A mid-morning start to a relaxing day of sightseeing. After a Singaporean breakfast of super soft boiled eggs and toast with coconut spread. While we were waiting for people to prepare with passports, thunder started booming around us, with flashes of lighting in the distance. As we were about to leave, a monsoon of rain came down upon us, I was surprised about the sheer volume of watch which came down, however it did show me why there are such large storm drains around the city.
We travelled to Kent ridge by train and walked over to the Merlion. We walked past a few stages of people setting up for a festival and sound checking. Then over the Helix bridge to the Marina bay sands shopping centre. After spending time at the centre, we walked over to Gardens by the bay, which had a massive array of plant life. We went into the flower dome first off which had plants from all over the world, it was very nice to get inside and be out of the very humid atmosphere. The plants inside the dome were very diverse and aesthetically pleasing. The group moved to the Cloud Forest which was a cooler separate dome with a giant mound in the middle with rainforest plants growing off the walls and a waterfall from the top to the bottom. It was an amazing experience to see such a large variety of plants.
You know a day is going to turn out to be great when you are greeted with thunder storms. That is what we faced today as we were about to disembark. We took a bus trip down to Kent Ridge and caught the train all the way to Raffles Place.
As we were making our way to the Merlion, we passed a couple of statues along the water, my favourite one being the singapura cats playing by the river on the Cavenagh Bridge. We arrived at the Merlion and took a short break so we could take pictures of the icon. Soon after we made our way towards the Marina Bay Sands.
Along the way we could hear various bands doing sound checks and getting prepared for the BayBeats festival that was scheduled for the weekend. On the way to the Marina Bay Sands was an interesting bridge in the shape of a helix, appropriately named The Helix Bridge which also had letter pairings along the walkway a – t and g – c to show the base amino acids comprising genes.
We ate our lunch in the shopping complex and where spoilt for choice, so of course I chose to eat some burgers. After this much needed feed we made our way to Gardens by the Bay. This area was so vibrant and diverse and showed off the multiculturalism of Singapore. The Flower Dome had flora from all over the world ranging from China to Africa and our own home country. After the Flower Dome we entered the gorgeously refreshing Cloud Forest. This place was exquisite with a massive waterfall that greets you as you walk in. Fair to say there where many pictures taken during today.
As the day of planned activities came to a close, me and a few others went off to Funan to look at the massive assortment of electrical goods that has taken over 7 floors.
So today was a day that I have been looking for since we found out what our schedule was. This is because we were visiting Marina Bay, home of the amazing Marina Bay Sands hotel, Gardens by the Bay, and Merlion. Marina Bay was one of the few things I remember from my last trip to Singapore when I was four, so it was exciting to see how much it had changed. As I thought it would be, the changes were incredible!
Our first stop was Marina Bay where we observed the beautiful surroundings, such as the Merlion, Marina Bay Sands, the Double Helix Bridge, and the Art and Science Museum. Marina Bay was the perfect combination of science, architecture and art.
After crossing the Double Helix Bridge we entered the Marina Bay Sands Shopping Centre for lunch and some quick shopping. It has to be one of the most amazing shopping centres I have ever been to around the world! It was enormous, ultra modern, and basically my idea of what heaven would be like. It had a little river with gondolas running through it as well.
Our second stop after lunch were the Gardens by the Bay where we visited two conservatories, the first one being The Flower Dome. The flower dome was filled with flowers and plants which were sorted into different areas of the world. The main display being the persian garden which had bright, colourful mosaics with water features. The second conservatory we attended was the Cloud Forest. This conservatory was one of my favourite places we visited today. As soon as you enter you are surrounded by beautiful rain forest florae and a 35-metre water fall. There were walkways on many levels throughout the Cloud Forest allowing you to view every angle of the place. It is somewhere I would definitely recommend people to visit who come to Singapore as it’s like no where else.
Today we did our first group activity, which was visiting the Marina Bay, and the Gardens by the Bay. The day started for me at 8am, I got up and got dressed and attempted to find something to eat, which was suprisingly difficult. I ended up having spring rolls, there was one breakfast option which was toast with what I thought was raw egg to dip in, which didn’t look very appetising.
After breakfast I met up with the rest of the group and as we were preparing to leave we experienced our first crazy change in wearger as a tropical thunderstorm unleased on Singapore. We caught the shuttle bus to the trainstation, the train ride into the city was pretty uneventful, but the public transport system is amazingly clean and punctual.
We got off at Raffles station and walked along Marina Bay to look across to the Marina Bay Sands, the arcitechture of the building was amazing and it has a very commanding presence amongst the other skyscapers around it, it was very impressive. After we took photos of the bay it was about 12 pm, it was time for lunch, so we headed over to the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. I had some beef Singapore fried noodles which were delicious, and then had a wander around the shopping complex which was full of designer shops.
Next on the agenda was to visit the Gardens by the Bay, walking toward the area you are greeted by lushious greenery and huge purple towers that look like they are from a futuristic movie.
There are two different domes at Garden by the Bay, one called the Flower dome, which was the first one that the group went in. The Flower Dome was slightly cooler and less humid than outside which was good, the Flower Dome was okay, it was like most other gardens basically. The other garden is called the Cloud Dome, which was much more interesting than the Flower Dome. When entering the Cloud Dome younare greeted by a waterfall/cliff face that is 35 metres high, and covered in tropical plants. There was a skywalk around the top of the waterfall which gave a nice perspective of the whole garden area.
After the Cloud Dome we were free to go off on our own, and I went back to the shopping centre and then went back to my room.
After spending our first night in our appointed student residence – which is, as a whole, quite comfortable -, it was finally time to begin our long awaited study tour. With a trip to the extravagant Marina Bay Sands and the nearby Gardens by the Bay just on the horizon, we were all keen to get moving.
But as 10 o’clock rolled around and we all gathered at the meeting point, the true nature of the Singaporean climate revealed itself. Within minutes, the previously cloudless skies were filled with dark rain clouds and booming thunder (the photo below hardly captures the majesty of the downpour).
Yet by the time we arrived at the Marina Bay Sands, the weather was once again sunny, and the day was beginning to heat up. The true scale of the Marina Bay Sands hotel is hard to grasp until you are standing at its base. The three towers, along with the multi-story shopping centre located below, can only be described as the epitome of Singapore’s affluence. Indeed, it truly highlights Singapore’s economic success, while also highlighting the country’s obvious economic disparity.
After a leisurely lunch, we then proceeded towards the Gardens by the Bay: a beautiful garden containing two huge domes with controlled climates, each of which housing a huge array of varying flora. We spent the rest of the trip in the two domes, capturing as many photos as possible of the amazing views (from atop the high walkways) and the exotic plants.
Overall, I felt that the experience was a perfect, relaxed introduction to what I am sure is going to be a very intense study tour.
I had arrived early in Singapore so I would have a chance to look around before the tour started. Unfortunately, the flu/cold resulted in three days largely spent on the bunk in the dorm of a hostel. I managed to make a few trips to a hawker centre across the road, accompanied by a paramedic from Sydney. He was an interesting person, approximately of my parent’s generation, and similarly widely travelled.
His prejudices regarding technology, pharmaceuticals, and people who overused ambulances also echoed my mother. She is an intensive care nurse; I suspect these sentiments might be common in their field.
The food at the hawker centre was excellent, although much of the more subtle flavours were unfortunately lost on me, due to my blocked nose and sinuses. I tried a ‘poh piah’, a sort of crepe, filled with sliced boiled egg, caramelised onion, and chilli. For $1.50, it was brilliant.
A brief period of confusion regarding my location excluded, Friday’s meeting with the rest of the group and check-in to our accommodation in Utown at NUS went smoothly. My room was small but comfortable, with a single bed, a desk and a wardrobe, though no coat hangers.
Sunday was the first official day of the study tour, and eased us in gently (my feet may not agree with this evaluation however) with a ‘cultural activity’ outing. NRoberts and me met at the Utown Starbucks for morning coffee, a most pleasant start to the day. The group joined us there at 10, and almost immediately rain began bucketing down, with some lovely loud thunder as well. Everyone rushed to buy umbrellas, though they didn’t do much. Once we left, the weather calmed somewhat, but my shoes were already soaked.
After various modes of transport, we arrived at Marina Bay. This was quite a different Singapore than I had previously been seeing; cleaner, newer, though with grand colonial buildings interspersed. Skyscrapers dotted the landscape, and the famous Marina Bay Sands building was visible across the water. A huge Merlion (a lion with a fish tail, Singapore’s mascot) statue poured water from its mouth and overlooked the bay.
We made our way across the Helix Bridge to the Marina Centre and lunched at an overpriced food court. I had my first coffee in Singapore (kopi) and it was reminiscent of Vietnamese style ca phe and was delicious.
Gardens By the Bay was our major destination of the day; two massive biospheres containing trees, flowers, and humans keen to escape Singapore’s oppressive humidity. The first contained flora native to many different countries, including boab trees from Australia, and a reproduction of a Persian garden in the centre. The second had forest ferns and a central ‘mountain’ with a waterfall in the centre. Orchids grew on the rock faces and at the top there was a miniature lake with water foliage. I preferred the atmosphere of the second, like a rainforest in parts. I took many, many photos, to the point where my companion was getting somewhat irritated at our pace.
We returned to Utown via the MRT, and I am currently in my room. I’m about to go find some food, wish me luck!