Archive for: ‘March 2006’

Singapore, Day 5 – II, Jurong Bird Park

March 28, 2006 Posted by fairviewsue

I took a taxi from the Zoological Gardens to the Jurong Bird Park. I never knew there were so many types of parrots and while they were placed on me, squabbling amongst each other alarmingly, I had my picture taken.

Pelicans were loose in the Park and one started following me as I proceeded to their enclosure. He then flew up onto a fence right next to me and demanded that I take his portrait. So I did. What I didn’t know was that it was pelican feeding time. A man with several large blue buckets filled with fish walked up and began the pelican feeding frenzy. Um, they can move fast for big birds. I was glad I did not resemble a fish. Just an observation, but they have really big, sharp beaks. Ever noticed that? I actually had to move out of the way. The keeper threw fish into the water for some of the less dominant birds. I ran out of film and it began to drizzle.

I moved on to the small parrot cages and saw parrots, lorries, keets, love birds, conures and more in all colors. It was rather easier to tell them apart when there were signs to help even though I am a birder back home. Duh. I do know what love birds look like.

Then I went to the bird enclosure (netted area) that had a beautiful waterfall and it began to rain a bit harder. It got darker out and then it was difficult to spot the brightly colored birds and I wasn’t sure my pictures would come out. I could feel that rain was imminent and there was no shelter there, so I moved on.

I went on to the hornbill exhibit when the pouring rain started. Fortunately there was a monsoon shelter arch in front of the enclosure. So, it was just me bonding with the hornbills in the monsoon. The rain was coming straight down with such a force that the splatter alone carried it far into the arch (10 feet or so – 3 meters) at each end. I had to put my camera away to keep it dry and stand in the very middle of the arch to keep dry myself. Fifteen minutes later the rain was just hard again. If you’ve never experienced a monsoon, you’ve never seen how hard rain can get.

I left the relative dryness of the enclosure and got wet to see the scarlet ibis, crested cranes and roseate spoonbills. I got my feet wet in the sopping grass shooting those. I also saw toucans and birds of paradise.

Now, with very wet feet, I completed the path noticing a fine koi pond on my way out.
I took a taxi back to my hotel. While there, the phone rang and it was the tour company saying that tomorrow’s one day tour of the fishing village of Kucup and Orchid Valley in Malaysia was cancelled due to lack of interest, so a bit crestfallen, I booked the one to Johor Baru instead. I really had my heart set on seeing that fishing village and the orchids.

Singapore, Day 5 – I, Zoological Gardens

March 24, 2006 Posted by fairviewsue

While at the Tanglin Mall, I had noticed a Deli France and went there for breakfast the next morning. Finally, good strong coffee! I also had a chocolate croissant.

Then I took a taxi to the Singapore Zoological Gardens and bought a green batik printed umbrella since I was not sure I would be back to my hotel before that day’s monsoon. The zoo was very nice as one can get very close to the animals. Blue vultures and pea hens wandered free on the paths. There were lots of little primates loose in the trees, such as cotton headed tamarins.

I watched a very funny snake show. As I recall, volunteers were gathered from the audience and had non-venomous snakes piled onto them, and of course there was a plant from the audience who freaked out and fell into the pool, it was really humorous. Hey, I was lonely. There was also an elephant show. Later in the day, they were moving the elephants back to their enclosure and went right by me. That was interesting. I don’t get to be around such big animals much.

I took pictures of flat cat on the meerkat and tiger signs; time to send him home now. I like the meerkats best. They were definitely the cutest. This colony is especially successful, so there are just tons of them. Actually, the sheer number is a bit scary. “But I just want one, Mommy, really, just one to pet.”

I also liked the kookaburras, cobras, leopards, white tigers, red mongooses. The tiger looked into my camera flash and I got his eye shine.

There were also ominous looking black spitting cobras displayed behind Plexiglas, thank god, and ‘friendly’ seeming honey bears (Malaysian sun bears).

I also enjoyed the butterfly and snake enclosure, where those animals are loose. A butterfly could come and land on you. Of course that makes them really difficult to photograph; you just about have to shoo them away to get a picture. One landed on my toe, but flew off before I could snap the photo. The snakes are all in the trees and hard to spot at first. But then you can see all of them and they are everywhere. So, the only camera angle is shooting up.

There was a very touristy set up to have one’s picture taken with an orangutan for S$16, but I passed on that. He would even help you eat your lunch. Gross.

Singapore, Day 4 – II, Holland Village

March 22, 2006 Posted by fairviewsue

I took a taxi to Holland Village. What a fire trap! I used to be a safety person so let me tell you: no exit signs, narrow corridors, crowds of people, no sprinkler system, and flammable materials everywhere. It was like a rabbit warren chock full of rabbits. Deep breaths, try to calm myself, think nothing will happen, aum, aum, aum… Geez, this place got me meditating!

Quick survey, lots of ceramics shops, all full of junk. Okay, time to get out and eat. Once outside I noticed something else about Singapore; I wouldn’t want to be in a wheelchair here. Sidewalks are treacherous even for the able bodied. Here I came upon a deep drainage ditch between the two walks that was unavoidable, too wide to leap, too narrow to climb down into and back up out of, and could only be traversed by walking over a narrow cement plank (12 inches, 30.5 centimeters) that joined the two walks; no railings in sight of course. I guess that since there are monsoons, there is the need for quite a lot of drainage to handle the water. I must say that while here, I have not seen a puddle, even though we get scads of rain daily. Sometimes sidewalk safety is sacrificed for flood safety. Nothing’s always perfect (the one pictured is).

I ate lunch at a noodle shop and had chicken with bok choy and noodles. It was a bit greasy and had too much soy sauce but was okay. I also had weak lemonade.

Next I went to the outdoor covered market and found koi for sale. I was so excited that I took pictures. My assessment: colors were good, patterns were common. Went to Hagen Daaz and bought a cone to cool me down.

Went back into the ‘fire trap’ and found the linen store. I introduced myself to the lady proprietor and bought two pillow shams and a runner made from used silk sari material (see picture). They look gorgeous in my house but were not cheap. I also bought one block printed silk scarf (rose with navy blue print), three roller printed silk chiffon scarves (navy blue, rose, and black) that are truly beautiful and two cheap bags made in India for my nieces. The nice lady gave me a 10% discount and advised me to go back to Little India as gold was now S$16 per ounce down from S$18 it was recently. I might just consider that.

I took that taxi back to my hotel and decided to rest my back this afternoon. I took a hot bath and my back really hurt.

I could hear music from my room. I went out to investigate and found a band shell in the Botanical Garden offering Free Jazz in the Park. The band was from the US and was very good. I sat on the grass and listened as I enjoy jazz.

Then I crossed the street to the Tanglin Mall (decked out for Christmas as in the picture) and bought Panadol (Tylenol for those of you from the US – see my background in pharmaceuticals comes in handy now and then) for my back. While in the mall I had chicken and rice in a clay pot. It was so-so as one might expect from mall food. It had something unidentifiable in it. The place was mobbed and most of the people were eating noodles from steel pots, and theirs had unidentifiable stuff in it too (only fair).

I bought groceries, fruit and cookies. This store has gala apples, but then on second thought of course they do, galas come from Australia. The selection is better than at home: OB tampons, Friskies buffet, you name it (varieties of feminine hygiene products and pet foods are my arbitrary measure of sophistication of grocery store products when I am on the road). Plus they had Asian and European brands not available at home. There was one display case just for lox.

That night, I took a gram of Panadol and slept like a baby.

Singapore, Day 4 – I, Botanical & Orchid Gardens

March 20, 2006 Posted by fairviewsue

I woke rested at 6 AM the following morning. I planned to take it easy and only walk the one

block from my hotel to the Botanical Gardens.

As I entered the gardens, there was a solitary man performing Tai Chi on top of a hill. Further along, I noticed a cannonball tree flower (I only knew what it was because of the label). There were scattered gazebos of all designs along the way for shelter from the monsoons, I supposed.

I walked through the water gardens and with great disappointment noted that there were no fish, only turtles! I did notice some lovely pink and white lotus, although the blooming season was just starting. Upon closer inspection, I did notice some wild fish that looked like cichlids (see picture, they must be earth eater cichlids). I bought water to survive the heat.

Then I found the National Orchid Garden which was unbelievably pretty. It was not so much each orchid, but the landscaping of entire beds of orchids. There was one garden in particular of tall orchids all of one kind tied to bamboo forming a maze into which little children can, and did, get lost. Very creative indeed. I also enjoyed the mist tents and moss covered statues with bromeliads and orchids growing onto them. I also used rolls of film on single orchids, only to have my brother tell me they were all common when I returned. I don’t care what he says, they are pretty.

There was a cute Asian wedding party in the Orchid Garden. It was a photographer’s dream taking pictures of them between posed shots. The groom was in black the bride and her three little girl brides’ maids all in white and carrying orchids. See them running up the steps! How adorable! Apparently, per Paul at Bedtime Stories that is, I was there during wedding season, and the monsoon would come shortly thereafter.

On my way back I went through the jungle which was very tropical and beautiful but had a concrete path. I saw a tiny squirrel and a very big bee-like insect on yellow flowers. There were lots of unlabeled trees so I did not know what they were (of course – I took botany in College, but to me a fern is still a fern).

Once out of the jungle I came upon a small water garden with an arbor and rectangular concrete ponds. These ponds had water lilies, miniature papyrus, Japanese iris and other plants I could not identify. There was one with a goldfish, more fish like those I saw in the lake, plus tiny red fishes that may have been Siamese fighting fish. The center pond had three white koi that were 6-8 inches long (15-20 centimeters). There were also pretty blue and purple water lilies.

I walked back to my hotel and watched the monsoon move in dramatically from the window.

Singapore, Day 3 – III, Tea Pots, Jade & Silk

March 17, 2006 Posted by fairviewsue

I walked a couple of blocks to the yixing tea pot store and picked out two. All pots had prices on the bottom, but since these two were too high for me to reach, I couldn’t read them. Of course they were the most expensive in the store; let me tell you I can pick them. The owner would not bargain on the price. I bought them both for prices similar to that of the US but they were small and very finely crafted. They are the smallest in my collection.

Then I went back to Hong Wan Jade and they were excited to see me and offered me some juice. Did I mention that it was really fucking hot out and I was red in the face from it? See, that’s the thing when one is very fair with freckles and gets overheated. I looked again at earrings and decided they were just not that special. I tried many bangles, which was fun, but a bit painful after a few. Since they are for my twin sister, at her husband’s request (nice guy, a keeper I think); if they fit me they should fit her. I tried a lovely lavender one that was much too heavy and too expensive. I did find a white one with some red and a lovely light streak of green, and negotiated from S$580 to S$310. She loved the bangle and the jade necklace I had bought earlier.

Next was Dynasty Silk House to have a jacket made for myself. I picked out a bright pink brocade fabric and it was done by Wednesday. I also bought two kimono style pajamas for my nieces. The prices were all so inexpensive, and I was too tired to negotiate, so I didn’t. When the proprietor offered me a free silk scarf with my purchases I got the feeling I should have negotiated. Oh well, my assistant at work loved the silk scarf.

When I was finished shopping for the day, it was after 5 PM, and I could not get a cab back to the hotel even though I was dying of the heat. By the time I got back I had a blister on my toe and my lower back hurt. A shower helped me feel better. Then I went to Unkai for dinner. After a long, hot day, I collapsed into bed to sleep.