I made my visit to the Gardens by the Bay on the fourth day after its official opening on 29 June 2012.
I had actually visited the Flower Dome, one of the two cool conservatories in the Gardens by the Bay, last November when it was opened for public preview in conjunction with the 20th World Orchid Show held here in Singapore. The rest of the gardens were not ready then.
The Gardens by the Bay is a huge place to explore (it spans an area of 101 hectares), and beside the two cool conservatories, there are also the Supertree Grove, a number of themed gardens, various activities etc. etc. Not wanting to rush through my visit, and also being one who is very sensitive to hot sun, I had decided to only focus on the two conservatories – the cool-dry Flower Dome and cool-moist Cloud Forest – during this visit.
Seen from outside, one of the two conservatories amidst the lush greenery
There were already groups of visitors arriving in coaches, making their way to the gardens when I arrived slightly past 9am. The conservatories open from 9am to 9pm daily.
There were many young students too. See that tall building at the background of the photo below? Someday (perhaps in August when I have visitors in town) I am going to go up there (Skypark @ MBS) again to catch a good bird-eye view of the whole Gardens by the Bay. 🙂
My friend and I spent the whole morning (slightly over 2 hours) at the Flower Dome before we moved over to Marina Barrage for a sumptuous seafood lunch at the 7th Storey Chinese restaurant there. Marina Barrage is just a short 10-15 minutes walk away through the park connector. So it was very convenient. 🙂
I love these vibrant, colourful displays at the entrance that somehow gave me a warm feeling of welcome as I walked into the Flower Dome.
Since I had previously attended the preview of the Flower Dome, I kind of knew what to expect in there. However, I noted that many of the cacti are now blooming with lovely flowers!
Looking down from the viewing platform, beside many date palm trees etc., there was a display of colourful flower field and also gardens featuring plants and flowers from different parts of the world such as Australia, South Africa etc.
A lovely flower featured in the South African Garden
Quite a number of nice wood/stone sculptures in the dome.
Colourful flower field
Can you guess what these plants are? They are olive trees! And do you know that on average, an olive fruit will produce only one drop of oil? We consume over 2 million tonnes of olive oil a year!
The afternoon spent at Cloud Forest, the cool-moist conservatory, was a complete different feel and experience. As I stepped into the conservatory, I couldn’t help gazing in awe the stunning 35m-tall mountain and immersing in the rare soothing sounds of the waterfalls! What a great combination of the beauty of nature with man’s grandiose creation! Too bad, we just missed the Mist Show at 2pm!
The top of this 7-storey mountain can be reached by lift, and visitors can then descend through the two walkways (photo below). What a brilliant concept but perhaps not very suitable for the acrophobic!
These walkways look like roller coasters, don’t they?
On the walkways, appreciating the beauty of nature on one side, and enjoying the beautiful skyline of the Marina Bay area through the glass panels of the conservatory, on the other side. I simply love this!
Another view of the walkways
Many wood sculptures too.
It was a very enjoyable visit, and in fact, I am already considering getting the annual pass for the two conservatories. I have also planned my next visit with another friend later this week, and before this upcoming visit, I will pray hard that the hot sun will have some mercy on me 🙂 , so that it will not be so burning hot when I explore the OCBC Skyway, Supertree Grove and also the outdoor themed gardens.
During my visit to the two conservatories, I noticed that there were many volunteers on duty. They were young ones from polytechnic, or the not-so-young ones too. In my opinion, they have done a good job as the “ambassadors” of the Gardens by the Bay in making the visitors feel welcomed.
However, I do think that there is a need for some improvement in the ticketing service. I had to queue for almost half an hour in order to purchase the entrance tickets for the two conservatories. To me, that was a long wait. I am not sure if this was due to the lack of experience of the ticketing staff, and anything to do with the ticketing system that was not working efficiently enough to cater to the crowds.
Morning queues @ about 915am
The queue became even longer by the time my friend and I left in late afternoon.
To ease the queues, and also for the convenience of the visitors, it will be great if auto-ticketing machines can be made available, not just at the venue, but also at various major MRT stations such Marina Bay, Orchard & City Hall stations. It will also be good if the purchase of year-pass can be done online as this will save the trouble of filling up the forms, and going through the procedures at the venue.
Before leaving, we dropped by the souvenir shop, and I picked up two small items of the same design – one postcard to be sent to my childhood friend to share the joy of my outing that day, and a magnet to add on to my collections. 🙂
As we made our way out, my friend and I decided to have a drink but that turned out to be a terribly wrong decision! Right after the ticketing office, there are only two outlets – Verandah which was already closed for the afternoon, and Cafe Crema. So we were left with no other choice. I was surprised that the cafe does not serve decaf coffee. Their service was slow as we had to wait for about half an hour or longer for our simple order – one hot chocolate and one ice chocolate – to be served. And they made a mistake in our order!
I think this was the worst chocolate drinks I have ever had, and the hot chocolate was not hot at all! Well, something to remember our visit to the Gardens by the Bay!!