Michael Townsend got more than he bargained for on his first trip to Singapore with his family. Here, he shares why it's best to expect the unexpected in the city known as the gateway to the East.
“Uhh… Guys, we have a problem.” Those were the most memorable words spoken during our family trip to Singapore.
To explain, we were in the middle of a treetop obstacle course called Forest Adventure in Singapore and I was buddied up with my mum.
We had just finished the ‘easy’ course and were now embarking on the ‘moderate’ (I would like to emphasise again, ‘moderate’) climb.
The first obstacle was a rope ladder, and at least for us, it also happened to be the last obstacle. This was the result of an executive decision made by my mum when she was around about a third the way up the ladder.
Despite the gentle encouragement provided by all of the onlookers, and some of the more… direct encouragement by my brother and me, she froze at the half way point, and simply refused to climb the ladder any further.
After a minute or so of heated debate over the physics of the ladder and the possibility of climbing it, my mum made her second executive decision: it was time to (frantically) descend. She slipped.
Fortunately the belay system saved her from a terrifying two metre crash to the soft grass. Unfortunately, this belay system functioned in much the same way as a seatbelt. If you yanked on it, it jammed. My mum’s slip certainly amounted to a yank.
Normally in this situation the solution is fairly simple (as with a seatbelt). You relax, climb up a little, before embarking on a calm descent down to safety. Sadly, this was not an option. Instead, it was when a safety instructor took notice of the combination of the belay system’s refusal to let my mum to the ground, and her refusal to climb the ladder, that he announced on a radio that, “we have a problem”.
All was fine in the end. I buddied up with one of the friendly onlookers and we all agreed that in the evening we were going to do something slightly more relaxing. We decided on going to “Gardens by the Bay”, which is a 101 hectare showcase of incredible horticulture and garden artistry. Singapore is known as a “City in a Garden”, and this place alone makes it more than deserving of that reputation.
Despite being someone who prefers more action-packed type activities (like Forest Adventure), this was hands down my favourite part of our trip. My mum and brother James were also captured by the vastness and the detail of the scenery and we were all totally mesmerised by the entire experience.
Even more breathtaking than the outside area of the garden were the domes. The moment we walked into the Flower Dome, we all felt a sensation of being engulfed by a uniquely fresh and crisp wave of air. You could really feel the fact that you were surrounded by the life of thousands of organisms. There was also huge variety in the flora, so it was possible to both breathe everything in only to look to your right and see a feature of nature that you’ve never seen before.
The Cloud Forest was also spectacular, with a spiralled ramp that ran through the misty forest all the way up to the top of a huge waterfall (and of course, back down). We explored this area for quite some time before heading over to our final part of the day, the light show.
The whole garden was already lit up when we walked out of the dome and we admired it as we found our way to a good viewing point for the show. We were laid on our backs when it started, and it was a sensational experience. The visual effects were mesmerising and the music that accompanied them was soothing. To say the least, it was a pretty happy moment for all of us.
We spent five days in Singapore, and this was just one. Each day we were just as busy doing new things, seeing new scenery and, importantly, eating delicious food.
To name a few things on top of what I wrote about here we: went on a bumboat ride in Boat Quay; we went to the Tanjong Beach Club in Sentosa where my brother and I tested our skills on a FlowRider; we went on a Night Safari where we got to see an array of the stunning animals found in the region; we went to an island called Pulau Ubin where we saw wild boars and road our bikes in the forest; we went to… you get the idea.
Even then, with all this, when we left we had an acute sense that there was more to be done. If you’re a family that’s passing through Singapore, it would be a huge waste not to add a few days to the trip to check out as much as you can.
Better still, if you’re a family looking for a place to go on holiday, I seriously recommend you give it a visit.
For more information on where to stay, events and best times to go, visit www.yoursingapore.com.
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