In my previous blog, I listed the basic information, including some tips and suggestions that will come in handy when you visit the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. Now that I have got that formality out of the way, here goes why I fell in love with the Gardens as I spent close to eight hours across a weekend exploring it.
Day 1 at the Gardens: Spectacular. Immense. Incredibly well-thought, well-planned and well-laid out. I have only superlatives to describe my over 3 hours walk that first evening. And by that time, I had barely covered one-hundredth of this entire park. I ended that evening with the lights show (at 7:45 PM) at the Supertrees Grove that was simply spectacular. Yes, this word will occur a few times in this blog!
The sound and lights show at the Supertree Grove
Day 2 at the Gardens: After wrapping up the remaining business formalities the next day, I had close to 6 hours before I had to head to the airport to catch my flight back to India. I headed back again – the call of the Gardens was too strong! This time, I did both the Flower dome and the Cloud Forest (at least 2 hours each in both these exotic domes), explored the Indian, Chinese, and Australian heritage parks, and sat down to just stare and take it all in. After that, I had to simply say goodbye to this park, and head to the airport.
What was so special about the Gardens?
The Flower Dome: Let me start with this. Oh my! The dome is listed in the Guinness book of world records as the largest greenhouse in the world, and is spread over 1.2 hectares. The theme was topical gardens and it covered the five major tropical and semi-arid areas in the world – Australia, the Mediterranean, California, South Africa and South America. These have to be seen to be believed – you actually felt you were in Greece as you entered the Olive grove. They even had a 1000-year old olive tree!
An exhibit at the Flower Dome
The Cloud Forest: A 35-metre tall mountain from which the world’s largest indoor waterfall cascades down! A gentle mist covers the top of the mountain (they actually spray the mist at regular intervals) and as you walk on the pathway that winds down from the top, you also visit the caverns and the crystal mountain with stalactites and stalagmites – an engineering marvel by itself. What I loved was the mirrors placed strategically all over the cavern so that a stalactite in the mirror would appear as a stalagmite, and vice versa.
The world’s largest indoor waterfall at the Cloud Forest
And the most special exhibit? The art sculptures that are laid out at strategic intervals along the park, created by Masters around the world, is a must-see. While I am not an art person (yes, along with not being a plant person!), some of the sculptures just were too impressive. I loved the seven-ton bronze sculpture of this naked baby (titled “Planet” by Mark Quinn) lying slightly elevated from the ground, supported seemingly by just his fingers. The flower clock, seven meters wide, is another hallmark of the gardens that attracted the maximum selfies. It was a gift from Audemars Piguet on the occasion of Singapore’s 50th anniversary.
A sculpture in the Flower Dome called “La Famille De Voyageurs” (The travelling family) by Bruno Catalano.
And now for the scultpure that embodies the Gardens as none other – Bruno Catalano’s “Le Famille De Voyageurs”. As I reflected on the garden, the sculptures and the over 100,000 varieties of flowers and orchids in the flower dome (my last stop before I headed out), this sculpture called out to me like nothing else. A gift from the Changi airport, the sculpture shows how a traveler takes with them beautiful memories, while leaving a part of them behind.
I don’t envy Singapore its skyscrapers, its stellar reputation, its clean and sparkling city, or its vibrant and friendly people. I envy it for its Gardens by the Bay. To create a floral garden from scratch, especially to someone like me who is likely to kill a healthy plan by just watering it, is a marvel akin to God creating Paradise. No amount of concrete or asphalt can recreate the magic of a garden the way Singapore has, with plants, flowers and art. (and of course, cleverly concealed concrete and asphalt!)
Travel is meant to broaden the spirit and expose us to cultures and norms. It is supposed to enrich our lives as we learn about how the rest of the world live and go about their day. And it is supposed to show how people celebrate the world around them. The Gardens certainly showed how the people in Singapore value the environment around them.
A part of me is still in the Gardens – the part that marvels at the magic of human will and potential.
So go ahead and visit Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay, and while a piece of you will be certainly left behind, I promise you that the memories you carry back with you will more than make up for it.
PS: All images in this blog are from the Gardens by the Bay website and they own the copyright for all these images. I did take oodles of pictures at the Gardens, but my phone broke down and I had to wipe it clean and start over. But take it from me, these images are way better than anything I took with my old phone. You are not missing anything!