Monday, June 19, 2017

Singapore: 50 Shades of Green

Singapore was a surprise: clean, green, safe and friendly. Full of fabulous parks and green areas, an awesome public transport system and amazing zoos. Over a very short space of time this tiny country, barely bigger than most cities, has shown how you can take a high population density (3rd globally) and still have a very healthy, liveable, green and happy country/city. Called the greenest city in Asia, with a total green cover at 47%, a country barely the size of half of London accommodates over 5 million people. It does not feel that way, with the amount of greenery giving the impression of space and size. This has been by design with laws mandating that new developments replace greenery lost by installing roof gardens and cascading vertical gardens on the new buildings.

One of the highlights was the Gardens by the Bay. This is a large botanical complex with a wide variety of themed gardens and two huge specialty buildings, the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. On top of all that it has these huge artificial structures they call Supertrees. Apart from looking amazing and being part of a twice nightly sound and light show they are also solar collectors and vertical gardens. The sound and light show was a 12 minute extravaganza on a Star Wars theme. You might well ask, 'But what about the power use?' Well, the park has its own biofuels power plant powered by its own waste, the domes are water collectors and as mentioned the supertrees produce power from the sun.

At 7 Tons this sculpture called 'Planet'
looks like it is floating.

We also bought a 4 park pass for the zoos: Jurong Bird Park, Singapore Zoo, Zoo's Night Safari and River Safari. All of them had a focus on education, conservation and species protection. Do not like to see animals behind bars but there was a large number of big unfenced bushland enclosures using other methods such as moats to ensure safety. So many beautiful animals in beautiful surroundings. With the help of the subway and bus system we trundled from park to park to park over a 3 day period. The 3 day tourist pass allowing unlimited use of public transport is very convenient and excellent value.

A word of warning: the subway shuts down at midnight sharp, regardless of where the train is. We found that out the hard way when we were dumped two stops early and had to walk home. Well, not had to, but we don't like to use taxis if we can take public transport or walk, even at midnight (we both have stubborn streaks). FYI, we can confirm that the streets are safe and it is about half an hour's walk between metro stops.

On our last day we spent some time exploring the old buildings and harbour front with the famous Merlion statue, before going back to the Gardens by the Bay supertrees 8.45pm sound and light show. This time I watched without filming the whole thing and up close and personal - standing directly under the trees instead of on a hill. Tired but happy we went to leave the gardens when we noticed a commotion nearby. We investigated and found out they were doing a full dress rehearsal of an acrobatic sound and light show for the park's 5th year anniversary the following week. In prime position we got to watch a Cirque du Soleil type performance among these fabulous trees, what a score :-) !!!

Reluctantly we left early the following morning for my first toe dip into the world of medical tourism...

A collection of photos of the Supertrees