Trip Report Asia 2013: Day 9: Singapore (Saturday F1 Qualifying)
After the late night last night we decided to take a bit of a lazy start to our Saturday.
The handy thing about the Hotel Ibis Bencoolen is that they have a great little coin operated laundry down on the 3rd floor. So if you have wanted to go some laundry you could pretty cheaply. I think it was $4 to wash a load and then $4 to dry it. The other handy thing to help you wait – they provide an iPad in the Laundry room with Free Wifi. Really cool idea. If you have your own laptop/iPad the Free Wifi works as well.
Washing done we headed out to meet up with the group – the destination today was to be the Gardens By the Bay. Now they say ideally this place is best visited early in the day or late in the day – sadly time and circumstance meant we hit the gardens at about 1:00pm! I can pretty much assure you this place on a clear day is the same heat as the surface of the sun!
It is located just behind the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. And affords some great views back to the hotel.
Really spectacular place, but sadly the heat and sun made it too hot to bear – we didn’t get to explore much of the Gardens, instead we headed to the relative sanctuary of the Flower Dome and the Cloud Dome! They provided a level of air-conditioning.
Flower Dome – We headed into this one first, basically the flower dome is a climate controlled “Dome” that has a wide variety of different plant species from across the world, as you get deeper into the dome the climate changes from the arid desert to a more tropical and then Mediterranean climate. As a result the plants and flowers change. It was really quite amazing and we spent a good hour or so walking around checking it all out.
Some of the displays are really spectacular, amazing detail. And as an interesting note – they play nice relaxing music in the garden beds, I think it calms the flowers and helps them grow. Which probably explains why I am unable to even grow a weed in my backyard.
I won’t pretend to know anything at all about Plants so please just enjoy some pictures – they all had labels and stuff, and I am sure if you know about flowers and the like it would be very interesting.
After the Flower Dome we headed out and into the Cloud Dome
Cloud Dome: Now this was something pretty spectacular. It is a massive dome that I think was about 6 floors high. The first thing that literally smacks you in the face is the enormous waterfall cascading down from the man-made mountain. You start at the very top of the mountain and work your way back down. The climate in here simulates the upper mountain atmosphere and as a result the plant life and environment reflects that.
As with the Flower Dome, as you work your way down the climate and the plant life changes.
The design and construction of this dome is amazing. You will see lots of little windows in the roof that open and close throughout the day. This is part of the delicate eco-system, the windows open to allow moisture and humidity to be regulated. There is also a pretty fancy venting system that runs out to the giant fake trees out in the Gardens.
They had one of the Amorphophallus plants there on display. This is the plant that when it flowers the flower is meant to smell like rotting flesh. Luckily for us it didn’t seem to smell that bad when we were there. Either we were too late or too early – as I said….not exactly a plant guy.
The view from the top of the mountain back down to the ground floor is amazing. It is hard to believe the size of this thing, at 6 floors high.
The canopy walk inside here takes you around the mountain as you work your way back down to the ground floor. This gives you an amazing perspective on the design and layout as well as a pretty cool view back to Singapore city.
Insert: Flower Shot! The garden is very well looked after. You can see the meticulous planning and maintenance work that has gone into creating this amazing display.
The two domes are definitely worth checking out – you do pay an admission price or around $20-$25 but to be honest even as a non-plant guy it was pretty interesting to see it all and just even to get an idea of how the whole system works to keep the climate in balance (makes you also appreciate how well mother nature seems to be able to do this by her/himself).
We headed back to the MRT Station walking through the gardens. Be sure to check out the giant artificial trees and skywalk. These giant trees are the actual vents for the flower dome and cloud dome!
Saturday Formula 1: Practice 3 / Qualifying
We headed straight to the track to catch Practice 3 and Qualifying. To anyone thinking about checking out a Formula 1 race, I can definitely recommend Singapore as your initiation into the format.
The great thing with it being a night race and also a city street circuit is that you can spend the whole day walking around doing “touristy” things and then just head to the track in the afternoon to watch the racing into the evening. The nights events are usually done by about 11pm-midnight so you are not actually back too late to the hotel.
Just to show you it is not all just F1 cars at the Singapore Formula 1 GP. They had 2 support categories this year, the GP2 Asia and the Porsche Carerra Cup. Sadly due to timings and the fact that we were always out wandering the city we didn’t catch much of the support racing. But I did get to see the Porsche Race on the Saturday night so thought you might like to see some of that.
The benefit is that they are a little bit slower than the F1 cars so you can get a better chance of catching them in a photo. They were also generally on earlier in the day when the sun was still up which also makes your work a bit easier.
Our Aussie Driver – Craig Baird (Well Aussie in that way that we claim successful New Zealanders as Aussies!). Usually pretty dominant in the Singapore race but was just a little off the pace this year. Still finished high up the order though.
But then it was time for the big boys to come out and play. The Qualifying session for tomorrow.
Anyone not familiar with Formula 1 Qualifying – it is a 3 round elimination battle. All the cars go out in Round 1 and the top 17 drivers make it through to Q2. On a street circuit like Singapore that can be tough to set a fast lap, with 24 drivers on the track there is very little open road and you often have to contend with slower cars that might be in your way
After Q1 – the top 17 battle it out again in Q2 to see who will make it through to the final Top 10 battle for Pole Position. Q2 is where the real strategy comes out. Teams only have a finite quantity of tires available to them for the weekend so you need to be strategic with how many sets you use to get into the race. Also all the people in Q3 must start the race on the set of tires they set their fastest lap on. Which means you need to be quick but also economical in not taking all the speed out of your tires.
So at the end of Q2 we drop off the 7 slowest and we are left with the Top 10 for the final round of Qualifying – Q3. A quick 10 minute session around the Singapore Street Circuit to decided who will be on Pole Position for the race tomorrow.
At the end of Q3 we had our Top 10, Unfortunately for us our Aussie hope – Mark Webber didn’t make it to the top of the grid. He was stuck down in 4th place.
1st – Sebastian Vettel
2nd – Nico Rosberg
3rd – Romain Grosjean
4th – Mark Webber
Not to worry, a race is more than Qualifying – there is always passing opportunities in Singapore and there has never been a race yet in Singapore that didn’t involve the safety car. So there are always high hopes to come from behind to snatch victory.
PS. How awesome did the moon look this evening as it rose over the Bay Grandstand? Sorry I think I got a little bit distracted during the time between Q2 and Q3.
The on-track action being finished for the night, we headed out to the Padang stage to catch the Entertainment for the evening. Tonight’s headline act is The Killers. These guys absolutely rocked the Padang Stage. Estimates put the crowd at about 30,000-50,000 watching these guys. They were amazing entertainers, playing a great collection of their old stuff as well as the new songs.
The layout of the Padang is such that up the back you can chillout on the grass with a couple of drinks and some snacks, and just have a great time. If you are super keen you are more than welcome to push your way to the front and get into the thick of it dancing and moshing with the youngsters….not for us. A great concert!
Sorry for the picture quality – we were a long way back and I had no inclination to push further forward to get a better shot. The crowd was thicker than I had ever seen it for a concert here. These guys were real entertainers.
Thankfully they also had a few huge screens so you could actually see who was up on stage. Just as a tip, if you head off to the toilet make sure you get about 3 or 4 reference points so you can triangulate your position if you want to stand any hope of finding your friends again. I was off by about 20 meters and it took us quite a while to find each other again!
Yep – Photographed the Big Screen – much easier way to see the show!
They ended up playing almost a full 2 hour set so practically a full concert.
We headed back to the hotel afterwards – no midnight roti run tonight – we were pretty tired. That sun at the Gardens took it out of us today.
Anyway thanks again – that’s about it for today. Tomorrow is Sunday – RACEDAY and the culmination of about a year of planning to attend this. So suffice to say we are both looking forward to it.
Thanks as always for reading along – I am keen for your feedback, feel free to comment on this blog and also share it if you feel like it. Maybe I can get enough people following me to convince Singapore Tourist Board to pay for me to Travel Blog for them…..