Around Marina Bay, Merlion to Esplanade Park, Singapore
20th of October 2013
Luxury hotels, skyscrapers, land reclamation, unusable seats and the grandstand eyesore. A walk around Singapore's newest attraction.
- Location: Marina Bay, Singapore
- Start or End: Loop walk. Multiple start/finish locations including either Bayfront, Raffles Place or City Hall Train Stations. Buses are also prevalent.
- Length: 3.3km (2.1mi)
- Grade: Easy. Flat and fully paved.
After a rest amongst the hordes of tourist at Merlion I start the second leg of today's metrotrek in Singapore. My next goal is to walk around Marina Bay in a counter-clockwise direction and take in some of the newest sights of Singapore. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much shade around and the cool of the morning is starting to wear off. Luckily I have my big straw hat, sunscreen and plenty of water.
I make my way along the foreshore past the fancy restaurants, bars and hotels on one side and the magnificence of Marina Bay Sands over the bay on the other side. In front of me are the towering skyscrapers of Singapore's business district. The boardwalk provided is a great place to walk and fortunately for me not appreciated by the people congregated at Merlion, who are still too interested in snapping the perfect shot of Merlion spitting into their mouths.
The first place of interest I stumble across is the Fullerton Bay Hotel and the interesting Change Alley Aerial Plaza hovering above it. The boardwalk along the Fullerton Bay Hotel and the associated bars and restaurants is a public path (well that is what the signs say), but it feels like I am infringing on an area well above my level of income. The path even passes through what I think is the lobby of the hotel. I sure did standout in my straw hat and shorts, but it was nice to have a few seconds of air-conditioning. On the other side of the lobby is the Change Alley Aerial Plaza which is one of Singapore's few revolving buildings.
Even though I have only walked for a few minutes the humidity is starting to get to me. I see a bench seat in the distance. Unfortunately, the bench seat is a piece of art, and absolutely useless to rest on.
Luckily I had a rest at the Merlion, as this bench would not have been much use to me. Throughout my walk around Marina Bay there are a number of "artistic" seats around, but this one would have to be the least practical one I found. The others are at least sit-able.
I continue my walk along the western edge and then onto The Promontory on the southern shore of Marina Bay, which is a small section of land jutting out into the bay. Nothing really that exciting along this section, just more good views of Marina Bay Sands and the towering skyscrapers behind me.
For a change of pace I have a read of one of the information boards along the shoreline. There is an interesting one entitled "From Marshes to Global City" which details the land reclamation needed to create Marina Bay. Supposedly Singapore's first land reclamation was planned in 1822. However, the reclamation efforts intensified significantly after Singapore's independence in 1965 when the land area was 582km2. Today the island is 710km2, which is a 22% increase in the land size of Singapore over about half a century! Where I stand right now was once the sea. Where did they get all that dirt from?
From The Promontory there are good views of the northern shore. Nothing really that exciting to view, except perhaps the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay Complex, which is said to look like the durian fruit. A durian is a large fruit growing up to 30cm in length with a hard thorn covered husk. The orientated sharp triangular features on the domed roof of the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay Complex does actually kind of look like a durian. Hopefully for the theatre goers the inside of the theatre doesn't smell like a durian though, which has a strong, pungent and offensive (to some) odour. Eating a durian is said to be like eating custard in a public toilet. Not sure if this refers to a public toilet in Singapore or other countries. The public toilets so far in Singapore have been rather good, much better than ones I have experienced in countries like Vietnam and home in Australia. Personally, I haven't tried a durian it but it doesn't sound very tempting at all.
The most obvious feature of the northern bank would have to be the multi-coloured grandstand for the floating football field, called The Float, which is the world's largest floating football field. The blue, yellow, red and green seating of the grandstand is definitely the ugliest feature of the entire area. The faded colouring of the seating does not fit in at all with the rest of the modern architecture of Marina Bay. It is a bit of an eyesore. Nice spot to watch a game though.
As I make my way closer to Marina Bay Sands and the eastern shoreline of Marina Bay, the view of the skyscrapers of the business district becomes much more dramatic.
It is here in front of the Marina Bay Sands that I decide to rest in the shade and take in the views over Marina Bay to the business district. The area in front of the Marina Bay Sands shopping mall is extremely quiet, which is surprising given that this area is supposedly one of the places to go in Singapore. It is still morning, so I guess it is probably still too early to for shopping sprees and losing all your hard earned cash at the casinos blackjack table.
The next place of interest on the walk around Marina Bay is the lotus inspired design of the ArtScience Museum. Very interesting architecture, but I think it looks better from afar. When you are this close you can see all the stains on the exterior walls. Probably due for a bit of a scrub down. I'm glad I don't have that cleaning job. I don't even like cleaning the windows at home. Despite the few stains it was very enjoyable taking in the shade of the buildings "petals" and the reflections from the giant pool underneath. I guess the "blossoming" of the building from the giant pool is another lotus (which is a water plant) inspired feature.
From the ArtScience Museum I head to the Helix Pedestrian Bridge, which for me is the best part of the walk around Marina Bay. The bridge is the world's first curved double helix pedestrian bridge. As those with a background in biology know a double helix is the shape of the DNA molecule. I know hardly anything about biology; I only know this from the information board provided on the bridge. To the south of the bridge you can see the Singapore Flyer, which is the largest Ferris wheel I have ever seen. It is much bigger than the ones at local shows and carnivals in Australia, which makes sense as it is the WORLD'S LARGEST! Think I am going to have to have a ride on that one, but will leave it for another day.
On the northern side of the Helix Pedestrian Bridge are a number of lookouts, which provide great photo opportunities over Marina Bay. Personally, I think this is the best vantage point to see the ArtScience Museum. It’s not so close that you see the stains, but not so far that you need a telephoto lens to capture it. I am using an iPhone to take my pictures after all.
From the Helix Pedestrian Bridge I stroll along the northern bank of Marina Bay where I get a closer view of the faded seating of The Float's grandstand. I also walk past the Outdoor Theatre, which was the finish of yesterday evenings walk, and under the Esplanade Bridge to Esplanade Park. The shade in Esplanade Park is really nice, but I am greedy for more. Think I might check out Fort Canning Reserve and take in some shade and relieve myself from the heat and the humidity.
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Have you taken this walk? Any suggestions or errors? Please comment below.