Tag Archives: Animals

Bird Park and Bye-Bye

The final day of Tam’s stay

was spent with the birds.

What a way to spend a day!

Her visit blessed us beyond words!

It would’ve been a great tragedy if we had been remiss in not making a point of bringing my ornithologist of a sister with us to the Jurong Bird Park. Besides, we were blessed to have free passes through Andrew’s work, so we hardly had a good excuse for not going. Instead we were full of good reasons to go!

The last picture of Aunt Tammy & Gideon together

The last picture of Aunt Tammy & Gideon together

I have to say though, as much as Tam enjoyed the bird park, I think she was as equally impressed with the orchids that graced the entrance to the bird park.

The flowers were pretty - but my sister is prettier

The flowers were pretty – but my sister is prettier

As we were walking between exhibits, my sister called a halt and pointed out a beautiful butterfly. I can’t remember the name of the butterfly. Something like, “hairy tale,” or “little hairy” – I know those are wrong, but maybe my sister can refresh my memory later.

Good eye Tam! (And knowledge too, to know what it was called ... unlike me!)

Good eye Tam! (And knowledge too, to know what it was called … unlike me!)

I’m always impressed by the variety of birds God has created. From Scarlet Ibis:

The scarlet in their name is an apt description!

The scarlet in their name is an apt description!

To large Emus:

This emu growled at me!

This emu growled at me!

Did you know that Emus can growl? It’s true. At first I was like, “um… what did I just hear? And why is that bird making that noise at me?” But then we read a plaque that described how the large bird can make grunts that sound like a growl!

Andrew and I were eager to get to the Aviary, the largest in the world. (We remembered it being one of our favorite things from our last visit.) We weren’t disappointed!

Large enough to house a huge waterfall! (Look closely, there's actually a black and red bird in mid flight next to the waterfall in the shot.)

Large enough to house a huge waterfall! (Look closely, there’s actually a black and red bird in mid flight next to the waterfall in the shot.)

Watch out for the birds! Well - it is a bird aviary after all :)

Watch out for the birds! Well – it is a bird aviary after all 🙂

Okay, maybe we were slightly disappointed that we weren’t in the aviary closer to feeding time when more of the birds would’ve been out and about, but it was still enjoyable.

The picture doesn't adequately represent the iridescence of the birds!

The picture doesn’t adequately represent the iridescence of the birds!

Although the birds were pretty, the waterfall was probably the most impressive thing in the aviary.

Couple Shot

Couple Shot

Tam and the waterfall

Tam and the waterfall

I got the handsome guy to smile for the shot!

I got the handsome guy to smile for the shot!

Gideon was asleep when we took the waterfall shots, so he had to be content with his picture being taken with the fountains later.

I think his mom was hoping he would be more impressed. Oh well!

I think his mom was hoping he would be more impressed. Oh well!

I think we all secretly wished we could douse ourselves in the cool water of the fountain, because we were all SWEATY! Because we were so warm, and Tam wasn’t interested in seeing a lot of the birds she had seen multiple times in the past (birds like flamingos/etc) – we were able to make our visit shorter than we originally expected. This meant we were able to get some lunch in an air conditioned facility and then head home for a break.

After cooling off at home, Tam was ready to go out for a simpler outing of a bike ride with Andrew.

Riding her temporary bike!

Riding her temporary bike!

In many ways the bike ride was a fitting way for Tam to spend her last afternoon with us. It demonstrates her love for the simple things in life, her athleticism, and her enjoyment of the outdoors. She was so easy to please, and I think really enjoyed her time with us. I know we really enjoyed our time with her.

What we didn’t enjoy was the fact that she had to leave the next morning.

Gideon's sign and face tell all!

Gideon’s sign and face tell all!

Well, it’s taken me a while, but I’m finally finished with posting regarding my adventures with my sister Tamarah. But, the Lord is good. Since these memories took place, I have found out wonderful news. Another sister of mine has bought tickets to visit us. So, Lord willing, I will have even more memories made with another sister this summer! And Gideon will get to meet another aunt and for the first time, some of his cousins! Doubly blessed.

Advertisements

Outings with Grandma – Zoo

The shirt says all

Okay, maybe he is too young to really appreciate going to the zoo. But Grandma isn’t too young to appreciate it. And we just happened to have a free pass to the zoo thanks to Andrew’s work. So, why not?

It was a bit overcast when we arrived at the zoo, and Gideon was due to eat in the near future. But for the first while he was still asleep. (Not the best way to enjoy the zoo in my opinion, but I guess it’s better than awake and cranky 🙂 )

Gideon’s first time at the zoo

Due to the uncertainty of the weather, we prioritized and went to the African section of the zoo first.

My mom was a bit concerned over the simplicity of the barrier between her and the Rhino

But let’s be real. The actual motive for going to the African section first, is:

The G’s and the zebras (Grandma’s favorite)

We couldn’t just go to the zoo and NOT see zebras. Besides, Grandma had to introduce Gideon to her favorite animal.

Also, of note in the African section:

The tallest Singaporean there ever was (… okay, maybe he’s not a native Singaporean)

After feeding Gideon, we headed to see the rest of the zoo.

“Hanging” out with the Orangutans

My mom was impressed (as we were the first time we went to the Singapore Zoo) with how close and personal the animals seemed. Granted safety measures were in place… but there was still a sense of being right next to the creatures in the zoo.

Near the end of our route through the zoo, it started to rain. But we had seen most of the interesting creatures. So we put up our umbrellas and quickly walked through the remaining exhibits that were on our wish list to see. By the time we got to the exit it was raining quite steadily. That’s Singapore for you. Thankfully the taxi stand had a shelter so that we wouldn’t get too soaked while waiting for a ride home. Even though it rained, it was a nice outing and a good way to get out of the house and spend time with mom. Now we’ll just have to come again when Gideon’s older and more able to appreciate the outing!

Chinese Garden for Chinese New Year

Last week I had the opportunity to take a visiting friend to the Chinese Garden.

Normally the garden is open and free. However, when we got there, they charged us $6 to enter because it was around Chinese New Year 😦 Not what I was planning for. But not too expensive either.

At least they had festive red lanterns up, since we did pay $6

Twin Pagodas

Last time I was at the Twin Pagodas – they were closed for renovations. Since they were open this time, we went ahead and climbed one of them.

Twin Pagoda Staircase

I’m glad we climbed the staircase, because it afforded us a nice view.

View from Twin Pagoda

We walked around for a little while until we found our real destination: The Live Turtle Museum.

I feel like this museum is one of the little-known wonders of Singapore. It’s not the snazziest museum there ever was, but for $5 you are greeted with one of the largest variety of turtles.

Although some variety seemed less welcoming then others.

There were large tortoises, and small hand size turtles. Long snake necked ones (as pictured above) and short stubby ones. Bumpy ones, and others nicknamed “hamburger turtles” because they were so flat from sitting on each other. We wandered around and browsed the different types of turtles multiple times before getting bored enough to move on to the next part of the museum: the pond.

I think this may be my favorite part. For $1, you get a bag filled with food pellets to feed the pond turtles with.

There is nothing quite like watching turtles literally swarm around you to receive their food nuggets.

Feeding the swarm of turtles

While you are watching them swarm you get to hear the “plop-plop” noises they make as the doggie paddle over to you, in attempt to keep their head high and close to the food. The really eager ones practically trip over their friends and step on them while in the water to get the best seat in the pond. It is amusing and captivating all at the same time.

With that, we finished up at the turtle garden and headed back out.

This HUGE koi pond was right outside the museum.

Since there were so many great red lanterns I had to have my friend take a picture for me right before we left the Chinese Garden to head back home.

Me & the Red Chinese Lanterns

Later that day after getting home I noticed my shoulder was red. I thought it odd, and wondered what could be irritating my shoulder. Did I carry something that was heavy, and its strap bothered my shoulder? Ashamedly it took me a while to come to the simple conclusion that I had gotten a little bit sun burned. Oops! I guess I normally use an umbrella or it is cloudy enough out that I don’t think about being burned. At least the burn wasn’t so bad. And hey, red is festive this time of year!

Rainy Day Calls for Yummy Soup

They say that November (or December depending on who you ask) is statistically the rainiest month in Singapore. I haven’t been through a November in Singapore… yet. But, I think I can say that rainy season has begun.

While it had not been uncommon to have rainy days, it also wasn’t uncommon to have rainless days. Now, we are surprised if it doesn’t rain during the day. Each day that passes is more of a question of when it will rain rather than if. We can [near] practically count on it raining somewhere in the afternoon. The showers are more scattered (meaning it might be pouring at my work and dry at Andrew’s work  about 3 km away!) But the rain seems to be more reliable (it seems like we can count on it raining somewhere between 12 and 5pm where as it used to rain any time during the day or night).

I would say that Singapore is more well equipped than other places I have lived (okay the list isn’t long…) to handle the frequent, near constant, showers. There is relatively good drainage such that sidewalks and roads don’t get that flooded. More people regularly travel with an umbrella (it helps that it is ambidextrously used as artificial shade in the sunny weather). Stores/malls almost always have special bags for umbrellas out when it’s raining. Designers/builders are conscious enough of the rainy weather to do things like put ridges into sloped walkways and paint exposed walkways with slip-resistant paint – all in an effort to decrease accidents. There are much more covered walkways such that I can walk the 3 minutes from my home to the bus-stop without getting wet.

Yet some places are not that well prepared and some places regardless of the preparations are still impacted by the rain. Yesterday held some examples of how the rain inconveniences us.

First – knowing how likely it was to rain (or rather “guessing” at the likelihood)… Andrew decided not to ride his bike to work. He is less often able to ride his bike due to the unpredictable weather. Even though it may not be raining when he heads to work in the morning, often rain is forecasted for the evening. And some times when it is forecasted, it never happens – making the decision not to ride the bike all the more frustrating and difficult.

Second – Although I bring my small umbrella with me regularly. There are times where the downpour is so great that it just simply isn’t worth walking in the rain unless there are covered walkways. The walk between the bus-stop and my work is one example of an un-covered walkway. Yesterday as I was hoping to leave work it started to rain hard. One of those heavy rains that you knew you couldn’t escape getting wet even armed with an umbrella. The heavy rain turned into a turrential downpour. It even got to the point on the radar that I had been stalking online that it showed purple near my location. Purple was one shade darker than red. And red was higher than the orange. Orange represented “heavy” on the color legend associated with the radar. I don’t think we had seen purple before when watching the radar. You couldn’t get further on the colored scale. Point – it was pouring. Second point – I wasn’t particularly interested in getting soaked.

I waited for over an hour for the rain to let up. Finally, the radar indicated light green/yellow. Interpretation – it was between moderate and light, and I could probably make it to the bus-stop without getting soaked. I left and was able to make it home without getting more than my feet and the bottom of my capris wet. Exit buddy was soaked though.

Third – While most areas do a good job of directing the rain, some roofs leave something to be desired. You must be careful when approaching a roof as typically the edge gives off more rain than the outside rain itself.

Raining Buckets (right outside our apartment elevator)

There is good news though!

Good news 1: Cooler.

It is much cooler than the “non-rainy season.” Without the sun out as much, it is substantially cooler. By “cooler” I mean to say that we more often feel temps in the lower 80s and less often in the high 80s and low 90s. It may not seem like a lot, but having slightly cooler temperatures with less sustained sunniness makes for a much more peasant experience than constantly hot, humid, sunny weather in the 90s!

Good news 2: Rainy weather means soup weather.

With the year-round heat of Singapore, I was doubting whether I would ever be in the mood in Singapore to have/make soup. Yesterday, I finally was able to say I was in the mood for soup. I splurged the $1.50 on a can of condensed tomato soup. (I splurged more on the block of cheddar cheese I bought for the grilled cheese…)

Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese

Oh, how glorious it was to be eating the warm (okay it was hot, and I slightly burnt my tongue), creamy, tomato soup accompanied with a grilled sandwhich oozing with cheesy goodness. I am so glad I have a wealth of memories of growing up with this exactly meal on rainy days. Thank you Mom for the memories!

So you see, it’s not all bad when it rains.

Oh, before I forget. Have you heard of animals having a 6th sense about weather and natural phenomena? Well, I wonder if animals around here are better at predicting weather than the local meteorologists.

You see before I had even gotten to the bus-stop right near our apartment I had spotted a large cockroach on a mission to get somewhere quickly, a lizard probably a foot long, and a larger-than-normal flock of pidgeons. Not that any one of these animals was unheard of – but to see them all within a minute of each other, now that was what was unusual. And what I didn’t see was the stray cats that are normally around. Perhaps they had already found cover for the rain that was coming later that day.

And later in the afternoon I saw another unusual sight. I saw a cat walk into an alcove where an elevator was. When I closed the gap between the cat and myself I could find no trace of the cat, but I did find an elevator that was traveling up to a higher floor. Perhaps the cat was searching for higher/dryer ground? Anyways, it was still weird. And perhaps it was an indicator of the less than dry weather.

Jurong Bird Park

During our visit with Jehiah & Selam we had bought combo tickets to the Night Safari & Bird Park. This saved us $$$… but it didn’t necessarily save us time. We had a month to use the tickets to the Bird Park.

Yesterday (Saturday) was planned for our visit to the Bird Park. We woke up to stormy weather. It cleared by late morning only to rain again shortly after noon. No good. Bird Park day postponed.

Today: “dry-er” weather + only a few days left to use our tickets = mission to visit the Bird Park. Yay!

Jurong Bird Park

Even though we were at a park that focused on birds, that didn’t mean that we would pass up an opportunity to get Andrew’s picture taken with the cows!

Mom/Dad - this one's for you. See if you come visit us, we'll take you to see cows! 🙂

So that Andrew didn’t feel alone in posing with statues, I took my picture next to the flamingo.

Alivia - This picture is for you! 🙂

Now – enough of the statues. On to the real birds!

Flamingos

Real Flamingos

Did you know if you feed flamingos green veggies they will turn white? I didn’t either. I don’t know if that’s what happened to this group, but they were definitely whiter than the rest of them.

Flamingos at Flamingo Lake

Had I not read plaques I would have guessed these birds were simply mini flamingos. But nope!

Scarlet Ibis

Parrots

Parrots

Picture of a lime green bird for my mom 🙂

Pelican Cove

Pelicans

African Waterfall Aviary – the largest in the world!

While some of the birds were in cages – a vast majority of them were allowed to roam. One example of this was the HUMONGOUS African Waterfall Aviary.

The Waterfall in the exhibit

It was incredible that this massive waterfall could be contained in an aviary. It gives you a small idea of how large it was!

African Waterfall Aviary

More birds in the African Waterfall Aviary

The Lory Loft – the largest lory aviary in the world

Here there were colorful birds literally everywhere. As people were allowed to feed the birds in this exhibit, the colorful creatures were not shy in the least but rather came very close and would even approach you.

Lory Loft

Flightless Birds

The Cassowary

This unusual flightless bird we were told is one of the most dangerous of all birds!

The ostrich

This bird was described by the park guide with a lot of superlatives: largest, heaviest, fastest-running, biggest-eggs, and biggest eyeballs… all for one bird. Who knew!?

Crowned Pidgeons

Such beautiful crowns!

All in All – a good day 🙂

We both agreed that the trip would have been more enjoyable had we been able to share it with Andrew’s mom or my sister, Tam… but that beings said it was a wonderful visit to the Jurong Bird Park.

"Loving" the bird park

Trip Home

Of course our day wouldn’t be complete without a detour for some cheap ice cream. This time we stopped at Wendy’s (there isn’t a Wendy’s close to us, so this was a treat) and had a chocolate frosty mini cone!

Frosty in a cone - a wonderful invention!

Only for 70 cents too! The perfect solution to being hot and sweaty, having tired feet, and possessing a few hunger pangs. Mmm….!

Happy Turtles and Andrew’s Friend

Saturday we had the blessing of visiting with Andrew’s friend, Jan. (Or was it Andrew’s friend visiting with us?) Anyways, Jan was in Singapore on a business trip but had time on Saturday that he graciously spent with us.

We met up at The Chinese Garden. I had never met Jan before, but I just assumed, “We’re just looking for another tall, distinctly non-asian male, yeah?” My suspicions were confirmed as we found a tall red-headed male who jumped up to greet us. Non-asian for sure. After meeting Jan – Andrew joked to me, “You’re the first person to meet one of my friends from my Japan day. Now, you can testify that they existed ;-)”

Normally the garden is free. Downside of going today, they charged $12 as it was during the lantern festival, and we went during the day so the lanterns weren’t turned on. Upside – it was virtually empty even thought it was during a Saturday.

We walked around for a while, then sat down to a picnic lunch we had brought. We took a break under some shelter while it was lightly raining to just talk and catch up. Then we got up and explored the garden some more.

During our ambling, we happened upon The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum of Singapore. At first we weren’t going to go in, seeing as the admission charge was $5. However, the two ladies manning the entrance pleaded with us. (It seemed that they had been having a really slow day.) The head lady insisted that if we weren’t happy/impressed we could get a refund. When we relented and decided to go in, she brightened up and seemed so happy that she threw in a complimentary packet of food pellets to feed the turtles.

Boy were we rewarded! The turtles were so excited to see us. Take this turtle for example:

One Happy Turtle

We figure this turtle was as happy as we were that Jan would visit us 🙂

The sheer variety of turtles and tortoises was astounding! There were smooth backed ones, others that were bumpy, small, big, long necked, etc…

There were even snapping turtles that reminded me of growing up in a yard that had a pond that was home to at least one snapping turtle.

Although a huge variety of the turtles were kept in tanks, that wasn’t the end of the museum. No sir-ee. There was an entire pond with turtles.

Andrew feeding the turtles

The turtles obviously knew that our presence = food. They literally swarmed around us plopping in the water to try to gain the best seat in the house (pound?) to receive some food for us.

The Turtles' Advance

The turtles didn’t only approach us from the water. There was a few who were determined their chances of receiving food were better if they chased us down on the bridge. I distinctly remember Andrew saying, “watch out.”

"CHARGE!"

Overall we were glad we decided to go for the $5 admission fee. It was worth it. On our way out we had a bonus. The two sweet ladies showed us a batch of cute little baby turtles 2-4 weeks old. They let me hold one!

Me and my 2 wk old friend

Shortly after this shot, the little guy tried to scamper out of my hands. The two ladies were quick to confiscate him and put him back in his cage where he could escape so easily. A fun way to exit the museum.

While we were walking through more of the Chinese Garden we came across these chairs. As best we could tell, someone had thought it a good idea to take the backs off of other chairs and use them as backs to these stumps.

Unusual Chairs

We took some time to climb up the stairs of the tall pagoda.

The pagoda at the Chinese Garden

After spending a good chunk of our afternoon at the Chinese Garden – we traveled to Sentosa. Now a little bit of background: Andrew & Jan came to SG for a conference 5 years ago. While here, they both visited Sentosa. Fast-forward several years, when Andrew visited Sentosa after moving here, he was shocked. It had changed so much. What was just a few short years before a jungle island with a statue, cable car, and beaches was now a major resort destination covered with big buildings. So our plan was to show Jan the island and see if he was as impressed by the transformation. He was.

Since the Merlion was one of the few items that was there several years when they had visited before, we took a picture of the two buddies there.

Andrew, Jan, and the Merlion

Satisfied with viewing the new Sentosa, we went out for sushi (an appropriate thing for two guys who lived in Japan for several years to do). Sushi was good, but in need of being topped off with dessert. We went to Suntec City and found a good ice cream place. Andrew and I had ice cream and fondue. Mmm.

Right before goodbyes

It was a fantastic day and a wonderful visit with a good friend.

Come back soon Jan!

Chilli Crab and Night Safari

We couldn’t let our visiting new yorkers leave without trying one more traditional Singaporean fare. So Friday of our week with J&S we went to a restaurant to eat:

Chilli Crab!

We also got a delicious ostrich meat & ginger dish served on a hot plate. Mmmm! Two dishes that we never had before moving to Singapore (thought I don’t think the ostrich one would be categorized as traditional Singaporean).

After the meal we headed to the Night Safari!

Andrew at the Night Safari

Of course, since we were at the zoo we had to find a way to take a zebra picture for my mom.

Zebra shot for Mom

The whole trip to the Night Safari was AWESOME! The only downside – it was at night. Reason for downside – no good pictures. Flash wasn’t allowed, so the few pictures we took did not turn out the best.

Giraffes!

But rest assured, the pictures don’t do the trip justice. Amongst the animals we saw: lions, cheetahs (the cutest 2 cubs put on a little show tackling each other and their mom), giraffes, rhinos, hyenas, zebras, … the list goes on. To be honest, I can’t remember the entire list!

Some of the highlights:

BAT CAGE!

When discovering that Selam was a bit timid about entering the cage, the helpful guide/lady for the exhibit took care to escort her in. The exhibit was so fascinating! There were both fruit and insect eating bats. The bats that ate fruits had ears were shorter than other bats because they use their sense of smell to locate fruit. It was interesting to see bats hanging onto all sorts of fruit including watermelon and durian. Some of the bats were awe-inspiring-ly large.

Flying Squirrel

It took a while to spot the squirrels in this exhibit, but eventually you would hear shrieks from other visitors as all the sudden you saw this creature flying (okay, it was really “falling with style”) right above your heads! It brought to mind memories of Buzz Lightyear. It seemed that these squirrels enjoyed spending their time climbing up trees all for the thrill of leaping off and spreading their wings – ahem – limbs.

Jungle Tram

To get around the night safari you had to ride a tram through the darkness of the jungle. The experience was distinctly not American. There were no gates/rails/ropes to keep you from leaving the tram. And yet… there were creatures, such as the Cape Buffalo, who were a mere arms length away from the tram vehicle and were described as “one of the African five” by the tour guide! I couldn’t get over how so many animals seemed to be right around each bend on the exciting ride through the wilderness. Incredible!

Saving Selam

Thought we were all weary, Jehiah couldn’t leave the night safari without rescuing his damsel in distress from a stone cold aligator 😉

Jehiah's heroism