13 March 2014 – Marina Bay and Gardens by the Bay

*Blog by Anto (mostly)*

Soren managed to sleep  until a more respectable hour (one starting with a 6) and we woke to find Astrid sleeping with her giraffe puppet on her head.  Rather comical…….

Then she amused herself by running around the hotel room looking cute and showing off her Singapore humidity sponsored curls.

After the normal breaky we got ready in not too much time before relocating to the hotel foyer in order to grab the shuttle bus to the local MRT station. Soren managed to nap and Astrid ask questions non-stop. After a quick trip around the outside of the station we acquired ez-link cards and headed into the train station where the first of very many SMRT personnel asked if we needed assistance finding our way. Aside from a slightly wrong guess as to which train station was going to be best for accessing the Marina Bay Gardens (resulting in someone carefully directing us back to the station preceding the one we just alighted at) the trip was fairly painless. The Bayfront station is helpfully located in the bottom of the Marina Bay Sands Casino / shopping centre – which aside from being located in a 5.7 Billion dollar building, has huge designer shops seemingly entirely un-occupied by people actually shopping. We didn’t feel too badly for them as apparently the complex (we think including the gardens)  is slated to make $1B profit (yes profit) a year…

The tunnel from the Sands shopping centre/MRT station to the Gardens was enormous and very, very clean. Very different to the grotty, snaking metro tunnels of Paris!

We wandered our way out of the shops into the developing heat of Singapore. The Marina Bay Gardens are located on a 101 hectare site adjacent to the casino, most of the site is free to access (unlike seemingly most of Singapore) with the exception of two (huge) chilled pavilions, where apparently they grow things like roses that would otherwise have no hope of growing.

Aside from slightly suffering in the heat the gardens are very impressive, really well sign posted and all the plants are well labeled. While there we saw quite a few people working keeping it all ship-shape, you got the impression it would have occupied quite an amount of labour. In the distance you can see the Singapore flyer (the Singapore version of the London Eye, which they just had to make a little bigger).  You could also see the city skyline, and the shipping harbour.  It was all very impressive.

Due to the heat we moved through fairly quickly keeping Astrid interested with promises of the ‘children’s garden’ that kept turning up on the signs. We circumnavigated around the ‘super trees’ which apparently light up at night – although way past kiddy bed-time. You can go up onto the walkways (for a cost) but we ran out of energy in the heat for that.

The waterways running though the park were all adorned with interesting (and shiny) sculptures and many of the paths had lovely shady planted canopies covering them. That all being said the heat rapidly became oppressive so we pushed on down to the children’s garden – expecting a small playground and perhaps some child friendly planting…

What we found was a full (free) waterpark, with areas assigned to different age-groups, playgrounds, a cafe, and a full range of facilities like change-rooms, showers etc etc. Astrid’s eyes grew rather large at the water raining down & despite the fact we had in no way planned on her getting wet it seemed cruel to not let her run on in. A quick change into her spare outfit (you always carry a complete change of clothes right?) later and she was set free to frolic. She started in the 2-5 year old section, before deciding it was slightly too tame and running into the 6+ year old section.

There were a fairly large number of school groups, and although we were not too sure on the educational aspect of running around in water the kids seemed to be having a ball.  Nic had a sit in the shaded parent area in some very comfy reclining chairs, with a sleeping Soren.

After a while standing around in the sun Anto decided that the very fair skinned (although getting darker by the day) Astrid should probably find a more shaded activity……. So the poor pumpkin was dragged away, dried with Soren’s muslin wrap (to be fair she was pretty dry seconds after leaving the water) and changed back into her original outfit. Her disappointment was fairly quickly tampered by the discovery of the dry playground – including a kiddie sized tunnel system created out of plants. Much energetic play occurred while Nic, Anto and Soren attempted to find a shady spot for a drink (of the milk variety for Soren).

Owing to the increasingly oppressive heat we elected to escape into the Marina Bay Sands shopping centre – dragging Astrid away from playing for the second time in a day. After a quick wander past the rather expensive shops seemingly unoccupied by customers we found the rather posh looking food court (next to an ice skating rink (with faux ice) where a chicken sandwich was acquired for an Astrid who seemingly had finally started missing her Western food. While Astrid removed anything that could look like a vegetable from her sandwich the adults enjoyed another cold drink and some air-conditioning.

We then walked back through the shopping centre and checked out the upper level which led out to the Art-Science museum, which looked impressive but was an activity for another time.  It also had wonderful views of the city and a new stadium they are building (surrounding a floating pitch……. only in Singapore).

Post wander it was time to head back to the hotel – which being such adventurous types (or Anto was being cheap) we decided to use public transport – how hard could it be…… The MRT was pretty much as efficient as ever – although needing a change of train. We then wandered down to the bus stop (past available taxi’s) and waited for the bus that google maps had previously suggested (being cheap/thrifty again we didn’t bother getting phone/data for Singapore so were not getting live info). While we were waiting we had a quick look at the paper schedules for some of the other buses and concluded that a) most of them went pretty close to our hotel and b) how wrong could it go if we grabbed one. Photos by Astrid while waiting at the bus stop….

With that knowledge in hand we jumped on the next bus along and patiently waited for our stop – apparently on the road just behind the hotel. Astrid wanted to go to the upper level (a request we denied) and Soren again napped on public transport. Which somehow we missed – not a problem right – just jump off at the next one and walk back.. Somehow we ended up about 1.5km away – but due to excellent recovery managed the walk back without much hassle, only slight cooking of the poor adults in the high 30’s heat and ridiculous mid-afternoon humidity and who had to carry/push the kidlets.

A quick rest and feed for Soren later and it was down to the pool for a swim for all. Soren was loving his swim today and Astrid was still impressed with her red bucket.

After drying off we headed over the the food centre for some dinner. Tonight it was palak paneer for Nic, which was unbelievably good, (and Astrid ate most of the accompanying naan bread). Anto and Astrid shared some crispy fried chicken with prawn crackers …….. again avoiding anything resembling a vegetable!

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