On Tuesday - after a long stroll around Singapore Zoo - my young friend had set her heart on visiting the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve located on the far north edge of the island. Our taxi driver had never been there so it was quite an adventure for him, but after much poring over our guide book we finally arrived. Not knowing how we were going to get back to the city (as taxis wouldn't be available) I left my young friend in the taxi, just to make sure we wouldn't be stranded, while I enquired at the Reserve entrance. All was OK as a little bus ran every so often. Set in a large area of mangroves, mudflats, ponds and secondary jungle it's a rare oasis of tranquility and home to unique plants and animals, as well as a wintering ground for migratory birds. As we went in the young lady at the desk said to beware as a cobra had been seen on one of the pathways that very morning. We hadn't walked far when we spied a large monitor lizard slithering along the path in front of us.
I suppose it was about 5 or 6 feet long. I took the precaution of breaking off a sturdy branch from a large bush just in case we were confronted by snakes - or anything else slithery for that matter! In the end we walked for about an hour without mishap. We saw two more large monitor lizards on the pathways in front of us but they moved out of our way as we approached. There were quite a few interesting birds in the marshlands and on the ponds, and as it was such a hot afternoon quite a relief to linger at hides and platforms erected at strategic intervals. My young friend took this photo looking out over the mudflats.
We ended our walk by meandering through a mangrove swamp for about half an hour. Well not through it - just a bit above it.
Mangroves smell a bit - and we didn't see too much, so after a nice cooling drink the little bus turned up and we jumped on it, travelled to the Kranji underground station, and were soon home, with just time to get ready for a nice evening having dinner with Pierre and Sandy Moccand (old friends from the sixties when I first went to Singapore) and their son Pierre junior.
But I mentioned the zoo, didn't I? That was our first outing of the day - but because it happened to be Thaipusam (the Hindu festival where devotees honour Lord Muruga, god of bravery, power and virtue, by performing feats of mind over spirit. Devotees, in a trance-like state have their bodies pierced with metal hooks or spikes attached to a kavadi - a cage-like steel contraption which is carried on their shoulders), I told the taxi driver to take us past the route taken by the devotees. Here are a couple of the photos we took.
We finally got to the zoo. (However a couple of nights ago we went on a night safari there. I think it's the only one of it's kind in the world. You sit on a moving open-sided tram and are slowly taken through the park where you see most of the larger animals under an almost moonlight glow. A wonderful experience). Now it was daylight and very hot. But we managed to get round just about everything. About 3,000 animals inhabit this lush tropical rainforest. No point in boring you by describing them - I'll just post some of the more interesting photos on this blog.
And this one really needs a funny caption - can't think of one right now but will do when I print it out for my photograph album.
On Monday lunchtime Tan Siok Sun invited us to lunch at the Raffles Hotel. Very smart. There were eight in our party and it was held in the Bar and Billiard Room restaurant. Absolutely superb. Siok Sun has been a friend for over 35 years - we met when she was a client of mine when she worked for Cold Storage. Now she is one of Singapore's most prominent citizens. After lunch my young friend and I went to the famous Long Bar in the Raffles (moved from its original position next to the Palm Court to a new location on the first floor) where she naturally sampled an equally famous Singapore Sling.
As a small postscript we then went to the Raffles Shop and bearing in mind the comment left by my faithful follower. 'RJ9', I bought a Raffles mug to give to Mrs RJ9 who apparently has used hers so much that the lettering is beginning to wear out.