Flying to Singapore for a few days was kind of a spur of the moment plan. I was suffering from the winter blues in Korea so Jihyeon convinced me into going to Singapore, a place I've wanted to visit ever since I watched a documentary on the construction of Gardens by the Bay.
Daejeon has a limousine bus (it has super comfortable spacious seats) that goes directly to the Incheon airport. The trip takes about 3 hours and is much easier than catching the train.
Incheon airport was crazy busy. It took us 2 hours to get through security. Lots of Koreans were traveling in the lead up to Seollal (the lunar new year in Korea) which generally falls on the same day as the Chinese new year. Seollal is a 3 day celebration where many Koreans gather with their families and (depending on their religious leanings) perform an ancestral ritual called charye.
We knew there was a long delay to get through security and allowed buckets of time. Once through security we had a couple of hours to kill, so we stopped in at an airport lounge where Jihyeon has free membership with her credit card.
The buffet was ok, not great. I think I would rather just stop in at McDonald's in future....
But we made the most of it...
and enjoyed looking down on the peasants walking past.
After eating as much fried chicken as I could at the buffet, we made our way to our gate.
We arrived in Singapore around 1am and quickly headed to our hotel. The next morning we got up and started to explore Singapore. We started walking towards the Marina Bay Sands hotel which we could see in the distance, towering above the city. Below are some pictures of Clarke Quay, a dining and shopping hot spot along the river on the way to the bay.
Singapore had done well to maintain a lot of their older heritage buildings.
Marina Bay Sands hotel in the distance with their iconic infinity pool on the roof.
It was really nice to get out in the sun again. I could already feel the winter blues getting blasted away and my body working overtime producing vitamin D.
Lots of seafood in Singapore.
We finally reached Marina Bay.
Preparations for Chinese New Year were in full swing.
Across the helix pedestrian bridge is the Marina Bay Sands hotel (left) and the ArtScience Museum (right).
In the shade of the ArtScience Museum is an awesome water lily garden. A great place to rest from the baking Singapore sun.
Hungry, we entered the huge shopping center adjacent to the Marina Bay Sands hotel looking for somewhere to eat. On the basement level you can take a boat ride! Or as the guy in the picture did, take a boat ride with your son while staring hypnotically at your phone the entire time.
We found a food court and set about choosing something to eat.
Lots of choice.
Nom nom nom.
With stomachs full, we headed over to the Flower Dome in Gardens By The Bay. It's pretty crazy. The entire 3 acre 38 meter high greenhouse is air-conditioned and even on the hottest days maintains a temperature of between 23 and 25 degrees Celsius. That I thought was just unbelievably crazy, but cool (no pun intended).
The conservatories are made with special glass that simultaneously allows light for plants and reduces heat with a sensor-equipped roof that is able to provide shade for the plants if it gets too warm.
Lower levels are cooled through water pipes while the warm air rises and is vented out at higher levels.
Before the air is cooled, it is first de-humidified with a liquid desiccant. This reduces the amount of energy required to cool the air. The desiccant is then recycled using the waste heat from the burning of the biomass.
Electricity is generated to cool the conservatories. This is achieved with a combined heat power steam turbine which, fed by horticultural waste from the Gardens.
The Supertrees (huge man made trees I have pictures of below) have solar cells on their canopies which also generate electricity. There are also solar panels integrated with the conservatories.
Put it all together, and you get not one but two massive air-conditioned greenhouses that are environmentally sustainable.
Smell those flowers!
With the Chinese New Year just around the corner, the Flower Dome featured all the animals on the Chinese lunar calendar. Mine is Ox.
Jihyeon's sign is rat.
This year is year of the goat.
The garden replicates a mild, dry climate and features plants found in the Mediterranean and other semi-arid tropical regions (e.g. parts of Australia, South America, South Africa).
You can faintly see the Marina Bay Sands through the roof on the right.
Next to the Flower Dome is another monstrous air-conditioned greenhouse called the Cloud Forest.
Its claim to fame is a 35 meter waterfall, the world's tallest indoor waterfall. Gundi (my teddy bear) also decided to make an appearance.
The Cloud Forest dome is slightly smaller (only 2 acres) than the flower dome, but it is the taller of the two domes.
The Cloud Forest dome houses a 42 meter high "Cloud Mountain" which is accessible by elevator.
A new garden display under construction, featuring Lego plants.
Once you reach the top by elevator, you descend the mountain by a walkway that....
wraps itself around the mountain.
The mountain is clad epiphytes such as orchids, ferns, peacock ferns, spike- and clubmosses, bromeliads and anthuriums. It consists of a number of levels, each with a different theme.
"Cloud Mountain" replicates the cool moist conditions found in tropical mountain regions between 1,000 and 3,000 meters above sea level, found in South-East Asia, Middle- and South America.
Outside, the greenhouses are just as spectacular.
The Supertrees are tree-like structures that tower above the Gardens' landscape with heights that range between 25 and 50 meters.
The Supertrees are vertical gardens that perform multiple functions within the garden, the most obvious being shade.
Gundi decided to make another appearance.
Adjacent to the Supertrees is a large lake which incorporates key ecological processes. It acts as a filtration system for water from the gardens, reducing the water flow and filtering out sediments and absorbing nutrients such as nitrogen. It also provides habitats for biodiversity such as fishes and dragonflies. Water from the lake is also used to irrigate the garden.
Strung between the supertrees is an elevated walkway called the OCBC Skyway, offering a panoramic aerial view of the garden and the bay.
Walking around the supertrees is free, but if you want to go up on the OCBC Skyway you need to purchase a S$5 ticket.
At 22 meters above the ground, it gives you a birds eye view of the garden.
The 128 meter walkway is a large arc passing between two of the biggest supertrees in the garden.
Beautiful blue sky. I recommend coming here in the afternoon after the hottest part of the day has passed.
Back on the ground, we had a rest in the shade of a supertree.
I'd love to come back in a few years when the vines have completely covered the supertree structures.
We grabbed a bite to eat at a restaurant in the garden. Damn, it was expensive. The part that stung most was the 17% tax (7% GST + 10% service tax) that was not included on the menu price.
With stomach's full, we went back to see the supertree's at night.
As you can see, they take on an awesome Avartar glow at night.
Periodically the colours change.
We said goodbye to the garden and stared heading back to our hotel.
But not before one last photo.
Just as we left, we were treated to a fireworks show in the garden.
Back by the Marina Bay Sands hotel we stopped to find people gathering for some kind of show.
It was some kind of fire, laser and water show.
Merlion park across the water in the distance.
The next day we dropped by china town for a visit. It was in full swing preparing for the Chinese New Year.
This guy was painting in gold (Jihyeon said there was real gold in the paint).
One of the many stores packed with Chinese nick-nacks.
It was a hot day, so we stopped by a juice bar for some juice.
mmmm, mango juice.
We stumbled across this food street which was packed with restaurants.
This place looked nice, so we headed in.
This was probably the best meal we had in singapore. It tasted great! We ordered the beef and chicken noodle dishes with some lamb kebabs on the side. Happily, we didn't get hit with the 17% tax here.
No! Don't take my photo!
Hanging laundry out your window to dry seems to be the norm in Singapore. I've never seen this in Korea, even though apartment space is limited.
I thought this was some kind of really old temple, but it turns out it isn't. The temple is based on the Tang dynasty architectural style, but was constructed in 2007 at a cost of S$62 million. It doesn't make it any less amazing though.
It is free to visit, but you have to follow a few rules. One of which being that women must cover their legs. There are some skirts you can borrow (for free) as you enter.
It was a lot different to the Buddhist temples in Korea.
Everything was so "golden" in colour and there were hundreds of unique small Buddhas lining the walls that worshipers could drop money in bowls for.
One of the hundreds of unique Buddhas set into the wall.
After checking out China town we had some time to kill so we wanted around the marina again. That night we were planning to ride the Singapore Flyer, the giant ferris wheel in the picture below..
We rested in the shade by the lily pond again.
And then found a street market to have a bite to eat.
nom nom nom. No 17% tax here!
Once night fell, we headed to the Singapore Flyer for a night view of the city. It was the world's tallest ferris wheel, topping out at 165 meters, until one in Vegas beat it by 2.6 meters.
You can see the Singapore Marina Barrage, a dam built at the confluence of 5 rivers across the marina channel. By keeping seawater out, it provides water storage and flood control. When it rains heavily during low-tide, the barrage’s crest gates will be lowered to release excess water from the reservoir into the sea. If heavy rain falls during high-tide, the crest gates remain closed and giant drainage pumps are activated to pump excess water out to sea.
Marina Bay Sands on the left, and the Singapore CBD on the right.
Oh, I forgot to mention that today was Jihyeon's Birthday! After riding on the Singapore Flyer, we stopped to buy some ice cream.
I made sure to mention to the girl serving us that it was Jihyeons birthday and she should stuff as much ice cream in the cup as possible ^^.
nom nom nom.
It's delicious! You should have some!
Oh no. It's melting!
Ahh, It's on my hand!
We found a place to sit and eat the ice cream with a view of the gardens across on the other side of the bay.
On the way back to our hotel, we stopped by in China Town to take a photo of the Buddhist Tooth Relic Temple at night.
and the famous Chinese food street at night.
The next morning before heading to the airport, we stopped off at the Marina Bay Sands hotel to go up to the observation deck and check out the city one last time.
Singapore still has close ties with it's heritage as a port city. Adjacent to the CBD is the shipping terminal.
One last sunset.
We then jumped on the subway to go to the airport. It was ridiculously cheap! Only about $3. Some cities (cough Brisbane... cough Sydney) could take a page out of Singapore's book.
The subway system in Singapore is still quite new and, like the rest of Singapore, is very clean.
We bought a ticket and jumped on the train.
It has awesome maps with lights showing what station you are at and where you will stop next.
AND THE TRAINS ARE FULLY AUTOMATED! NO DRIVERS! I'm standing where the driver would normally be.
Once at the airport, we checked in and headed for our gate. We had some time to kill, so we stopped off to have a FREE foot massage in one of the massage stations dotted around Changi Airport.
What a way to finish the trip.