This is the fifth blogpost in our series Singapore & Malaysia food trail 2013. Check out our previous blogposts in this series:
- Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, Singapore
- Teh tarik, Rafee’s Corner, Singapore
- Chinese New Year of the Snake 2013, Singapore
- The Scarlet, a boutique hotel, Singapore
Mysaucepan and I are on a 3-week eating spree and will be blogging about our street food adventures with lots of photos and tweets about hawker favourites and local delights that will also cover Chinese New Year 2013 – The Year of the Snake.
We would love your feedback on which are the foods you love and would also welcome any suggestions and recommendations that we should try during our trip in Singapore and Malaysia.
Since its independence from Malaysia in 1965, Singapore has grown from a sleepy island state to become a South East Asian powerhouse in finance, commerce and international trade.
Public transport is efficient and its streets are clean. I believe Singapore would be an envy of many first world countries currently finding themselves in economic doldrums.
Singapore is good at conceptualizing an idea and bringing it to reality.
The government is visionary and appears to be in touch with the future. An example is the official opening of the world-class Marina Bay Sands casino and resort on 23 June 2010 that signalled a more liberal approach to gambling which hitherto has been tightly restrained.
Singapore has also attracted the Formula One to its shores and a host of celebrity chefs to boost its hospitality and tourism industries among many other achievements in its race towards First World status, if it hasn’t already arrived.
Singapore ‘s latest addition to its public infrastructure success list is the Gardens by the Bay.
Located within the Marina Bay Sands precinct, the attractions within The Gardens include Flower Dome, Cloud Forest, Supertree Grove, Heritage Gardens, The World of Plants, Dragonfly Lake, Kingfisher Lake and Bay East Garden.
There are nine cafes and restaurants for visitors to choose from.
However, food is not on the agenda of today’s blogpost as Mysaucepan and I are here today to visit the Cloud Forest.
The Cloud Forest is housed in a dome-like structure that is fully air-conditioned.
A 35-metre tall “mountain” is overgrown with lush vegetation and at the top of this structure is where the world’s tallest indoor waterfall begins its steep ascend down to the bottom.
Cloud forest water cycle
Before water becomes part of a waterfall, it must reach the cloud forest floor as:
- Throughfall – rain falling through gaps in the canopy
- Stemfall – water flowing down the outside of branches and tree trunks
- Crown drip – most rain hits the canopy and drips from leaves
- Fog drip – mist turns to water droplets as it comes in contact with vegetation, this can drip from leaves and mosses.
The water is either used by the plants and animals for survival, evaporated back into the atmosphere or be stored in the soil and pools, feeding humble streams or mighty waterfalls.
Some of this water is stored in the soil reservoir and slowly makes its way down the mountain in trickles, gushes or even as part of a mighty waterfall, supplying water to people, plants and animals who live below.
The moss and lichen covered branches of the cloud forest capture the water from the fog that is blown from the ocean. This process adds hundreds of millimeters of water to the ecosystem every year.
The year-round, pure, fresh water from cloud forests is a vital resource in regions such as Honduras where the cloud forests in La Tigra National Park provide over 40 percent of the water supply for the 850,000 people in the capital city.
Other capitals where cloud forests supply part of the drinking water are Quito in Ecuador with its 1.3 million people and Mexico City with a population of 20 million.
The secret world tells a story of an ancient and long lost world – the plants here belong to families that were abundant in the distant past, yet today, they have become increasingly rare.
Towards the end of this century, higher sea surface temperatures caused by global warming will result in clouds forming at higher altitudes than they do today. Cloud forest plants left high and dry will eventually die out.
Vast numbers of bird species and mammals such as the Spectacled Bear and Hwoler Monkeys depend on cloud forest habitats for their survival.
The most famous cloud forest mammal is probably your distant cousin, the Mountain Gorilla.
Sadly, only about 600 members of this critically endangered species remain, living in the cloud forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda.
About one percent of tropical mountain and highland forests are lost each year.
This is proportionally more than other tropical forest losses and this ecosystem is becoming more endangered from the impact of global climate change.
Cloud forests provide unique homes for bird species like the Guatemala’s national symbol, the Resplendent Quetzal.
However, the disappearance of the habitat may cause the bird to become extinct. The same phenomenon is true for birds in the cloud forests around the world.
Communities of people, plants and animals depend on the forest all the way up here – droplets direct from the clouds provide them with a steady water supply lower down, even when it doesn’t rain.
The higher you climb on a tropical mountain, the greater the number of epiphytes – not surprising, most of Mount Kinabalu’s orchid species are found in the upper mountain zone. Epiphytic orchids are abundant also in South American cloud forests.
At the top of the world, you are at an altitude of about 2,000m above sea level. Below you, the forest floor is at approximately 1,000m above the sea.
Caves can be damp but it is the continuous dripping that leads to these glorious natural sculptures – each taking thousands of years to grow on the ceiling, walls or floors in caves all over the world.
As the rain makes its way through the rocks, it dissolves minerals such as calcium carbonate, that crystallize into fascinating shapes. The limestone rocks that form the cave are dissolved by running water from the forest above.
This highly mineralized water runs from the cave ceiling, leaving behind calcium carbonate which crystallizes forming the stalactites.
Stalagmites appear below the stalactites, as the water drips from the ceiling from ceiling to floor.
These rock sculptures form at a rate of around 1cm per thousand years. Can you calculate how old the largest might be?
These deposits build up over time. Those growing downwards become icicle-shaped stalactites.
The stalactites drip onto the floor and slowly form upward shapes to become stalagmites. When stalactite and stalagmite meet, a column is formed.
So dear readers, have you traveled to Singapore before and if so, which is your favourite Singapore outdoor attraction?
Gardens by the Bay
18 Marina Gardens Drive
Tel: +65 6420 6848
Opening hours:9.00am to 9.00pm daily. Last ticket sale 8.00pm daily, last admission 8.30pm daily
For more information about Gardens by the Bay, visit www.gardensbythebay.com.sg
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