Thursday, February 28, 2013

More Friends - More Fun

Ten minutes after our flight from Singapore arrived, Shayne's friend Paula landed on her flight from New York City.

We decided to take the first day a bit slow in deference to jet lag. So we wandered down to the ferry dock and took a ride to Chung Chau Island. As with many of the smaller islands in Hong Kong, there are no cars or large vehicles on Chung Chau. The only motorized traffic is small delivery carts used to deliver goods and supplies to the shops. The main mode of transport for the islanders is the bicycle.

The main occupation on Chung Chau is fishing. The harbor is always filled with activity and dried fish and seafood are a staple of the local economy.

First order of business was a seafood lunch which had been swimming in the local waters just a short time before.

After lunch we took a leisurely stroll through the local shops and ended at the beach.

A great start to Paula's visit and Shayne's last week in Hong Kong.

Gardens by the Bay

One of the jewels of Singapore is the Marina Bay area. The iconic Marina Bay Sands Casino with its boat shaped pool and dining deck spanning the rooftops of the three towers, the floating Louis Vuiton store and the hand shaped Art Science Museum have now been joined by Gardens by the Bay. This newest addition to the Marina Bay property has been in planning and development since 2006. Two of the three areas have been completed and the third is in process.

Having a morning to see as much as we could, we decided to visit the three most iconic areas within the Gardens - Flower Dome, Cloud Forest and Supertree Grove. A short taxi ride took us to Garden entrance and on to the two conservatories. As with our own Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, there is a wonderful collection of sculptures scattered throughout the spaces.

Our first stop was the Flower Dome, an enormous glass conservatory on multiple levels filled with dramatic plant life.

I cannot begin to tell you what everything is, but it is all beautiful.

We even made it in time for the end of the Christmas decorations. A chrysanthemum snowman was joined by floral penguins, a giant tree and even Santa in his sleigh.

After leaving the Flower Dome we entered the Cloud Forest. This conservatory is much taller than the flower dome and one can see why upon entering.

Inside there is a six story tall mountain covered in tropical foliage and complete with waterfall. The path leads to an elevator for a ride to the top. The walk down weaves inside and outside of the mountain for both distance and close in viewing of the plantings. There are also some great views of Marina Bay Sands.

The last area we visited was the Supertree Grove. This is a beautiful collection of man made trees up to 16 stories high. There are clusters throughout the Gardens but the Grove houses twelve in a cluster with a 25 meter high walkway connecting two of the trees. The central tree houses a restaurant at the top. Eleven of the trees are set to harvest solar energy and the "living skin" is filled with plantings that will only get more beautiful with age.

The views of the city and surrounding gardens were wonderful.

And my new camera has a fish eye lens that was perfect for some unique looks at Singapore.

And what a great backdrop for some portraits.

A little more of feeling on top of the world and we were ready to head off to the airport.