Singapore Day Four: if I could talk to the animals

Today was animal day here in Singapore.

First I headed to the Jurong Bird Park. This entailed a 90 minute MRT ride and a bus but it was well worth it. 

As the name suggests, this is a bird sanctuary containing a great many exotic bird of all varieties. 

The park got off to a great start with my personal weakness – penguins. Seriously, if anyone ever manages to combine Skyscraper observation decks with penguins they will find me running towards them at speed screaming ‘take my money’. Yes those that know me, I said running.

I cannot wait until I’m in Australia and I get to see these amazing creature in the wild at Philip Island.

Walking around the park I was surprised just how large and open it was. Many of the aviaries were huge, and once inside were completely open with no segregation. This meant that you had to watch your step and walk very carefully as it was not uncommon to find something very small, and very endangered just having a lie down on the path in front of you.

Many of the birds were fearless. None more so than the Lorys. These small brightly coloured parrot like birds swoop and perch on you from the second that you walk into the aviary. I had paid a little extra to allow me to feed them, and I was handed a small tub of feed. Birds swooped in from all angles. I had birds on almost every part of my body and hanging off of my bag. These little creatures would fight each other to get at the feed, even whilst stood on my shoulders. 

I don’t usually do things like this, but I paid for photograph of me with some of the birds. 

Whilst I was waiting for it to be printed. One bird decided to sink its beak into my finger. It was like a needle, just sinking in. I dread to thing what the larger birds could do. Another bird tried to bite on my camera lens. The casing now has a small mark where it tried this. Another chewed on my hat, and yet another tried to nibble my ear as another chewed on my hair.

The whole experience was a right laugh and well worth the whole extra £1 it cost to feed them. What made it better was watching the reaction of people that didn’t want the birds on them.

I was standing there talking to the photographer, a good 10 or so birds on my shoulders like I was a pirate with an inferiority complex, when a woman comes sprinting past, her hands waving in the way people do when they think they’ve walked into a spider web, her voice a high pitch wail. She slammed through the door and stood on the other side hands upon knees. The photographer and I just resumed our conversation like nothing strange had just happened.

The only disappointment were the birds of prey. Not the birds themselves but the access to them. In fairness it was no different to any other place of this type, but after the accessability of the other birds, I’d hoped they’d be a way to hold one or something similar. 

One day, I’ll get to have a go at holding an Eagle.

In the evening I went to the Singapore Night Safari.

This was brilliant. The zoo does not have cages. Instead the animals have their own territories and psychological or natural barriers like streams are used.

I joined a tram that took me for a ride around the area before setting off on foot. 

The photos aren’t going to be great as this was as night and there is very little available light. In fact, the use of a high ISO makes this look much brighter than it was in reality.

The highlight of the night for me was seeing the tigers. Such amazing creature and a scandal that they are so endangered.

Shortly after I set off on foot, the heavens truely opended and rain such I have never seen before came crashing down.

This brought an early end to proceedings as walking without a heavy duty raincoat was just plain impossible. Not to mention the stupity of walking into a forest during an electrical storm.

Instead I retired to a bar where I got chatting to a woman from London named Sandra who had just spent the last month in Bali. We chatted about how the local people had reacted to us. Her as a black woman, and me as a big guy. She’d had the same kind of reactions in Bali. The people coming up, or just taking photos when they thought you weren’t looking. She said she hadn’t minded so much in Bali, but she’s had the same thing here, which annoyed her as Singapore was a pretty cosmopolitan place in comparison to Indonesia. When I asked her how she copes, she said that now she just pulls faces when they take the photo, or has told them it costs to take the picture. She said a few of them even tried to pay! I’m going to have to remember that one.

It was a very long day with a lot of walking and traveling on the MTR and the hottest temperatures yet. As I had an early start the next morning with a plane to catch, I decided to treat myself with a tub of Ben and Jerries that I found in a store near my hostel. It was the chocolate fudge sort and the whole thing tasted divine and was gone far too easily. Its strange how little things like that can bring so much pleasure when your away.

Onto Malaysia tomorrow!

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