Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Gardens by the Bay Lantern Festival

Singapore's government is constantly creating new attractions in an attempt to increase tourism (challenging as Singapore has a relatively short history, no natural features of note and a rather unexciting artistic/cultural scene). In addition, back in the 1960s Lee Kuan Yew (the founding father of Singapore) decided that Singapore should be a "garden city", so gardens and greenery are a big thing here (though oddly at least to me this does not include natural greenery, perhaps because it is insufficiently tidy for Singaporean tastes: I have never seen somewhere with such immaculately groomed shrubbery and road medians).

Perhaps the natural culmination of these efforts is Gardens by the Bay, an enormous (250 acres) park (built on reclaimed land): most of it opened pretty recently (mid 2012-2014), though other sections are still under development

Attractions include two enormous greenhouses (which, because Singapore is in the tropics already, are climate controlled to mimic the Mediterranean and "cloud forests" at around 2,000 feet above sea level) and "Supertrees" (vertical gardens 25-50 meters tall, built in the shape of trees). The whole thing has cost over $1 billion so far.
Immaculate shrubberies (makes me think of Monty Python and the Holy Grail)
Mushroom pavilion and R doing her thing
My toenail polish matches
Floating baby sculpture and Supertrees
Full floating baby: I don't know what's up with it either
R and one of the artificial lakes
Dragonfly sculpture with Marina Bay Sands in the background
It is much too big to visit all at once (especially if you are accompanied by a young child), so we have made numerous smaller trips instead. These photos are all from 2013's Lantern Festival--which was in late September, I am behind--so the lanterns won't be there on a regular visit.
We arrived early so the lanterns aren't lit yet: very strange to see a Santa village for a Chinese festival, in a city located almost directly on the Equator
You could actually ride this elephant lantern, R was a fan
More traditionally themed lantern island: this was R's favorite as she insisted Chang lived there (Tintin's friend, from Tintin in Tibet, her current obsession then and for the next six months)
Chinese mask lantern
Now it's getting dark and the lanterns are coming on...Indian themed, complete with Taj Mahal and snake charmer
Dinosaur lanterns and more magic mushrooms
I liked T Rex best. His head moved up and down and there were sound effects.
Chinese folktale lantern display
I have no idea what this is supposed to represent, rabbits, teddy bears and a pink squirrel wearing a witch hat?
Everything else will be, though, including the trippy floating baby and the magic mushroom pavilion. Singapore's laws make it very unlikely that drugs were actually involved in the creation of Gardens by the Bay but I think it's funny to imagine otherwise.
View of the area as we left: pink skyscraper, enormous Ferris wheel  (tallest in the world I think?) and color-changing Supertrees. Very psychedelic.

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