Tropical Travels Part 7

Wednesday morning started with a visit to Gardens By The Bay. Getting off the train to see the Singapore CBD was awesome. It is a beautiful city, although the buildings aren’t in the same league as Kuala Lumpur.

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If you plan to visit both Gardens By The Bay and the Bot Gardens, do Gardens By The Bay first. It is very impressive, but the Bot Gardens are even more impressive. I highly recommend visiting both.

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I started by taking a tour of the sky walk through the towers. It is definitely worth doing this, the views are great. Marina Bay Sands is right by Gardens By The Bay – and I was aware that I would be going up that later in the day – but still worth going up the towers, even if just for a good view of Marina Bay Sands.

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I proceeded from there to the Cloud Forest – the highest indoor waterfall on earth, at 35m.

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At first I wasn’t very impressed – an indoor waterfall is relatively arbitrary. It is also notable that I have seen so many waterfalls above 100m, that a 35m one is very unlikely to impress me. However, I soon realised that this was part of creating a self-sustaining micro-environment that allowed mist belt plants to grow in an artificial environment. The project is designed to be carbon neutral – which I thought was pretty cool.

The entire cloud forest dome was designed for an educational program about climate change, which was very well put together. So overall they managed to sell me on why this was actually a brilliant idea. The floral displays were also amazing.

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I proceeded to the dome that shows plants from around the world, including a South African exhibit with the flowers that grow outside my kitchen! After a bit of time in here, I looked at my watch and realised it was already past midday – I had spent so much time in Singapore looking at flowers that I would miss lots of what I came here to see. So I decided to call it a day on Gardens By The Bay and move on to Marina Bay Sands. I could easily go back and spend a full day at Bot Gardens and another full day at Gardens By The Bay, and probably wouldn’t be finished seeing either.

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Marina Bay Sands is the second most expensive building on earth. It is 200m high, and made up of three connected buildings with a large “ship” on top. Visitors can go to the top of the front end of the ship, but are limited to a fairly small section of the top.

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The views from the top are great – I definitely recommend going up. It is interesting to have done the Petronas Towers the day before, and Marina Bay Sands the next day – they are so different.

I spent quite a bit of time on top enjoying the view. Definitely worth it.

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Once I was done up there, I found some lunch at the local mall, before heading back to the Burgers’ place. I walked to Eugene’s school so that we could set off for a walk through the nearby mangrove swamp.

Got to love Singapore – just casually walking through the park when we saw a pied hornbill. You know they are doing something right when there are so many wild animals around.

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I also tagged the Johor Straight along the way. I love how well kept the trails are in Singapore. It is a truly special country.

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We had supper with Mariska that evening. She is a family friend of the Burgers.

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Day 13

Thursday would be an important day – my last full day in Singapore, and I was so far from finishing my to-do list. So much for “it will take 2 days”!

Matthew decided to take the day off school to join me on my adventures. We started with Bukit Timah – the highest point in Singapore. Matthew had never done a country high point before, and it would be my 5th.

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It starts with a fairly gentle road before hitting some surprisingly steep steps. But when a country high point is only 164m above sea level – you can’t climb for very long before reaching the top.

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We had some snacks on the summit before heading back down.

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Seeing as we didn’t have to get back by car, we took an alternative route down – towards something called “the Dairy Farm”. We soon realised that transport from here was an issue, so we caught a Grab from there to the bird park.

I am not usually a fan of bird parks – but my brother’s wife had made sure I was aware that this was no ordinary bird park. Home to both shoebills and birds of paradise, this bird park is supposed to be one of the best in the world.

Walking into it, I already noticed something was different – being Singapore, the floral displays at the entrance were very impressive.

The shoebill was very early along in the displays. It is a very strange creature. Sad that there are so few of these left in the wild.

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We spent a fair amount of time looking at the birds before we left. Next was ION Sky – the tallest building that you can go up in Singapore.

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A long ride on the trains brought us to the ION Mall. The basic rule is that you spend $20 at the mall and you get a free trip to the top. As it turns out, they were running an exhibit regarding the Palace of Versailles at the time, so entrance was open to anyone. However the view was blocked off.

So 218m above the city, we walked around an exhibit of VR devises and random displays and the only view of the city we saw was the window near the lift, which was not covered.

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It was still an interesting visit, but not what we had come for. One display photoshopped your face onto a painting from the palace. We had some fun with this.

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That evening we proceeded to Bedok to buy the gear Matthew would need for Borneo. We had burgers and chips before heading back.

Friday was the last day of the semester, so Matthew stayed at home again to pack for Borneo. This was going to be an epic, and excitement was clearly in the air.

We had no complications on the way to the airport, and soon we were sitting on an Air Asia flight to Kota Kinabalu. Bring on Borneo!

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