Saturday, July 4, 2015

Singapore

July 3-4

What a contrast from Sri Lanka! We are now at the southern most part of our trip, only 1 degree from the equator. The air is warm and humid, but breezy and surprisingly comfortable. Apparently, it is a cool summer here and this tends to be the dry season.

We spent the last two days exploring this beautiful city, and for me especially, contrasting the Singapore Botanic Garden (soon to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Gardens by the Bay (what Walt Disney would create if he worked with plant material rather than animation). Becky and I spent several hours birding in the Botanical Garden and enjoying world class display gardens, trees from around the world, vistas, fountains, great lawns...all the features that make a garden compelling. Most was completely free, but to see the orchid house or children's garden, there was a fee. Gardens by the Bay, on the other hand...we took the guys and walked the skywalk, admired orchids, watched light shows and fireworks. Over-the-top, lots of "wow", great restaurant ("Pollen") but it was obviously contrived and most exhibits charged a fee. You can guess which one was most crowded.

We also had a quick cab drive tour of the city - driving tree lined streets through various ethnic neighborhoods which offered an interesting contrast to the shiny new office buildings which threw their shadows over the 2-3 story buildings built during the British colonial period. Trees are everywhere - maybe they really do help keep the air cool!

This city-state celebrates its 50th Anniversary next month, and is scrupulously clean, efficient, and dynamic. The financial district is built on land "reclaimed" from the sea 10 years ago. I asked our driver how this island nation viewed the threat of sea level rising, or climate change, and he gave a stilted laugh and replied "Ah, that won't be a problem here because the extra water will be absorbed by all our neighbor countries."

Group shot!



The one in the center is Parkview Square and reminds people of Batman's Gotham City Hall

I.M. Pei designed building

New towering over the old

Exo-skeleton engineering



Raffles Hotel

Becky enjoying and Singapore sling, invented at the Raffles Hotel, a beautiful colonial era building with a palm lined courtyard

Old...

New...another I.M. Pei building

Trees line every major road

I love to start with a botanical garden!

Birding watching in the Singapore Botanical Gardens

Cool snail after a morning rain storm



View from our hotel. The city as gorgeous trees everywhere! Maybe that is what helps it stay cooler than I expected.

Supertrees in the Gardens by the Bay

Cat walk between the supertrees

Palm trees from above

The Merlion, the symbol of Singapore

Supertrees at night...lit in colors not found in nature.


happy Fourth of July! Singapore is rehearsing for its National Day celebration on August 8.