Christmas at Singapore 12.25

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I wasn’t able to blog last Christmas day (and the last two days) because it was the most tiring Christmas day in my life (plus the days after that up intil last night). And even if I wasn’t tired, the internet was down in our place for some odd reason.

It was an amazing day out, though. First, we went to church (typical, expected, normal, and uninteresting for a person with my beliefs) then we had lunch at Tampines mall again. I got a spicy bowl of ra myeon from a Korean joint. It’s filling and good enough for two people. Then we got sidetracked into buying jeans. This one’s important and I’m lucky that I decided to get new jeans back then.

After that, we’re on our way to the Gardens by the Bay, a complex of high-tech gardens that I’m sure will be the stuff of legends  in the future. It’s an architectural marvel and the world agrees (it was named World Building of the Year at the World Architecture Festival 2012). I can say it’s a stunning feat for mankind and I’m honored to be alive to see it.

It’s a little like an Ark but for plants. That’s one of the glaring holes in the Noah’s Ark stories. They never kept any plants, which would be a highly idiotic thing to do if the whole world is inundated by floods. They’d have no food left…except the animals in the ship’s hold. But I digress.

The Gardens by the Bay are composed of two enormous greenhouses, one wide but short, the other narrow but tall, and giant “trees” which aren’t really trees but steel structures in the shape of alien-looking trees (or trees that survived since the face of the Earth first saw trees) which provide scaffolding for various vines and aerial plants. The wider greenhouse houses various plants from every continent in the planet (except Antarctica). There was an impressive collection of cacti accompanied by, oddly enough, crystals for decoration. There were hundred-year old olive trees, some pines, oak trees, a hundred kinds of flowers, and more things that I can’t name or haven’t seen before, like a plant that has a thin white sort of fur, probably used for storing moisture.

Upon entering the greenhouses, the first thing you’ll notice is the cold damp air within, followed by the expanse of the greenhouse and the number of plants and trees you can see. It was an amazing sight, a veritable ark of flora that ensures the various species’ sur vival against the enroaching might of civilization. Words and pictures don’t do it justice.

The narrower greenhouse was another surprise. Upon entering, the first thing that will greet you are the sounds of water falling and crashing from a great height, and then you see it, the reason why this greenhouse is taller than the other: a manmade waterfall coming from the top of, at first glance, a great tall hill of rock, coated with a wide variety of plants. Upon close inspection, this steep “hill” is a layer of rock wrapped around a staircase that leads to the top, from which a walkway snakes in and around the hill. There are holes in the behind the waterfall so you can see people milling about behind it. The air is colder here and there’s a nice fine spray of water even several yards from the falls. We walked to the top of the falls and made our way around the walkway, getting cold feet once we found ourselves looking over a great height from the walk way (it was supported by steel cables and foundations so we’re safe, but the sides of the walkway are, hopefully, strong steel net that you can see through). Stand still and you’ll feel it vibrate or wobble.

Once we reached the ground floor, there was an exhibition of stalagmites and stalactites which, while impressive, aren’t cool for me. I imagined a cave somewhere with ugly stumps in the place of the majestic cave pillars. There were also raw amethysts (still in their cold rock bubbles). That was impressive, too. Although I don’t get why people put coins on its small ledges and crevices.

There was another floor down and here they put together a database, presented in comprehensible graphics, of the Earth’s  status. Precipitation levels, temperature, weather, foliage level, etc. Each infographic changes, presenting info from a certain time in the past up the present and, in some, a certain point in the future. It was like an inverted pyramid. Go deeper below the hill and from it, you can see the world. Or at least the various states of the world.

There was another room which shows us how the whole garden works. Here we found out that even the shapes of the greenhouses have a practical use, which collects moisture and water. There’s a part of the garden that collectes rain water and moisture which it then uses to water the plants and make certain parts of the garden cool and at a stable temperature. There’s another part of the Gardens that uses biomass (biodegradable materials) as fuel for the engines that power the whole complex. The biomass are sourced from outside and inside. Even the giant trees have solar panels on topto help power the Gardens.

In another room, there’s a presentation of the state of the Earth from 2010 to 2100, showing how much the Earth and its inhabitants would change if the world temperature rises by 5 degrees. It’s not a pretty picture and from here you get an idea why the Gardens were built. It is both a reminder and a warning, and perhaps an inspiration for further solutions.

Next, we went to the giant trees where two of them have elevator shafts running through them which will take you to a suspension bridge between the two trees. There was a line for the elevator on one tree, none on the other (it was the exit). After a few minutes, we were up. It’s no Eiffel Tower but it’s breathtaking and more thrilling. We walked down the bridge and from it, you can see the city for miles. You can also see through the floor. Stand still and you can feel the bridge sway and vibrate. After a few minutes and several pictures, we went to the exit elevator.

By this point, our feet are already aching for rest. My little accident gave them time to rest, though. After seeing a wide lawn, which we saw as an opportunity to sit down, there we went and, excited, tried to sit. I was the first and it took me a second to notice, already too late, that it was wet. My black pants were muddied a light brown color like shit. This is where my new pants come in.

Changing my pants took a while and this gave the family a bit of time to rest. We then went to Marina Bay Sands to eat. The food here are way overpriced, probably the high rent. We swore never to eat here again unless we can comfortable afford it.

After dinner, we looked for the store we found last summer which sells some sort of fruit liquor and one thing that caught my taste buds is the limoncello. I was helped by a large young woman, probably the daughter of the old couple we met several months back. After the purchase, we went on our way home. The travel was quite long and our feet have definitely reached their limits.

We reached home around 9:30 pm or so (I really didn’t notice anymore). At the end of the road, Christmas came to me in the form of taking off my socks, settling into bed, and burying myself under the comforter.

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