Thursday, walking through Raffles place, I spotted a rather interesting scuplture by Salvador Dalí in the middle of Raffles Place. Yes, this person has lots of significant-sized holes in him.
I emerged in the middle of the Marina Bay Sands Mall and was amused, as ever by the extravagance in this enormous complex. Actually, I have now learnt, that much of its revenue has come from gambling. From the list of superlatives, I can tell you that cost $8 BILLION to build and develop and is part of the Singapore Government's intention to boost tourism - resulting in a GDP increase of 15% per year! Singapore is quickly moving past Las Vegas in terms of gambling revenue - but this sport is not aimed at the locals, who are charged a $100 levy before entering to put off the desperate gamblers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marina_Bay_Sands
Anyway, here's a picture of the gondola lake!
From there, I walked around to the Gardens by the Bay, a large garden area which was developed very recently and only opened this year. I had a ticket for this as part of a Groupon deal with the Flyer flight I had done a couple of days previously. Now plants aren't really my thing, but the Park looked quite interesting and I had a good discount (as well as some days to kill) so I saw no reason why not to go!
Inside, I must admit that it was a little unfinished. There were many areas with different themes, such as the Colonial garden, Fruits, Palm world etc etc. But what the plants and trees contributed in number, they lacked in information - there were few if any descriptions so I soon found myself wandering around (in perfect isolation, I must add) admiring the greenery with no idea what I was looking at...
At least topiary was easily deciphered...
These are the large Supertrees, designed to reject the heat of the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest (see later). There was also a walkway which, annoyingly, required payment to go round so I declined.
Then I went into the cloud forest dome, complete with 6-storey waterfall and an intense blast of chilled air as you walk through the doors! It reminded me somewhat of the Center Parcs plaza; unfortunately though, no swimming allowed...
Also the mountain which the waterfall tumbled down was very, very difficult to navigate round since the escalators only went downwards and the lifts were strictly for those with mobility needs and there were no stairs either! Very odd...
Then I found myself in the basement where I found an exhibit on climate change, trying to impress upon the visitors what dire straits we are in with the climate (while inside a huge, air-conditioned plant dome in Singapore). While I am sure it was a very expensive installation, most of the data and graphs made no sense (for instance, a pretty animation showing the sea level CO2 concentration change over time, with no idea about units, timescale, relevance etc etc...). So again, I was underwhelmed.
Then on to the Flower Dome. Even more like Center Parcs but more full of flowers:
I liked the cacti best, partly because there was a bit of explanation. But clearly they have been abused in the past :-(
So after a slightly underwhelming trip to the Gardens, I walked back to the hostel for some more blogging and spilling hot drinks upon myself.
Then, having spotted the opportunity with Larissa the previous evening, I watched some Chinese Opera in Speaker's Corner.
They did much flailing of sleeves. And no I didn't undestand a word, but it was clearly a romance, since there was much weeping from the female characters.
Part way through, someone started emptying a bath all over Singapore.
On my word I have never seen such heavy rain! It came down like a pressure washed for a good hour - accompanied by thunder and lightning and wind. The open air theatre, mercifully, had a good roof but we all had to cluster closer and closer to the stage to avoid the spray from outside. As soon as the performance had finished, people were up on the stage trying to avoid getting wet.
But luckily there were some elders giving out balloon sculptures, so (as a way of making sure I got one, since it is one of our hostel host's birthday) I asked to learn how to make a flower. And this amused me and them for at least 15 minutes or so.
And when the rain was still going on after this, people came on stage and started dancing in a rather impromptu way. Yes I got dragged in to that too! (but no photos)
Eventually everyone else wandered off and, despite me being about 1 minute's walk from the hotel, I waited it out and read my book (Swiss Family Robinson) on my phone until eventually the rain started to subside and I walked back to the hostel, where I met up with another chap here called Ching who came with me to get food at one of the local food courts.
We were blessed with live music and cheap Satay but I'm not going to start taking photos of every meal just to prove it!