CONSERVATORY AT GARDENS BY THE BAY

Today (29th May) it’s a bank holiday in Singapore due to Vesak, and I figured out I could use the day to explore something new in the city.

I thought that riding a bike across Marina would be nice, so I went to the pile -literally- of shared bikes behind one of the Raffles Place MRT entrances and tried to unlock one… I use GrabCycle because I already have a Grab account, and I caught an offer to ride the whole month for just $3. The service is new, and apparently, they operate as a market-place, integrating different bike sharing services in Singapore… but so far, I’ve got to say it’s quite crappy! I imagine that they’ll improve with time, but really, they have fewer bikes than other services (OFO), and once you find one, chances are you’ll not be able to ride it… First, it might never unlock, if it does, you might realize that it is missing a piece, and if it doesn’t good luck adjusting the height of the saddle. So finally, there you’ve got me, a 190 cm guy riding across Marina a tiny bike with the seat at the minimum height…

I rode to Gardens by the Bay. These days Singapore weather is especially mischievous going from bright to dark to pouring rain within minutes. Anyway, at that point, it was still nice and sunny, so while walking by the river, a group of otters decided to leave the water and chill in the shore for a while.

If you are not familiar with Gardens by the Bay, it is a picturesque park in the South of the island. The location makes the views from the park unique. You are surrounded by Marina Bay (water where the otters live), the characteristic Marina Bay Sands Hotel, and a bit further away you have the Central Business District (CBD), a glut of tall, modern, office buildings. I love going there as every step gives me a different angle of this area, which is, by the way, my favorite spot in Singapore, and in my opinion, one of the prettiest urban landscapes in the world.

From Gardens by the Bay, you’ll have on your top of mind the Supertree Grove, a set of structures resembling trees that have become an icon of Singapore. But today, after the photo shooting session with otters, I decided to visit the cool-dry conservatory.

This garden is split under two massive domes. I was initially hesitating if buying the ticket ($28 for an adult non-resident) or waiting for Eloisa, or somebody else, and go together. But today there was a 50% discount on the price of the annual “Friends of the Gardens” membership, that gives access to both domes and the OCBC skywalk (a walking bridge uniting two of the supertrees). Then, for $34, I can return as many times as I want…

I first visited the Flower Dome, the largest glass greenhouse in the world, hosting an outstanding garden. The dome is kept at around 25 degrees, which makes it a nice place to be for a break of the hot and humid Singapore. Inside there is a recreation of gardens from different parts of the world: Australian, South African, Mediterranean, and so on. Flowers and sculptures are combined to create nice compositions. Said this, it felt like it is not worth the price… But of course, I know nothing about plants and flowers… I will go again for a more informed visit to see if that changes the perception.

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Straight from the Flower Dome, I visited the Cloud Forest (the other Dome). Inside, there is a recreation of a mountain that hosts a different gardens at each altitude. As soon as you enter the Dome, there is an impressive waterfall starting at the top of the mountain. The visit starts with an elevator ride to the top (it is the sixth floor by the way), and from there, you walk down through runways and escalators. As you go down, you walk around the mountain which allows you to appreciate different vertical gardens, and Singapore from different perspectives.

Overall, I felt it was a nice thing to do, although I would probably not pay the price if I am on a two or three-day trip to Singapore. There are so many things to do here, and you might not want to pay $28 to rush the visit, it might be better to go straight to the Supertree Grove, and the lights show while having some snacks and a drink sitting on the grass. Additionally, be aware that Singapore has a well-known botanic garden located in Tanglin which is mostly free to visit.

 

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