Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Progress, harmony and eco-tourism in Singapore

Singapore is well known as a modern metropolis – Southeast Asia's global city. Yet, few are aware Singapore also contains a genuine patch of rainforest within an otherwise highly developed concrete jungle. The 6.2 hectares of rainforest is located in the center of the city and is part of the original site of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG), founded in 1859, is Singapore's candidate for the country's first UNESCO listed World Heritage Site.

View of the Marina Bay area at night from Gardens by the Bay (East)
However, Singapore's underappreciated penchant for blending the old with the new is fully displayed at the newer Gardens by the Bay (GBTB). Opened in 2012, the GBTB are 101 hectares of intense pleasure, especially for nature lovers. The gardens contain two specialized greenhouses: the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. (For those who simply wish to get out of the blazing Singapore sun or incessant rain, both domes are nice and cool – verging on cold!)

The Flower Dome, which contains nine different gardens such as the Succulent Garden and South American Garden, replicates cool and dry climate of the Mediterranean. Flowers from five different continents, i.e. Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania are on display inside the Flower Dome. The 1,000 year old Olive Tree is a standout! The Flower Dome even gets a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records 2015 as the largest columnless glass greenhouse in the world.  

The second greenhouse, the Cloud Forest, contains orchids, pitcher plants and ferns from the cool-moist mountains and other higher elevation tropical highlands (up to 2,000-metres above sea level). At a height of 35 meters, the Cloud Forest also contains the world's tallest indoor waterfall. The 'planted walls' on the 'mountain' inside the greenhouse provide a unique touch to the greenhouse.

A view of the Supertree Grove at night
The new, modern Singapore is clearly visible in the garden's Supertree Grove. Supertrees? These are 'trees' with a height of 25-50 meters (up to sixteen storeys) and create the forest 'canopy' structure for the gardens. At night, the Supertrees are tastefully lit up as part of a light and sound show.

GBTB are not just about flowers and plants. For many, the sight of a gigantic naked baby located in the park's Meadow is the highlight of any visit. Titled 'Planet,' the work was created by internationally acclaimed sculptor Marc Quinn and depicts Quinn's infant son. The statue – if one can call it that – appears to float above the grass. 'Planet' is one of over 40 works of art nestled within the Gardens by the Bay.

Marc Quinn's sculpture of a naked baby 'Planet' canbe found in the Meadow, Gardens by the Bay
For many, Singapore represents nothing but sleek, modern glass skyscrapers within a bustling urban environment. But the Little Red Dot is much more than a modern metropolis. For those who care to look, Singapore offers diverse experiences, including the city's 'contemporary' botanic gardens called Gardens by the Bay.
Imran is a licensed Singapore Tour Guide. If you wish to arrange customized tours in Singapore, including tours of the Botanic Gardens and Gardens by the Bay, please contact Imran at