So here is what I did on my second day in Singapore.
When you’re on vacation, you make it a point to wake up late. No hassles, no deadlines and best of all, no work. Well, at least as of now. So we woke up well past 9. H’s aunt and grandmom has whipped up some delicious cheese and capsicum sandwiches for breakfast. We ended the meal with their signature hot cup of tea. After lazying around, we decided to plan our day. Finally we decided to visit this breathtaking place called Gardens by the bay. We left after a sumptious meal prepared by sweet old granny whose enthusiasm and energy is quite inspiring.
We left at around 2p.m. and took a cab to the place. You can buy the tickets online or at the venue. We had got ours online. H’s aunt had got us tickets to three main portions of the garden – The Flower Dome, The Cloud Forest and the OCYC Skywalk.
A few interesting things I noted along the ride. The hospitality of the people and their willingness to help a newcomer to the city. The highly structured system of ticketing, commuting and administration is quite impressive and showcases a well thought out plan.
As you enter, you at welcomed by huge artificial tree-like structures which have greenery sprouting from them from bottom to top. The tall ‘trunks’ are donned with plants, primarily orchids (in most places) among othee varieties. The top most portion has a beautiful symmetrical circular opening in the form of artificial twigs. There is a brief explanation of the carbon cycle that occurs with these plants and their impact on the environment. You find it hard to accommdate the entire tree in a frame of a photograph. But I assure you, you will be stunned by its novelty and beauty. It isn’t a usual tree and at the same time it isn’t the same wilderness and greenery that you appreciate. It’s a blend and a rather beautiful one, I might add. There are blown I’ll versions of dinosaurs and even some large colourful plastic structures before it which keep the children engaged.
Our first stop was the flower dome. If you’re a nature lover and enjoy the sheer vibrance of flowers then this place is your haven. A dream come true for those with a flair for nature photography and all things flower.
A brief prelude to the dome is a room which has large photographs of flowers like Buttercup, Hibiscus and Barberton daisy among others. A tiny screen embedded near each of them showed how these flowers bloomed and the process is quite captivating. Many of these flowers, interestingly, are adapted.
When you are finished with this short corridor, you think it’s over. But that’s just the trailer, folks! There’s so much more to the place and the true story unravels only once you enter.
The flower dome is a gigantic dome like structure that spans a vast area. Made of glass with a grid like pattern, it gives you a view of the water body outside. It’s a fully air-conditioned room which keeps us all cool and sometimes, a bit too cool.
You begin your journey with the right where you’re welcomed by a series of neatly maintained succulent plants. On the left of that corridor, you witness a variety of cacti -small, big, short, long, stout, elongated and weirdly-shaped. In your urge to click a picture, ensure you don’t drop your camera on them. It’ll be hard to retrieve it!
There was also a Shaving Brush plant among other tiny flowers, some stuck to each other in bunches while others were solitarily blooming with pride. They have been brought from different places like Mexico, Zimbabwe, Bolivia and Madagascar. They’ve been altered to suit the temperature and weather conditions of the dome. Most of them are, therefore, hybrid varieties. There are pebbles beneath them to further add to the natural look.
As you walk, you spot innumerable plants and shrubs. Varieties which are unheard of. Some with intriguing names others with medicinal properties. I’m going to name a few that lasted in my memory. If you do visit, do look for them. Their pulchritude, novelty or comical appearance is what made them last.
On the right you have succulent plants neatly made in different shapes. They store a lot of water and are known to be fleshy. They were modified to look like different shapes and creatures.
As you go further, you will spot flowers. There is the woolly cacti which looks like it’s wearing a neatly knitted sweater.
There are a variety of orchids on display. You name the colour and there you shall find a flower in that colour. From bright yellows, to deep purples, merged with cool blues.
There is usually a flowery festival on display which alters depending on the season. We were in time for the Cherry Blossom one and what a sight it was! White and light pink cherry blossoms dotted the ground floor of the dome. Hidden beneath the series of trees were little red bridges, a make-shift place with kettles and tea cups and small house shaped lanterns.
If you know your spices right, you’ll also spot some oregano and rosemary.
There are a lot of photo opportunities in the flower dome. And it’s a bit chilly thanks to controlled temperatures for the plants to grow. So go prepared.
Take your camera with you and click away. I promise you, you won’t be able to stop yourself from clicking!