Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sound, light and clouds in Singapore Gardens By The Bay

On their first day here, M&L went to the Gardens by the Bay. Everybody said things like 'you have to' and 'it's a must see' so they didn't really have a choice. By the time they got the day started on Friday it was pretty warm, and they walked all the way there... so they had run out of steam a little by the time they reached this highly recommended Singapore attraction. Leonie had heard there was a sound and light show each night at 7:45 and 8:45 and Miriam wanted to see the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest, so they decided to come back and visit one night during the trip. Tonight (Saturday 31 August) was the night!

This time they took the MRT system - the incredibly efficient, clean and regular train system - to Marina Bay then a quick change to the Circle Line and Bayfront station then up the stairs to Gardens By The Bay. There were quite a few people there - lots of kids and couples. A warm night (are they ever not, here?) and we all headed up to the ticket window for the domes. The ticket lady informed us that there was not much lighting in the Flower Dome, and we might not enjoy it as much as during the day. The previous ticket lady had informed M&L of no such thing, so Miriam made a sarcastic remark to that effect. Why she does it, I cannot fathom. It's not useful, helpful or dignified. And besides, it often falls on deaf ears. Like on Saturday night. So once Miriam had that little bit of nonsense out of her system, our adventurous duo of M&L bought tickets to the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. Both these exhibits are in great glass domes, which are designed to be sustainable.  Miriam's planning to research more on this. Both exhibits are also new(ish) and so are the super trees. Everything needs to grow more... You can imagine in a lush, humid place such as this, the plants all seem to be jumping out of their bark ... there are new shoots, tendrils and growth all over the place, but in a couple of years all the man-made structures they are climbing on seem likely to be covered over with green.

But back to the Flower Dome... it's a dryer environment than the outside world and at night it's a bit hard to see anything (the ticket girl without the sarcasm radar wasn't wrong!). The little signs weren't lit up but M&L read bits and pieces where they could. So unfortunate thing number 1 was the lighting snafu. But there's more... of course there is because Miriam was there. The Flower Dome has a venue in the lower level and there was a celebration happening on Saturday night. A loud and enthusiastic host, tables and tables of people. It sounded like a mix between a dancing competition and a bingo call... The Flower Dome is (potentially) a wonderful meditative space full of plants from all over the world and instead the atmosphere was ruined by the goings on. So ticket lady warned us about the lights being dim and forgot to mention that our experience was going to be ruined by loud music and emceeing...  Look, M&L aren't going to make a fuss about it (M's little sarcasm burst aside) because they;re trying to have a good holiday, but even from inside the handbag I could tell there was a little bit of 'not happy, Jan' happening in the Flower Dome.

A whole raft of carnivorous plants in the Cloud Dome
However, the Cloud Dome made up for it. A cool, misty world with walkways that took us from ground level up seven stories (the height of the indoor waterfall, incidentally) I would love to see this place in a few years too... it is full of ferns, orchids and other plants of all kinds. There has been quite a bit of effort to turn the place into an educational experience, but the information is very light on - even with my limited knowledge of flora I felt there could have been alto more effort put into some more scientific info for grown ups. Disappointing too, to see the display of crystals that had large stalagmites on display plinths at one of the levels. They'd cut these things out of real caves to use as a display here? Oh, and Miriam wants to know if there were real frogs in the Cloud Dome, or if they were just recordings. And were those mushies plastic or real? She asks the darnedest questions.

The gorgeous supertrees all lit up. 
That segues into another observation that her smarty pants-ness keeps making about Singapore... this sense of it being a theme park. Lots of dumbing down and being nice. She always wants more harsh reality, more truth, more science... you know what she's like. People here seem to get along fine.

After the wonderful experience of the Cloud Dome, M&L took me out to the 8:45 pm light show in the Supertrees grove. Wow. We were all rapt. Music, lights... it was magical. Yes, theme parky, but we all liked it, and we made our way back through Bayfront to Marina Bay then City Hall stations smiling and humming. Well M&L did. I'm ceramic and the vocal chords have problems with even the littlest hum.

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