Following my exploration of the Flower Dome Conservatory, the Gardens by the Bay Singapore Cloud Forest is one of the other two conservatories situated in the Garden grounds. The conservatory contains a controlled cool-moist climate found in tropical Montane regions 3,500m above sea level. Examples includes mountainous South America and Mt Kinabalu in Malaysia.
It features a 35m tall man-made concrete mountain covered in lush vegetation. It shrouds the world’s tallest indoor waterfall which feeds water to the lower marsh gardens in the conservatory basement. Moreover, it is inspired by the shape of an orchid flower and home to 130,000 different plants.
A Tropical highland
Additionally, like the Flower Dome, the Cloud Forest is also a cooled conservatory. However, it spots a much more wetter and humid environment than the flower dome. It mimics the climate found in tropical highland forests and often shrouded in low altitude rain clouds. These are typically located over 2500 meters above sea level.
The conservatory contains a controlled cool-moist climate found in tropical Montane regions 3,500m above sea level, such as mountainous South America and Mt Kinabalu in Malaysia.
Moreover, the cloud forest is my personal favorite part of the Gardens by the Bay attraction. It is best visited at night. You will be greeted with combination of nice cooling atmosphere tied down nicely with atmospheric music. Contrary to the flower dome, the Cloud Forest is much smaller in footprint. However, it is much taller internally given the difference in conservatory (it houses a mountain!) contents for visitors.
Tallest man-made waterfall
Furthermore, you will be greeted by the world’s tallest man-made waterfall right at the conservatory entrance. This often gives visitors the “wow” factor. This is even before realising that you are getting drenched by it’s splash pool by the walkway entrance.
Moreover, the waterfall with the combination of the regular conservatory Misting does give the ground floors a damp environment. The are occasional puddles to watch out for. However, elderly members and children should take caution here as the floors could be slippery despite the rough floor surfaces here. Photographers may also want to watch the waterfall spray on your lens.
Notably, the highlight and heart of the conservatory is a completely artificial tropical highland mountain at its core. It acts as an artificial planter wall for growing vertical vegetation. Moreover, the “mountain” itself is served by a number of interlinking grated catwalk walkways at various levels of the conservatory interior space. Additionally, part of the conservatory is underground too, allowing more internal vertical height to be achieved without making the superstructure excessively tall.
Gardens by the Bay Cloud Forest Conservatory
Encircling the central mountain is a number of illuminated catwalks spanning the lower and upper parts of the conservatory. Moreover, the upper deck is largely attached to the mountain itself, starting off from the top floor. Also, the lower walkway is shorter at about two floors high and can be accessed from the mountain body and from the ground floor through a number of side access staircases.
Notably, the walking tour in the cloud forest is a one way route from the top to bottom. It starts with a walking circle on the ground floor into the foot of the mountain and taking an elevator within the mountain up right to its roof-top garden or the “lost world“, so it’s called.
Roof top Secret Garden
Additionally, the roof-top garden is largely dominated by a water-body flanked by several aquatic plants which serves as an overflow pond feeding the attraction’s main waterfall. The waterfall is fed from long laminar sprouts at the top. Here, this transits into turbulent flow mid stream and merging to give the waterfall effect down to the plunge pool below as seen earlier from below.
Furthermore, the pond up here also is home to a variety of pond species, Lillis and shrubs. This roof garden at night is faintly illuminated with green lasers visible in the atmospheric artificial mist which lingers up here. It gives the area a nice sense of calamity and Zen.
Moreover, it is up here where “Cloud walk” catwalk starts. Notably, the views from the catwalk are simply amazing. Those with vertigo or are just plain afraid of heights won’t want to look over the railing and stay on the centre of the catwalk.
The first part of the catwalk runs alongside and encircles the top half of the mountain. This allows you to come face to face with the green mountain body itself. Just try to avoid touching or tampering with the plants, as they are pretty fragile to the touch.
A Misty Trail
Also, if you are sharp enough, you will notice little details along the route. This includes various vents on the mountain wall located below the walkway. These discreet vents feeds the misting system used here, as well as providing air-conditioning to keep the conservatory cool. Moreover, it’s from the catwalk up here too where you will get a bird’s eye and over view of the entire conservatory given the height vantage you get alongside the planter mountain.
Moreover, the catwalk will bring you back into the mountain body where the tour will carry through escalators or lifts to the waterfall view. The cloud mountain is generally largely wheelchair accessible. However, the presence of a number of stairs on the roof and escalators won’t allow wheeled visitation to follow the entire tour route.
Hence, users on mobility scooters, wheelchairs or prams will have to regularly make a detour off the planned visitation route. You will have to use the lifts within the mountain core to reach the various levels of the mountain.
Tree top Catwalk
At the waterfall view level, you will be able to catch the main waterfall up close. Moreover, this balcony overhangs just beside the falls mid-way into the mountain. This allows you to almost reach out to the water and is a perfect place for photographs too. Just don’t get too wet!
Moving down further the mountain will bring to the heart of the mountain, complete with emergency exits and toilets (items you can find in a typical wild tropical cloud mountain right?). The lower-level grated catwalk called the “tree top walk” starts and ends on this level here too. Also, as the name suggests, it’s the catwalk which brings you just along the tree line of the ground plants in the conservatory.
Computer controlled climate control
The tree top walkway brings visitors a loop around the conservatory internal perimeter allowing you to appreciate the planter mountain from a step back. Noteworthily, the cloud forest is automatically misted approximately once every other hour. This gives the place a rather damp yet cooling atmosphere. This misting suspends the interior of the conservatory with water droplets, which catches any specular lights. It allows the interior mountain lighting and laser beams to be seen with great detail. A spectacular man-made sight indeed.
When combined with the regular misting intervals, you may see the mountain as some sort of a space port with industrial looking metal arms and light beams illuminated in the mist (Though it will be so cool to actually have a space port in Singapore). Likewise, any Star Wars fan may see the cloud walk as the silhouette of a millennium falcon. It is both very cool looking nonetheless. The view itself is priceless and you can’t find anything where in the world as unique as this.
Gardens by the Bay Cloud Forest Conservatory
Furthermore, the ambiance of the conservatory changes dramatically during the misting process, plunging visitors into a different world of calmness, in contrast to the buzzing busy city world outside. An excellent place to relax and chill out.
The heart of the mountain is permanent exhibition space, housing the “underground jewels“, a Paleobiology display. Here a variety of harvested scalites, lime stone and crystal bodies typically found in tropical underground caves are showcased here.
Multimedia on Global warming
Moving along down the mountain will start you on the permanent edutainment exhibits focused about conservation and sustainability. Here, the theme starts with several animated displays and a video segment named “5 degrees“. This is accomplished using a variety of simulated stock videography and images. Moreover, the video teaches about the dire consequences of global warming fueled by human activities each small increase in global temperature resulting in the loss of natural habitat and mass extinction of wildlife.
Furthermore, conservation starts with people right at home. Given Singapore’s dense living, coupled with the convenience of energy and utilities readily available at the flick of a switch. Singapore currently uses 3.5 times more than her of fair share of carbon footprint per capital than the global average.
Also, this paints the conclusion that despite man being the cause of climate change, mankind is also the world’s only hope too to save the fragile planet by addressing our lifestyle. This is after understanding of environmental and ecological impacts and the price that comes inadvertently with urban development and industrialisation.
Ultimately, it is the right response by the Singaporean society in the quest for better sustainability. The future does look bright for Singapore in ensuring a sustainable future for future generations to come. Additionally, closing interactive displays include the kinetics of the gardens. This is elaborated using projected table-top displays. Also, this shows the interrelation of energy transfers between key elements in the gardens, such as the lakes, conservatories and the Super trees.
Remarkably, electricity is generated on-site to run the chillers that cool the conservatories. Here, waste heat is harnessed by de-humidified air before cooling by liquid desiccant (drying agent). This regenerates liquid desiccant to recycle waste heat from the burning of the biomass. Onsite co-generation of energy is achieved by the use of a massive combined heat power (CHP) steam turbine. It is fueled by horticultural plant waste harvested from the gardens and other Singapore parks.
Basement Secret Garden
Moreover, the last segment of the Cloud forest will be the “Secret garden“. Here, a variety of intertwining underground walkways snake you through the conservatory lower basement past several ponds, water features and waterfall run-off. Additionally, this area is home to a variety of tropical aquatic plants and marsh life. You might be able to see a number of incubator plants being grown here as well as an occasional a pitcher plant or two.
Exiting the conservatory will bring you back to the central basement between the two conservatories. Heading westbound out of the immediate visitor centre towards the Marina bay will bring you to the Bayside pathway. Moreover, this allows you to appreciate the super-structure and architecture of the conservatories together.
Also other areas of interest from here will include the Singapore Satay club (an open-air hawker center open 24 hours a day) as well as the Marina Barrage. Notably, they are all within a 10 minute walking distance from the conservatory visitor center.
All in all, that is all for my article on the Gardens by the Bay. The garden is definitely I can feel proud of as a Singaporean. It offers a sense of tranquility away from the buzz of life tucked right in the heart of the city. The gardens is a place I visit rather often and a must-see whenever I am hosting friends from overseas over.
It is an attraction definitely not to be missed.
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