Thursday, April 4, 2013

Singapore for the Holy Week: In Awe of Supertrees, Marina Bay Sands and other curiosities that light up the Night Sky

Curvy lines exaggerated by the ultrawide perspective
It took a while to gather momentum but our trip to Singapore finally pushed through last Good Friday through the kind auspices of Sony SG and Arvin Orsua, the amiable Filipino  head of the company's Customer Communications Department.  It took me all of 14 years to go back here in SG and it was a heady experience to conduct talks on photography to an international audience and within the hallowed halls of the Arts House, formerly the House of Parliament, aptly located right along Parliament Road.  It's a blessing to be there and the timing couldn't be more providential -- the Holy Week leading up to Easter.  Thank YHWH for the blessings.

It was an enjoyable trip even if we had to work for the most part of the day and often, the latter part of the evenings, refining and tweaking our presentation deck.  This left the evenings just about our only free time for the first few days, to see the nighttime attractions (and it's not the ones in Geylang though we did stay there for half of our trip), exploring Little India one night, eating in Chinatown the next, then hieing off to Marina Bay Sands when the opportunity arose with our good friend and fellow avid backpacker, Jasper, who live and work in SG.  It was also fun to commute and observe local life, alternatively taking the MRT, double-decker buses and cabs (including the taxi Benzes on a few occasions).
Singapore Marina Bay Sands Ultrawide
What else but the Marina Bay Sands at dusk
Now, I've seen pictures of Marina Bay Sands many times but seeing it up close is something else.  I'm not a high-stakes, high-roller kind of guy so the casino floor has little appeal to me though looking at the multi-level casino was staggering to say the least -- like seeing Building A of SM Megamall filled with gambling tables and one-armed bandits.  While we weren't able to go up to survey the Singapore skyline from way up the top floor, we were able to admire the structure from the outside, and see the mall area.  Going outside, the Helix Bridge mesmerizes along with the Lotus Museum, a fine composition of glass and steel near the bay.  Mind-boggling prime pieces of architecture, really.  
Singapore Lotus Museum Reflections
The beautiful Lotus Museum really has lotus plants right outside
There are a lot of things to catch your eyes gazing at the Singapore nightscape, the ubiquitous Merlion and the impossible-to-miss giant Singapore Flyer included, but none fascinated me as much as the Gardens by the Bay Supertrees.  Interesting to note that in a lush and verdant garden city, why even bother building structures that mimic trees?   Well, trust Singaporeans to meld architecture with nature, the man-made with the natural.

The limited time we had kept us from visiting the other attractions such as the 1.2 hectare Flower Dome, a huge greenhouse of sorts where it's always springtime, the .8 hectare, 35 meter-tall Cloud Forest and the fascinating World of Plants.  Maybe next time.  But it was a sight to behold the giant supertrees, reaching up to 16 storeys and powered by solar energy.  Even from afar, across the Dragonfly and Kingfisher Lakes, the trees were a sight to behold.  Up close, it's bewildering to see towering concrete and steel slowly being covered by over 162,900 plants and more than 200 species of ferns, orchids, bromeliads and climbers.  As a hobbyist gardener, I have an idea how much effort goes into maintaining the greens so apart from the twinkling lights, I have so much admiration for the greens as well as the gardeners who make all these possible.  It would be interesting to revisit the grove a year from now and see the towers fully covered by vegetation.
Singapore Gardens By the Bay Reflections
Supetree Grove reflections on the Dragonfly Lake
The trees are a prime example of vertical gardening as well as microcosm of nature where the parts that make up the whole are in themselves, living, breathing specimens no less important and no less visually stimulating as the sum total.  The Garden Rhapsody comes as a welcome bonus, a visual treat after night falls and as a consolation for not making it to the Skyway which closes at 8:30pm, ahead of the reprise of the rhapsody.  Come to think of it, the night visit to the Gardens come as a consolation for trying to hike Bukit Timah but turning back because of a thunderstorm.  Then again, this night-time spectacle suffices for the time being.  
Singapore Bay Night Skyline
Marina Bay Skyline from the somewhat shaky Helix Bridge
Info on Gardens by the Bay:  Cloud Forest and Flower Dome: Open from 9AM-9PM daily • Foreign guest admission fees: Adult and Seniors - S$28, Children - S$15 • OCBC Skyway at the Supertree Grove: Admission: Adult and Seniors - S$5, Child - S$3; OCBC Garden Rhapsody (light and sound show) twice daily: 7:45PM and 8:45PM • For more details, visit


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