Buildings and Architecture in Asia
The Supertree Grove at Gardens by the Bay is one of Singapore's iconic landmarks. The Supertrees are tree-like structures rising from 25 to 50 metres into the air, looking like giant canopies. They are fitted with ferns, vines, orchids and other plants, which in time will fully cover the Supertrees. There is a walkway high among the canopies, which offers panoramic views of the rest of the gardens and Marina Bay. At night, the Supertrees comes alive with lights. Besides the Supertree Grove, the Gardens by the Bay consists of many other gardens, all with different themes - but none as spectacular as the Supertrees.
Taipei 101 is sticking more than half a kilometre into the sky (509.2 m) and has 101 floors above ground and 5 under. It was once the tallest building in the world, but is today overtaken by Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It's an impressive construction shaped like bamboo with a size that is hard to grasp no matter where you stand in Taipei. It's possible to visit the observatory decks on the 89th (inside) and 91st (outside) floors for a fee. The lower levels are, of course, shopping malls and office spaces.
There are few places on Earth that are so absolutely spectacular, yet somehow seemingly unknown. The Registan in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, is one of those places. A UNESCO world heritage site, the central square surrounded by magnificently ornate medressas (dating back as much as 500 years) is a true sight to behold. A pillar of Islamic learning throughout the centuries, Samarkand is a thing of legend in the Muslim world. Towering doors and vaulting ceilings lead the visitors eyes to heaven, while the masterfully tiled walls and floors help to keep your feet on the ground. Samarkand is a truly spiritual place.
The Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh City is a fine example of French colonial architecture. It was designed by the ever-so-famous Gustave Eiffel (yes, the Eiffel Tower dude) and completed in 1891. It still functions as a post office today and it is a great place to send some of those rare postcards. Previously the Vietnamese stamps didn't have any clue on the back, you had to spread glue there yourself. Since the provided glue at the post office was very watery you had to make sure that the postcards were stamped before sending them off, or else you risked the stamps being removed and resold. Oh boy, the good old days.
The Long Bien Bridge in Hanoi is another of Gustave Eiffel's creations. Its 1682 m length spans over the Red River and was completed in 1903. During the Vietnam War it was repeatedly bombed but was rebuilt every time, leaving it in an alternated design than original. Today it is still used by pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles and trains heading to Haiphong. For reasons unknown to us, the traffic on the bridge travels on the left hand side.
The striking French cathedral is of those lovely surprises that Hanoi has so many of. Build in 1887 in a neo-gothic style resembling Notre Dame in Paris, it is an imposing structure compared to the otherwise humble neighbourhood that surrounds it. It was closed down in 1975 upon Vietnam's reunified and it didn't open again until 1985. Today St Joseph's Cathedral stands dirty and naked, but it kind of fits very well with Hanoi's old-and-used edge. If you are a catholic you can attend service here (in Vietnamese of course), otherwise just enjoy the colourful stained glass windows from the inside.