Sunday, July 22, 2012

Wonderful Greenery at Gardens By The Bay

Previously, I have written a write-up of Gardens By The Bay when it was opened for a sneak preview in early January. I went to the preview in the middle of November last year and it was a great preview. Most parts of the garden still have not opened then. Now, Gardens By The Bay has fully opened to the public in 29 June at 6am and it is considered one of Singapore's newest public attractions. I went to the Gardens during the Youth Day holiday and man it was awesome. Now let me give you a run through of all the things I checked out at Gardens By The Bay.

Gardens By The Bay is known as Singapore's second botanical gardens. The Gardens By The Bay is located in the Marina South area which is just right next to the Marina Barrage. The Gardens has a wide range of plants and trees and there are different attractions around the Gardens such as the SuperTree Grove, Cloud Forest Conservatory, Flower Dome Conservatory and more. There are also free ones like the Dragonfly Lake and the Heritage Gardens. Events are usually held at The Meadow which is an open space with a stage. It's free entry to all except for some attractions. Gardens By The Bay has three parts which are Bay South (the biggest), Bay East (near Tanjong Rhu) and Bay Central (near Singapore Flyer). So far, only the Bay South and Bay East parts are opened. Let me now give you a brief tour of my visit to the Gardens.

If you have not read my article on the preview of Gardens By The Bay, do click this link to check it out. If you want, you can do some comparisons with some of the photos from that post and this post. First of all, getting to the Gardens was easy. Just hop on the Circle Line MRT to Bayfront Station and hop on to the Garden Bay Bridge at levels 3 and 4 of the Marina Bay Sands Shopping Mall. Once you get onto the bridge, you can see the very busy East Coast Park Expressway and the Benjamin Sheares Bridge. The bridge also looks cool because of the trees located along the sides and in the middle. There are also several benches in the middle of the bridge if you want to have a rest before you proceed to the Gardens.

After I walked past the bridge and went down the escalators, it's time to start exploring. In a distance, I spotted the Dragonfly Lake and the Supertree Grove from afar. Which part of the Gardens did you think I visited first? Any guesses?

I actually visited the SuperTree Grove first. Back at last year's preview, this attraction was still closed and was still under construction. Finally, it has opened and it looks beautiful. Right at the SuperTree Grove, there are several tall SuperTrees and a bridge that connects all the trees together called the OCBC Skyway. If you don't know, SuperTrees are tall man-made structures made to resemble giant trees. There are living plants along the sides of the trees and seats around the base of the man-made trees. The OCBC Skyway costs S$% to enter and you can get up close and personal views of the trees.

At the SuperTree Grove, there are also several food establishments in one air-conditioned area called SuperTree Dining. There, you can enjoy different sorts of cuisines from various food establishments like Peach Garden, Casa Verde, Texas Chicken and more.

Now I proceed to continuing my journey around the newly opened Gardens By The Bay. This part of the Gardens is known as the Colonial Garden. The Colonial Garden talks about Singapore's colonial past. It mainly talks about the spices and plants that were traded during Singapore's founding period like Oil Palm, Coffee and Cocoa Trees. There are several shelters with seats underneath and the shelters, which are also known as verandahs, are painted black and white. According to them, the white paint was made from crushed shells while black paint was used so that termites won't bite into the wood.

Other than that, I also saw some giant pebbles that can be used as seats which are something I have never seen before. Also in the Colonial Garden are displays of different spices used during the colonial times. The spices include coffee beans, pepper, nutmeg and more. Visitors can smell the spices through the openings at the side which was really cool.

Moving on, I spotted these beautiful looking trees at the area after the Colonial Garden. I'm not entirely sure what they are called so if you know, please let me know. Anyway, if you want to know where these trees are, they're located near the Discovery exhibit. By the way, if you are wondering why there is a truck in the middle of the Gardens, it's actually for the gardeners.

Even though Gardens By The Bay has fully opened, it has not opened fully yet. At that time, I went to some of the exhibits like the Web of Life and the Discovery but there were still some things missing like information boards. Maybe these exhibits still require more time? Currently, the displays only displayed messages saying that the exhibit will be coming soon. Meanwhile, you can check out the plantations that surround the exhibits. I will definitely be coming back to see the exhibits when it's ready.

See this vehicle that's seen in this picture above. It's called the Garden Cruiser and it's supposed to be a tram ride for visitors. It's very similar to the tram rides at the Singapore Zoo and Jurong Bird Park but it's smaller and takes in fewer passengers. It costs S$5 a ride and the Garden Cruiser will bring you to different places around the Gardens.

Gardens By The Bay has big spacious walkways everywhere you go with beautiful plants and trees surrounding it. The scenery is just beautiful and since there aren't a lot of people at the eastern part of the Gardens, it's a really nice and peaceful place to enjoy the beautiful natural scenery.

Another part of the Gardens which is definitely a must-visit is the Web of Life exhibit. I came across several plantations made to look like animals. There were a few around the exhibit. There were also some interactive displays like these water cooler-like objects that generate sound when you turn the wheel around. The sounds include sounds of bats and bees if you continuously turn the wheel around. When I first saw those objects, I initially thought they were water coolers. Still, I cannot wait for the display boards to be put up so that I get to know more about the plants at the exhibit.

Moving on, I spotted this stage at the quiet end of the Gardens. At first, I did not know what this stage was doing in the middle of the Gardens but when I looked at the map and the directional signs, the place is actually called The Meadow. The Meadow is an open space and it's a venue for concerts and events. The Meadow hosted concerts such as the STAR Concert by the Straits Times, Jason Mraz and Corinne May concerts to celebrate the opening of the Gardens and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra concert. Personally, I prefer the Singapore Botanic Garden's Symphony Lake better than Gardens By The Bay's The Meadow because it looks cooler. There's nothing much to see around here so I suggest you to come here when there are concerts and events taking place here.

Near the Web of Life exhibit was this mystery staircase that leads downstairs to a certain area within the Gardens. After looking around where this staircase will lead to, I found out that it's actually a shortcut to the SuperTree Grove. It's great that they made shortcuts around so that we don't need to walk one big round just to reach a certain area.


Moving on, I came across this tent at one of the World of Plants exhibit. It was such an awesome tent. The tent has a gigantic shelter and inside the tent, there were several mushrooms (fake) that can be used as seats. You can sit on one of them and check out the various prints of insects that can be seen on the inside of the tent's giant shelter. Unlike previous exhibits, the display information boards in this exhibit has been put up so you can learn more about the plants and trees that are found around this exhibit.

Now this was cool. As I was walking towards the staircase to the Visitor Centre, I spotted this structure called Ecowise. Ecowise is a Singapore company that generates electricity and energy to the Gardens using environmentally-friendly methods. It's possible to check out the insides of the structure but I was only limited to the glass windows. There were also TV screens that show CCTV footage of the interior of the structure. Maybe they should implement this at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

After checking out the cool Ecowise structure, I went down the stairs to the Visitor Centre. The Visitor Centre has several gift shops, food establishments, toilets, the reception and so much more. It's also the place where visitors can relax and unwind by sitting down and relaxing at any of the benches while enjoying the beautiful scenery of the plants. There was even a sculpture of the Raging Bull which represents Bank of America's Merill Lynch and was donated by them. I've seen a similar sculpture when I passed by the company's headquarters at Marina Centre.

Right next to the Visitor Centre is the Golden Garden which has a collection of SuperTrees which are slightly smaller and shorter than the ones found at the SuperTree Grove. Just like the ones at the Grove, the SuperTrees at the Golden Garden are tall man-made concrete structures made to look like giant trees and at the side of the structures are real life plants. At the base, there are seats around with useful information about nature pasted onto the seats itself.

After walking past the Golden Garden, it's time for me to check out the conservatories. Actually, I still have not visited the conservatories yet. A lot of people were eager to enter and there was an admission fee so I decided to check them out at a later date. Maybe I'll do a write up on the conservatories also if I have the chance. This part of the Gardens is called The Canopy. It's the entrance to both of the conservatories and information boards about Gardens By The Bay can be found here also. It's too bad that The Canopy has quite a lot of people and it was quite noisy as compared to other parts of the Gardens like the SuperTree Grove. There was also a gift shop over here and it's also where you can get a map for easy navigation around the Gardens. Unfortunately, all the English language maps were snapped up.

Here's the gift shop that I have mentioned earlier and just down the escalators, is an ice cream parlour selling different varieties of ice cream called Seventh Heaven. If you want something cool and refreshing after a day of exploring the Gardens, this is the place to go. It's located near the exit of the conservatories so do drop by if you want to get something refreshing.

Just right next to one of the exits of the conservatories, is a temporary art gallery called Where Wonder Blooms that showcases various creative photos of Gardens By The Bay taken by professional and amateur photographers. It's air-conditioned so I did get to cool myself down and get myself refreshed while looking through the photos. I really enjoyed looking at the photos and I wished that I could take beautiful photos like these. It's too bad that I only have a smartphone camera and not a DSLR. This is a temporary event which by now, should have ended already. Don't worry though because there will be more events happening at Gardens By The Bay regularly.

After checking out The Canopy, it's time for me to head to the Dragonfly Lake and back to the SuperTree Grove. Once you go down the stairs, you can pass by the Flower Dome conservatory and walk along the Promenade. You can see the glass facade and concrete supports of the Flower Dome which really makes the promenade much more enjoyable to walk along. On my right, I could see a lovely view of the Marina Promenade, the Singapore Flyer and the Marina Centre area in a distance. Excuse my bad photography. It started to rain and I was holding an umbrella while taking a photo of these two sceneries. Besides, they look more beautiful at night.

I apologise for not taking photos of the Dragonfly Lake. It was really raining heavily that time and it was too dark to take photos of the Lake. In my previous preview article, I did take some photos of the Lake so you can head on over to that article and check it out. After walking along the rain and getting myself partially wet, I headed to the SuperTree Grove to take shelter. While taking shelter, the SuperTrees at the area lit up and changed its lights periodically. It was indeed a beautiful scene. There was actually supposed to be a Light and Sound show happening at that time but unfortunately, it didn't happen maybe because it was raining heavily. I hope in my next visit, I get to catch the Light and Sound show and maybe take a video of it so you can all see it without going there.

Finally, the rain stopped and it was time for me to get back home. Just like how I went to the Gardens, I used the Garden Bay Bridge to head back. I was too lazy to take the MRT back home so I decided to continue walking all the way to The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands and walked all the way to Raffles Ave to take the bus home. Before I continued walking, I took this beautiful picture of the East Coast Park Expressway at night.

That is all for today's post on Gardens By The Bay. I really enjoyed my time at the Gardens and learned more about the various plants and trees that are found in the Gardens. There were also various exciting attractions to check out such as the OCBC Skyway, The Flower Dome, Cloud Forest, SuperTree Grove and so much more. It may not have a rainforest like the Botanic Gardens or Swan Lake like the Botanic Gardens. Gardens By The Bay and the Singapore Botanic Gardens each have their own character and personality. Thankfully both can be easily accessed using the Circle Line MRT and the future Downtown Line MRT lines. It's a great way to spend the day and learn more about nature.

Getting Here 

Bus services available: 97, 97e, 106, 133, 502, 502A, 518, 518A (Bus stop along Bayfront Avenue outside Marina Bay Sands Hotel)

Nearest MRT Station: CE1 Bayfront MRT Station (Circle Line)


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