Tuesday, May 25, 2010

German Beer and Bird Parks

There is no resting. No resting in Singapore!

I can not tell you how much I look forward to tomorrow – a day of nothing. But that day is not yet come, and as for now? Well it's time to get up, be taken to the bus stop, and head on over to the Bird Park.

Singapore has one of the world's best bird parks, I am told. And as we got off the bus (not knowing it was the right stop – but since every other white person, as well as a lot of locals, were getting off there, I figured there had to be a reason) we were confronted by the sign, telling us just how wonderful the place was.

Lining up to get tickets, both were bought at once. Because of this we could only have one map. Had we bought them individually two maps would have been ours. I thought about explaining the ridiculousness of this, but then decided I just didn't care. Off into the park following the monorail path.

I have decided that I don't understand why people take the monorail. At the night zoo? Sure – it goes through places you can only see that way. But here? Here it follows the road, and it prevents you from being able to get out and stop and look at anything. Sure, you can walk the road again after, but if you do, why did you take the monorail in the first place? Perhaps their lively discussions on the PA make it all worth while? With the quality of the shows here, that wouldn't surprise me all that much, really.

Walking in, we entered the penguin exhibit. There is a lesson to be learned about allowing me near penguins, and the lesson is this – don't. Not if you expect to do anything else, get anything else done.

And when that penguin exhibit also has puffins – cute, fantastic, (not all that delicious – so guilty) puffins? Well that was just about that.

I watched them swim and hang out on the rocks for a while, before moving over to the King penguins. Watching them swim below the waters? It was a beautiful sight to see. And if it wasn't for all the Indian tourists shoving into, pushing me out of the way, children poking, and parents screaming – well I might have been able to stay there all day. But as I was not in the mood to be touched by hundreds of unknown fingers, I took it as my cue to leave.

There would be more to see.

One of the next birds that stood out to me were the marabou storks. Remembered from Africa, these are the most evil birds you'll ever see. Perhaps not really – but the way they stand, it feels like they're just waiting for death, and in such numbers, hunched over, they can be a most terrifying vision.

What I didn't understand was what was keeping the birds in the park. Were they clipped? No they flew to the top of their little area. There were no cages keeping them. Perhaps the world outside, full of heavy traffic, and urban landscapes was enough to scare them from leaving their little peace of pseudo-home, or perhaps there was something at work that I wasn't understanding. Still, it seemed as if any of the birds in this area could have left whenever they so chose.

Walking around the park took us to the African waterfall aviary where small colourful birds fluttered around under – what I'm told – is the worlds largest man-made waterfall. It was pretty big, and all sorts of people were trying to take pictures with it. How they turned out, I'm not sure, but the light was not so great.

The rain earlier in the day had cooled the place down. I can only imagine how hot this pavilion could get when the sun was really shining brightly. It must have been a painful experience, one which led to sweat dripping from all possible places, blurring eyesight, and just causing overall discomfort.

As it was, cooled down, the sweat just caused discomfort.

Outside was an exhibit titled “descendants from dinosaurs.” And while I do love me some dinosaurs, I'm not sure that they should have titled it as such. There wasn't anything making connections. Now, sure, when I see an Emu I think of dinosaurs, but without putting any signage up or explanations would your regular visitor think the same? It didn't matter. There were two cassowaries. And watching them, as always, was enough for me.

This year has shown me a number of these birds, and they never cease to impress – colourful and deadly as they are.

From there we entered an area full of toucans, and hornbills, and other birds with strangely overgrown beaks, that – when studied for a short time – stop making sense. I understand why they developed them – I just don't understand how. Tell me evolution – how did a bird go from small tiny beak to that huge one? How many thousands of years did it take for that to evolve? And why did it stop evolving? Why do we see few signs of further evolution these days, when there must have been so much in the years past?

It's said that evolution happens to allow animals to fit a new habitat, well it's also said that we're destroying habitats, and killing animals, and ruining the world, and all that other fear-mongering stuff that really means nothing (the planet will be fine, animals have been going extinct for millions of years, no one species is going to matter at all in the grand scheme. I mean – honestly – it's like being concerned that certain types of dinosaurs went extinct before others. Or that sea life went extinct. You ask me – all these giant monster things that no longer exist? That's a pretty good thing for us. So extinction – think of it more as your friend.

Unless the animal is cute, then by all means donate all your money. But you don't see many people trying to save ugly animals (you know – like people. Sure we give millions to seals, and monkeys, and what not – but social programs? M'eh. “They should have made better choices for themselves,” and thinking like that. Well – the monkey shouldn't have lived so close to the city, it should have moved away, where it could be happy. “But the monkey either couldn't find territory away, or didn't know how to live there, the change was too big for it.” Yes – yes, and that's the same with most people in need of social programs. But that's another rant, and has little place here.

Monkeys. They're not cute. They're evil. Steal your handbag they will, just as soon as play an accordion for spare change. Or a grinder.

And speaking of cute things that are probably evil, we headed into the Lorrie pavilion where you could buy food and have these birds cover you, eating from you. I did not choose to do this. But, once again, I was reminded of the pigeons covering people in Italy. They were loving it, just as much as the people here were. And what was different about the two types of birds, save for one being grey, and these ones being reds, and blues?

Birds – so many birds – we saw. Flamingos to – which seemed far too pink, to be believed. How many shrimp were they eating? As it turned out they were fed pellets to keep them that colour. But once again, I have to question – how/why did something evolve to change colour with its food? And do any other species of anything do this? If birds did evolve from dinosaurs, could there have been pink baby T-rexes? I'd like to think so. Apparently some people believe they may have had feathers, so why not?

We watched the two shows. One had a costumed buzzard, and parrots flying through hoops (ooh – the parrot section. There are so many types, and most are neat colours – but the one that looks like a super kid ice cream cone? Blue, red and yellow? I know I've seen them in movies, but seeing them and understanding that these are real animals – that they live, and exist, and – it's amazing.

O.K. I know I just railed about saving the pretty animals, and how that shouldn't matter, and extinction is nothing to really worry about – but, how amazing would it be to see these things flying in the wild? Maybe we should do something. And as it's not us, but the good people of South America who would need t make all the sacrifices, and do the work, it's very easy for me to just say – yes, fix this problem, and then wash my hands of it.

Still – beautiful.

The second show was a birds of prey one. And watching the animals attack toys on the ground to simulate snakes, and rabbits, and seeing them claw for pieces of meat? Well it would have been impressive anyway, but having just read about all of these in Vlad? It added another layer to the experience. I'm all about added layers. Especially on cake. Good cake, though, not bad cake. And good cake I had as well, as the super Chocolate cake shop in the mall, during the public transit transfer at the mall. Actually I think it was more just soft delicious chocolate with sweet cream on it. I'm not sure – they called it cake, and it was magical. I'm sure much better for those who really like chocolate, but there were no complaints from me.

The ice cream was far too rich. Again – if you liked Chocolate, I'm sure it could have been the best ice cream ever, but I like my ice cream to be refreshing. Calpis flavour, if you will.

And the day wasn't done yet. There would be no going home, ever. No escape. No rest. No – after this, we had to head out for good beer and sausage. I know, I know, it's a hard peril-filled life I lead. How do I manage?

The beer – it was micro brewed in the restaurant. This doesn't mean it's going to be great – but lord, was it great. Just like in the German beer hall – you had your two choices, light or dark. I always go with dark. And the food?

I can not say enough wonderful things about the food. Not since Poland and Germany has my tummy had such a happy time. Sure, I love asian food, and given the chance I'll eat it back home – but that's because I never knew real “white person food.” I'm from Canada – we have no culture, and definitely no food culture (ok, I'm from southern Ontario – the rest of Canada gets food and culture, we get kraft dinner with bits of hot dogs cut up in it.) But this – ten sausages, small though they may be, it was still plentiful, mashed potatoes, fantastic sauerkraut, (why do I feel like I've written about sauerkraut lately?) and as much mustard as I wanted.

This was the meal of meals. One of the best I've had this whole trip. Enough to bring a tear to my eye thinking back on it now.


And with that final memory we headed back home for a last sleep. I packed my bag, then vowed to stay up until five am doing nothing, for I could sleep in the next morning.

At 4:45, I finally drifted off to sleep.

1 comment:

  1. Jurong park in Australia is the home of many bird species. It is the place where you can see the most beautiful birds in the World. They fly, they talk and they even sing in different languages.


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