Monday, September 17, 2012

A visit to Hogwarts and a lesson in Herbology

A few months ago, my mother came to me with some news. News, that, according to her, would win her "the best mother of the year award." As if she wasn't winning already. Her news was that she had discovered that the ArtScience Museum at Singapore would be hosting a Harry Potter Exhibition, and that it would be there right at the time I'd be arriving in Singapore. Naturally, I was beyond excited.

Friday morning finally came. I took the complimentary shuttle offered by Fraser Suites to the Marina Bay Sands convention center. The map at the right should help illustrate the enormity and grandeur of this complex.  Marina Bay Sands is shown in the image below; it is three separate buildings (housing three hotels) that are topped by one cantilever structure which holds a Sky Bar.  

At the base of the Marina Bay Sands hotel are a number of other buildings. As I was dropped off at the convention center and had an hour to spare before the exhibit opened, I took the opportunity to stroll around.  

The convention center leads directly into a huge, glamorous mall, complete with not only the obligatory food court and posh designer boutiques, but also a canal complete with boats and floating restaurants. I also enjoyed the spectacular views of the Singapore skyline, both from indoors and outside. I made plans to return to enjoy the sky bar as well as the theaters on other occasions! 

I made my way over to the ArtScience museum, which was beautifully designed as a lotus blossom meant to welcome people to the city.   This unique building is surrounded by a pool of water on which float colorful water lilies. It was exciting just to be there in that moment seeing such beautiful places, let alone what I was there to see!

The Harry Potter Exhibition, for which Singapore was its first stop in Asia, is definitely something that fans of the books and movies should see. It contained costumes, complete sets (I sat in an oversized chair IN HAGRID'S HUT!) and props used in the movies. An audio tour enhanced the experience by providing interviews with various people who made the movie magic possible. All in all, it was a great experience, and topping it off with a visit to Au Chocolat, a French chocolatier for a decadent dessert just completed this perfect day!

The following day, I joined my friends Mary and Jes on our first trip to Singapore's Botanic Gardens. I had heard that this place was huge, but I wasn't exactly prepared for just HOW huge it was! We came armed with floppy hats, shade umbrellas and bottles of water, and felt well-armed against the heat as we strolled along. 

We all decided that a wise strategy for the Botanic Gardens is to plan on making several trips in which we would see parts of it for about an hour or so, rather than trying to do the whole thing in one day. A map below shows both the vast size of the gardens and all the incredible variety there is to see there. We even saw people picnicking and jogging through the Gardens; it was less of the tourist attraction I had previously perceived it to be, and more of an everyday park - but on a mammoth scale!  Aside from seeing gorgeous flowering trees of all kinds, we also saw swans, koi, catfish, turtles and lizards.  So the Botanic Gardens isn't just about the flora - there's plenty of fauna, too, if one keeps an eye open!

It was a "magical" weekend full of adventures of all kind! And this week is my fourth week of teaching at SIM! Other projects that keep me busy include writing a paper, grading students' work, creating three exams and designing a new course I'll be teaching next semester! I've been enjoying each and every day in Singapore - and I can't wait to see what this week and the upcoming weekend hold!


Unknown said...

Amanda - what a glorious weekend! Wish we could dine on one of those floating restaurants for our next visit. Thanks for the great update, I can't believe you've been there almost a month already! I hope it is feeling more like home for you :-).

Amanda Lohiser said...

Hey Meg! Thank you for your comment! Yes, there are SO many places here that would be ideal for our visits! =D I can't believe it's nearly been a month either. Day by day feels more and more normal! It's all about finding a rhythm.

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