A big let down

I have to admit that when the Government first announced that it was going to set up a gardens right in the heart of Marina Bay, I was quite ecstatic. Our very own Central Park, no less. I imagined tall trees, sand, grass, the smell of plants and grass and everything you’d associate with a garden. I’d been to Berlin too and had seen the huge park there – very tall trees, lush greenery, etc.

So I was quite excited when I first saw the artist’s impression of our own Gardens. Told everyone this was going to be something we could really be proud of. 

But after two visits, I am thoroughly let-down. Completely disappointed with what I’d seen. But let me also be honest and say that I have not visited the two conservatories – because it’s a lot of money to fork out for entry.

What we saw were manicured lawns, concrete paths, and – what I hated most – artificial lights to brighten up the trees. The so-called supertrees were as fake as they come. They do not impress me at all.

What I felt after the two visits was a sense of plasticity – the lack of authenticity to the whole place was so pronounced that my friend and I pledged not to visit it again. Well, at least for the foreseeable future. And I can’t help but feel that the Gardens was entirely created to attract tourists and to sell Singapore’s brand name – nothing more than that.

I had hoped that the Gardens would be natural, that we would have real trees, with wild greenery left to grow on its own. I was even willing to live with the supertrees when I first heard about them. But from my visits, I realised the Gardens was just an artificial construct, so fake that I could not wait to get out of there.

I wish they had taken more time to let the trees and plants, flowers and grass grow organically, naturally. And for the park to be as natural as possible.

For me then it will be Lorong Halus. At least they’ve left it natural for the most part.

Gardens by the Bay is a big let down – especially with a S$1 billion price tag.

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4 thoughts on “A big let down

  1. I’ve been to the Garden By The Bay once. I find it alright although I wish it has more open space for picnic.

    Maybe you have higher expectations. Especially after all the fanciful artist impression. 🙂

  2. I’m also disappointed. I personally think the Botanical Gardens or Bishan Park is better done. I feel that in this case, the Govt feels that such a prime piece of land must not be “wasted” as “just” a natural park. Remember how, of all things, LHL talked about how prime the land was and how the Govt could have reaped billions from developing it rather than using it as a park, when he opened the park? This betrays the underlying mentality. So in order to maximise “returns” from this prime land, someone dreamt up the grand idea of making this a new fantastic TOURIST attraction — the world’s trees in one air-cond place, Singapore’s culture served up on a nice platter with nicely delineated Chinese / Malay / Indian zones, artificial lights, etc etc. Hence, $1b price tag.

    I’m also not impressed by the domes. The world’s plants and trees in one place! This is how the BT aptly puts it : “If one ever had to live in an artificial universe, one would pick the Gardens by the Bay. After all, if there’s one thing that Singapore is really good at, it’s the ability to marry contrivance and comfort in the most irresistible way. For the avowed urbanite, this is not an indictment. Wouldn’t it be great if all rainforests and other wild vegetation were like the two climate-controlled domes at the Gardens? They’re cool, clean, you don’t get bitten by bugs and all the trees and plants are conveniently labelled so you don’t even need a jungle guide.”

    Everything is nicely labelled, neatly stacked, in an air-cond environment. To me, it misses the essence of nature – the seasonality, the smell, the randomness, the foliage .. All that the dome says to me is that Singapore is an advanced country, capable of putting all the plants of the world in one place and displaying it. Its a message about Singapore, not the plants per se.

    My overwhelming feeling when I walk through the Gardens is emptiness, repelled by the fakeness of it all. Ironically, it amplifies Singapore as an artificial city. And I trace the problem to the mindset at the very start of this project – such a prime piece of land must not be “wasted” on mere nature. Thats how it all went wrong to me …

  3. I been to the domes and found them dissapointing. The cloud forest in particular. They had to fill it with other content inside, such as an area where there’s stalactices and stalagamites. Isn’t a rainforest interesting enough? And there’s some part trying to teach conservation when obviously the Gardens are a wasteful use of energy.

    The flower dome is pretty but also highly artificial. And like most people have said, the super trees are quite ugly up close. Towering blocks of concrete that serve no real purpose, probably to distract tourists from the ugly side of Singapore

    As someone pointed out the whole thing is like one of those Facebook games, where you have to pay $$ to get additional content. Overall, I found it quite underwhelming and the two domes not worth the money.

  4. Felt so unatural, all metal n cement, maybe after 10years, when the trees follow their natural growth, it would feel more real.

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