Historic Powell River




Follow us on Facebook!

A couple of weeks ago Janis and I visited our friends Paul and Cheryl for the weekend. They recently retired to Powell River, though Cheryl still telecommutes. A lot of people think the Sunshine Coast is just the Sechelt Peninsula, but that’s only about half of it. It actually extends all the way to Lund, about a half hour north of Powell River. When you take the ferry from Earl’s Cove, there’s a big sign greeting you at Saltery Bay that says, “Welcome dude, you’ve like totally made it up to the Top of the Sunshine Coast!” Yeah, the Sunshine Coast is pretty laid back, dude!

Hey dude!
Hey dude!

To get there from Vancouver, you need to take the Langdale Ferry from Horseshoe Bay. The Sechelt is isolated and you can only get there and back by ferry, so when you go, you’re buying a return ticket. You don’t have to buy a ticket to go back to the mainland. At Langdale, you drive up the peninsula to Earl’s Cove and then the ferry hop to Saltery Bay.  Here’s a money-saving tip. Buy an Experience Card online from B.C. Ferries. It gets you discounted rates on many of the ferries plying the coast, including the ones to and from the Sechelt.

Powell River is about 28 kilometres from Saltery Bay, a half hour drive. It’s an old mill town which has done much to preserve some of its history. The mill was built in 1908 and the company town in 1910. The mill was, at one time, the largest pulp and paper mill in the world. But the mill has seen better days and is a shadow of its former self, though still operating.  Our hosts told us that the average age in Powell River is eight years higher than the provincial average as so many people have moved away to find work. And many seniors are finding it an attractive place to retire.

The Powell River Mill and the Hulks
The Powell River Mill and the Hulks

There is a lookout along the highway that offers a panoramic view of the mill and the Incredible Hulks. The hulks are a collection of old concrete ships that have been chained together to form a breakwater. An information board tells us that the hulks have been a feature of the waterfront since 1930. “Over the years, 19 ships built of wood, steel and reinforced concrete have been brought to Powell River for use in the breakwater. (They) were built for use in the 1st and 2nd World Wars when there was a shortage of plate steel for ships construction.” They were unable to compete with steel ships when peace arrived.

One of the hulks. Picture courtesy Paul Miniato
One of the hulks. Picture courtesy Paul Miniato

The old historic townsite has been designated a National Historic District “with over 400 original buildings contained within the original borders of the 1910 town plan.” Our hosts took us for a casual drive through the old town and pointed out many of its historic buildings. I’ll include most of them in a separate photo gallery and there is a link at the end of the article to the townsite’s website. Here I’ll focus on one particular building, the Patricia Theatre.

The historic Patricia Theatre
The historic Patricia Theatre

The Patricia was originally at the location where the Cenotaph is today. Built in 1913, it featured silent films with live piano accompaniment. The actors John Barrymore and Delores Costello visited the theatre in person in the 1920s.  In 1928, it was relocated to a new building, the current one shown in the picture above. Still operating today, it is the oldest continuously operating movie theatre in Canada.

Paul, Cheryl, Janis and I attended a movie showing (Florence Foster Jenkins starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant) and I wish I had brought my camera. The interior is amazing with large mural panels and an old style feel to the place. The projection equipment was modernized to run digital movies at a cost of $90,000 in 2012, funds raised by volunteers of the historical society.  You can see more pictures at the theatre’s official website, linked at the end of this article.

Some of the carefully maintained residences of the historic townsite.
Some of the carefully maintained homes of the historic townsite. These larger ones on the main drag belonged to mill executives and management originally.

Powell River abounds in hiking and nature trails as well. One easily accessible trail is the Willingdon Beach Trail just off Marine Avenue. The trail used to be a logging road and it is now a walking trail and an outdoor museum. All along the trail are logging artifacts of a bygone era, each with signs explaining what we see.

Steam donkey
Steam donkey dating from the 1920s.

The pièce de résistance is a steam donkey that the Powell River Forestry Museum Society managed to retrieve from a ridge north of Haywire Bay on Powell Lake. The society preserved it and moved it by helicopter to the Willingdon Beach Trail in 2001-2002. The steam donkey is a steam-powered winch or logging engine. This particular one is #357 built by the Empire Manufacturing Company in 1920 and used into the 1960s.

Tree growing out of an old stump.
Tree growing out of an old stump.

Not only are there a lot of logging artifacts, the flora along the trail are a great example of how the forest renews itself. Heavily logged at one time, you’ll find many trees growing out of the stumps of long gone  brethren.

At the head of the trail is a sign telling you that you can get an audio guide on your cellphone by visiting Project Art Zoundzones. Just click on the link for the Willingdon Beach Trail.

This is just one of four city trails, each two kilometres or less. The others are the Willingdon Creek Trail, the Sea Walk Trail and the Valentine Mountain Trail. But for the serious hiker, there are many more.

Inland Lake Trail is a beautiful 13 kilometre walking path around the lake. The trail is well groomed and maintained and hugs the shoreline. At some points it goes out over the water along boardwalks.  And it is remote enough to be away from the noise and traffic of the city.

Janis and Cheryl walking along the Inland Lake Trail.
Janis and Cheryl walking along the Inland Lake Trail. This is one of several boardwalks along the trail which circumnavigates the lake.

There are always a number of activities going on in Powell River, especially on the weekends, including a regular farmers market. The city itself is much larger than in the company town days as a number of towns and villages were incorporated into the city. One has the colorful name of Cranberry.

One day our hosts took us to Lund 24 kilometres up the road. Along the way we visited the Okeover Inlet Marina, a very picturesque spot. On a ridge above the marina is the Laughing Oyster Restaurant, a fine dining experience with a magnificent view. Alongside the dock you’ll find many of the tiny jellyfish common in coastal B.C. waters.

Cheryl, Janis and Paul at the Okeover Inlet Marina
Cheryl, Janis and Paul at the Okeover Inlet Marina

Lund is a small coastal village with a fair size marina, several restaurants, a hotel and several shops including an art gallery gift shop. It is also the beginning of Highway 101, also known as the Pacific Coastal Route. This highway network runs 15,202 kilometres to Quellon, Poro Monte, Chile, one of the longest roadways in the world.

Mile 0 Marker of the Pacific Coastal Highway.
Mile 0 Marker of the Pacific Coastal Highway.

Lund was founded by a Swede named Charlie Thulin in 1889. He called it Lund after a place in Sweden. Today the town also serves as the home of the Savary Island Water Taxi. It is a passenger only ferry. All cars on Savary were barged in. Savary Island is itself worth a visit. We were there back in the 1990s. But that is a topic for another post.

Panoramic shot of Lund harbour.
Panoramic shot of Lund harbour.

On Sunday evening, our last night before heading back Monday morning, we went for dinner to a nice little place on the south end of town called the Savoury Bight Seaside Restaurant. In front of the restaurant is a magnificent wooden sculpture of a giant lobster eating the tentacle of an octopus. It was carved by chainsaw at a logging show a while back.

The Savoury Bight lobster.
The Savoury Bight lobster.

Dinner was served on an outdoor patio which proffered a view of a magnificent sunset while we ate. The food was pretty good too.

Sunset from the patio of the Savoury Bight Restaurant.
Sunset from the patio of the Savoury Bight Restaurant.

The Sunshine Coast from Saltery Bay to Lund offers plenty for the visitor, whether it is the historic aspects of the area or the many natural wonders to take in. It is a hiker’s and camper’s dream with facilities along Powell and other lakes and along the coast. There is a lot to do there.

Be sure to check out the additional photo galleries linked below as well as some significant websites you’ll find useful. Click on the links for the photo galleries or scroll on down if you are on the main page.


Follow us on Facebook!

Photo Gallery: Downtown Perth – 1




Follow us on Facebook!

Here are some additional photos of downtown Perth.

The Murray Street Mall looking toward Barrack Street
The Murray Street Mall looking toward Barrack Street
Walkway along Forrest Place
Elevated walkway along Forrest Place. Shops line this walkway which becomes an overpass to Perth Station.
Interesting sculpture at Forrest Place
Interesting sculpture at Forrest Place
Children's audio park outside the Western Australia Museum
The old Western Australia Museum with children’s aural park in front of it.
Close-up of the Brass Monkey
Close-up of the Brass Monkey
Interesting sculpture is at Northbridge Plaza at the corner of James Street and lake Street.
Interesting sculpture is at Northbridge Plaza at the corner of James Street and lake Street.
Perth Arena
Perth Arena is not far from the downtown shopping district. There is an outlet mall nearby.
Old church on William Street
Wesley Uniting Church on William Street at one end of the Hay Street Mall
Statue of a busker on the Hay Street mall
Statue of a busker on the Hay Street Mall
Facade of London Court on Hay Street Mall
Facade of London Court on Hay Street Mall
Statue of William Shakespeare at London Court
Statue of William Shakespeare at London Court
xx
Perth Town Hall at the corner of Barrack and Hay Streets. It’s the only town hall in Australia built by convicts. The foundation stone was laid on May 24, 1867. Looks a bit like a church but for some people, politics is a religion!
IMG_6998-r
A very Aussie souvenir found at a shop on Barrack Street – a kangaroo nativity scene. Behind it is a similar one with koalas.

I have so many great pics to share so please proceed to Photo Gallery: Downtown Perth # 2.




Follow us on Facebook!

Photo Gallery: Downtown Perth 2




Follow us on Facebook!

Here is the second part of my downtown Perth photo gallery. This one covers the Stirling Gardens to the waterfront.

Janis and Sarah with the statue of Alexander Forrest at the entrance to Stirling Gardens.
Janis and Sarah with the statue of Alexander Forrest at the entrance to Stirling Gardens.
Brass kangaroo has a drink at the top of the Stirling Gardens
Brass kangaroo has a drink at the top of the Stirling Gardens
My friend the kangaroo and I. He's a big fella. Slightly larger than life size.
My friend the kangaroo and I. He’s a big fella. Somewhat larger than life size though a large male kangaroo in a fighting stance can stand six feet or more.
Bamboo grove in Stirling Gardens
Bamboo grove in Stirling Gardens
A closer shot of the bamboo grove
A closer shot of the bamboo grove
A path through Stirling Gardens
A path through Stirling Gardens
The Supreme Court of Western Australia is just on the border of Stirling Gardens
The Supreme Court of Western Australia is just on the border of Stirling Gardens
Interesting tree in Stirling Gardens
Interesting tree in Stirling Gardens. Looks like a palm but it’s not.
Palm tree growing into another tree
Palm tree growing into another tree
A very large palm. Did you know that a palm is not a tree but a grass?
A very tall palm. Did you know that a palm is not a tree but a grass?
Interesting baob tree bordering Barrack Street
Interesting baob tree bordering Barrack Street.
This walkway and park extends for miles along the banks of the Swan River
This walkway and park extends for miles along the banks of the Swan River
A cormorant stretches its wings on the Barrack Street Jetty
A cormorant stretches its wings on the Barrack Street Jetty
The foot bridge at Elizabeth Quay.
The foot bridge at Elizabeth Quay. West Perth is in the distance across the Swan River.
The Bell Tower seen from Elizabeth Quay
The Bell Tower seen from Elizabeth Quay. Construction continues on hotel, residential and commercial complexes.
Janis and Sarah in front of a large stainless steel penguin statue
Janis and Sarah in front of a large stainless steel penguin statue on Elizabeth Quay
The BHP Billiton Building rises high in the Perth skyline
The distinctive BHP Billiton Building rises high in the Perth skyline. Nearby is the Rio Tinto Building. Mining is big in Western Australia.
The Perth skyline from Elizabeth Quay
The Perth skyline from the Barrack Street Jetty




Follow us on Facebook!

Paris: The City of Light




Follow us on Facebook!

Paris does not have a wild plethora of neon like Times Square in New York or the Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo. It’s called the City of Light because of its importance during the Age of Enlightenment and because it was one of the first European cities to get street lighting.

My wife and I spent a week in Paris to celebrate our thirtieth wedding anniversary in 2011. We had never been there before and we were in for a treat. Paris is fabulous.

Today’s post will give you an overview. In future posts I’ll look at the Palais de Versailles, the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Luxembourg Gardens, the Eiffel Tower and more. But my very next post will be a bit more risque. I call it Paris: Ooh-la-la!!! Watch for it.

In any event, we flew out in mid-September, arriving at Charles de Gaulle Airport around noon on the 17th. Our hotel was on the other side of town, just south of the Bois de Boulogne in the suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt.

The Tim Hotel on the Place Marcel-Sembat
The Tim Hotel on the Place Marcel-Sembat

We schlepped our bags across town on Paris’s excellent rail network, changing trains at the huge Gare de Nord. The stations have no escalators so it was a bit of a haul. But finally we arrived at the Marcel-Sembat Station, which conveniently lay just below the Tim Hotel where we were staying. It overlooks Place Marcel-Sembat, one of the busiest intersections in the region with streets emanating like spokes on a wheel – eight of them.

Jet-lagged as we were, we weren’t about to throw away half a day sleeping. After a quick shower we went down and asked the concierge how to get to the Eiffel Tower. He told us to hop the Metro to the Trocadero Station.

Now Paris’s subway system is superb (despite the lack of escalators at stations). We got week-long tickets and hopped on. At the Trocadero Station we got off. Up some steps and we were at the back of the Palais de Chaillot. We hiked up some more steps to the vast Trocadero Plaza and there it was. Magnificent! Absolutely stunning! The Eiffel Tower!

The Eiffel Tower seen from the Trocadero Plaza.
The Eiffel Tower seen from the Trocadero Plaza. In this photo it looks like it is right there on the Plaza, but it is actually across the Seine River.

We walked towards it and found it was across the Seine River from the plaza. We descended the steps to street level and crossed the bridge feeling euphoric that we were actually in Paris.

We decided against going up the tower, opting to take a riverboat cruise on the Seine to give us an overview. The tour guide brought our attention to various points of interest along the way as the boat headed downstream, around Notre Dame Cathedral and back.

One of the many tour boats on the Seine.
One of the many tour boats on the Seine.
DCIM100SPORT
The back of Notre Dame Cathedral with its flying buttresses.

Years ago in Vancouver I used to eat at a little restaurant on Thurlow called Le Bistro. My favorite dish was something called a Croque Monsieur. So I was pleased that food was available on the boat and Croque Monsieur was on the menu. Unfortunately, it did not hold a candle to the one at Le Bistro. In fact, I have yet to find one as good.

Le Pont Alexandre III
Le Pont Alexandre III, one of many bridges across the Seine.

After returning to our starting point we decided to walk to the Arc de Triomphe. We could see it in the distance. Paris is actually a great city for walking. All the major venues are within walking distance and we only used the Metro occasionally. The famous arch was just over two kilometres away, a half hour walk.

The Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe

The arch stands in the middle of a large traffic circle at one end of the Champs Elysees. We walked around and under it but did not go to the top. We never did get around to going up to the top – something for our next trip!

At the other end of the Champs Elysées is the Tuileries Gardens and the Louvre. The Champs is a huge roadway with four lanes in each direction. We walked by shops and other sites and saw a long lineup at a place across the street. Later we learned it was a new Abercrombie and Fitch store and the lineup was job applicants.

Job seekers outside Abercrombie and Fitch on the Champs Elysees.
Job seekers outside Abercrombie and Fitch on the Champs Elysées.

Among other sites, we passed Le Grand Palais. This is a huge convention center with a massive glass roof. A variety of different trade and other shows are held there. While we were in Paris they had a an exhibition on the history of video games.

Le Grand Palais, Paris's Trade and Convention Centre
Le Grand Palais, Paris’s Trade and Convention Centre.

The Champs Elysees ends at the Place de la Concorde where the giant Luxor Obelisk stands. This is one of the original obelisks from the Luxor Temple in Egypt and was gifted to the people of France by Muhammed Ali, Khedive of Egypt in 1833. It is over 3000 years old and was moved to its current location in 1836.

DCIM100SPORT
The 3000 year old Luxor Obelisk at the Place de la Concorde

But in 1793 this large square was called the Place de la Révolution. Close your eyes and visualize the square filled with throngs of rough-hewn people, milling and jostling for a view of the object in the center. On a platform – the guillotine. Tumbrils roll up carrying their victims for the day. One by one they are led up the steps of the scaffold. They are strapped to a board and tilted into place. The knife drops. The executioner draws the head out of the basket and holds it aloft to show the jeering crowd. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were among its victims. It’s enough to make the blood run cold as an icy finger traces down your spine. Hard to believe that happened here.

Paris is a city of gardens as well as famous buildings, including les Jardins Luxembourg near the Sorbonne University. Along the Champs Elysées we passed a number of beautiful gardens before arriving at the Tuileries, gardens built by Queen Catherine de Medicis in the 1564. She also had a palace built at one end (between the gardens and the Louvre). The palace served as the city residence for the royal family and was burned down by the Paris Commune in 1871.

The Louvre seen from the round pond in the Tuileries Garden
The Louvre seen from the round pond in the Tuileries Garden

The original garden measured 500 meters by 300 meters and was the largest garden in Paris at the time. (It still is.) After it became a public park, many statues were placed here and it is stunning both as a garden and a museum piece.

Staute of Theseus and the Minotaur in the Jardins des Tuileries
Statue of Theseus and the Minotaur in the Jardin des Tuileries

We passed the mini-Arc de Triomphe and headed to the Louvre. This immense art museum used to be a palace before Queen Catherine abandoned it and built the new one. The Louvre was also torched by the Communards in 1871 but miraculously survived.

In a central plaza in the nook formed by the U-shaped Louvre is the famous glass pyramid. We’ll take a closer look at the Louvre in another post.

Yours truly in front of the Louvre
Yours truly in front of the Louvre

We left the Louvre and walked down some steps to the banks of the Seine, walking along its length for a while. On the far side we saw the Musée d’Orsay, which used to be a train station. It is reminiscent of the old Gare Montparnasse shown in the Academy Award winning movie Hugo.

The Musée d'Orsay is housed in a former railroad station.
The Musée d’Orsay is housed in a former railroad station.

Soon we found ourselves back at the Eiffel Tower. We crossed over to the Palais de Challot and the Trocadero Metro station for the short hop back to the hotel. After dinner at a nearby restaurant, we hit the hay, looking forward to the rest of our time in Paris. Our appetite had been whetted and we would eat up the city with gusto.

Statue in front of the Palais de Chaillot across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower. The Palais is also a museum.
Statue in front of the Palais de Chaillot across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower. The Palais is also a museum. The top of the building directly behind the statue is the Trocadero Plaza. You can see people standing at the edge of it.

Our next post will be Paris: Ooh-la-la. It will tell an amusing story of an unexpected encounter on our first morning in Paris, as well as our visit to the Moulin Rouge on our last evening in Europe. Watch for it!

Meanwhile, check out our photo gallery of additional pictures of Paris. Click on the link below or scroll on down if you are on this website’s main page.



Follow us on Facebook!

The Historic Kinsol Trestle




Follow us on Facebook!

If you’re a railroad buff and visiting Vancouver Island, you might want to check out the historic Kinsol Trestle. It is a restored railroad trestle on the old abandoned CN Rail line and now part of the Trans Canada Trail.

The trestle is truly a marvel to see. The largest railroad trestle in the British Commonwealth and one of the largest in the world, it stands 145 feet above the Koksilah River with a span of 614 feet (0.187 km). It is also notable for its seven degree curve.

IMG_2140r
The Kinsol Trestle is the largest railroad trestle in the British Empire and one of the largest in the world.

It is fairly easy to get to – just 48 kilometres from Victoria, British Columbia, about an hour drive. Head north up the Malahat Highway and turn off onto Shawnigan Lake Road. We were staying with friends in Cobble Hill when we went and it’s a short thirteeen kilometres from there, also along Shawnigan Lake Road which forms a big arc beginning and ending on the Malahat. That route will take you right past Shawnigan Lake School, the world renowned private school. The trestle is just seven kilometres from the school.

Work on the original Kinsol Trestle began in 1914 but was halted due to World War I. Work resumed late in 1919 and the twelve story structure was completed in 1920. It served mainly as an industrial road carrying timber and other materials. Although it crosses the Koksilah River, its name is actually a portmanteau of the King Solomon copper mine which operated near by. It is also called Koksilah River Bridge.

Modern timber train crossing the trestle. The last crossing was in June 1979.
Modern timber train crossing the trestle. The last crossing was in June 1979.

The rare passenger train crossing the trestle included 1954 excursion from Victoria to the Cowichan Valley carrying a load of railroad enthusiasts attending the national Model Railway Convention. The train stopped there on that occasion so the rail buffs could get out and take pictures.

A rare crossing of the trestle by a passenger train. This one was filled with model railroad enthusiasts.
A rare crossing of the trestle by a passenger train. This one was filled with model railroad enthusiasts.

The last train crossed in the summer of 1979 and the bridge then fell into disrepair. In 2008, after lobbying from various historical societies, three levels of government and a private trust combined resources to rehabilitate the landmark bridge. It reopened in 2011 as part of the Trans-Canada Trail.

Now the trestle is part of the Trans canada Trail. Tracks have been replaced by a boardwalk.
Now the trestle is part of the Trans Canada Trail. Tracks have been replaced by a boardwalk.

From the parking lot, the trestle is a short hike along the abandoned rail line, now part of the trail. The walk is fairly flat.

At the trestle, you can go down to a lookout on the south side, or hike right down to the bottom on the far side. As high as a twelve story building, it is most impressive.

Looking up at the trestle from below
Looking up at the trestle from below

We spent a good hour at the trestle and then continued with a visit to Cowichan Bay, a quaint little seaside town of houseboats, fishboats and artisan shops. I’ll write about that in a future post!

Click on the link below for additional photos, or if you are on the home page, just scroll down.

Follow us on Facebook!

Singapore: Gardens by the Bay




Follow us on Facebook!

We asked around before visiting Singapore what we should see. Several places were mentioned including the Night Zoo and Sentosa Island. But on our cab ride to the cruise ship, we passed the Gardens on the Bay. We saw its artificial trees (called supertrees) standing out and wondered what they were. And as we got closer to the ship, we passed the entrance. Our cabbie said it was worth a visit. And during our cruise, others also recommended it. So after we visited Chinatown, we checked in at the hotel, and hopped a cab to Gardens by the Bay. Just one word to describe it. Wow!

The Gardens occupy 250 acres of reclaimed land adjacent to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. The park consists of three large garden areas as well as two conservatories and two supertree groves. The entire complex cost over a billion Singaporean dollars to build.

Dragonfly statue alongside one of the waterways in the Gardens.
Dragonfly statue alongside one of the waterways in the Gardens. Three supertrees are visible in the background.

As a public park, there is no admission charge. Residents and visitors are free to enjoy most of the park without charge. But the conservatories charge an admission fee of $28 per person.

The conservatories are massive. The larger one, the Flower Dome, covers three acres. It stands 125 feet high and is the world’s largest columnless glass building. It features seven different gardens representing various semi-arid sub-tropical vegetation from around the world. Its temperature is maintained at between 23 and 25 degrees C.  It seems cool compared to the outside temperature which is tropical. Singapore sits just above the equator.

Pictures don't do it justice. You have to be inside the conservatory to fully appreciate its size and scope.
Pictures don’t do it justice. You have to be inside the conservatory to fully appreciate its size and scope.

We paid to go in and it was a stunning experience. It is hard to convey the vast scope of the Flower Dome. During our visit, one of the areas was decked out for the Year of the Monkey with red lanterns and topiary monkeys.

The conservatory also features many intriguing wood sculptures that look like they are pieced together from driftwood. We hoped to pick up miniatures as souvenirs but the gift shop did not have any.

Two driftwood sculptures of mountain goats in the Flower Dome.
Two driftwood sculptures of mountain goats in the Flower Dome.

There was one garden devoted to Australia and others included South Africa and South America. The gardens are at different levels, tiered with sloped walkways. It is very easy to navigate.

I’ll create a separate post of just pictures so you can see more of this breathtaking masterpiece.

We expected the second conservatory, the Cloud Forest, to be anti-climactic after the Flower Dome. Were we wrong on that! While it covers a smaller area – two acres, it is much much higher than the Flower Dome. When you walk in you see its centrepiece – a 138 foot high mountain in the middle with five waterfalls pouring from the summit creating spray and mist. The Cloud Forest recreates the cool, moist mountains of the tropics. The mountain is covered from top to bottom with vegetation – orchids, ferns, and other vegetation indigenous to tropical mountains.

Waterfalls greet you as you enter the Cloud Forest.
Waterfalls greet you as you enter the Cloud Forest.

Inside you walk around it and then take an elevator almost to the top. A short hike up brings you to a small mountaintop lake. Then there are elevated walkways that take you all the way to the bottom again. Some of the walkways run close to the mountain so you can see the foliage at close hand. Other parts extend away from the mountain – aerial walkways that have you walking over the vista below.

Walkways about two thirds up the mountain.
Walkways about two thirds up the mountain.

Again, words cannot convey the size and scope of this amazing display so I have created a separate photo gallery. At the end of the tour is a presentation on global warming that I found a bit alarmist.

It had started raining just before we went into the Flower Dome and it was still raining when we exited the Cloud Forest so we had dinner at Majestic Bay, a nice Chinese restaurant just below the Flower Dome. We hoped it would clear up by dinner’s end as we wanted to see the light show at the Supertree Grove as well as walk along the elevated walkway that connects some of the trees.

The supertrees are, in fact, connected to the domes and help regulate the temperature and conditions inside. The trees range up to 160 feet high. As Wikipedia relates, “The Supertrees are home to enclaves of unique and exotic ferns, vines, orchids and also a vast collection of bromeliads such as Tillandsia, amongst other plants. They are fitted with environmental technologies that mimic the ecological function of trees – photovoltaic cells that harness solar energy which can be used for some of the functions of the Supertrees, such as lighting, just like how trees photosynthesize; and collection of rainwater for use in irrigation and fountain displays, exactly like how trees absorb rainwater for growth. The Supertrees also serve air intake and exhaust functions as part of the conservatories’ cooling systems.”

Supertrees lit up during the evening light show.
Supertrees lit up during the evening light show.

The rain had indeed let up when we finished dinner and so we headed to the grove for the light show. All the supertrees are lit up with various colours and flashing lights in time to music. It’s a 15 minute production and a marvel to watch.

After the light show we walked through the gardens and on to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. It is an amazing structure itself, with three towers supporting an infinity pool and restaurants at the top. Guests can swim right to the edge and look over. Not for the faint of heart!

Room rates are quite high starting at $479 a night. We heard that the hotel is booked up every nigh

Supertrees with the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in the background.
Supertrees with the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in the background.

t and you should make reservations six months ahead. We wandered through the lobby straight out to boardwalk around the Marina Bay Sands Shopping Mall on the other side. We had a pleasant walk around the boardwalk before taking an escalator down to the mall itself – which, like many malls in Singapore, is large. Very large!

We loved our visit to the Gardens by the Bay. A must see for visitors. Be sure to check out the two additional photo galleries I’ve compiled below.

More Information


Follow us on Facebook!

Singapore’s Chinatown




I was surprised to discover that Singapore had a Chinatown. Since most of the people are Chinese, I figured the whole city would be one big Chinatown, but that’s not the case. The city is a vibrant modern city with giant skyscrapers and shopping malls – lots and lots of shopping malls. Chinatown is more traditionally Chinese, an enclave within the modern city, much like the Chinatowns in Vancouver and San Francisco.

We first encountered Chinatown on our trip to our hotel after our cruise. We drove right by the gateway to Chinatown which was fully decorated for Chinese New Year which falls on February 8th. Our cabbie pointed it out and recommended a visit.

The entrance to Chinatown on New Bridge Road. It was decorated up for Chinese New Year on Feb. 8th.
The entrance to Chinatown on New Bridge Road. It was decorated up for Chinese New Year on Feb. 8th.

Since it was still morning and our hotel room would not be ready for a few hours, we opted to check it out. Our hotel was the Furama Waterfront on Havelock Road. It’s not near a subway station. So we asked the concierge where we could get a Starbucks coffee. He directed us to a twin office tower a few blocks away – the Great World City about a ten minute walk away. We found it and it has a terrific mall under the towers and a Starbucks. We had a coffee and checked our maps.

Great World City office and shopping mall a few blocks from our hotel. There's a free shuttle service from there to Chinatown.
Great World City office and shopping mall a few blocks from our hotel. There’s a free shuttle service from there to Chinatown.

After our coffee break we headed outside to catch a cab and discovered there was a free shuttle bus to Chinatown. It runs every hour on the hour and since it was almost 11:00, we hopped the bus  which dropped us off on Upper Cross Street, just a block from New Bridge Road. We walked past the giant Og Department store and an alley leading to a large food court, then found ourselves at the gateway to Niu Che Shui as they call it in Chinese.

We turned right just before Hotel 81, whose windows look like sets of double doors that don’t open. Not surprisingly, Singapore’s Chinatown is much larger than Vancouver’s. Besides two Buddhist temples, it also has a Muslim mosque and a Hindu temple. New Bridge Street has many restaurants and food stores.

Colorful lanterns were everywhere and we soon turned down a narrow street with market stalls on each side. Most were selling clothes and souvenir trinkets.

Open air shops line both sides of several narrow streets in Chinatown.
Open air shops line both sides of several narrow streets in Chinatown.

We had promised our daughter’s fiancé we would pick up three silk ties for him, so we kept an eye out. Spotting some, we stopped and looked at the rack of ties and the vendor talked them up. How much? $20 each. But he offered two for $30. I asked how about three for $30? We decided to check out more shops and as we walked away he offered three for $40. We kept walking. Three for $30? Thanks we said. We may come back.

And we continued to walk until we came to another vendor. He was standing at the entrance and held out his hand to shake mine. I did and he wouldn’t let go as we were pulled into the shop. Do not shake hands with a vendor! It is a fish hook to get customers into the store!

In any event, we told him right off the bat we had an offer of three for $30 from another vendor. Oh no! he said. They can’t be real silk ties. His are the genuine article. He brought out a calculator and told us he could give us three of his superior ties for $55. Nah! No deal. We dickered. And we turned to leave. He came back with three for $30 and we bought them.

We continued to explore, passing a Hindu temple as we went up and down more streets. And what did we find? A rack of ties offered at three for $25! Same ties. Same labelling. Identical in every way to the other two vendors we had seen. So two rules about shopping in Chinatown. Haggle on price. Walk away and see what their best offer is. Shop around some more before making a decision.  We had committed to our purchase but wondered if we could have got the three for $25 guy to go even lower.

We got back to New Bridge Street and walked back passing an interesting sight we had noticed before. A lineup two blocks long to buy meat at a deli. Must be damn good meat I thought.

There was a lineup two blocks long outside one shop.
There was a lineup two blocks long outside one shop.

So I asked a vendor near by what the deal was with the lineup for the sliced pork. Seems that traditionally, Chinese people buy sliced pork to serve and to give away as gifts for Chinese New Year.

Lim Chee Guan, a taste of tradition since 1938.
Lim Chee Guan, a taste of tradition since 1938.

We passed Chinatown returning from Sentosa Island the next day and mentioned the lineup to our cabbie. He said there are other stores selling sliced pork for New Year, but this particular store had a long tradition of being the shop to get sliced pork.

One thing we did not see was the open air food shops common in Vancouver’s Chinatown with vegetables, nuts, grains and meats out on display. This is not to say that Singapore’s Niu Che Shui doesn’t have such shops, just that we did not see any.

A mixture of the modern and traditional, this Times Square-like display is kitty corner from traditional Chinatown, across the street from Hotel 81.
A mixture of the modern and traditional, this Times Square-like display is kitty corner from traditional Chinatown, across the street from Hotel 81.

We enjoyed the colour and spectacle of the area. We were fortunate to have been there just as Chinese New Year was approaching and there was such a festive air. But I am sure it is an entertaining place to explore any time of year.

Tomorrow’s blog visits the Gardens on the Bay.