I had high expectations for the much lauded Gardens by the Bay, as it’s under the National Park Boards and they do such a wonderful job with the Botanic Gardens. It’s also currently the hottest place after Singapore’s first Dean & Deluca outlet. I also had high expectations as this garden has been touted as Singapore’s Central Park.
Sadly it’s nothing like Central Park and I found the place too touristy and the prices are out of reach for ordinary Singaporeans. Wasn’t this place built with us, the little people, in mind? I didn’t have to pay a cent to explore Central Park in New York City. I would have thought 5 bucks for each dome would be more reasonable not 12 bucks. And it’s S$20 for 2 domes plus another S$5 for the OCBC skyway (suspended bridge). I can’t help but feel that this whole place has been built to lure in the tourist dollar mainly. It’s also the reason why I hardly visit our wonderful Zoo.
I will go into detail about each dome in different posts. It’s just a bit too overwhelming to cover them all in one. I wouldn’t recommend the food here either, although I only tried out one joint so far. Again. Tourist prices. Although I must say the ambience would be pretty nice on weekdays when the area is not buzzing with people and noise.
What I did like was looking at the flowers up close. I expected more roses though – my favourite. Also, the main flower display looked garish to me. Who designed that I wonder – so obiang. And the colours of some of the flowers did not look natural somehow – injected with dye? I really have no clue. Didn’t look very attractive to me. The one word which encapsulates how I feel about the new attraction – artificial. It might start looking better once the vines and other trees grow and be as lush as the botanic gardens? I for now am not feeling the supertrees. Ugh the purple shade they are in reminds me of the colour theme of our buses. At the moment they seem like an eyesore. Although I must admit the domes are futuristically impressive looking.
But I don’t want to be a complaining grouch. The separate queue for residents made me happy as the other queue was so long. The air-conditioned (I think they used a cooled down water system that’s cheaper?) domes were sweet. I guess the high fees are due to all the cost that will go into powering this place? Also this place is sold as eco-friendly but I still trying to wrap my mind around that. Anyway I am a hypocrite as I can’t live without air-conditioning and often wish the whole of Singapore could be this temperature. B mentioned that California is like this – wonderfully sunny yet cool. And if you have the time, you can read all the little boards and learn more about the plants from more temperate regions. But it did feel odd the way everything was organized and structure. Well just the way everything is ordered and structured in Singapore, so not a surprise? I guess I prefer my nature a little wild and messy. A bit like the forested area outside Samy’s curry at Dempsey Hill. It’s truly a little tropical wonderland and more of those natural green spaces would make me feel at peace in this country. Not more artificial tourist attractions.
Ok, gonna do a couple of little posts about this place, just to share my experience with you so you can decide if you wanna go. I guess, go at least once? In the future I wouldn’t mind paying for the Flower Dome entry if I want to have a stroll in cool surroundings and perhaps a drink at the Pollen cafe within that space. Although just one cocktail will set you back S$20. And I would only go during the weekday.
So that’s my take for today. Hope it was useful. Also if you have a fear of heights, this place will be a nightmare for you. Loads of shaky seeming wire suspended bridges are a main feature within the domes. It’s a bit of a waste if you don’t go on them. I don’t have this height phobia, but I must say I felt a bit nervous as you feel it shaking. Also I overheard someone saying they dropped their camera. And when I was there someone dropped something from above and there was a scream. But I guess it was something tiny.
Check out these future posts that I will write about and link up soon:
Gardens by the Bay: Parking & Getting Oriented
The OCBC Skyway
Gardens by the Bay: Cosy Nooks with Nice Views
Gardens by the Bay: The Flower Dome (Part 1)
Gardens by the Bay: The Flower Dome (Part 2)
Gardens by the Bay: The Cloud Dome
Meanwhile here are some close-ups mostly taken by my partner, of pretty flowers from the Flower Dome (out of the 2 Domes, I prefer this shorter one). Somehow I appreciate them more, being able to see them even more clearly on my computer. That’s a bit warped I must admit.
The close-up shots of the flowers are absolutely gorgeous!!!
My partner will be happy to hear that cos he took those 🙂 I love flower close-ups.
i love how you use “partner” instead of husband. When I was studying in New York, every professor used the word “partner.” It’s for the sake of equality among gender and sexuality. 🙂 Thumbs up.
I hope it becomes the de-facto term for couples & loses any of the business connotations. More people are using it these days I think.
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Claire and I didn’t make it into the domes as the queues were too long and we only had Ellie’s preschool time to go, explore, and get back to United Square.
I tend to disagree with you…I think there’s a lot of space that’s free to explore. I really liked the themed gardens (especially the rocks in the Chinese Garden) and I thought $5 for the sky walk was really reasonable. I could see going back and not exploring any of the stuff that costs money.
However, I do really want to visit the flower dome. The flowers are all imported from Europe and the US and I feel like it would be a little patch of home. That last picture-the purple flower–is the sort of flower we’ve planted in our front yard (my in-laws might even have them in their yard now). Also the plain white daisy (3rd from the bottom) grows wild all over my part of the US, and just seeing a photo makes me smile. I’d love to go see it in person.
But I do think you’re right that billing it as Singapore’s Central Park is WAAAAAY off base. The Botanic Gardens is Singapore’s Central Park.
I think there’s a whole section I might have missed out. Yeah out of the 2 Domes, the Flower Dome was my fave and the cacti were so pretty. Cacti with pink flowers. I really liked that best.
Think I didn’t go there expecting a theme park but a much bigger version of Botanic Gardens or something like NY’s Central Park. Perhaps if this was marketed as a theme park I might have had different expectations. But I did love the cool air within the domes. Could they do that with the whole of Singapore 😉 just kidding.
Have you read Alex Au’s contributing guest’s take on it? http://yawningbread.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/on-supertrees-neo-colonialism-and-globalisation/
Ideologically, GBB is just wrong. The structure of GBB itself reflects on what kind of society Singapore is: an air conditioned nation. GBB is too neat and structured and unnatural. I mean, it’s supposed to be gardens and gardens are natural right? But GBB is so artificial, pruned and constrictive. I don’t mean space-wise constriction; I mean in a control-freak kind of constriction.
I had similar feelings about it. It was quite unlike Botanic Gardens which seems less structured.
Alex Au is an amazing writer. He puts it all so succinctly.
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I will be visiting, I plan to wait a bit and hope the lines decrease after an initial rush. I do agree that the money focus seems excessive but that is really natural for a Singapore operation today. While Central Park was really a quality of life effort that happens to have been a huge economic boon to the city, Gardens was built solely for economic reasons. Increasing income from tourists is a big focus of Singapore and they hope this will help – I think they are right. They actually will make more on the other spending (extra food spending, one extra hotel night…) than direct spending at the Gardens, I imagine. If it gives people a break from shopping and then revitalizes them to return to the malls I would imagine Singapore will see it as a huge success.
your observations are so true John.
After blogging about my grouses about the Gardens, I find that it is slowly growing on me. Not the artificial parts though -at the moment.
It’s interesting how opinions can be so varied. I went to these gardens recently and was blown away by how awesome they were.
For my wife and I, who visited Singapore from Australia, we discovered the gardens by quite by accident – I wanted to go and check out the Bay Sands hotel interior (architecture geek), and noticed signs directing to “Gardens by the Bay” which I had no clue as to it’s meaning. This lead me to the tree-lined walkway that crossed the road between the mall (quaintly named ‘Shoppes’) and the hotel, which cuts through the hotel interior about 20m high up. Such an impressive building (to me anyway).
Anyway, it was nighttime, and we walked out the other door since I saw one of the supertrees lit up in the distance and wondered what it was. This is where our opinions differ: as I walked down to the Gardens lookout point, I was completely amazed! I thought I’d stumbled into a Sci-Fi movie set – all these enormous, conical things lit up in amazing colours, with fairy-lights blinking on and off up their trunks. It reminded me of Pandora (Avatar) at night. And the domes all lit up in the distance … I was really impressed with the view.
We went back the next arvo and did the whole thing in the order: gardens (daylight), flower dome (sunset), cloud dome (dusk & dark), supertrees (night). Judging by all the very visible signs, the gardens are still a work in progress. But I still really liked it and could see the potential once everything was fully grown how awesome it would look. The supertrees will be totally covered eventually I imagine, since they’re an example of the whole ‘living wall’ thing which is about conserving energy.
We loved the 2 domes – definitely worth visiting at night. You’re right to point out it’s not for those fearful of heights, but I would argue a wheelchair would go just fine (it’s what the elevator is for). The whole place seemed pretty accessible.
So, just my view on the gardens. It’s a pity you didn’t enjoy them as much. I can’t wait to go back there in another few years and see how much it’s grown.
P.S. you mention high entry fees potentially going into the cost of powering the domes. If you watched the videos or read the signs, you would’ve seen that the supertrees are solar collectors, and combined they can power their own nighttime lighting show along with the minimal electricity used in the domes. This doesn’t explain the high fees – perhaps wages? Maintenance? To be honest I enjoyed it all so much I thought it was money well spent.
I think the place might grow on me after all and to be fair to the attraction I haven’t seen at at night time with all the lights. Sounds amazing from what you describe and I’m so glad you had a good time 🙂 Love hearing alternative views and really appreciate the sharing.
I think we had great time there and also well enjoyed with partner. close-ups flowers are too attractive. Last month we visited this place and spend maximum time in the lost of world. This place is too interesting for us.
your comments make me want to go again.