Buddhist Temple, Bollywood Farm, and Singapore Zoo

We woke up Saturday morning excited to go to Pulau Bintan, an Indonesian island south of Singapore, and then we heard the rain.  We decided that if it was raining hard here, chances are that it’s raining hard there, especially since “there” is only an hour away.  So we cancelled our plans and decided to tour around Singapore instead.

Some of Beth’s friends picked us up in their car, and we went to a Buddhist temple and then to the northwest area of Singapore where there are many farms.  We walked around the temple, saw a few monks, and took lots of photos (not of the monks).  After walking around the temple for a while, we piled back into the car and drove out to Bollywood Farm for lunch.  The food there is all organic, locally-grown, and absolutely delicious.  We were smart enough to order a bunch of dishes and share.  We had spring rolls, banana curry, prawn & mushroom soup, salad with edible flowers, spicy green vegetables, and chocolate-banana cake with ice cream.

After lunch, we toured a few other farms and then walked around Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve for a while.  At the nature reserve, we saw snails, crabs, monitor lizards, birds, and mudskippers.  We didn’t stay long because it looked like it was about to rain.

By the time we got back to the apartment late in the afternoon, we were really tired.  We both took long naps, then ate a quick dinner, and went back to sleep early.  We wanted to get a good night’s sleep to be up early for the Jungle Breakfast at the Singapore Zoo on Sunday.

Sunday morning, we were up and out by 8am to be at the Singapore Zoo by 8:30.  At the zoo, we went to the Jungle Breakfast where we not only had an enormous buffet of amazing food, but also got to meet some animals.  We got to meet some orangutans, feed some elephants, and Beth held a snake.  I got about 4 feet close to the snake and that was enough for me.  While I was photographing Beth holding the snake, the snake handler asked me if I wanted to hold it.  My response was a complete shudder and emphatic “no thank you.”  A parent standing next to me then scolded me for making her daughter afraid of the snake.  Not my fault.  Her daughter didn’t even seem afraid of the snake, nor does the mother have any right blame me for my reaction.  How her child behaves and feels is up to her, not me.

After the breakfast, we spent the rest of the day touring around the zoo.  Let me say that this is by far the best zoo I have ever been to.  First of all, whoever designed this place was an absolute genius.  There are very few fences, and the few that they have are covered by plants.  In lieu of fences, there are moats and ravines to separate people from the exhibits.  Also, the zoo is situated on a peninsula, so there is only one big fence at the entrance to keep the animals contained.  Thus, the tamarins, macaques, and other small primates are not put in cages but instead just roam freely in the park.  Since these animals are all tree dwelling, the zoo keepers are able to keep them out of other exhibits by making sure that the tree branches don’t extend into areas where the macaques and tamarins shouldn’t be.  Also, the orangutan exhibit extends over different pedestrian walkways by vines and tree branches, meaning that at any point there can be orangutans swinging above where you stand.

There is one netted off area that houses all sorts of birds, bats, butterflies, and lemurs.  As soon as we walked into it, we were bombarded with birds flying right by our ears, butterflies landing on our shoulders, and lemurs climbing around us.  I had always thought it neat that I was able to see the lemurs at the Duke Lemur Center, but here I got to actually get within touching distance of some.  Don’t worry.  We did not touch any of the lemurs.  The signs told us not to.

The funniest part of our day happened when we were at an exhibit and we were approached by a group of Chinese people.  I thought they wanted me to take their picture, given the pantomime and the camera they held in my face.  My thinking was close but not quite.  As it ends up, they wanted Beth and I to pose with them.  We obliged.  Beth made the token peace sign in the photo.  I giggled because we’d been taking pictures of exhibits all day long and now we were an exhibit of sorts.  It’s been a while since I’ve been the token blonde in a photo.

I learned the most interesting thing at the kangaroo exhibit.  The word ‘kangaroo’ means “I don’t understand” in Aborigine.  It seems that when the British came to Australia, one of them pointed to the creature and asked an Aborigine, “What is that called?”  The Aborigine was confused and said “I don’t understand.”  The British man heard “kangaroo” and assumed that was the name.