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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Gardens By The Bay Singapore is well worth a visit : Sony a99 Carl Zeiss 16-35mm

If you ever find yourself in Singapore and looking for places to see, the Gardens By The Bay is well worth a visit. It comprises three main areas, two large domes enclosing very different types of habitats, one a tropical rain forest and another consisting of all types of flowers, and a large outdoor area garden with many features and sculptures. With it's unique architecture the domes have become another landmark of Singapore.

My favorite part of the gardens is probably inside the taller dome containing a rain forest ecosystem, known as the "Cloud Forest". A very appropriate name really, since the dome is probably larger vertically than horizontally and the whole garden is built as one large cliff/mountain complete with it's own waterfall, where visitors can walk around and explore both outside and inside.

A gigantic waterfall is the first sight that confronts you as you enter the Cloud Forest dome. It really felt as if you have been trekking through the jungle and suddenly you discover a secret waterfall. It is not just the sight but the sound, smell and the feeling of cool mist emanating from it that just takes you to another world.

You actually have to start your exploration by taking an elevator to the top and then follow a walkway which snakes down, around and through the vertical garden level by level.

Since it is a new attraction there is bound to be a large number of visitors, although the way it was designed you would not feel crowded when walking around.

The walkway's organic design really blends in perfectly with all of the plants, and is also a joy to walk around.

If you are afraid of heights you might not want to look down.

I just realized I have hardly any pictures of the Flower Dome (the other dome) at all. That is probably because I enjoyed the Cloud Forest a lot more, I just found it much more impressive and interesting with it's unique design. The Flower Dome's layout is quite flat, it is pretty much a regular flower garden (albeit a great one) housed inside a glass dome.

Another part of the Gardens By The Bay that I really enjoyed though are the outdoor areas, which is very large and extensive (and completely free).

One feature that stands out are these tall oversized "flower structures" that dominate the landscape.

The outside area is also open to the public at night time until 2 am, when these "flower structures" are lit up in spectacular fashion. Sadly I did not have a chance to see it first hand as I was only there during the daytime.

These structures are not just for show however, and many of them serve different functions.

On top of one is a restaurant with a 360 degree view of the gardens. Not sure how good the food is but I am sure you can feast your eyes on the gorgeous view.

If you don't feel like eating but want to get up high to take in the view, you can have a walk on the OCBC Skyway. You will need a ticket though, which costs 5 Singapore Dollars (about $4) and it is a good idea to buy the tickets at the same time as you buy tickets for the domes, because if you wait till you are at the Skyway to decide if you want to go up, you will face a long walk back to the ticket office which is located near the domes.

Overall I really enjoyed my visit to the Gardens By The Bay, it was one of my best experience during this trip, and if I am ever back in Singapore again I will definite go back for another visit. Below are the information for ticket prices (at the time of writing) in case anybody else is interested.

For Adult it is 28 Singapore Dollars (about $23) to enter the two domes and 5 Singapore Dollars (about $4) for the Skyway. For Children between 3-12 years old it is 15 Singapore Dollars (about $12) for the two domes and 3 Singapore Dollars (about $2.50) for the Skyway.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

View From Marina Bay Sands Singapore Observation Deck : Sony a99 Carl Zeiss 16-35mm

These days when thinking of Singapore, one of the first images that enters your mind is sure to be the three towers of the Marina Bay Sands and of course the sky pool/observation deck. The SkyPark (that big long thing on top of the hotel) is divided into two zones, the pool area which takes up about 75% of the space, and a smaller observation deck area. The pool area is reserved for hotel guests only, while the observation deck can be visited by anyone, for a price. If you are not staying at the hotel you will have to buy a ticket, which cost $20. You can also visit the pool area if you take the guided tour, although this will also cost you extra.

So is it worth a visit? I would say that while it is not a must, if you have time and it happens to be a nice sunny day, walking around high up in the sky taking in the spectacular view of Singapore's skyline is definitely worth it. I wouldn't bother taking the guided tour to see the pool though. I was lucky enough to be staying at the Marina Bay Sands but I must say that I was quite disappointed with the swimming pool area. Even though the pool is 150 meters long, it is not very wide and somehow feels really small, the main problem though is that it is always so crowded. You might find it hard to actually "swim" in the swimming pool without hitting someone every few meters, the best you can hope for is to find enough clear water to bathe in...reminds me more of the kind of pool you find on a budget holiday than a five star hotel.

The observation deck on the other hand is much less crowded for some reason, not sure if it was just for the day I was there, but there was harly a soul there and I had all the amazing views to myself.

The two domes you see above are the Gardens by the Bay, another new landmark created during the recent boom in construction projects transforming the bay area in Singapore. Visiting the Gardens I feel is a must, and I will be sharing photos of my visit in a future post (you can see the photos of the Gardens by the Bay here).

The Singapore Flyer, sadly I didn't have time to go for a ride...maybe next time.