Singapore – an amusement park for plants
Singapore has two botanical attractions. One is the more traditional Singapore Botanic Garden. With its massive collection of 3000 species and hybrid orchids, 250 varieties of ginger, and a Michelin-starred restaurant, it is a must-visit.
The other is also spectacular and a bit weird, the Gardens by the Bay. Above you see the “trees” that provide ventilation to the complex and behind them, one of the two greenhouses.
It’s easily accessible by subway but today we grabbed an Uber. Getting around Singapore by Uber is incredibly easy and cheap. Also an opportunity to chat with locals. One told us he drives into Malaysia on the weekends for the cheaper seafood and that he had a strong feeling about the Orange One just by looking at his hair – not a good feeling.
This is the arid greenhouse, where the word massive would not be inappropriate. It houses a collection of dry-climate plants from around the world, some of which are quite old. It boggles the mind to wonder how they managed to locate, acquire, transport and install all these specimens.
There is this avenue of giants, one of multiple floors.
Here are a few examples:
Madagascar Ghost Tree
The hottentot is the ball-shaped thing behind the label.
and something else
A Queensland bottle tree
South African Tree Grape
a centuries-old olive tree
Looming outside is another emblem of Singapore, the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
It’s made up of three hotel towers topped by a boat which has an infinity pool and a sky bar.
Exiting the greenhouse takes you through, what else, the gift shop, which also funnels you into the moist greenhouse.
The main thing here is a huge mountain of plants covering the sides. this isn’t a roller coast but the walkways that lead up, through, and around it.
There’s not actually much to say here, so what catches your eye are the Lego pitcher plants:
or a somewhat random display of stalagmites/stalactites;
Reaching the top you’re rewarded with the view looking down:
and the waterfall from the other direction:
People didn’t seem to be particularly interested. (And selfie sticks…really?)
Before leaving, there’s a lovely reflecting pool to see up there.
Stepping outside, a gloomy Marina Bay Sands.
We had meant to catch the hotel’s light and water show but ducked out after a few minutes because it was pretty lame. Still, there was a nice view of downtown:
And now for dinner. Din Tai Fung is a multi-national chain based in Taiwan. Their reputation rests on dumplings, particularly Shanghai dumplings, or xiao long bao. Whenever we run across one, we try go in. That’s difficult in the small nation of Singapore where there are 20! outlets.
This year we tried the one in the Chinatown Point mall, with its unexpected neighbor.
Delicious, delicious dumplings:
Shrimp and crab
Singapore chili crab. Then the main event:
The thing with XLB is they’re miraculously filled with soup. It takes a little bit of skill to pick one up out of the tray and get it into your mouth without breaking it. All of the darker bottom part of this dumpling is soup.
Rounding out the night was a visit to the Temple St Mei Heong Yuen dessert shop. One of their things is shaved ice, the perfect end to a hot day. Here’s our lychee and mango:
Before bed, yet another New Year’s Chicken:
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