different altitudes. It’s a pretty impressive experience, a waterfall takes up one side of the mountain thing and a metal walkway allows you to come down pretty much suspended over all the plant life. Because it was school holidays there were too many other people there for my liking, but despite the intrusion of actual humans taking way too many pictures at every opportunity it was a fairly unique experience. As the Cloud Forest recreates mountainous conditions there were lots of opportunities for us to be depressed, as a whole room was dedicated to how everything good on the planet is dying as we speak, and plenty of information boards about endangered species, but despite the constant attempts to bum us out we enjoyed our hour in the clouds.
Post-Cloud Forest it was time to venture into the Flower Dome. We’d cooled down nicely by now and were hoping to be warmed back up, but unfortunately the Flower Dome seems to think that every climate in the world is ‘slightly too cold’ and so we ended up shivering like there’s no tomorrow by the end. Seriously, we walked through South Africa, California and the Mediterranean Basin without the temperature going above 18 degrees. You wouldn’t be able to do that out in the real world. The highlight of the permanent exhibits in the Flower Dome was definitely the weird and wacky cacti and the Baobab Trees in the desert section, but it was the temporary Nursery Rhymes exhibit which I can safely say amused us the most. The flower meadow in the middle of the dome was displaying a variety of nursery rhymes from around the world, accompanied by images from the rhymes dade out of flowers and various garden paraphernalia. There were various popular English rhymes, such as Humpty Dumpty and Mary Had A Little Lamb, and some from other countries that make absolutely no sense when translated into English. All the creations were really impressive, with bees made entirely from flowers, flower pot men, flower sheep and Indian elephants, but the pièce de résistance and winner of greatest nursery rhyme of all time was the one about bees. The Chinese nursery rhyme, Little Bee, accompanied by some stunning bees made entirely from flowers, opens(in the literal translation to English) with the line ‘Weng weng weng, weng weng weng’. Not only that, the ‘weng’s’ are repeated towards the end, because apparently it’s a particularly important statement. Sometimes truth really is better than fiction.
We wanted to see the Super Trees Light Show, but it wasn’t even 6pm and we were desperately in need of a cup of tea, so after the revelation of the ‘weng’s’ we decided to head back home and finally cool down. And there ends day 1 of our week (I know, I know, it feels like you’ve suffered through the whole week already, but you’ve still got 8 days to go!). Let’s hope that I finally manage to fit more than one day into a post at some point.
Leah Out X