Last Saturday, my family and I finally got the opportunity to check out one of the latest tourist attractions here in Singapore, the Gardens By The Bay. Well it has actually been open since October of 2011 but still it is a fairly new attraction. Gardens By The Bay is located just behind the Marina Bay Sands and it is somehow a flagship attraction highlighting Singapore as a garden city.
Well, technically we have been to the Gardens By The Bay for a couple or more times but we never ventured inside it but only by its entrance. Anyway, this time we did go in and we have free tickets to go inside its two conservatories. Again just like in our trips to the Singapore Flyer and the Jurong Bird Park, our tickets provided by my wife’s employer, OCBC. She once more won the ticket lottery in their office.
And so, last Saturday we all set off to go to the Gardens but we took a short stop in Orchard to have our lunch in Jollibee Singapore.
Going there, we took the MRT and exited at Bayfront MRT station located below the Marina Bay Sands. And from there we passed through the underpass leading to the Gardens. Too bad that underpass exit did not have any escalator, but at least there was an elevator available.
Gardens By The Bay is a huge plot of land that sports different attractions like the Heritage Gardens (composed of the Colonial, Chinese, Malay, and Indian Gardens). It also has a linear park of different plants called the World of Plants. At the center of this is one of its iconic attractions, the Supertree Grove. SuperTree Grove is a group of SuperTrees, tree-like structures that rises up to 16 storeys high. And along the Marina Reservoir stands the two other iconic structures in the garden, the two enclosed garden conservatories.
And so, we first made our way to the garden conservatories since it was quite hot outside when we arrived. We passed by the Malay, Chinese and Indian Gardens to reach the main Canopy that links the conservatories. There are two conservatories, first is the Flower Dome and the other is the Cloud Forest. And we get to understand their names as soon as we get into each structure.
First, we entered the Flower Dome. It is an almost spiral platform that features different trees and flowering plants from different regions in the world. From the main entrance is a veranda where it offers guests the view of the whole conservatory and the flowering plants below. The whole dome is air-conditioned to a temperature which I guess that is ideal for flower plants.
Turning right from the main entrance leads you to a huge collection of plant life from the desert regions. They featured a huge number of cacti and many of them, plants that I have never seen before. This was a section they called the Baobabs. Then if you head downwards, they featured other types of plants and organized them into gardens for a respective region like the Australian Garden, Californian Garden, South African Garden, South American Garden, Mediterranean Garden, and a Flower Field.
Each garden features endemic plants and flowers to said gardens. While the Flower Field features different tropical flowers of different colors. There are roses in red, yellow, white, orange colors and of different sizes. There are also some familiar flowers there which I don’t know the name.
The whole of Flower Dome was nice and we didn’t realize we took almost 2 hours inside it, taking photos of the flowers. And for myself appreciating the architecture of the Flower Dome itself which not only encloses these beautiful plants but also offer a clear view of the Singapore Flyer across the reservoir.
We exited the Flower Dome at the lower section where across it is the entrance to the other conservatory called the Cloud Forest.
Upon the entering the Cloud Forest, a waterfall welcomes every guest. The entrance is cold from the splash of water falling from seven stories above plus the mist that they spew to the surrounding. At the foot of the waterfall, they had some carnivorous plants like the pitcher plant or some plants that has fills in some fluid that can trap insects.
Moving upward a bit at the side of the waterfall, a thick mist envelops this section imitating a place that is touching the clouds where it is foggy and misty. It was a very nice sight to see plus the different plants that they attached to the walls of the structure in the middle of the dome.
Unfortunately, after passing through this short section while walking upwards, there is no longer mist or cloud effects throughout the rest of the dome. Guests are led to follow a path that brings people to the 7th floor to the top of the central structure wherein a small pond and garden is located. It is also from here where the water fall down from.
Then guests follow a bridge walk called the Cloud Walk that goes around the structure while it is extends to the middle of the dome. This gives guests a view of the whole place from high above. This bridge walk leads to the 6th floor. It would have been nicer if they were able to fill the whole dome with mist to give guests more of a sense of walking through clouds while suspended 7 storeys from the ground. But this in my opinion is a failed attempt to mimic a ‘cloud forest’.
Walking downwards to the exit is even further disappointing. The cavern section in the center of the middle structure did not give an impression of an actual cave but instead they just displayed stalagmites on tables like in a museum and a stalactite hanging from the ceiling. Further to the lower floors are exhibitions of the current state of the Earth in Earth Check and a huge screen at the lower floor in +5 Degrees showing a video of what may happen if the Earth’s temperature goes +5 degrees warmer. Then finally before the exit we pass through a section called the Secret Garden which features a small creek with lush vegetation.
Well overall, we find that the Cloud Forest conservatory was not as impressive as the Flower Dome. If only they were able to mimic clouds inside the Cloud Forest or at least thicken the mist inside, it would have been a better experience. From what we have seen in both the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest, I guess seeing what’s inside both of them is only worth to see one time. Luckily though we get to see both of them for free, for I do not find it my money’s worth to buy tickets to enter them, specially the Cloud Forest.
After checking out the conservatories, we headed to the SuperTree Grove to try go up the OCBC Skyway which is basically a bridgeway suspended along the supertrees. But unfortunately while we were still in the Cloud Forest, there was a thunderstorm that passed by and so they closed the Skyway. So, we ended just taking good pictures of the SuperTrees. They look very nice at night with their neon colors.
So basically, the SuperTrees are made of concrete in the middle. And it is braced with metals outside and the metal bars overhang above to mimic a tree’s canopy. Then around the body of the SuperTree, they have attached plants. In the middle of the SuperTree Grove is the biggest among the SuperTrees. This houses a restaurant on top of it.
Well, it was a good day for us to stroll around Gardens By The Bay. At least after almost 2 years it has been opened, we were able to experience it and for free. Thank you OCBC again.