Sunday, March 30, 2014

Exploring Singapore in three days, part 4

I was in Singapore in January to attend an MBA orientation for prospective students at INSEAD. While there, I took the time to explore the city and learn a bit more about its history and culture.

I might have avoided the touristy spots, but I couldn't help but visit two architectural features of Singapore on my last evening in the city: the Supertrees and the Marina Bay Sands resort. Yes, the Merlion was supposed to be close by but I wasn't able to get there because of time constraints.

Marina Bay Sands
Wow! That was my first impression when I saw it from my cab en route to my hotel from the airport. It's supposed to be the world's most expensive building and I was able to step inside it!! The exteriors were more interesting for me so I stepped out to take photos. Then I realized that the wind was so strong where I was standing that it was really hard to get a good photo of the building, in the dark, without a tripod. The view was breath-taking, nonetheless.

Marina Bay Sands, up close and personal... from the viewing deck

The three-building structure reminded me of what the tour guide said about buildings with holes when I first visited Hong Kong in 1994: a dragon was living in the mountains and the building was blocking the path from the mountain to the sea so the architect designed a hole through the hotel for the dragon to pass through. There were no mountains behind the Marina Bay Sands structures so I doubt that dragons were a concern here. But there were trees... GIANT trees.

Supertree Grove
First thing in my mind when I saw them: the movie Avatar (2009). I was half-expecting blue humanoids with tails and dinosaur-like giant birds to swoop in on us smaller people. But as I got closer, I learned that these structures were greenhouses or vertical gardens. Singapore's use of solar energy to green the cityscape was executed in a grand, modern way. I'm not sure what to make of it... My jaw dropped when I saw the structures. 

Supertrees made me feel so small. No giant birds in sight? Good, I'm safe.

Who says culture has to be static? These two ultra-modern features on Singapore's Marina Bay coexisting with the traditional structures in the rest of the city just blows my mind away.