SIN/KL 2014: Flower Dome & Cloud Forest

December 01, 2014

What is a great thing to do on a very hot summer day? Spending it admiring nature in glorious air conditioning of course!

Take the MRT to Bayfront station and take the short walk over toΒ Gardens by Bay for a few hours to enjoy the park’s peaceful greenery as well as the two domes.

On the walk to Gardens by the Bay, take some silly photos in the MRT tunnel! Lots of nature backdrops and mirrors to choose from πŸ˜›

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Once you exit to the walkway, you will see the Supertree Grove. From there, it is about a 15-20 minute walk to the domes. Or you can pay $2 for a shuttle ride in!

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For $28, you can visit both the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. As we have visited the domes once already, Michael opted to pay an additional $4 for an audio tour, which he thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommends!

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“The Flower Dome replicates the cool-dry climate of Mediterranean regions like South Africa, California and parts of Spain and Italy. Home to a collection of plants from deserts all over the world, it showcases the adaptations of plants to arid environments. Stop and smell the flowers in the colourful changing displays of the Flower Field, which reflects different seasons, festivals and themes.”Β 

Enjoy some of our photos from the Flower Dome!

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The Cloud Forest houses “A 35-metre tall mountain covered in lush vegetation shrouding the world’s tallest indoor waterfall showcases plant life from tropical highlands up to 2,000-metres above sea level.”

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The Cloud Forest has an amazing selection of beautiful orchids, take a close look around!

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My favourite, Venus Flytraps

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A couple was doing a wedding photo shoot during our visit – very cute and wish I could get this photo to them!

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I recommend visiting Gardens by the Bay in the late afternoon after lunch. After your visit, you have time to check out the Supertree Grove while there’s still daylight. Grab some dinnerΒ at one of the restaurants on site, then check out the lit up Supertrees, take a walk on the OCBC skyway, “a 128-metre long walkway with a height of 22-metres that connects two Supertrees at the Supertree Grove, and take in a different view of the Gardens” and watch the Garden Rhapsody light show. A whole day of fun, especially if you love nature!

Life randoms :)

A few pictures here and there over the past month or so!

First time meeting Mike’s friend from Halifax – Chelsea and her boyfriend, Dave! Also an opportunity to catch up with Nicole and to meet her friend visiting from Canada – Winston. Meeting new friends and enjoying good food in the rain – fish and chips at Swampdog! Lovely time guys!

Left to right: Dave, Chelsea, Nicole, Mike, me, Winston

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Can you see why I stock up on cue cards from Dollarama when I’m back in Canada during the holidays? Look at the cost, the cost!!

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Passed by this and loved the cracks in the pillars!

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After a fun morning of badminton with Xuan, Yung and Chloe, we enjoyed yummy dim sum at Yum Cha Cuisine – newly opened in Indooroopilly Shopping Centre. Definitely worth a return visit πŸ˜‰

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Are those fuzzy things… alive?

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Walked by a bush with lovely small pink flowers.

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Free Despicable Me 2 memory games from McDonald’s! Mike and I used to compete with each other on the iPad with a similar game. Now we can play together like little kids! πŸ˜€

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Guys, remember when mint M&Ms were just regular looking M&Ms that had mint chocolate? Not anymore! Now with a minty candy coat with a green crisp interior!

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I have FINALLY invested in a real pair of sunglasses. No longer will I be purchasing $5-10 cheap sunnies and be developing cataracts!

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I saw a tunnel spider web today at the train station πŸ™‚

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And lastly, an old one from our last trip to Vietnam with my mum. Iced milk coffee… love the swirls!

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Exploding seed pods!

These photos were taken so long ago, I can’t believe I haven’t posted them yet!

The pretty purple flower, Ruellia tuberosa, develop dry seed pods that explode on contact with water, in order to scatter their seeds.

Check out what happens in this video πŸ˜‰ Michael was smothering his laugh in the background, which made me giggle uncontrollably… sorry!

I was first introduced to this years ago in Vietnam when my mom insisted we put a pod in our mouth and see what happens. Needless to say, the explosion totally caught us by surprise but left a lot of giggles. The popping doesn’t hurt you at all, just an unexpected and funny sensation. They’re lots of fun to play with and even funnier when you can trick someone else to put some in their mouth πŸ˜‰

Let’s take a closer look…

Dry seed pods

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Split pod after it had exploded with some seeds landing in the water.

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What the seeds look like dry

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Once sitting in water for a bit, you can see the fuzzy texture of the seeds.

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And to end my random post, here is a picture of what the flowers look like in bloom πŸ™‚

Day 06: Singapore – Gardens by the Bay – Cloud Forest

Thursday, July 18, 2013

We headed back after lunch to visit the second conservatory, the Cloud Forest.

“The Cloud Forest is higher but slightly smaller than the Flower Dome. It replicates the cool moist conditions found in tropical mountain regions of South-East Asia, Middle- and South America. A 35-metre tall mountain covered in lush vegetation shrouding the world’s tallest indoor waterfall showcases plant life from tropical highlands up to 2,000-metres above sea level.”

A huge dome with a single massive mountain that greets you at the door. Mist from the waterfall envelopes you as you make your way inside.

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Looking up from the bottom: You can see the lower Tree Top Walk where you can get a bird’s eye view of the treetops. Then there is the higher Cloud Walk where you can get a closer look at all the epiphytes (plants that grow on on other plants (non-parasitically) or objects) growing on the side of the mountain.

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More views of the mountain and the walkways

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Right along the base of the mountain, you can immediately find all sorts of wonderful plant life.

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Lots of interestingly textured and wonderfully designed leaves I’ve never seen before…

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Tons of beautiful flowers, especially orchids of all types and colours

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Some hidden views

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My favourite part of visiting Cloud Forest: seeing the carnivorous Drosera (aka Sundews) and Venus Flytrap and Pitcher Plants in real life!

The Sundews and Venus Flytraps we saw were tiny though, I always imagined they would be monstrous for some reason.

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Had fun tickling some of the Venus Flytraps to see them snap shut! Hopefully we didn’t starve them…

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So many Pitcher Plants of all sizes

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The Waterfall View!

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Inside there is the Crystal Mountain Cave where you can see the many interesting shapes of real stalactites and stalagmites.

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On the Cloud Walk!

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Taking a picture of us taking a picture of us…

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We left via an escalator… that had fun lighting…

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And that marks the end of our visit to both conservatories of Gardens by the Bay!

We would be coming back for the night views of the Supertrees later tonight!

FULL CLOUD FOREST ALBUM HERE

Day 06: Singapore – Gardens by the Bay – Flower Dome

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Yawn! It took some effort to get up this morning after getting back late last night, but eventually we were up and showered. The breakfast provided by Vintage Inn was simple but filling and soon we were checking out and walking over to Moon Hotel, our home for the next 2 nights.

We chose to stay at a hotel for our last 2 days rather than a hostel for privacy and freedom to come and go as we please πŸ™‚ Since our stay at Moon Hotel last time was really nice, we decided to stay there again. And even though we arrived hours before check in time (with the expectation of just leaving our luggage in the lobby), we were given our room, no problem!

After dropping off our stuff, we decided to head down to Gardens by the Bay to specifically visit the conservatories. Oh, the excitement, especially when we could only see them from afar last time!

The conservatory complex consists of 2 columnless glasshouses – the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. TheΒ  Flower Dome is actually the world’s largest columnless glasshouse!

“The construction of the glasshouses is special in two ways. First of all by being able to have such large a glass-roof without additional interior support (such as columns). Secondly because the constructions aims strongly at minimizing the environmental footprint.”

Tickets were $28 to visit both conservatories.

We decided to start with the Flower Dome which “replicates the cool-dry climate of Mediterranean regions like South Africa, California and parts of Spain and Italy. Home to a collection of plants from deserts all over the world, it showcases the adaptations of plants to arid environments.”

“The Flower Dome features 7 different “gardens” as well as an olive grove with a bistro and a central changing display field has also been incorporated to enable flower shows and displays to be held within the conservatory.” Read more about them HERE.

Mike and I spent a few hours in here and loved it. So many beautiful subjects of photography!

Here are some of my favourites:

Stepping into the Flower Dome…

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Lots of different kinds of cacti

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Baobab!

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One of the most interesting plants I saw for the first time: Golden Rat-tailed Cactus.

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Smile!

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Pretty succulents!

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The Dessert Rose

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Stones or plants? These are stone plants (Lithops spp) – Fooling their predators by looking like rocks, these plants are soft and juicy, adapted to store water!

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A single beauty

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Field of purple!

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This plant was super pretty and interesting looking! Unfortunately, I can’t remember its name… and helpers?

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Bright red plane

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Some more pretty flowers!

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This flower was quite odd. Can you see the way the stem is oriented from this picture?

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Bi-coloured flower plant

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Loved the pink and purple hues

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Lots of pretty sights to take in, you wouldn’t believe how many photos I actually took!

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The corny, child-like, couple picture

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Hope you enjoyed the pictures! We could’ve spent forever in the Flower Dome if not for our rumbling stomachs.

Which means, next up, lunch!

CLICK HERE FOR FULL FLOWER DOME ALBUM

Day 05: Bangkok – Pak Khlong Talat, Colours and Smells

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

We took the Express Boat back towards the city and got off at Memorial Bridge Pier to visit… the Pak Khlong Talat, also known as, the flower market!

Once you leave the pier, take the first left and then right at the 7-11. After that, follow the colours and the smell of flowers! πŸ˜€

Unfortunately, the best time to check out Pak Khlong Talat is pre-dawn from around 3-4am. Needless to say, the market was a little sleepy and empty when we walked around. Still plenty of sights to take in though!

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Such reasonably priced (compared to Canada and Australia) flowers… a little something for everyone!

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We saw many phuang malai garlands being made will skilled hands and sold on the spot. These are used as offerings to images of Buddha inside temples or shrines at home, ancestor shrines, etc.

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Mike… enjoying a nice cold Singha (bought at a nearby 7-11 and opened for by the cashier) on the streets of Bangkok.

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On the way back to the pier, I saw these two sorting out a huge stock of chili peppers and asked if I could take some pictures. They happily waved me to go ahead. Notice the cell phone in the plastic bag – I guess I wouldn’t want chili juice all over my cell either!

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Memorial Bridge and its respective pier with someone fishing.

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Thanks to Mark Weins and his YouTube video about kuay tiew rua (boat noodles) at Victory Monument, we had to try!

Once you get off the BTS at Victory Monument station, stay within the overhead walkway and head towards the canal (keeping Victory Monument on your left).

The canals are now very dirty and polluted.

This is not the side you want to be on…

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You want to be on this side! Which is why it’s important to keep Victory Monument on your left hand side as you are walking through the pedestrian overpass. We didn’t know that and did an unnecessary full circle around Victory Monument.

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When you reach the canal and get down onto the road, there will be a number of boat noodle restaurants to choose from. We decided to follow the one Mark Weins visited in his video and were quite happy!

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So… what are boat noodles? They are called so because they were traditionally served from boats. Nowadays, you can sit in a restaurant and enjoy them instead. They are also sold in small portions that sit shallow in the bowl, to limit spillage due to rocking by the boat.

The noodles are first blanched in hot soup before being tossed into a bowl with a little bit of water spinach (Morning Glory), a pork meatball and a few slivers of either pork or beef. The most important ingredient in a bowl of boat noodles is fresh pig’s blood which cooks immediately once hot soup is poured in, thickening the broth and giving the dish its characteristic wholesome pork flavour.

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The restaurant staff did not speak much English but it wasn’t hard to get our requests across with English on the menu. All dishes cost 10 baht each and we proceeded to eat!

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We both started with one each of the “Noodles thicken soup with beef” and “Noodles thicken soup with pork” The staff also brought over a plate of “Fried dumplings” (fried wonton skins) and “Streaky pork with crispy crackling” (fried pork rinds), which we readily agreed to take.

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Thick chewy noodles in a little bit of really flavoursome porky broth. There was also sugar, fish sauce, chili flakes and vinegar chili sauce at the table so you can flavour the noodles to your liking.

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So tasty! And because the portions are so tiny, we definitely got in a few more orders before leaving satisfied πŸ™‚ I think the final bill came to 100-150 baht ($3-5). Would definitely come again if we ever visit Bangkok!

By now, it was late afternoon and so we headed back to the hotel to hang with Laura one last time. With a bit of relaxation and chatting by the pool, it wasn’t long before it was time for us to head to the airport!

Sooner than we realized, we were getting off the train and checking into our flight back to Singapore at 8pm.

Our short trip to Bangkok was finally (felt much longer) coming to an end.

A few shots inside the Suvarnabhumi Airport.

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End of our Bangkok trip! … And I guess by default, end of Day 05!

FULL ALBUM OF LAST PORTION IN BANGKOK HERE

Photo #366: THE END

February 28, 2013

Thank you to everyone who has taken an interest in my Photo-A-Day project which began on February 29, 2012 and finishes today. I’m so glad to have taken this opportunity to document a moment a day for the last year πŸ™‚

There were moments of creativity and inspiration and there were also moments of desperation and laziness. There were days when I forgot to take pictures, other days where someone took the picture for me, and even some days where I lost pictures. My first Photo-A-Day project and I certainly hope it won’t be my last!

I leave you with my last picture. My favourite photo that I took in the last year – orchids at The Singapore Botanic Gardens – Photo #96. A mosaic composed of all 366 photos I took this past year! I hope you like it πŸ™‚

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Photo #228: Splashes of Purple

October 13, 2012

After an incredibly windy day yesterday, the jacaranda trees were looking less lively than we had hoped, although they’re not yet in full bloom. With the lack of rain and hot sun, there was also no luscious green grass in sight. Doesn’t make for the prettiest picture but it was the best I could do! We’ll try to scout for a better location sometime soon.

 

FADU: Botanic Garden and The Dark Knight Rises

In case you don’t know, FADU = Family Adventures Down Under = here’s what our family is up to while they’re visiting me in Australia!

You may also be wondering why I’m skipping days. Don’t worry, it’s not because I can’t read a calendar! It’s simply because we didn’t do anything exciting enough to take pictures or share with you πŸ™‚

July 20, 2012

Visited the Brisbane Botanic Garden with Yoni. There we saw pretty flowers, climbed funky trees, took pictures in front of a my beautiful building house and petted super smooth bamboo. We then proceeded to South Bank to watch the much anticipated The Dark Knight Rises. Our group left the cinema with mixed reviews but I thought it was a great movie! Although I do think Batman should not be allowed to qualify as a superhero – he clearly does not have any superpowers. Ended the night with sushi train dinner at Ginga – satisfaction!

FULL ALBUM HERE!

Singapore Day 4: Chinese and Japanese Gardens

June 21, 2012

From the MRT station, we started off towards the Chinese Garden…

First visit, the 7 Storey Pagoda

The beautiful Bonsai Garden

Our Zodiac statues in the Garden of Abundance

Over the White Rainbow (13-Arch) Bridge to the Japanese Garden

Ran into my favourite flower! πŸ˜€

FULL ALBUM HERE!

Headed back into the city and met Bing and Lihuan at Hong Lim Food Complex in Chinatown for yummy lunch! Tried a number of dishes including

Bak Chor Mee (Mince Meat Noodles)

and Ice Kachang (colourful on left) for dessert!

Some shots of Chinatown

Neat idea – we need this

Back to Little India for some drinks (happy hour!) at our hotel before meeting my aunt, Tam, for dinner

Tekka Centre – where we had hawker Indian food a few times!

Singapore Day 2: Botanical Gardens

June 19, 2012

Moon Hotel was great! Located in Little India with wonderful buffet breakfasts every morning, free mini bar that’s restocked daily, free wifi and free happy hour (5-7pm) with up to 5 drinks from a great selection. Nice modern room with everything provided. The only thing we lacked in our room was a window! We had curtains but no windows which made our room always feel like 6pm – the mood of being in the ‘moon’ hotel? Staff were friendly and courteous – would definitely come back again!

Tuesday morning started after breakfast with a short walk to Mustafa Centre to exchange money. Thanks to Bing and Lihuan for the recommendation because we received a great exchange rate. We then headed over to Farrer Park MRT (Mass Rapid Transit – train) station to get our EZ-Link cards (similar to Brisbane’s Go cards) and headed over to the Singapore Botanic Gardens!

The garden was easy to find with the great MRT system, such a beautiful place!

The Reflexology Footpath – felt great on bare feet!

A woman practicing Tai Chi in the morning

A squirrel and his spoils!

Entry to the garden is free, but $5 SGD allows you to visit The National Orchid Garden inside – worth it!

Only a very few of the very beautiful orchids in the garden

A ginger flower!

Sun-basking turtles

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ‘SINGAPORE BOTANIC GARDENS’ ALBUM

Photo #79: Carnations to Bloom

May 17, 2012

I’m trying to grow these! Carnations were the only flowers I found at the store that could be grown during winter so I decided to give it a try. It’s supposed to take around 7 months for them to actually start blooming though… so we’ll see!