SINGAPORE: Bay South Garden, a section of the waterfront gardens in the new Downtown @ Marina Bay, will open on June 29.
It is the largest of the three gardens that make up Gardens By The Bay, Singapore's new green oasis in the city.
The sprawling 54 hectares Bay South features man-made, tree-like structures known as "supertrees". Visitors with a taste for heights can take to the aerial walkway that links two of the supertrees.
There is also the Dragonfly Lake, where visitors can stroll along the promenade or rest in the four heritage gardens which reflect the history and culture of Singapore's main ethnic groups.
Bay South also features two cooled conservatories.
Dr Kiat W Tan, CEO of Gardens By The Bay, said: "We have brought (in) two glasshouses that'll give you a touch of perpetual spring. So this is excellent in that here in the tropics, we have a touch of the seasons. It allows us to also look at plants from different continents, brought here from fragile habitats that are disappearing very fast."
Visitors can also look forward to the Cloud Forest where they will be greeted by a mountain, covered in a layer of luscious plants and complete with a 30-metre waterfall.
"It has a living skin. Every single plant has to be tied on. And there are over 100,000 plants. There's a wonderful array of ferns, orchids, pitcher plants," said Dr Tan.
Most of Bay South will be free to visitors, except for the two conservatories and the aerial walkway on the supertrees.
To celebrate the opening of Bay South, there will be a series of events organised over two weekends from June 29 to July 8. These include "live" concerts by Grammy Award winner Jason Mraz and local songbird Corrine May. Six restaurants will also be opened for a unique dining experience in the garden.
Gardens by the Bay to unveil two new attractions
SINGAPORE: Two new permanent attractions will be added to Gardens by the Bay, which will open on 29 June.
One is a Supertree aerial walkway, called the OCBC Skyway, offering a panoramic view of the Gardens against the backdrop of Marina Bay.
Suspended about seven storeys high -- or 22 metres above ground -- it links the two 42-metre tall 'Supertrees' over 128 metres.
Eleven of the 18 supertrees are fixed with environmentally sustainable features.
Another unique feature of the Gardens is the dramatic OCBC Light and Sound Show, which will be unveiled on 2 July, as part of the opening programme of the Gardens.
The show, which comes on every night from its launch, will feature extravagant multimedia effects.
Both attractions are sponsored by OCBC, to the tune of S$8 million.
The Gardens by the Bay will occupy a total of 101 hectares of land by the water, becoming a part of Marina Bay.
Gardens by the Bay CEO Kiat W. Tan said: "What this garden is all about is to reach out to our young and to our adults, to explain to them the perils of global warming, as a consequence of what we've done to the planet.
"And how to capture the attention of kids to say, 'Hey! There's more to this world than what you see through your computers'."
$2m educational materials for park visitors to Gardens by the Bay
SINGAPORE: Two million dollars is being invested in educational materials for park visitors to Gardens by the Bay.
The sponsorship by ExxonMobil is the single-largest community investment in Singapore.
The money will go towards the development and installation of state-of-the-art educational resources around Dragonfly Lake.
These will include high-tech interactive media and educational programmes about aquatic life and horticulture.
Dragonfly Lake serves as a natural filter system for the gardens and the connecting reservoir.
Mr S. Iswaran, Minister (Prime Minister's Office), Second Minister for Trade and Industry, says the opening of Gardens by the Bay next month is expected to enhance Singapore's tourism industry.
Mr Iswaran said: "It means an emphasis not merely on the number of visitors but perhaps even more importantly, on the quality of the visitor experience and how they remember their experience here.
"But perhaps most importantly is the partnerships that STB (Singapore Tourism Board) and the government of Singapore seeks to forge, in developing new and differentiated world class attractions, which will attract both business and leisure events to Singapore."
Gardens by the Bay gets spruced up for big day
SINGAPORE: It's all systems go as final touches are put on Singapore's latest attraction - Gardens by the Bay - ahead of its Friday opening.
And getting there should be a cinch with free daily shuttles from the Marina Bay train station.
The shuttles operate from 9am to 9pm at 10-minute intervals.
These shuttles might operate on a permanent basis if there is a demand.
Visitors can also alight at the Bayfront train station and walk 300 metres to the Gardens.
For those who drive, there will be 720 parking lots.
Cyclists will have bicycle stands to park their bikes as cycling is not allowed in the Gardens.
Most of the attractions will be free. Ticketed areas include the aerial walkway and two cooled conservatories.
Developers said the design of the billion-dollar-park has taken into account everybody's needs.
Ng Boon Gee, assistant director (Development) Gardens by the Bay, said: "All the ramps here are actually constructed in such a way that they are gentle - the wheelchair can be easily pushed up the ramps. So these are the things that we are trying to do to make the space as user-friendly as possible."
On a leisurely stroll, you'll encounter birds, and bears but if you choose not to walk, you can always hop on a garden cruiser to get around, which will cost between S$3 to S$5.
Managing director of Cafe Crema and Verandah at the Gardens by the Bay, Lim Li-Wei, said: "You can come here (to the cafe) and enjoy handcrafted coffee, or sandwich, as well as local favourites such as hokkien mee, bak kut teh and laksa."
Four more spots for eateries will be up for tender in 2013 which means there'll eventually be more than 10 dining establishments to satisfy the hungry after a walk-in-the-park.
Gardens by the Bay opens to the public
SINGAPORE: Gardens by the Bay opened its doors to the public for the first time at 5am and is expecting up to 30,000 visitors on Friday.
Visitors started trickling in from the main gate around 5.30am, curious about its many attractions.
Among the first to arrive was 73-year-old retiree Chan Tian Fook.
Mr Chan said: "I'm used to waking up quite early, instead of jogging somewhere else, I decided to come here and take a look."
A visitor said: "I live in Turkey, so it's like if I don't see it today, I have to wait one year later."
Others also wanted to avoid the crowd and heat.
Three attractions - the two conservatories and OCBC Skyway - are only open at 9am.
So some early birds had to wait.
Students Benjamin Kwan, 26, and his brother, Justin Kwan, 23, jogged from Bishan to the Gardens. They started jogging around 6am and reached around an hour later.
Justin said: "I like the idea that it's a garden in the city. That you don't have to run with all the traffic and everything but yet you're still in the city. Since for us it's quite near our homes."
There'll be plenty of events to keep visitors busy this weekend including a photo exhibition, outdoor movie screenings and drama performances.
Visitors flock to Gardens by the Bay
SINGAPORE: Over 70,000 people visited Gardens by the Bay in the first two days of its opening, and the management team of Singapore's newest attraction is stepping up efforts to handle the crowds.
It is mobilising some 300 volunteers till next weekend to point visitors in the right direction if they get lost.
The frequency of waste collection is also being stepped up.
Some visitors have given feedback that lights are dim at night, but it is apparently part of the park's design features.
Ong Chui Leng, deputy director of programming, Gardens by the Bay, said: "There's enough lighting to light up the pathways for people to get around, but there are also sections which we want to create ambient lighting. For example, we lit up the trees to make sure that people appreciate what they are seeing."
‘Gardens by the Bay is not for everyone’By Belmont Lay | The Flipside – Sat, Jul 14, 2012
In "The FlipSide", local blogger Belmont Lay lets loose on local politics, culture and society. Take with a pinch of salt and parental permission is advised. In this post, he talks about his experience at the Gardens by the Bay.
The newly-minted Gardens by the Bay is attracting visitors aplenty.
Close to 300,000 people from Singapore and beyond have descended upon it like locusts since its June 29 opening.
And I can see where this fascination for man-made nature comes from.
A place for reflection
First and foremost, the Gardens is sweet payback for many Singaporean men who survived outfield jungle training during National Service and completely despised the experience.
That horrendous week in the midst of endless chlorophyll, grovelling in mud, wearing leaves and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes while squatting over a hole in the ground?
Eat my shorts now, Mother Nature.
Look, Man will fashion everything out of steel, concrete and plastic if we have to.
And everything that can't will be trimmed and pruned or uprooted or poisoned with pesticide.
This is a redefinition of nature -- and a glimpse as to what our human nature can be like.
Therefore, going to the Gardens allow us to take a good hard look into ourselves.
Next, the Chinese Garden, Malay Garden, Indian Garden and Colonial Garden are very good for inducing nostalgia.
Spending time in these four stereotypical heritage gardens help retrieve fond memories during and up until the 1990s.
That was a time when Singapore was still governed according to race. But eventually, our elected rulers lost the plot.
Because as we all know these days, since 40 per cent of this country is already composed of foreigners, having just four representative gardens is only 60 per cent accurate at most.
This speaks poorly of history at best as it doesn't warn us in advance of the pitfalls of a liberal immigration policy.
But as a cruel inside joke, it is wickedly funny. In a sad way.
Expensive admissions charges
Since Singapore is filled to the brim, introducing discriminatory admissions pricing is very helpful when sorting them out at the Gardens.
You see, non-Singaporeans are charged $28 to look at the results of hoarding 225,000 species of leaves and branches from around the world that are perennially held hostage in the opulent glass houses known as domed conservatories.
Singaporeans, on the other hand, only need to pay $20 to look at these same kind of things that grow slowly and silently out of the soil rather purposelessly.
Which on normal days, they wouldn't even pay to look at green things if they went to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve or Bukit Brown cemetery where the cost is free-of-charge.
But most importantly, setting a high admission cost will help keep poor people out.
Certainly, you wouldn't want them around when the entire set piece is a tourist attraction and Singapore needs to put its best foot forward.
Exclusive special edition chicken rice
And then there's the chow.
It takes eating chicken rice to a whole new level.
What's so special about the Special Edition Gardens by the Bay Chicken Rice is that it is made from chicken and rice. With cucumber. And sauces.
At $20 a plate, as you eat you, you can feel your heart surging with pain and it wouldn't even be cholesterol-induced.
The price certainly justifies the sensation!
But if you prefer not to give in to your extravagance and pamper yourself this way, simply take a cab to Maxwell Food Centre and gorge yourself to death from the rival chicken rice stalls.
It will probably set you back $18 max. In total.
Danger of looking passe
Happily, the Gardens still manages to attract the bored, lethargic and wide-eyed, besides families, couples and anyone with Instagram.
And everyone has to go now before it is too late.
That is because the whole place will look dated by some time end of this year. Even though it was planned to look futuristic.
And by 2014, it will be officially passe.
Like how all phones produced last year look passe only six months down the road.
Overall, I have to admit, it was a pleasant experience.
But I hated it.
Belmont Lay is one of the editors of New Nation, an online publication that is well-liked only among a few people.