Shocks, phobias, amazing jewels and a fire tornado

Megavolts of electricity, 120 kilometre per hour winds, a whirling vortex of flame and the world’s biggest man-made waterfall. Today had it all and more.

There’s a long queue outside of Tian Tian Chicken Rice at the Maxwell Food Centre. Alex insists on having it for breakfast, though I think B’s is better. The coconut filled apom balik has run out, I have to make do with peanut fillings.

We catch an MRT to Jurong East for Alex’s second, my third, visit to the Singapore Science Centre. They have some fantastic permanent and visiting exhibits. 
Highlights are the Tesla coil electricity show, the phobias display (which does feature an aircraft in turbulence), a mirror maze, typhoon wind simulator and the world’s only fire tornado exhibit.

The cloud chamber is back, after I missed it last time. It’s not very exciting for me now as we have on at the Discovery Centre at work!

We spend at least four hours in the centre, emerging for a very late lunch at the Jurong East town centre. 
Though we have to go to Changi Airport tomorrow to catch our flight back to Australia, we choose to visit the new Jewel centre first. 
It’s a long train ride from Jurong East. I have a migraine coming on and just want to have an afternoon nap. Thankfully the darkness of the airport terminal, the air conditioning and some Panadol ward off the skull crush. 
The MRT station emerges into Terminal 3 which is connected by a series of moving walkways to the Jewel, an oblate glass lattice hemisphere that sits at the centre of the square formed by the main Changi terminals.

At the centre of the Jewel is a huge toroidal waterfall cascading down from the ceiling. The inner walls of the doughnut cavity at the heart of the Jewel are lined with an artificial forest with lookouts and corridors back into the shopping and food area of the outer ring. A pair of sky train tracks thread their way through the centre, giving passengers a fantastic, though brief, view of the forest and waterfall.

The explosion of green life combined with the cascade of water makes for a calming environment after the harsh suburban Singapore light and the artificiality of aircraft flight.

We purchase tickets for the top floor mazes, canopy walk, net bounce and walk, though I do without the trampoline bouncing. The lights and flowers that decorate the top levels, the mists and water features combine to make a soothing a beautiful environment.

Alex takes the easy slide down the mirror slide structure and take multiple goes on the net bounce. I try the net walk and suffer vertigo looking down so many levels below.

The hedge maze is pretty simple but the mirror maze is different to the one at the Science Centre and both are worth it for the fantastic optical effects.

There is a short hourly light show on the waterfall featuring Steve Jablonsky’s music to Transformers: The Movie. Other film music is played throughout the garden centre, as it was during the shows at the science centre. A lot of John Williams!

It was nine pm before we ate dinner, joining the long queue to eat burgers at the Shake Shack. They were a nice change from hawker food, but really any food was good by then.

I like the Jewel. If you only had a few hours transit in Changi it would be well worth a visit in its own right. But I wonder if the building and its contents says something about Singaporeans and humans in general.

The science centre featured a room with a projected computer generated waterfall and jungle scene displayed over its walls and floors. I imagined a future world where this was the only contact children had with nature.

Similarly, the Jewel is an artificially enclosed bubble of a world where life has been manually landscaped. Imagine that was the only world you knew. Would it be enough?

Much of green Singapore is like that – A human landscape displaying man’s mastery over nature. Similarly, the endless palm plantations of Malaysia. And in Japan too do they worship that controlled by people and seem to fear wild nature.

I profess to be attracted myself by these landscaped gardens. The Jewel, Gardens by the Bay, the tourist village at Desaru, the sublime Japanese strolling garden. But there is something else too about the wilderness. The unexpected randomness of discovery, the sense that you are just one tiny element of a larger organism. I think we need both, the human and the natural universe. 

Filed under: