Our final weekend of the year long adventure was spent in Singapore and involved both packing to return home, as well as celebrating with Mark and Silvia.
We dedicated the majority of our last weekend to lapping up the last of Singapore’s sights and ending the adventure in style, with the help of Naomi’s Dad and Silvia. We finally made our way to the Supertrees on Saturday night, one of the main attractions in Singapore but an activity we’d left until the last minute!
Gardens by the Bay is a nature park spanning 101 hectares, and part of the government’s strategy to transform Singapore from a ‘Garden City’ to a ‘City in a Garden’. This urban recreation space has become a national icon, boasting the Supertrees as well as two cooled conservatory complexes that we’d visited earlier on in our stay.
The Flower Dome and Cloud Forest are intended to be an energy efficient showcase of sustainable building technologies. The Flower Dome is the world’s largest columnless glasshouse and we were blown away by the gorgeous glass roof. Rainwater is collected from the surface of the conservatory roofs and circulated in the cooling system, which is connected to the Supertrees. The Supertrees are used both to vent hot air and to cool circulated water. Clever eh!
The Flower Dome replicates a mild, dry climate and features plants found in the Mediterranean and other semi-arid tropical regions.
The Cloud Forest replicates cool, moist conditions found in tropical mountain regions found in South East Asia and South America. The ‘Cloud Mountain’ itself is an intricate structure completely clad in epiphytes such as orchids, ferns and bromeliads.
But on this particular night, we were headed for the Supertrees that dominate the Garden’s landscape with heights ranging from 25 – 50 meters. They are vertical gardens that perform a multitude of functions, including planting, shading and working as environmental energies for the gardens. The trees are fitted with environmental technologies that mimic the ecological function of trees, such as harnessing solar energy, in the same way that real trees photosynthesize. They also collect rainwater for use in irrigation and fountain displays, exactly like how trees absorb rainwater for growth.
There is an elevated walkway, the OCBC Skyway, between the two of the larger Supertrees for visitors to enjoy a panoramic aerial view of the Gardens. We ventured up the tree top bar, which gave us a great vantage point of the Grand Prix route set up in the city. The fencing and barriers were in place and the practice runs were underway, building up the hype for the big race that was to take place on Sunday.
At night, the Supertrees come alive with a light a music show. We headed down to the trunks of the trees to get the best view, lying down on the ground and gazing upwards with the rest of the crowds of people who had gathered. The OCBC Garden Rhapsody was pretty mind blowing and the best light show we’d seen. We were immersed in tunes from popular musical numbers including The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables and Chicago.
Mark and Silvia really stuffed us with delicious food and drink on our final weekend. We had a delicious meal at a tapas restaurant on Club Street where we ordered pretty much everything on the menu and proceeded to gobble everything up over the course of about three hours. We drank plenty of red wine and gorged on Spanish donuts for dessert. There isn’t anything we’re craving upon our return home as we’ve been completely spoilt (thanks again guys)!
As soon as we’d decided that we would be returning back to the UK, we’d thought of the Grand Prix in Singapore as a marker for the end of the big adventure. Our leave date was determined by the Grand Prix as this race would be our last big event. So when race day arrived it felt surreal that we were finally at ‘the end’ and all of those months back when we were planning our exodus had finally caught up with us.
We had a leisurely start on Sunday, knowing that we had a busy day ahead of us. We headed to The White Rabbit for lunch, a restaurant set in a converted 1930s church. Post lunch we headed to the apartment and completed the last of our packing, before heading down to the Padang for the Grand Prix. Although this year’s race was only the 10th edition of the Singapore GP, the Marina Bay Circuit has quickly become one of the most iconic tracks on the F1 circuit. The circuit laps around the city, with many of Singapore’s most famous landmarks providing the backdrop to the only true night race on the F1 calendar.
We were all supporting Lewis Hamilton, so his poor qualifying on Saturday, coupled with his title rival Sebastian Vettel’s pole position meant that our hopes weren’t high for a positive result. However, whilst we soaked up the pre-race entertainment provided by Duran Duran, ominous storm clouds gathered overhead. As Simon Le Bon and co. finished up with ‘Rio’, flashes of lightning illuminated the night sky.
As we took our seats in the grandstand, the rain began to fall, and with it, a growing energy in the crowd as we sensed that a special race might be in store. The excitement built as the cars lined up on the starting grid. The lights went green, and the cars were off. Almost immediately the grandstand erupted at the sight of the two Ferrari’s of Vettel and his teammate Raikkonen, and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen crashing in to each other, forcing them to retire from the race. Another cheer came at the news that Hamilton had not only escaped from the chaos unscathed, but that he found himself leading the race. Hamilton would go on to win the race, which was a result none of us dreamed off at the beginning of the day.
It was our first experience of being at an F1 race, and it was certainly something we won’t forget any time soon. Witnessing the speed and sound of the cars as they whizz past is unique, and makes the drivers seem superhuman for being able to exercise such levels of control for such long time periods. The atmosphere inside the circuit adds another dimension to an F1 race as you pick up on the range of emotions that different fans are going through depending on how their favourite driver is getting on. We were massively lucky to have been there for arguably the best Singapore GP, and getting the result that we (and the majority of the crowd) wanted completed a special day.
After the race, we headed back to the Padang for the post race gig, provided by Calvin Harris. We all had a bit of a dance and muddied the cricket pitch up further, before heading back to the apartment.
When we eventually had to say goodbye to Mark, Silvia, Singapore, Asia, the whole trip, there were some very mixed emotions. Feelings of excitement and nervousness, sadness and happiness were all mingled into a confused state of being both ecstatic to return home but down at the thought of leaving all of these happy times in Asia behind us. So much of the trip is already reduced to memories and feelings of nostalgia. But we are lucky to be so rich with wonderful memories, spending our last night in Singapore together reminiscing about all of the ridiculous things we’d experienced, the funny stories, the low moments, and some of our highlights. It was hard to get to sleep knowing the following day we’d be in London and the excitement of seeing our friends and family was keeping us from dosing off. We couldn’t wait for all of the reunions and to get our feet firmly back on home turf.
Yet when we had to pile into the taxi to the airport, waved off by Naomi’s Dad and Silvia (tears and all), we were feeling a little lost. It’s no wonder when this past year has been such an epic, once in a lifetime adventure. It’s going to be difficult to top the past 12 months, but knowing we will always have this bank of photos, blog posts and incredible memories to look back on is a luxury we’ll never tired of. So apologies if we never stop banging on about this trip!