In Columns, I’ve asked friends and family to contribute to my blog, with their stories about nature. Today: Charlotte, all the way from Singapore.
Hi! My name is Charlotte, a 26-year-old graduated aerospace engineer currently enjoying all the places my first job as a management trainee is taking me. Jouke is my dearest friend who I, unfortunately, will not see as much as I wish since she is living in Southampton and I am currently living in Singapore… When she asked me about writing a post for her blog on nature in Singapore, I immediately thought about the visit I was then still going to pay to the Garden by the bay. Too bad I couldn’t share this trip with Jouke because I know she would have loved it maybe even more than I did 🙂
On a really nice and hot Sunday in Singapore, with a slight hangover, what better way to relax than by paying a visit to the Gardens by the Bay, with two fellow Dutchies. These gardens have been designed and constructed as of 2006 and have been opened for public in 2011. It serves the purpose of creating awareness, educating visitors and of course for the enjoyment of the beauty while wondering around in this botanic paradise. The construction of the park was part of the government strategy to improve the quality of the city life by increasing the number of parks and greenery, continuously developing Singapore to become a ‘City in a garden’.
We went to see the three probably biggest attraction within this huge park; the Flower Dome, Cloud Forest, and Supertree Grove.
We started our day in the Flower Dome, which looked even bigger from the inside than it did from the outside. This largest greenhouse in the world houses many hundreds of different flowers and plants from all over the world, from Mediterranean and steppe climates. Ranging from the most beautiful and colourful flowers to succulent plants, cactuses, and palm trees. We spent about an hour wandering around the paths and looking at all the plants and flowers and trying to memorize their names… which I, unfortunately, did not succeed in. Then we had really nice coffees with way too expensive pastries at the café in the Flower Dome, which we used to actually warm-up a bit since it was quite cold inside.
Next to the Flower Dome is the Cloud Forest, which is a similar but much higher glass structure in which a sort of mountain (35 meters high!) was built which is covered with tropical flowers and plants and you can climb up and around on the Cloud path and Treetop path. On one side of the mountain, even a waterfall is constructed. At certain times throughout the day, a specially constructed climate system creates a misty cloud that descends from the mountain to mimic the conditions of a rainforest. Unfortunately, we were not inside during one of these times.
At the end of the route down the mountain, we ended our visit at the exhibition about the huge threats and dangers mainly caused by humans to the ecological system. Short movies showed the effects caused by overpopulation, the greenhouse effect and pollution on ecosystems and the extinction of species. This is a great way to enhance awareness amongst the visitors and to realize not to take for granted all the beauty we had just seen.
Singapore, being a melting pot of different cultures, has the great advantage of having celebrations from all over the world spread throughout the year. During this particular weekend, it was Mid-Autumn festival in the city, which is a Chinese festival filled with colourful lanterns, mooncakes and is by origin celebrated to thank the gods. As I’ve noticed in my first weeks here, celebrations like these in Singapore are a big deal, with lots of decorations and lovely food. In the Flower Dome, a massive layout of hundreds of pumpkins was the showpiece for Mid-Autumn. The whole-year-round light show at the Supertree Grove was extra festive during this time, with big lantern displays, live music, and market stalls. On a route further through the park, different lantern displays were set-up, with their own light shows. After we spent the afternoon indoors in the domes, walking through the park to view all these little shows was quite magical.