Friday, January 25, 2013

Cloud Forest [云雾林] in the Daytime @ Gardens by the Bay, Bay South [Singapore]

The bundle package for the two conservatories at only S$18 per adult (after a 10% discount for purchasing online) means i proceeded immediately to the Cloud Forest after exiting the Forest Dome.

In the strictest sense, the name is a misnomer although the designer's intention is to replicate the cloud forest for the benefit of Singaporeans who would then be able to experience a bit of the highlands right at home.

The moment we stepped in, we were overwhelmed by the strong gust of cool air and the magnificent appearance of a 35-meter man-made waterfall!

Since the waterfall at Jurong Bird Park has a height of only 30 meters, this would technically mean that it has lost its spot as the tallest artificial waterfall in the world to the above one at Cloud Forest, Gardens by the Bay.

Most visitors were trying their best to avoid going too near to the waterfall as they do not want to get wet! And who in the right mind would want to be splashed by dirty water?!

It would be funny to go in, take in the sights of the waterfall and then get out of the dome! To make your money worth, there are two main walkways' located within the dominant structure known as Cloud Mountain.

To term it as a mountain is a bit hard to swallow but for the sake of its purpose to depict the environment of mountains between 1,000 and 3,000 metres above sea level, let's just close one eye.

Treetop Walk - this is supposed to give you a canopy overview. More on that later.

Once again, as with Forest Dome, you would find some aboriginal sculptures that would serve as alternative backdrops for photographs.

Getting to the top of the "mountain" is easy; take an elevator. There's nowhere in the world where you can take a life to the top of the mountain! You can only do it in Singapore (note the sarcasm)!

Okay, i lied, to a certain extent.

You can only get to level six after which you have to walk up a flight of stairs to the top floor. For visitors on wheelchair, you would be pleased to know that there is a separate, designated lift to bring you to level seven.

This platform (known as waterfall view) that sticks out like a sore thumb on level five would get you closer to the mid-drop of the waterfall. I would touch on it shortly.

View of the SuperTree Grove from Cloud Forest.

Level Lost World -  "Where are the dinosaurs?" would be my first question! Haha. This highest point of the "mountain" has a beautifully landscaped garden completed with a pond.

Like the Forest Dome, this conservatory maintains a temperature of between 23 and 25 degrees Celcius; temperature comfortable for highland flowers.

Not sure if you are aware but orchids are found in practically "every habitat except for the glaciers".

Pitcher plants - this carnivorous plant is known to trap insects and even small animals.

My camera is unable to take the above picture which was actually three pictures stitched together in Photoshop! Well, at least you have a rough gauge on how big the "Lost World" is.

This is also where the waterfall made its glorious drop! Guess it is good luck to drop your coins even though i doubt they would be taken kindly by the technicians who might have to spend their time clearing them from the filtration system!

Visually, the five "water taps" of various width would help to create a waterfall different from its many boring man-made counterparts and give it a more "natural" feel.

Cloud Walk - the elevated bridge would give you a fabulous view of the surroundings. By the way, please don't expect to see and feel clouds near you.

The blanket of real shrubs and plants covering the "mountain" was incredible and could have passed off as a real hill from certain angles.

I wasn't too comfortable walking on the walkway as i can feel it vibrating with every step! Even colder comfort when i realised, to my horror, that thin metal poles hold the entire bridge!

Thank god the fences were not the transparent glass type! My worst horror dream is to miss my footing and tumble down from a height.

Although Forest Dome is bigger, Cloud Forest is taller at 58 meters with a capacity to accommodate 1,200 people. Honestly, i think they should impose a maximum load for the walkways!

Dad enjoyed himself of course; Cameron Highlands would be preferable but the to and fro journey of over 18 hours was too tiring. 

This circular vent, one of many in the "mountain", was blowing out cool air! Shiok!!! For my post on going into a real cloud forest at Cameron Highlands (known as Mossy Forest), please click here.

Going down to Level Five via the escalator. Descending the mountain was a breeze with this convenient invention yet a small voice in my head said it would do us more good by having stairs instead!

The cavern that looked out to the Marina district; which is at the back of the waterfall.

Waterfall View - i mentioned this briefly earlier in this post. No one, except for the little girl, dared to step on the wire mesh! My excuse for not doing the same? She was, for sure, lighter than me!

Played around with the shutter setting on the camera to shoot this.

Level 4 - Crystal Mountain. This level exhibits real stalactites and stalagmites which are part and parcel of the formation of any caverns. Seriously, if these mineral stones interest you, you should consider visiting a real cave like the dragon king cave i visited in Hunan.

Treetop walk! 

One benefit of this walkway was the ability to take nicer photographs of the "mountain"! 

It didn't wobble as much and the walkway was also much wider than "Cloud Walk". Unfortunately, it didn't quite make the cut as a treetop walk.

Some of you might be aware that i went for the HSBS Treetop Walk on Christmas a month ago. The scenery you get there is worth much more! The downside is that you have to trek for at least an hour to get there and around a strenuous hour and a half to get out. 

Only at this point that it suddenly dawned on me; Cloud Walk doesn't mean you would be able to see or touch clouds. The walkway on which i stood earlier is in fact the cloud! Just imagine a mountain with swirling clouds a little below the summit.

Enter this zone called "Earth Check" where you would be given a lot of statistics, facts and figures on the health condition of planet Earth. 

In addition, you could also learn more about the self sustainability technologies adopted by the Gardens by the Bay in order to save energy and make fuller use of available resources. 

Descend another level to +5 Degrees; a show that was simple yet so thought provoking!

The Secret Garden failed to impress me; there was nothing secret about it since everyone has to walk through it in order to get out of the mountain!

Having lame sculptures of crocodiles would not help in forming the secrecy i have in mind.

I spoke too fast; the secret garden is nothing when the sun is up. You have to wait till the night to see its true glory. A separate post on the "Cloud Forest" at night can be found here

^_^

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For detailed information, including ticketing, directions, operating hours, please visit http://www.gardensbythebay.com.sg/en/the-gardens/attractions/cloud-forest.html

Map of the Gardens
As above.

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