Checking in, checking out.
Managing the last day of a trip is always tricky, especially when the flight time is late evening. We’d checked in for our BA flight to London before turning the light off last night and checked out of the hotel this morning. Though we’d requested a late checkout, we had no intention of paying extra for the privilege, so we booked the “hospitality suite” instead and packed up early, leaving everything at the hotel for later.
What works for us is to leave something significant for that last day. On this occasion, it was the new “Gardens by the Bay”, which was still under construction when we were last here.
We walked over from the hotel after breakfast, hoping to get there before the heat built up too much. Hah! Some hope!
Though tickets aren’t needed to wander about through the park, we wanted to go inside the domes and so on, so our first stop was the visitor centre to work out what to do and when.
The whole place is pretty big, so we took one of the audio tours first, just to get our bearings and get a feel for the place. The aerial walkway up there in the “Supertrees” looked fun and it was to there which we headed first of all.
On the way there, though, we had to stop and admire some of the gorgeous flowers. Though I imagined this one would smell divine, you know, it smelled of nothing!
These Supertrees are pretty special and provide all manner of services for the park. The whole place is build upon environmentally sound principles and some of these structures contain hot air vents, solar panels and one has a restaurant inside.
Once up at treetop level, there are spectacular views of the distant harbour and the surroundings. Sometimes, my hero gets a bit wobbly in such places but this was all perfectly stable and fine.
Thankfully, there weren’t so many people up here at this time and it was pleasantly cool, too.
Though it takes hardly any time to walk the pathway, it was really great and well worth the effort of getting up here (no effort at all, there was a lift inside one of the tree trunks!)
I imagine that, during the coming years, the framework of those trees will gradually be covered in climbing plants, but for now, I rather like the bare boned structure.
Once down at ground level again, we decided to leave the lunchtime heat outside and head into the Cloud Forest. This was one of the areas which needed a special ticket, the other one being the flower dome which was sadly closed today for maintenance.
As soon as we stepped inside the Cloud Forest, the cool, damp air hit us! The whole dome is misted every two hours and had just completed one cycle about ten minutes before we went inside. The huge – seven storeys high – waterfall was the first sight we saw. Wow.
(I waited for quite some time until everyone had taken their selfie, a picture of their girlfriend, a selfie with their girlfriend….and so on and so on. People in Asia take even more photographs than I do!)
From the ground floor, a lift takes visitors to the sixth floor, from where a flight of stairs leads to the highest point. The “mountain” is simply covered in orchids and rich, lush planting and is absolutely stunning.
By covered, I mean…..
There are some exotic species in there, too.
As we walked down hill, following the pathway, I recognised some of the flowers – not that I knew the name, but these pink blooms had featured in one of our National Park visits last week. But which one?
Actually, it was these funny Lego plants which reminded us of where – we’d seen the pitcher plants growing wild in Malaysia, on Mount Kinabalu.
And as if the designer had been reading our minds, sure enough, guess where this “cloud florest” had been based upon? Sadly, we’d not has a view like this because, surprise surprise, when we were there it was covered in cloud!
Here and there, there were some magnificent set pieces where plants and props had been used to create a very photogenic scene. But you know what happens then, don’t you?
Out come the selfie sticks.
then a queue builds up and what had been a nice, empty space in which to stand back and admire becomes a pushing contest.
Never mind, there were always the flowers to admire. (Don’t these look articifical?)
Oh, and the men cleaning the roof!
The walkway descends four floors and then links with another one lower down. It’s all so clever, so accessible and absolutely fascinating.
And unlike the real thing, this “Mount Kinabalu” has got a hollow core with exhibitions and displays inside.
The last stretch took us behind the waterfall where we’d come in. Beautiful.
You know where the exit was, don’t you? We could resist
Popular titles right now included these two. You know who Harry is/was, right?
Even though we’d not been able to go into the second, flower dome, we felt our visit had been a great way to spend most of the day and in what was left of the afternoon, we thought we’d hop on an MRT and do just one or two last minute shopping errands.
There’s a bright, shiny new station just across the road, so it was easy to do just that.
The place was deserted, save for one or two folks taking photos of themselves!
Just one man wasn’t concerned with taking photos – he was sitting at his desk hard at work!
We took the MRT to Orchard once again and I got to spend an hour or so in Kinokuniya – I’d forgotten about that yesterday! I also got to take a photograph of the fretwork patterns on these panels where a new branch of the British India store is about to open.
When we got back to City Hall Station, there was just one thing left to do – to reclaim the deposit on our Tourist cards. But no-one was at home! Thankfully, it was about 2.44pm when we stepped up to the window, so we stood and waited until the blind was raised and business was done.
No thank you. Though we’ve eaten durian in Thailand, it’s not a favourite. We sat and enjoyed cold drinks before returning to our hotel and making our way to the Hospitality suite to shower and change.
Before long it was time to retrieve the other three suitcases and the painting Tra Giang so kindly gave us and await our car to the airport.
Tonight, as I sit in the lounge at Changi Airport, I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tomorrow night! It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it?