Thunderstorm in a Cloud Forest

Day 42, Grand Asia 2018

Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, Singapore:

The first thunderclap hit just as I arrived via elevator at the top of the 138-foot Cloud Mountain inside a 2-acre glass enclosure. People screamed. It felt like we were inside a giant thunderstorm. As I worked my way down the suspended skyways, thunder continued all around us, and sheets of rain stormed down on the clear glass structure. I could barely see the nearby Marina Bay Sands hotel through the rain.

If you look close you can see the Marina Bay Sands

I just concentrated on the center of the path. For someone who struggles to bring herself to get on the escalators in the atrium of the Michigan Avenue Macy’s in Chicago, taking the narrow path seven stories above the floor was an act of bravery. And I survived.

Singapore is the fifth of six overnight stops on this 82-day cruise. At mid-morning of our second day, fellow passenger Joyce and I set off for Little India, a neighborhood we saw briefly from trishaw seats on our stop here last year.

It was an easy trip on the city’s MRT system. When we emerged, it was hot and humid, conditions that continued all day. I guess we are in that part of the world.

We wandered through the storefronts, where Joyce picked up a flower necklace, some earrings, a tiny silver box and other trinkets. I snapped photos of the colorful scene – men sewing garments along the sidewalk, vendors selling produce, beautiful bolts of brilliant fabric, small eateries that I imagine Anthony Bourdain would have chosen for lunch.

In the giant multi-story Mustafa Center, I found my only purchase, a small coloring book from India for my grand-nephew (who is about to turn 2 months old).

Joyce decided to return to the ship and I split off to go to Gardens of the Bay. Last year I visited its Flower Dome, the larger but shorter of the two glass enclosures, and I wanted to see the Cloud Forest.

Gardens of the Bay is a large park next to the Marina Bay Sands (the three-tower landmark with the boat-like platform stretched across the top). The complex consists of the two enclosed conservatories as well as outdoor gardens and the Supertree Glove, manmade tree-like structures that range up to 160 feet tall. They mimic natural trees by collecting solar energy and rainwater while concealing the air intake and exhaust elements of the area’s cooling systems.

I knew when I exited the MRT under the Marina Bay Sands that I would have a considerable walk to the Cloud Forest but was delighted to find a shuttle for just S$3 round trip.

When I walked into the Cloud Forest at Gardens of the Bay, I immediately faced a giant waterfall. Later I approached it again at various levels. The facility combines its gardens with manmade structures – some natural, some otherwise. I liked the colorful flowers made with Legos, for example. It also includes a healthy dose of information about climate change.

After an hour or so in the enclosure, I realized the thunderstorm and rain were not ending any time soon. And I discovered the shuttle service doesn’t run during storms. Fortunately, there was a semi-covered walkway that led me to a taxi stand, where I found a ride back to the mall and cruise port. I arrived in my stateroom ready for a hot shower.

The line at immigration to leave Singapore was as long as always. It is our only port that puts us through a slow process of checking our passports, photos and thumbprints every time we leave from and return to the ship. We carry a landing card, which makes it clear that drug trafficking is a bad idea.

During sail away, the Singapore Sling was popular — and much cheaper than at Raffles Hotel in the city.

While sailing out of Singapore, I heard the officer on the bridge blow the horn sharply several times and felt the ship change headings. From the balcony I could see a tiny boat cross just in front of the ship and pass close by along our side.

Tonight’s entertainment was a Chinese accordion player. I caught the first part of the 10 p.m. show, but left my balcony seat after a few numbers. Maybe I just pick the wrong entertainers, but I have been less than impressed by the quality this year. I rarely hear fellow passengers talking enthusiastically about the shows later. I don’t know if Holland America dropped a tier in the entertainers it has hired this year, but it does seem so.

Tomorrow is another sea day, followed by three ports in Indonesia.