Singapore shenanigans (3)

This morning we were up early to enjoy a breakfast, on the balcony, with Becky before she headed off for work. We much enjoyed the opportunity for a chat, especially as we had little chance yesterday.

Once Becky had left we took our time to plan the day and decided to head for the Gardens in the Bay from where we could work our way back through the colonial district.

The first part of the day worked very well and the metro proved very efficient in getting us to Beachfront from where we accessed the gardens via the shuttle service. We easily bought tickets for the two domes, although were advised to buy tickets for the skywalk at its entrance, as weather conditions can lead to its being closed. We first entered the Flower dome, which contains plants from the Mediterranean climate zone. After the heat of the tropics it proved refreshingly cool. The core collection shows an interesting variety of plants presented in a pleasing manner. We were lucky enough to enjoy an orchid extravaganza, with sumptuous displays of a dazzling array of orchids. We spent over an hour ambling through the verdure.

Once outside we paused for a small snack and an extravagantly priced ice cream before entering the Cloud Forest dome. This creates high altitude conditions and was therefore even cooler. At the entrance the dramatic man made waterfalls create a dramatic impression and can cool the unwary visitor even more than they bargained for. From the ground level a lift took us to the 6th storey of a plant bedecked structure. A short climb further took us to the Lost World, at the very topmost of the cataracts from where a series of skywalks an escalators returned us to ground level via a series of displays. A visit to the Secret Garden, below ground level, completed our visit to this dome.

Outside we moved to the dramatic central grove of man made giant trees, each covered in vegetation. En route we visited the Indian, Chinese and Malay heritage gardens. Once at the grove a short exploration brought us to the Skywalk entrance, where a lift raised 22m above the level of the gardens, giving an excellent view of the gardens and beyond to the marina and port.

Once again at ground level we eschewed the return portion of our shuttle ticket and instead walked across the dragonfly bridge and gained access to the Marina Bay Sands. This spectacular 57 floor structure dominates the marina district and on local advice we headed for the Skypark bar (Ku de ta) for a spectacular view, which was somewhat marred by the persistent haze.

From the hotel we visited the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands shopping complex, marvelling at the number of shops we would never want, let alone afford, to enter. Having enjoyed a juice in the food court we turned to the second phase of our plan, the follow the guide book’s colonial heritage route to the Raffles Hotel (one of Joyce’s hangouts in her youth). Unfortunately Formula 1 racing intervened, as the marina district is being turned from a functioning urban area into a racing circuit ahead of Saturday’s grand prix. This process was demonstrably under way with closed roads, enclosed in fencing. As we crossed the Helix Bridge we passed through what will be gate 10 and on the other side found the route we wanted to follow blocked by fencing. Showing a degree of athleticism and initiative we scaled the barrier and found ourselves walking along what will be the circuit. We followed the route until a pedestrian way opened, which took us to the edge of the Padang and Esplanade Park with its fine memorials. In both these open spaces a large number of marquees and other structures are in place to welcome the fans.

From here we could see, but not access, a series of fine colonial buildings. These included the Victoria Theatre with the statue of Raffles in front of it, and the old Hill Street police station, now the Museum of Asian Civilisations. We finally escaped the grip of Formula 1 via gate 5, which allowed access to the Connaught Bridge across the Singapore river, at the far side of which are delightful bronze sculptures. We passed in front of the Fullerton Hotel, which was the old General Post Office, and thence to the Merlion Park on the waterfront. A short walk took us along Collyer Quay to Lau Pau Sat hawker centre with its distinctive late Victorian ironwork. We enjoyed a meal here before returning to Becky’s via Raffles Place and the Cold Storage supermarket on Somerset, which boasts products from Waitrose.

Marina Sands Hotel

Marina Sands Hotel

The Flower Dome

The Flower Dome

The Cloud Forest Dome

The Cloud Forest Dome

The big trees

The big trees

The hawkers' maket

The hawkers’ maket

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