Sep 19, 2017

Gardens by the Bay (Largest Nature Park), Marina Bay, Singapore

Gardens by the Bay is a nature park spanning 101 hectares (250 acres) of reclaimed land in central Singapore, adjacent to the Marina Reservoir. The park consists of three waterfront gardens: Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden. The largest of the gardens is Bay South Garden at 54 hectares (130 acres).

Gardens by the Bay is part of a strategy by the Singapore government to transform Singapore from a "Garden City" to a "City in a Garden". The stated aim is to raise the quality of life by enhancing greenery and flora in the city. 
First announced by the Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, at the National Day Rally in 2005, Gardens by the Bay was intended to be Singapore's premier urban outdoor recreation space, and a national icon.

In 2006, an international competition for the design of the park was held, attracting more than 70 entries submitted by 170 firms from 24 countries. Two British firms – Grant Associates and Dominic White were awarded the contracts for the Bay South and Bay East Gardens respectively.

Alongside the lead designers Grant Associates, the design team for Bay South included Wilkinson Eyre, Atelier Ten (environmental design consultants) and Atelier One (structural engineers). They were supported by a number of Singapore firms including CPG Consultants (architecture, civil and structural, mechanical and electrical), Meinhardt Infrastructure (civil and structural), Langdon & Seah (cost consultants) and PM Link (project management). The park is quite popular, with 6.4 million visitors in 2014, and it had its 20 millionth visitor in November 2015


 

 
 


 


  
 
 
  

 



Bay Central Garden will act as a link between Bay  South and Bay  East  Gardens. It  stands at  15  hectares (37 acres) with a 3-kilometre (1.9 mi) waterfront promenade  that  allows  fo r scenic  walks stretching  from the city center to the east of Singapore. More developments of  Bay  Central  Garden  are coming in the next few years.

Bay East Garden

Bay East Garden is 32 hectares (79 acres) in size and it has a 2-kilometre (1.2 mi) promenade frontage bordering the Marina Reservoir. An interim park was developed at Bay East Garden in support of the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics. The first phase of the garden was opened to the public in October 2011, allowing alternative access to the Marina Barrage.

It is designed as a series of large tropical leaf-shaped gardens, each with its own specific landscaping design, character and theme. There will be five water inlets aligned with the prevailing wind direction, maximizing and extending the shoreline while allowing wind and water to penetrate the site to help cool areas of activity around them. Bay East Garden provides visitors with an unobstructed view of the city skyline. Upcoming developments of Bay East Garden will be based on the theme of water.

Bay South Garden

Bay South Garden opened to the public on 29 June 2012. It is the largest of the three gardens at 54 hectares (130 acres) and aims to showcase the best of tropical horticulture and garden artistry.

The overall concept of its master plan draws inspiration from an orchid as it is representative of the tropics and of Singapore, being the country's national flower, the Vanda 'Miss Joaquim'. The orchid takes root at the waterfront (conservatories), while the leaves (land forms), shoots (paths, roads and link ways) and secondary roots (water, energy and communication lines) then form an integrated network with blooms (theme gardens and Super trees) at key intersections.

Gardens By The Bay Attractions:

  • Flower Dome - Enter a world of perpetual spring, where unique plants bloom. 
  • Cloud Forest - Step into a realm high in the mountains. 
  • OCBC Skyway -Take a scenic stroll, 22 metres above ground, in the very heart of nature. 
  • Super tree Grove - Stand in awe of the amazing Supertrees. 
  • Far East Organization Children's Garden -Explore the sights and sounds of nature’s playground. 
  • Bay East Garden -Welcome to a world of serenity at bay east by the waterfront. 
  • Dragonfly & Kingfisher Lakes -Immerse in the fascinating aquatic ecosystem. 
  • Heritage Gardens - Bringing the history of singapore to life through the fascinating story of plants. 
  • World of Plants - Explore a beautiful botanical world that’s intriguing and always full of surprises. 
  • The Canyon - Come marvel at rocks of wonder at The Canyon. 
  • Sun Pavilion - Be transported to some of the world’s most dynamic drylands and deserts. 
  • Art Sculptures -Connecting people with the stories of plants and the world at large.
For More Details = Gardens By The Bay

Sep 18, 2017

Marina Bay Sands (World's Largest Atrium Casino & Resort), Singapore

Marina Bay Sands is an integrated resort fronting Marina Bay in Singapore. At its opening in 2010, it was billed as the world's most expensive standalone casino property at S$8 billion, including the land cost. The resort includes a 2,561-room hotel, a 120,000-square-metre (1,300,000 sq ft) convention-exhibition centre, the 74,000 m2 (800,000 sq ft) The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands mall, a museum, two large theatres, "celebrity chef" restaurants, two floating Crystal Pavilions, a skating rink, and the world's largest atrium casino with 500 tables and 1,600 slot machines.

The complex is topped by a 340-metre-long (1,120 ft) SkyPark with a capacity of 3,900 people and a 150 m (490 ft) infinity swimming pool, set on top of the world's largest public cantilevered platform, which overhangs the north tower by 67 m (220 ft). The 20-hectare resort was designed by Moshe Safdie architects. The architect was Aedas,and they were responsible for employing all consultants and for developing, coordinating and implementing the design. Engineering was provided by Arup and Parsons Brinkerhoff (MEP). The main contractor was Ssangyong Engineering and Construction.

Originally set to open in 2009, Las Vegas Sands faced delays caused by escalating costs of material and labor shortages from the outset. The global financial crisis also pressured the company to delay its projects elsewhere to complete the integrated resort. Although Marina Bay Sands has been compared in scale and development costs to MGM's CityCenter, the latter is a mixed-use development, with condominium properties (comprising three of the seven main structures) being sold off.

The resort and SkyPark were officially opened on 23 and 24 June 2010 as part of a two-day celebration, following the casino's opening on 27 April that year. The Sky Park opened the following day. The theaters were completed in time for the first performance of Riverdance on 30 November. The indoor skating rink, which uses artificial ice, opened to a performance by Michelle Kwan on 18 December. The Art Science Museum opened to the public and the debut of a 13-minute light, laser and water show called Wonder Full on 19 February 2011 marked the full completion of the integrated resort.

The grand opening of Marina Bay Sands was held on 17 February 2011. It also marked the opening of the seven celebrity chef restaurants. The musical The Lion King debuted on 3 March 2011. The last portion of the Marina Bay Sands, the floating pavilions, were finally opened to the public when the two tenants, Louis Vuitton and Pangaea Club, opened on 18 and 22 September 2011 respectively.
 


 


 

  





 


The resort is designed by Moshe Safdie, who says it was initially inspired by card decks. In addition to the casino, other key components of the plan are three hotel towers with 2,500 rooms and suites, a 19,000 m2 (200,000 sq ft) ArtScience Museum and a convention centre with 110,000 m2 (1,200,000 sq ft) of space, capable of accommodating up to 45,000 people. A continuous lobby at the base linked the three towers. The resort's architecture and major design changes along the way were also approved by its feng shui consultants, the late Chong Swan Lek and Louisa Ong-Lee.

A distinctive feature of the hotel is the Sky Park, a three-acre park on top of the building with swimming pools, gardens, and jogging paths. The structure bridges all three towers with a segment cantilevered off the north tower. The hull of the Sky Park was per-fabricated off-site in 14 separate steel sections and then assembled on top of the towers. There are four movement joints beneath the main pools, designed to help them withstand the natural motion of the towers, and each joint has a unique range of motion. The total range of motion is 500 millimeters (19.68 inches). In addition to wind, the hotel towers are also subject to settlement in the earth over time, so engineers built and installed custom jack legs to allow for future adjustment at more than 500 points beneath the pool system. This jacking system is important primarily to ensure the infinity edge of the pool continues to function properly.

The three towers are broader at the base and narrow as they rise. Each tower has two asymmetric legs, with a curved eastern leg leaning against the other, creating a significant technical challenge in its construction. Substantial temporary structures were necessary to support the legs of the tower while they were under construction, and required real-time monitoring for continual assessment and analyses in the course of their erection. The structural engineering for the project was handled by Arup, with Parsons Brinckerhoff as the MEP engineers.

 Marina Bay Sands was originally planned to be completed in a single phase in 2009,  but rising construction costs and the financial crisis forced the company to open it in phases. The first phase's preview opening was further delayed until 27 April 2010, and the official opening was pushed back to 23 June 2010. The rest of the complex remained under construction and was opened after a grand opening on 17 February 2011.
 
Major Attractions of marina Bay Sands:
  • Marina Bay Sands has three 55-story hotel towers which were topped out in July 2009. The three towers are connected by a 1 hectare roof terrace, Sands SkyPark. The observation deck provides panoramic views across the bay.
  •  In front of the three towers include a Theatre Block, a Convention and Exhibition Facilities Block, as well as the Casino Block, which have up to 1,000 gaming tables and 1,400 slot machines. The ArtScience Museum is constructed next to the three blocks and has the shape of a lotus. Its roof is retractable, providing a waterfall through the roof of collected rainwater when closed in the day and laser shows when opened at night. In front of the Event Plaza is Wonder Full, a light and water show that is the largest in Southeast Asia and was produced by Laservision. The ArtScience Museum and Wonder Full show opened on 17 February 2011.
  • The SkyPark has the world's longest elevated swimming pool, with a 146-metre (478 ft) vanishing edge, 191 metres above ground. The pools are made up of 422,000 pounds of stainless steel and can hold 376,500 gallons (1424 cubic metres) of water. The SkyPark also has rooftop celebrity chef restaurants such as Sky on 57 (by Justin Quek), Spago (by Wolfgang Puck), nightclubs such as Ce La Vie, gardens, hundreds of trees and plants, and a public observatory deck on the cantilever with 360-degree views of the Singapore skyline. 
  • The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands have close to 93,000 m2 (1,000,000 sq ft) of retail space with over 300 stores and F&B outlets, featuring boutiques such as Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Cartier, Prada, Gucci, Hermès, Emporio Armani, Chopard, REDValentino, Dior, Dunhill, Vertu, Miu Miu, Saint Laurent Paris, Salvatore Ferragamo, Montblanc, Blancpain, Vera Wang Bride, a Hermès watch boutique, and Herve Leger.
  • A canal runs through the length of the Shoppes, in the same style as the Venetian in Las Vegas. Sampan rides on the canal are available for guests and shoppers at the shopping mall, similar to the gondola rides available in the Venetian. Also housed within the Shoppes are six of the ten Celebrity Chef restaurants – Bread Street Kitchen (by Gordon Ramsay), Cut (by Wolfgang Puck), Waku Ghin (by Tetsuya Wakuda), Pizzeria and Osteria Mozza (by Mario Batali), Long Chim (by David Thompson), DB Bistro & Oyster Bar (by Daniel Boulud).
  • There are two Crystal Pavilions. Despite a brief legal dispute in June 2011, it was decided that one of the Pavilions will house two nightclubs – Avalon and Pangaea. In addition, the second Pavilion houses the world's largest Louis Vuitton boutique, in addition to being on a floating island, at 1,900 m2 (20,000 sq ft), which is connected to the portion of the boutique in the Shoppes via an underwater tunnel. Both Pavilions opened in 2011 just before the 2011 Formula One season came to the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
  • The Sands Theatre and Grand Theatre seat 1,680 people and 2,155 people respectively, with The Lion King showing, and international acts, such as Cirque Éloize and A. R. Rahman's Jai Ho, located in the latter during their world tours. The musical, Wicked, is set to run for a limited season which started 7 December 2011. Next to the theatres is a skating rink (synthetic ice) measuring 600 m2 (6,500 sq ft).
  • Dragonfire boxing is another regular event, which started on 5 May 2012 with the boxers Chris John with Daud Yordan Moshe Safdie designed an Art Path within the resort, incorporating installations by five artists including Zheng Chongbin, Antony Gormley, and Sol LeWitt. The pieces are meant to play on environmental influences including light, water and wind, integrating art with architecture.
 For More Details = Marina Bay Sands

Sep 16, 2017

Dracaena Cinnabari (Dragon Blood Tree), Island of Socotra, Yemen

Dracaena Cinnabari, the Socotra dragon tree or dragon blood tree, is a dragon tree native to the Socotra archipelago, part of Yemen, located in the Arabian Sea. It is so called due to the red sap that the trees produce.

The dragon blood tree has a unique and strange appearance, with an "upturned, densely packed crown having the shape of an uprightly held umbrella". This evergreen species is named after its dark red resin, which is known as "dragon's blood". Unlike most monocot plants, Dracaena displays secondary growth, D. cinnabari even has growth zones resembling tree rings found in dicot tree species. Along with other arborescent Dracaena species it has a distinctive growth habit called "dracoid habitus". Its leaves are found only at the end of its youngest branches; its leaves are all shed every 3 or 4 years before new leaves simultaneously mature. Branching tends to occur when the growth of the terminal bud is stopped, due to either flowering or traumatic events.

Its fruits are small fleshy berries containing between 1 and 3 seeds. As they develop they turn from green to black, and then become orange when ripe. The berries are eaten by birds (e.g. Onychognatus species) and thereby dispersed. The seeds are 4–5 mm in diameter and weigh on average 68 mg. The berries exude a deep red resin, known as dragon’s blood.

Like other monocotyledons, such as palms, the dragon’s blood tree grows from the tip of the stem, with the long, stiff leaves borne in dense rosettes at the end (4, 5, 7). It branches at maturity to produce an umbrella-shaped crown, with leaves that measure up to 60 cm long and 3 cm wide. The trunk and the branches of the dragon blood are thick and stout and display dichotomous branching, where each of the branches repeatedly divides in two sections.












The dragon's blood tree usually produces its flowers around February, though flowering  does vary with location. The flowers tend to grow at the end of the branches. The flowers have  inflorescence, and they bear small clusters of fragrant, white or green flowers. The fruits take five months to  completely mature. The fruits are described as a fleshy berry, which changes from green to black as it gradually  ripens. The fleshy berry fruit ends up being an orange-red color that contains one to three seeds. The berries  are usually eaten and dispersed by birds and other animals.

The unusual shape of the dragon's blood tree is an adaptation for survival in arid conditions with low amounts of soil, such as in mountaintops. The large, packed crown provides shade and reduces evaporation. This shade also aids in the survival of seedlings growing beneath the adult  tree, explaining why the trees tend to grow closer together.

The first description of D. cinnabari was made during a survey of Socotra led by Lieutenant Wellsted of the East India Company in 1835. It was first named Pterocarpus draco, but in 1880, the Scottish botanist Isaac Bayley Balfour made a formal description of the species and renamed  it as Dracaena cinnabari. Of between 60 and 100 Dracaena species, D. cinnabari is one of only 6 species which grow as a tree.

The best preserved and largest stand of D. cinnabari is on the limestone  plateau named Rokeb di Firmihin. This approximately 540 hectares (1,300 acres) forest has numerous rare and endemic species. Research shows that in coming decades the number of trees in this forest will decrease due to the lack of natural regeneration.

For More Details - Dracaena Cinnabari

Moon Hill (Natural Arch), Yangshuo Xian, Guilin Shi, Guangxi, China

Moon Hill is a hill with a natural arch through it a few kilometers outside Yangshuo in southern China's Guangxi autonomous region. It is so named for a wide, semicircular hole through the hill, all that remains of what was once a limestone cave formed in the phreatic zone. Like most formations in the region, it is karst. It is also a popular tourist attraction.

It takes roughly 20 minutes to climb (about 800 steps) to the arch, or considerably longer for those who mean to reach the hill's summit. Access is not free and visitors must pay an entrance fee to be allowed to climb the hill. Souvenirs and refreshment vendors often follow climbers up and down the path.

In addition to a concrete tourist path which passes through the arch, and a somewhat rougher, steeper path leading to the summit above the arch, Moon Hill has several rock climbing routes, the first of which was climbed by Todd Skinner in the 1990s. It has also been used for abseils in several adventure races. Moon Hill offers some broad, panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, which is characterized by the knobby karst hills found throughout the region.





 




Moon Hill is a huge piece of rock with a moon-shaped hole in its center. The 800 marble stairs called "Appreciating Moon Path" can lead you to the top of the hill and to get a close view of the Moon Cave. Like most karts caves, there are lots of peculiar shaped stalactites hanging on the ceiling of the Moon Cave. Some are like Buddha’s warrior attendants, some like the goddess of the moon and some like jade rabbits. When cycling passed Moon Hill, with the change of viewpoints, the Moon Cave will take on the different looks of a "full moon", "half moon" or "crescent moon".

Moon Hill is also an great place for rock climbing. With 14 rock climbing routes on the north-west side, Moon Hill offers plenty of challenges for both amateur and professional climbers. 
The moon-shaped hole measures 50 m wide and 50 m tall, under the arch of which are stalactites of various shapes.The original tourist route is called, "To Moon Hill the local way". This ride is nice but it is now crowded with locals selling postcards, back rubbers, tacky souvenirs or you may get a local dressed up to look like a farmer. They are just posing to try to get you to take a photo for which they will want money. Some locals put coloured ribbons on water buffalo horns to also try to get you to take photos for money. We recommend that you do the bike ride late in the afternoon as many have gone home and you can avoid the hawkers. 

 Another route that will take you to moon hill is the "new local way". This ride is a bit longer but there are no people tring to selling you anything on the way. This ride will give you a glimpse of the rural lifestyle. You can also take in the old village of  Long tang or have lunch at the Mountain Retreat which is situated on the Yulong river and has stunning views.