Raffles Hotel is a no small building, once a majestic hangout but now dwarfed by the gigantic office towers that surround it. But another hotel that’s extremely dominating is Marina Bay Sands, three 55-storey buildings and a long boat-like platform connecting them at the top. It’s an iconic building and you can see that architectural fantasies have been let loose also also elsewhere in Singapore.
Behind the Marina Bay Sands-complex is a large park called Gardens by the Bay. Equipped with tall constructions that resemble trees and crashed spaceships. The latter being two very big greenhouses, one with garden flowers from around the world called “the Flower Dome,” and the other containing a mountain with a humid cloud forest on top. From the top a 35 m high waterfall falls down on the ground.
The tre-like structures are called Supertrees and are covered with real greenery, but inside there’s tubes and ventilators regulating the climate in the greenhouses. When darkness falls the Supertrees light up creating a magic world.
Singapore’s city has expanded rapidly during the last 100 years and because the land area is limited much of the original forests have been cut down and built upon. But there are some green lungs left and one that we recommend is the Botanical Gardens. It’s a big park with different kinds of habitats, there’s even a tropical forest. You can find over a thousand different varieties of orchid here, and tranquil dams and waterfalls. In one dam we se a number of black swans, but they’re too far away for our cameras. This park has free entrance.
Singapore is, to generalize, a modern, square and straight giant shopping mall, and in no way can it be associated with a term like “atmosphere”. But one attraction that we found in all this steel, glass and concrete jungle is the Fountain of Wealth, inside the Suntec City mall. A gigantic golden ring hovers over a fountain where water jets pour in all directions. Under the center of the ring a spring well bubbles, and the urban myth here is that walking around this fountain and touching the water brings you fortune and health. Many business-type people do this so we guess that superstition here is widespread.
It’s easy to move around in Singapore, thanks to a superb subway system, with swift and frequent trains, calm queuing and clean carriages. Thankfully it’s strictly forbidden to eat the stinking durian fruit in here. In the escalators people are extremely careful about standing to the right and climbing to the left. It’s opposite to how we do it in the west, but it works perfectly.
If you, like us, plan to go to Indonesia it’s definitely worth spending a few days in Singapore on a stop-over to or from your destination. There are direct flights to Jakarta but these are often quite expensive. To go by ferry from Singapore harbour across the narrow sound to Batam is considerably cheaper. An hour’s nice sea trip for under $50.
From Singapore we continue by boat to magical Indonesia, and if you wish to follow our adventures there, click here.