Archives for posts with tag: Singapore

Sometimes this is what I dream about driving… And I would definitely take mine in orange.

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This week’s travel theme from Ailsa’s blog ‘Where’s my backpack?’ is Metal. There are so many metal objects that I photograph on my travels that this was difficult to trim down to a select group of 10. So my criteria was cool, unique and very metal.

My first photo is from my home country, but not my home city. This is the Opera House in Melbourne which always gets overlooked by the Sydney Opera House (and rightly so!). Its metal spire is fantastic and tall. I love its geometry.

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Going to North America, I remember my trip to visit my brother in Toronto where I took my son for a walk in his pram to the Distillery District where I found this rusting hulk of a truck. I love the character.

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Still in North America, but across the Southern border is the fabulous New York City where there is metal everywhere. This sculpture in front of the UN Building says a lot as to what the true purpose of the UN is. Maybe the Security Council should have this sculpture placed right in its centre. I love its message.

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Washington DC is the home of the Smithsonian Institute and in my humble opinion the best museum in the world is the Air and Space Museum. My jaw dropped when I entered the foyer and looked up. The Bell X-1, SpaceShipOne, and the magnificent North American X-15. I love its speed… anyone say Mach 6.7!

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In Asia, on one of my numerous trips to Singapore I spied my dream car parked out the front of my hotel. I wanted to take it for a spin, but the owner took the keys. The McLaren MP4-12C is a magnificent beast made of exotic metals (and some carbon fibre no doubt). I love McLaren orange.

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I have posted this photo from Tokyo, Japan before. I don’t know the name of the building other than the writing that is on the front of its metal cladding… the NOA building. I love its architecture.

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Over to Europe, and on a dinner night out with work colleagues I took this photo in Paris, France. I am not going to tell you where this is – you can try and guess. I love the lines.

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Over to the UK and in London, I took this photo of the gates out front of the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. A place that was the equivalent of the Pentagon in its days. I love the detail.

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Up to the university town of Cambridge was this motley collection of student transport. There were definitely no carbon-fibre steeds in this bunch. Apparently at the end of every graduating class the town council has to go and cut a whole heap of dumped bikes from their moorings. I love two wheels.

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And finally the geek in me had to come out. Everybody knows that the real galactic hero of the Star Wars saga is this little chrome dome. This was taken in Sydney at the Powerhouse Museum when they had the travelling roadshow of the costumes and props from the movies. I love R2-D2!

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This week’s travel theme from Ailsa’s blog ‘Where’s my backpack?’ is Pink. I struggled with this theme, my first reaction was – c’mon Ailsa, I don’t take photos of pink things. But sure enough, there was sufficient “pink” stuff in my travels to participate in this week’s travel theme.

I am going to start in Tallinn, Estonia (awesome place to go – even it was like us, just a quick day trip from Helsinki), where the Parliament Building nestled in the old town is coloured pink of all things. We visited Tallinn on our honeymoon.

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Across to Asia, and another stop on our honeymoon, the bustle of Shanghai. The Oriental Pearl TV Tower in the Pudong district looks like some 1970’s spaceship landed vertically in the business district. It has reflective pink glass panels around its “spheres”. Did I say that this tower was huge? The top observation deck is 350m off the ground and the tower tops out at 480m. Huge! The non-pink bits are very concrete ugly by the way.

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Further South in Singapore, the National Orchid Gardens are a treasure of colour. There was bound to be a pink flower here.

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Over to North America and my favourite city in the whole Americas (so far) would have to be Montreal. As my brother says, Montreal is the bomb! Pick up a bit of France (a good bit) and dump it in Canada, add a bit of cheekiness and fun and you have Montreal. This is the interior of the Palais des congrès de Montréal where we have Claude Cormier’s sculpture “Lipstick Forest”. There are 52 of these trees inside, holding up the building.

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Down South again in Mexico, on the Riviera Maya at Xcaret we have the beautiful flamingo being bred and taken care of.

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Finally back home in Australia and the annual Vivid Light Festival in Sydney is a feast of light and colour at night. A couple of years ago, some artist decided to erect a chandelier in the rocks. I think that the artist was being a bit greedy having the backdrop of the Sydney Opera House too.

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In Canberra, we visited the Parliament House and for the second time in a blog post we have a photo of a parliament building. This time it is of our Australian Senate chamber and the pink hued setting. These colours would drive me nuts if I sat there all day – no wonder the politicians stir and argue all the time.

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Finally, I haven’t posted anything cycling related for a while and pink is the colour of … Lampre. Nobody does fluoro in the peloton like the guys from Italy. This was taken from when I went to the Tour Down Under in Adelaide a few years back – super fun trip.

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This week’s travel theme from Ailsa’s blog ‘Where’s my backpack?’ is Gardens. When having a look at my past travels I found a whole load of photos from Gardens in the different places that I visited. Some were grand, others were small. I guess I find solace in a little bit of nature – controlled. What I really enjoy discovering is where there is a mix of urban environment with botanic endeavours. The other funny thing about this theme is that my family name is probably derived from the French word for garden – jardin.

Sydney, Australia (my home town), is where I am going to start. The Botanical Gardens marry the harbour with the city and with the skyline immediately adjacent. It provides for an interesting background.

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Brisbane, Australia, has a similar location for the City Botanic Gardens. But its gardens are more tropical in nature.

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Asian destinations have gardens aplenty, which I think is deeply rooted in many Asian cultures. In Kanazawa, Japan, you will find one of the three best gardens in the whole of the country – the Kenrokuen Gardens. They are stunning and right in the heart of the city, adjacent to the remains of Kanazawa Castle. It was too bad that it was such an overcast day, but I was fortunate that I was on the Western side of the country as the rest of the country was in the grips of a typhoon.

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Singapore is called the Garden City, and for good reason. It’s tropical climate is perfect for botanical ventures. My new favourite gardens in Singapore are the Gardens by the Bay (which I have posted about before). The “super” trees are something else.

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Going to Europe and France maintains a rich legacy of its past with the many formal (and geometric) gardens. One of the most famous in Paris is the Jardin de Tuileries. They used to make tiles for the buildings in the city at this location. Just don’t walk on the grass!… and yes that is the Tour Eiffel in the background.

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The Château de Versailles, just outside of Paris, has the most amazing gardens I have ever seen with its fountains and the hedgerow mazes. I recommend this far better than spending your time queuing to see some overly ornate interiors that are only for royalty (or other hob-knobs). Here you must definitely keep off the grass!

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When I was in Athens for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games, I did appreciate the effort that the Greeks put in to build the Olympic venues (though it possibly bankrupted the country). The main Olympic Park, OAKA, had a garden of a different kind with its tree lined boulevards, ponds, and steel structured agora designed by Calatrava. Night time was surreal in the park. Unfortunately the park is in a state of ruin as the bleak economic situation takes its toll on the country.

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What continues to surprise me when visiting big American cities is how the locals have gone to great efforts to build gardens in the heart of their home towns. In Washington DC, the most beautiful of all the presidential memorials is the Roosevelt monument. It is very understated and is quite the opposite to the overly grand structures located around the rest of the National Mall.

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San Francisco is quite a site, and not too dissimilar to Sydney in many respects. There are plenty of Gardens here too, but the ones I like the most were those surrounding that infamously steep bit of bitumen – Lombard Street. Even the surrounding houses got in on the botanic act.

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But in all my travels, by far my favourite garden to visit has been the New York City High Line. It is a garden that has been built by a collective of locals who regenerated an elevated railway line. It is a fantastic example of urban regeneration, but it is special for me as it was one of the first overseas destinations that I took my boy soon after he had started to walk.

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Great theme this week Ailsa! I had quite a few more, but that is enough for this post.

 

I have posted a couple of times now of our many trips to Singapore, including the Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands art and decoration. These posts were predominantly about man made structures. Singapore is known worldwide as the Garden City, but for some reason it was not until my sixth trip to the country that I managed to visit the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The gardens also contain the National Orchid Garden and it is a surreal escape from the hustle and bustle of the city state’s downtown area. Given Singapore’s tropic location, it is always raining there. But the rain didn’t deter us from visiting the gardens, and it added a different dynamic to the surroundings. I really enjoyed the few hours we spent there, it was relaxing, even though we walked a lot! I was surprised at being allowed to get so close to some of the flowers and plants to shoot macro. There are also some garden sculptures throughout the gardens, but it is not over the top and compliments the gardens well.

Even on a cloudy, rainy day the gardens are alive with colour. Below are my favourite photos from our trip, and as usual the images link through to my larger photos on Flickr.

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I spent a good portion of my visit carrying the Pok in his “rucksack” while he was asleep. It is quite strange trying to operate a Digital SLR camera with a big weight hanging from your belly.

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It is quite easy to get to the gardens with a bus stop right next to the Southern end of the park and a metro station at the Northern end. There are also quite a few exhibitions on as well during the year. Timing your visit, if that is possible, to be around the time of the orchid blooms makes for a much better visit. If you want to know where the Botanic Gardens are, I have attached a link to the location on Google Maps below.

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A couple of weeks ago I posted about one of our many trips to Singapore where we visited the Gardens by the Bay. We first saw these gardens from the spectacular Marina Bay Sands hotel complex. It is surprising how cheaply you can grab a room if there is no special event on at the hotel. We were fortunate that when we went we got a few nights on the cheap prior to the city revving up for the Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix. The building has become a new icon of the city state, and has received a great amount of attention from other bloggers. Its high level design is simple and yet immense in its scale. For someone trying to photograph it, the many lines and curves offer something almost other worldly.

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But what struck me more were some of the artistic decorations for the hotel. The simplicity of the buildings design couple with its scale called for decoration that matches this. In some cases, the building itself is the art. Maybe these caught my attention because they were more human in scale than the massive towers and pool deck  the size of an aircraft carrier. I shot these four “pieces” at the hotel for their striking simplicity and their uniqueness. As usual, these images click through to the large photos on my Flickr site.

The first piece shimmered with the wind, making this facade of the building look like a rippling water of metal.

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The buildings large towers with their internal split create a fascinating ceiling which is an art piece in itself. The horizontal ‘beams’ are corridors for guests and staff to get from one side of the hotel tower to the other.

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The high ceilings called for down lights that filled the space. The glass on these lights was something special that only really came alive at night.

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But I think that I saved my favourite piece for last. This tall, simple water feature kept me fascinated watching the path of water constantly rotate the channels dipping and rising when empty – keeping the sculpture constantly in a state of flux.

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You may not like it, but the building and its decorative art are stunning and elicit a response. I would like to stay there again at some point in the future to see whether the hotel has stood the test of time.

For many of us celebrating the Easter weekend, it is a religious occasion. One theme of Easter is that of new life (hence the tradition of the Easter egg). For me the rejuvenation of gardens and public spaces is akin to this. I have been to Singapore nine times now and enjoy immensely travelling to the city state. It has a buzz and energy about it, while presenting beautiful gardens that are boosted by the tropical climate and rains. Singaporeans enjoy presenting their gardens in new and innovative ways. The Gardens by the Bay at Marina Bay are no different, and they are truly magnificent. We saw them under construction a couple of years ago when we took the opportunity for a stopover in Singapore on the way to Europe, staying at the Marina Bay Sands (you can get amazingly cheap rates on the rooms if there is not a big event on at the same time as your visit). I didn’t know what I was looking at from the hotel balcony view until I got back home and found this article on inhabitat.com . So I said to my wife that next time we go to Singapore we have to see these gardens and their super vertical garden “trees”. Below are a couple of shots of the gardens under construction. BTW – as per usual, all these images link through to my larger photos on Flickr.

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Late last year we finally got the chance to go back and visit the gardens, open to the public and in full bloom. To get there you have to walk past the imposing Marina Bay Sands hotel complex, and over the bridge that separates the gardens from the uber-size hotel-casino. When you finally arrive it is like being sucked into another world full of flora and colour. The Supertree vertical gardens greeted us, and I must admit I was awestruck by the genius of their design and construction.

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The elevated deck that allows you to walk through the “trees” looks awesome. I think we will take the walk on the deck next time we go, now that the Pok (our son) has properly found his feet.

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There are several themed gardens located throughout the site, in many ways reflecting the diverse cultural backgrounds of the people of Singapore. We stopped for a rest in the Chinese Gardens, where the backdrop was the three huge towers of the uber-size hotel-casino. We could see the storm clouds approaching in the distance and it rained briefly on us several times while we were walking around.

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You can’t get away from the Supertrees and there are some 18 in total at the gardens. You can go right up to the base of these structures and there is excellent information about the trees and how they work – truly impressive!

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There are a few other themed gardens with different plants that are being nurtured. Turning a corner sucks you into what at first appearance would be a completely different garden from the one you just left.

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The Pok had an excellent time running around the gardens and spent a lot of time doing laps around the base of the Supertree above. At the time, with him being so young, he found it quite a novelty that he would walk the base of the structure and see Mummy and Daddy again, and again, and again.

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Finally, the proper tropical storm approached and brought an end to our visit. We had a fantastic time, and will definitely visit again to see a lot of the parts that were still being finished and maybe seeing the greenhouse too. I think a visit at night would also add a different dimension to our next visit, with the whole site lit up under the different coloured lights. I would definitely recommend a visit to these Gardens if you are spending 48 hours in Singapore. One tip, bring water! The humid Singapore climate coupled with all the walking you will do when visiting the gardens will leave you parched. If you want to know where the gardens are in Singapore, I have inserted the Google Maps link below.

Google Maps - Gardens by the Bay

For all of you that are celebrating Easter, have a happy one with family and friends.

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