Unlike most travelers I have met on my trip, Singapore ranked very highly on my possible destinations. I suspect the reason behind others snubbing Singapore had to do with cost and westernization, but I wasn’t put off by either. To me, Singapore is a shining example of the creativity and ingenuity of mankind. Sleek highrises fill the horizon as throngs of people are efficiently whisked off to their destination of choice on the sizable and ever so clean subway system. Air conditioned mega malls offer shelter from frequent torrential showers or sweat inducing humidity. Much like home, a smart phone or tablet is in almost every hand. The desire to stay connected is ever present.
It’s a city on the cutting edge, and no where is that edge sharper than at Gardens By The Bay. Gardens By The Bay is a $1 Billion, 250 acre park that utilizes modern technology and planning to promote green living and sustainable architecture. From the towering Supertree Grove to the award winning Flower Dome and Cloud forest conservatories, the park is a must see for anyone visiting Singapore.
I found myself spending nearly two full days in the park. The first was spent roaming the outer gardens, slowly taking in the various aromas on the “scented path”, educating myself in the history of Singapore’s crops, and taking a trip back in time as plant life from millions of years ago were laid out before me. The evening was spent reading and dosing off under the Supertrees, then waking up just in time for a mesmorizing light and music showcase. These Supertrees really do live up to their name. Not actually trees, these tree like structures reach up to 160 feet high and are home to a variety of ferns, orchids and other plant life. They utilize solar power and play a key role in the cooling system for the conservatories. It’s a perfect blend of beauty and functionality.
The second day was spent exploring the two conservatories. First up was the Flower Dome, home of a vast collection of flora from around the globe. Broken up by region, I learned about the succulents of the arid western United States, the Baobob trees of Madagascar and the tulips of Holland. Next up was Cloud Forest, a 35 foot mountain covered in greenery and shrouded in mist. It’s home to the world’s tallest indoor waterfalls, an impressive collection of carnivorous plants and some amazing exhibits detailing the creation of the park.
One of my favorite aspects of the park was learning about how eco-friendly and self sustainable it truly was. I was even able to witness it first hand during an hour long storm that dumped sheets of water over Singapore. The conservatories were built in such a manner to maximize the ability to capture rain. Using waterways at the base of each building, rain water is lead to pools that, using plants for filtration, would clean the water to be used later in water the rest of the park.
Another highlight not soon to be forgotten was meeting my new friend Melisa. We met in Penang, Malaysia and immediately hit it off, exploring the Penang “aquarium” and discussing our lives while our feet dangled off the Georgetown docks. Being from Singapore, she agreed to meet up when I came into town. In Singapore, we spent a few days on canopy walkways, attempting to feed french fries to turtles, eating Nepalese mo-mos, exploring art exhibits and playing cards.
Singapore was everything I had hoped for, and more. If you ever find yourself traveling Asia, don’t let this unforgettable island slip off your itinerary.