Monday, 9 March 2009

Day Fifty Eight: Animals, animals, animals

There’s something about cute animals that seems to resonate with our family and our morning at Singapore Zoo gave Hilary and I an abundance of opportunities to photograph them and even touch some of them. It was an early start to get to the zoo in time for breakfast with the animals at Singapore Zoo and no sooner had we arrived at the theatre to get our D1-1 stickers than we were told to get off the ship and on to our tour bus. A reasonable request but not so easily accomplished as we had to go through the ship’s identity check as well as showing our passports (returned last night) to Singapore Immigration. On the bus we were greeted by Alvin our Chinese/Malay guide, given water and a running commentary as we worked our way through the early morning traffic to the zoo located on the outskirts of Singapore. The zoo is located in a section of unclaimed rain forest and is based on similar lines to the Steve Irwin zoo that we visited in Australia, both have a very moral feel about them and they are both trying to educate mankind to make sure that animals are saved from extinction.

On arrival at the zoo we were rapidly ushered into the breakfast area and confronted by a huge buffet selection including scrambled eggs, hash browns, baked beans, and tomatoes etc. as well as juices that included guava, orange, lemon and apple and for those that needed it there were cereals and fruit. We filled our boots and proceeded to nosh while we waited for the animals to arrive and we didn’t have long to wait. We had seen the orang-utans waiting high in the trees and their signal to join us was the re-positioning of a long log from the vertical to an angle that reached their platform and as soon as that was done they had no hesitation in shinning down to their own feeding platform just a few feet from us. There was an immediate rush by the diners to leave their seats and take up a position where they could photograph these lovely creatures and the rest of our breakfast was lit by the flashlight of a hundred cameras all going off at once. Once again Hilary and I were not far from the front and as soon as we were offered the chance to have our photo taken with the orang-utans we made sure that we were in the line for it and as we were waiting two small black marmosets with orange feet came running out and tried to drink from a bucket. As I said at the beginning Mr. Kodak would have made a fortune if any one bought film any more but I can’t remember the last time that I saw anyone taking a picture and then winding the film on ready for the next shot. I only know from our own experience for example that today I downloaded over a hundred pictures from both our cameras onto the laptop – we would never have used three 36 rolls of film had we stuck to our old Canon and Nikon film cameras and we would have been more selective in when and which pictures to take.

As soon as breakfast was over Alvin directed us to the zoo’s shuttle bus so that we could see some different animals on our way to the next event which was an arena show with a ‘save the environment’ theme. This was definitely based on Steve Irwin and the theme was a rich man who wanted to cut down the rain forest to make money from the timber being chased off by the natives who wanted to keep their forest and their way of life. During the show, several different types of monkey climbed over the audience on their way to the stage, we saw some beautiful white peacocks, colourful parrots, rabbits, ducks and snakes. The conclusion of the show had the ‘bad man’ pushed into the moat surrounding the stage much to the delight of about a hundred school children seated all around us. We followed Alvin for a little while and then realised that he was not going to see some of the animals that we were interested in so we went off on our own to see the white tigers, (hope you enjoy those pictures Hayley), the pygmy hippos (of course), the striped deer and giraffes and at one time both Hilary and I had the chance to be photographed holding a baby python – I honestly never thought that I would ever see my wife with a snake in her arms. And then as it often does in Singapore around midday it started to rain and eventually it came down in torrents but by then, unlike some of those who faithfully followed Alvin, we were in the zoo shop helping their economy by buying postcards, a fridge magnet, a polo shirt (I am a sucker for polo shirts with logos) and guess what! Three bags of genuine Lays Potato Chips (including one Sour Cream and Chives) – absolute heaven and they should last at least until Mumbai.

Hilary and I braved the rain for a quick dash across the forecourt to the coach before the main party arrived as we wanted to start writing postcards as soon as possible. As you know we have had difficulty in getting them out in time for the last post on board ship and we wanted to make sure that today’s left on time. Our dash meant that we got a bit wet but it was worth it to be able to sit in air conditioned comfort (90F outside and high humidity) while the rest of our party struggled outside in the rain. With all 34 of our party aboard it was time for the 45 minute drive back to the Oriana and along the way Alvin shared some of his philosophy of life after he was asked which religion he followed. He admitted to not belonging to a specific religion but that he did believe in sharing what he had with others and that in doing so he himself has been rewarded over and over again, he was a genuine man, very hard working, and ex-engineer who changed to tourism a year ago when his job was moved to China, he speaks excellent English, Mandarin and enough German to also be a guide when they arrive. Although tipping is not encouraged in Singapore we did give him a small one and told him to buy a lottery ticket with the money.

It was exactly 1.00pm when we got back to the Oriana and the rain was still coming down so we abandoned our plan to go out and explore more of Singapore and settled on spending some of our Singapore dollars at the local market set up just outside the ship. We were first attracted by some nice bags with the Singapore logo and then we saw the Chinese style blouses and we rooted through the rail until we found one in bright red that fitted Hilary so we spent most of the remainder of our local money before we boarded Oriana. And that is just about it for this day which has seen the departure of our new friends Richard and Keiko who are staying in Singapore so that they can see their son and his family over the next three weeks. They are in two minds as to whether or not to find a flat in Singapore so that they can spend half the year here and the other half in Spain and they told us last night that part of their stay will be taken up with assessing the cost of that idea. We will miss them but we have their contact details and a tentative idea for a reunion of Table 58 has been talked about quite possibly in Plymouth as we have convince them that it is half way between Scotland and Spain! Here’s Hilary who has been patiently sitting here doing the scrapbook while I have been wittering on….

Tiz I. I still did not get to type first but at least I have a bit of time before dinner tonight. It is 5.15pm. The orang-utans were simply wonderful to be near and the baby was outrageous. He was like a toddler on steroids - never still – practicing his swings, hanging upside down, balancing on one foot and hanging by one hand whilst holding food with the other he must be a nightmare to live with. He was just adorable. He shared all his mother’s food and then went off to seek his own from the forest. Such fun. We seem to have had quite an animal experience time lately. The elephants were just wonderful, so gentle and purposeful, the koalas in Australia were just so laid back and almost always asleep and now the orang-utans who seemed so much wiser than some of the people around them. We have been so fortunate to have been to zoos with the conservation/education ethic. The apes in the Singapore zoo could leave anytime they want to as the trees from the rain forest overhang and intermingle with the trees inside the zoo perimeter fence, but the food and the conditions seem to suit them within the zoo and they are having babies at the zoo. The lions and tigers were all lounging, grooming or asleep – there was no stalking up and down like I have seen elsewhere.
It was about 90f and 100% humidity when we were there so that may have had something to do with it but I feel that they were content to be there. The rain was like a good old Texas gulley washer – torrential – but it was warm! It has been nice to be ‘home’ this afternoon and just relax doing the scrapbook. Tomorrow we are in Kuala Lumpur and doing a walking tour of the city, I do hope that the feet hold out, then we have a few days at sea which will give me time to get over the last very busy days. Our problem with the postcards was that we could not buy the cards until we had been ashore then we had to have time to write them then we had to get to the ships reception (always a long line waiting for something or other) to buy the stamps and then if we were lucky get the stamps on the cards and into the ship’s letterbox before they closed it for the day. This was usually just ½ hour before sailing but they decided to close it early on two days thus scuppering my efforts to send them. If I have missed the post and the post-box is closed, the stamps on the cards become useless because the next port is usually another country with different stamps. The problems one can get when at sea!!!! What I really need is to buy the cards before we get to a port but that wouldn’t be any fun would it? Well that is my waffle for tonight – it is 6.00pm and I need to move towards getting ready for dinner – still it has been nice to have time to chat. Take care, God bless.
No extra notes from me tonight, we are not going to any of the shows, Hilary is scrapbooking, the film is not to our taste and the theatre is closed while they sort out the new scenery that arrived today. I am attempting to put up the photos taken when we were on the elephants as well as those we took today, the elephant ones are not good quality as I have re-photographed those we bought but they do show you two happy people if you look carefully enough. Night, night.


samw7 said...

I love all the pictures, although I still need to see the one with Mum and the snake!. Glad to hear that the cruise line tours take you to places that look out for the animals. It sounds as though you had another successful day.
Love to you both, Sam

Hayley said...

AWWWWWWW! that baby orangutang has broken my heart! the tiger pictures are fab too, thank you for thinking of me :)

Glad you had so much fun! the photos are fab. I too want to see the photo with the snake! he he.

I am looking at booking a holiday this summer to Thailand or there abouts as i cant stand the jealousy! if Jess is still thinking about travelling i'm going to try and organise it at a time when we can meet up. I think I heard Em and Sarah mention they might be heading that way in the summer so who knows...big reunion in the sun maybe! Yipppeee.

Have a wonderful time in KL, its a fab city, and the shopping opportunities are endless! :)

Love Hayley xxxx

Marlene and Tara said...

I agree with Hayley ... AWWWWW! You are so lucky spending time with all these wonderful animals and your pictures are brilliant!

I forgot to say ... thank you so much for my Christmas present, which I received last weekend from Hayley. How did you know I needed those things Hilary?!!

I have been to Penzance today looking at all property on the market that I can afford. I am looking at all possibilites now that I have decided to stay. There are some really nice ones, but I have still not ruled out the bungalow ... whatever is meant to be is ok with me.

Lots of love to you both. Take care. xxx