YA Eco Mysteries, Memoirs, Novels & Travel
Singapore A Futuristic City Updated
No doubt about it, Singapore has transformed itself into an impressive, vibrant and modern tourists mecca that rivals the Asian cities of Hong Kong, Manila and Shanghai. Indeed, on a recent visit to Singapore, the huge scale and creativity of Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay made me feel as if I were stepping into a futuristic science fiction city. The most outstanding transformation is the skyline of the Central Business District with Marina Bay as the centerpiece. The stunning Marina Bay Sands hotel, casino, and shopping complex, designed by renowned architect Moshe Safide, pierces the skyline with three soaring towers joined by a gleaming sky terrace that resembles a spaceship docked atop the skyscraper. To add to the glamour, the world’s longest elevated swimming pool floats on the top. For more information: Moshe Safdie.
I’m a Passionate Traveler who digs below the surface of the places I visit. This blog is my perspective on Singapore. The Marina Bay Sands complex, set in the Gardens by the Bay, is an amazing botanical showpiece that cost $773 million to build, and houses over a quarter-million rare plants. My travel companions and I could not stop “ohhing and ahhing” and photographing the floral displays inside the two enormous glass conservatories that pop out of the gardens like gigantic snails. The Cloud Forest conservatory simulates a soaring mountain forest festooned with waterfalls and thousands of gorgeous plants that one can view close up by following a spiral aerial walkway to the top. In the adjacent conservatory, the Flower Dome, we strolled through delightful Mediterranean and sub tropical displays.
Walking across The Helix Bridge, inspired by the double twisting structure of DNA, provides excellent vantage point for the gardens and the waterfront.
The Merlion Statue, which leads to Marina Bay area, is a whimsical landmark.
The imposing canopy of eighteen steel Supertrees, which light up at night, are covered in bromeliads, orchids, ferns and tropical climbing flowers. In fact, the Supertrees generate solar power and act as venting ducts for the nearby conservatoires. Yes, I was dazzled by this futuristic Singapore, but on reflection, I felt that a disconnect between the “old” Singapore neighborhoods and this glitzy
new Singapore (discussed in my previous blog: Singapore a Multiracial Nation). It would take a stroke of genius to connect the two—maybe someday someone will.
Gardens by the Bay is a far cry from the day Stamford Raffles stepped ashore, January 29, 1819 on sparsely populated, swampy Singapore and envisioned it as a free port and as a “a great commercial emporium.” Indeed, even Raffles would be amazed. How has Singapore achieved this transformation? In part, the transformation was driven by the vision of the first Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, his skillful governance and tough laws. Hopefully, other cities can learn from Singapore’s success.
As a tourist it’s easy to get caught up in the fun and glamour of traveling, but to balance the glitzy view of Singapore, I will leave my readers with this thought: most of the skyscrapers—built since the 1990s when Singapore transformed from a Third World nation to the third-wealthiest in the world, based on per capita GDP—were constructed by foreign migrant workers who earn low wages and typically live in substandard housing. These include company dormitories, crowded shop-houses in Little India or the Chinese and Arab quarters, or even converted shipping containers down at the docks. They are the human cost of Singapore’s phenomenal growth. For more information (Singapore's City Of The Future And The Ghost Of Tom Joad)
Just one more thought: in my historical novel, The Nine Inheritors, I predicted that futuristic cities would look like this:
“Speeding down boulevards lined with angular skyscrapers overshadowed by the remnants of majestic old places: flying by “green” high-rise housing that integrated walls of vegetation into the architecture itself . . .. Even in the late twenty-first century, hunger and poverty lurked behind wealth and breath-taking technological innovation.” The Nine Inheritors p.512
For more about Singapore, download The Passionate Traveler: Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, the travel iBook from the iBook Store, with interesting travel stories, eye-popping HD images, and colorful videos.
The Passionate Traveler enhanced iBooks Vol 1-3 available now in the iBook Store
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