My Trip At Gardens by the Bay
My first visit to Gardens by the Bay was a rather weak attempt to show off Singapore to a friend who was visiting from New Zealand. Let’s just say I wasn’t the best person for the job. But my second visit to the Gardens the other day was infinitely better with the addition of an element essential to any experience - great customer service provided by our guide.
Clarence, Our Guide For The Day
Clarence Chua is Senior Manager with the Visitor Services team at Gardens by the Bay. He is also one of the seven winners of the Customer Service award at the Singapore Experience Awards 2014. The award is a prestigious title awarded only to those who are recognised as masters of providing the best service experience in their industry.
Clarence manages the operation of the Garden Cruisers, which provides shuttle services and audio tours to visitors. His nomination was reflective of the interesting stories he shared with us, and it’s not every day that you get to meet people who give 101% in their work.
Amanda and I were fortunate to be brought on an Audio Tour by Clarence himself. As I witnessed him communicate with his Garden Cruiser captain on the route, he delivered his instructions with clarity and mutual respect. A simple thing like this made it pleasant to be on the ride with him.
He took us to five of his favourite spots in the Gardens. Two of these places aren't on the map and another two tell a darn good story that show you why Clarence is most deserving of his Award.
1. The Cloud Forest Story
The first step through its doors takes you face-to-face with the majestic waterfall. I imagined this is what the tropical highland might look like. This particular conservatory would be perfect refuge from the country’s blistering heat with its cool and misty atmosphere.
If you can’t stand the numbing cold like yours truly, be sure to bring a jacket to keep warm.
The bigger deal here is that Clarence once took a plunge in its frigid waters. As the story goes, a tourist was tossing some coins from the peak of the waterfall into the water for good luck. He threw one too many when a thick wad of notes - at least a few hundred dollars - went down along with them.
Thankfully Clarence was on hand to save the day, and he suited up in his wetsuit and an inflatable kayak in a valiant attempt to retrieve the lost money. Clarence managed to help recover half the loot! We do hope that the tourist has had better luck since then!
2. The Quiet Web Of Life
The popularity of the cooled conservatories and Supertrees can get overwhelming for visitors who are looking for a quiet stroll among the pretty flora. Clarence pointed out the Web of Life, which is one of the many smaller curated gardens just south of the Supertree Grove.
The collection of topiaries in the vicinity is a wonder to look at, from forms of a hornbill to an orangutan. This quiet corner is perfect to admire the unique larger-than-life plant art in the serene outdoors.
3. The Secret Big Fish Aquarium
There isn't a mention of any aquariums on the map but Clarence took us to this hidden enclave just a few metres away from the Sun Pavilion, which houses the largest cacti and succulent collection in South East Asia. They’re not exaggerating when they say Big Fish.
The largest fish in the tank was the Arapaima, and it definitely measured a foot more than my height. I stand at 5’ so you can imagine just how big it is.
4. Kingfisher Lake And The Diamond Earring
Just a short walk away from the Aquarium is a path next to a body of water. There is a sweet spot that provides a nice vista with a fountain in the centre. The second of Clarence's stories takes place here, coincidentally over another case of lost and found.
The time, the visitor was taking scenic photos from the small bridge when unfortunately, her diamond earring fell into the water. Clarence’s gear this time round was a pair of rubber Wellington boots and a fish net, and he began to scour for a diamond in the rough. After digging through the muddy bed, he miraculously found the precious stone.
To express her gratitude, the visitor signed up for annual membership to become a 'Friends of the Gardens'.
5. The Arowana Aquariums
Just along the sheltered walkway on the outskirts of the Supertree Grove lies two Arowana aquariums. Beyond the regular routes listed on the map, this is an interesting find for those who have an affinity for aquatic animals. The gold and silver Arowanas are a sight to watch in the minimalistic fish tanks.
My Gardens by the Bay Experience
On top of the wondrous display of flora, I was pleasantly surprised by the hidden fauna exhibits and more so by the enthusiastic and sincere hosting Clarence provided for our visit.
With Chinese New Year fast approaching, you can be sure that something exciting will be happening at Gardens by the Bay, including a brand-new floral display. From 16th January, the floral display in the Flower Dome will feature "Asian Tales", depicting scenic landscapes in Chinese brush paintings. Also in conjunction with Lunar New Year, Gardens by the Bay will be hosting a special Garden series termed Spring Surprise that celebrates Asian culture with a series of activities such as Chinese calligraphy and appearances by "God of Fortune", which will be running during this festive period to celebrate the Year of the Goat.
If you have plans to visit the Gardens, we recommend to check out the latest floral display or take an audio tour around the Outdoor Gardens. It was a memorable experience to be showered with heartwarming service - thank you Clarence for your hospitality!
If you’ve ever experienced amazing customer service, let us know in the comments below!
For more information on Gardens by the Bay, visit www.gardensbythebay.com.sg.
This post was brought to you by the Singapore Experience Awards.