MAN & NATURE AS ONE: ECO-TOURISM AMONG SKYCRAPERS
Think eco-tourism and you picture a green habitat somewhere in the wilderness – but smack in the city central business district and among the skyscrapers is where you find Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. The iconic landmark is a horticultural wonderland with an artificial mountain and waterfall, the world’s biggest glassed greenhouse and metal Supertrees and houses 1.5 million plants of 5000 species. You are not visiting a natural-occurring habitat but an artificial man-made construct – one put together by man the engineer and nature the creator. And “Man & Nature as One” is fittingly the theme of a year-long art-in-nature sculpture exhibition to reopen the Gardens after months of COVID-19-induced lockdown.
If what we stand for is revealed by what we make, then the makers of the Gardens by the Bay show that eco-tourism is possible even in the unlikeliest of places like within a city’s concrete jungle. And what you have is a hybrid “Man & Nature as One” eco-tourism wonderland that stands tall as a beacon of hope carrying the message that man has to live in the right balance with
SINGAPORE: THE BEAUTY OF THE NIGHT
Come September and Formula One fans around the world will only have eyes for one thing: The Singapore Grand Prix night race. And on race night, as the magnificent machines roar and speed around the street circuit fans there and watching on TV sets worldwide will get to catch fantastic views of the Singapore’s night time scenery. And that’s one of the key objectives of the Singapore Tourism Board – to showcase to the world the beauty of the city at night.
Some of the best places to get a great view of the city’s night scene are at the skyway at The Gardens by the Bay, the Skypark at the rooftop of Marina Bay Sands, the Singapore Flyer and 1-Altitude Bar at Raffles Place. Besides the city area, Orchard Road at night time is beautifully lit. And when Christmas comes along a month-long street light-up with Yuletide decorations celebrates the festival. The lights and decorations line one long stretch of Orchard Road. Chinese New Year, Hari Raya and Deepavali are other festivals that come with street light-ups. Other attractions worth a visit at night include the Night Safari, Boat Quay, Jewel Changi and Sentosa.
SINGAPORE: SEE ASIA THROUGH A MULTI-CULTURAL LENS
Singapore has a diverse population comprising of descendants of multi-ethnic immigrants of 4 major groups: Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian. The Asian cultural roots and traditions run deep although Western influence is strong. Despite differences in ethnicity, religion and culture among its population Singapore is well known for its multi-racial, multi-religious harmony. Mosques, churches, temples stand in close proximity. And Singaporeans readily join in the community festivals of people of other races and beliefs.
Locations widely associated with Singapore’s major ethnic groups are: Chinatown (Chinese), Geylang Serai (Malay), Little India (Indian), Joo Chiat & Katong (Eurasian & Peranakan) and when you visit you get a feel of China, India, Malaysia there. There is also a little Thailand in Golden Mile Beach Road, a little Myanmar in Peninsula and a little Philippines in Lucky Plaza. And food is a unifying factor and most Singaporeans love wide variety and different styles. And because Singapore is a hub and gateway of East and West you’ll find restaurants offering international cuisine of all kinds including Italian, Spanish, French, Japanese, Thai, Korean food amongst others.
SINGAPORE: ODE TO ART
Singapore was once called a cultural desert and the arts scene lifeless. That was during the early years of economic development when the government and people’s focus were more on bread and butter issues. As Singapore prospered the culture and arts scene turned vibrant. Today the republic has more than 50 museums anchored by the National Gallery and the Asian Civilisations Museum. Concert halls and performance venues are aplenty – with the Esplanade-Theatres by the Bay and Victoria Concert Hall the most prominent. Literary, performing and visual arts fairs, exhibitions, festivals and workshops are held regularly. The cultural desert has turned into a cultural oasis
SINGAPORE: THE WAR ON DIRT
Singapore is widely hailed as the cleanest city in the world. But that acclaim didn’t come easily - it took a long and hard battle of 50 years with some authoritarian measures in the early years. Like banning chewing gum – the only country in the world to do so. And imposing heavy fines for littering, spitting and even for not flushing public toilets. Many locals attribute Singapore’s clean-up success to the iron will and forceful drive of one man – the founding father of modern Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew. But surely one man couldn’t have done it alone. It would have to take the combined will and a whole-of-nation effort to develop this culture of cleanliness.
Tourists on a boat ride down the Singapore river into Marina Bay today would probably not know that it took a decade and $300 million to dredge the dirty, smell waterway and halt pollution. Overseas visitors seeing the clean, orderly and litter-free streets, parks, malls and places of attraction will probably not know the decades of massive national effort that went into making it so. But today tourists who come to Singapore go away telling others what a super clean city it is – encouraging more to come see for themselves.
SINGAPORE'S BILLION DOLLAR TOURIST ATTRACTIONS
How much is the Niagara Falls? Or Mount Fuji, The Great Barrier Reef or River Nile? Well, they all came for free for the country they are in because they are all naturally-occurring – although some costs have to be incurred to build facilities to make them more accessible to tourists. Even Machu Picchu can be considered as free because they were built by an ancient civilisation. But what if a country – like Singapore – doesn’t have must-visit tourist attractions that come for free? Well, you have to build them. And you can’t build them cheaply – not if you want to compel international visitors to come. And so Singapore has quite a few billion-dollar man-made tourist landmarks like Resorts World Sentosa, Jewel Changi, Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay. Resorts World Sentosa has the Universal Studios theme park, casinos, celebrity restaurants and S.E.A Aquarium; Jewel Changi has the world’s highest indoor waterfall and Canopy Park; Marina Bay Sands has Skypark with infinity pool, Spectra light and water show, ArtScience Museum and gala musicals, and Gardens by the Bay has the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome conservatories and Supertrees.
You have to be in the A-list to make it into the T-list of Madame Tussauds. For visitors to Mdm T at Sentosa, you don't have to be on the A-list but you can see Barack Obama, Xi Jinping, Elvis Presley, Audrey Hepburn, Bruce Lee, Serena Williams and others all in one go and in one place at the same time.
Was there ever a perfect rambutan? Actually there may have been. Hidden away in a forest trail in Upper Thomson, Singapore - along with the ruins of a Hainanese village, wild flowers, fruits, insects and animals - is a long lost and abandoned rambutan orchard garden. Han Wai Toon, who came to Singapore in 1915, experimented there for decades to produce the perfect rambutan. He was said to have achieved it by combining the sweet and firm Sumatran strain with the juicy Batavian strain. There may not have been a perfect rambutan but there was certainly a search for it.