Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Spectacular Singapore Sojourn Part III!

Monday, we had a traditional Singapore breakfast of pork floss toast, egg, and malted barely milk. Here’s the pork floss toast:

I was surprised when Ying Ying asked me if I had ever eaten peanut butter. “Of course!” I exclaimed. “It was invented in America.”

“Really?” she asked. “I thought it was Singaporean, or maybe British. We can’t live without our peanut butter.”

I laughed at that. “Sounds the same as America. Everyday, I eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch.”

Oddly enough, she had never heard of jelly. I explained it was like jam, only less healthy, like most American foods. We both got a good laugh out of that one, and she asked what happens to all the fat guys in America.

“Do they just stay single?

“No,” I replied. “They usually marry the fat girls and have very fat children and that’s why the fatness propagates.” That was just one of the many funny conversations we had together. Over the course of my stay, we must have talked about everything from politics, religion, history, culture, arts, and more. I’m so glad I got to stay with her. I learned so much!

Then we went to the zoo. So hot! We about died. We ended up paying for the tram just so we wouldn’t have to walk everywhere in the sun. I felt so sorry for the poor outdoor animals. Some of them may be tropical, true, but there were some deserts ones, and I’m sure they weren’t used to the humidity. Here are some pictures:

White tiger:

Giraffe feeding:

Baby orangutan (orangutan means “man of the jungle” in Malay):

Adjusting baby orangutan for a picture. Neither it or the mother seemed to mind this:

A dominate male African baboon, head of the pack:

It was really fun getting to see the baboons being fed. People could pay $5 for a plate of fruit. The baboons would jump to get your attention, hoping you would throw to them. They also swam for it if it fell in the water, unpeeled the bananas, and often fought over the best fruit. The dominate males had really big, red butts, as did the females. That’s to show they’re ready to mate. The less dominate and not currently ovulating females have normal butts. Just in case you were always wanted to know why baboons have such big, red butts.

Asian zoos do it right, I’ve noticed. The exhibits are so nice and they have so many animals because they make money in every way they possibly can. Any possible animal you could ever want to feed, you can pay to feed. Rides, pictures, souvenirs, food, all overpriced. But people buy them! And then they get more animals. America should learn a thing or two from Asian zoo tactics.

We saw some fun shows, too. The elephant show revealed how elephants can be used in sustainable logging to drag and push and tote logs into, around, and out of the river. There were some funny parts too, like when the trainers dropped their sticks and the elephants retrieved them, then stole a trainer’s hat.

Another elephant lay on her side and refused to get up until the trainer talked to her “like a lady.”

Elephants are actually very kind and gentle. The problem that people had in the past is that they tried to train males together because they thought they would be stronger. They are stronger, but they’re also not meant to work in a group with other elephants; it makes them violent. When a male elephant reaches adulthood, he is actually kicked out of the group and lives a solitary life, coming together with others only to mate. The females, on the other hand, form large family groups with a single matriarch. They are good at working together, like humans, and are not aggressive (except if you endanger their young).

The other show was called “The Rainforest Fights Back” and was about a Western man named “Vamush” who wanted to come and tear down a rainforest to build a giant shopping mall. He was thwarted by a native girl and her animal friends. Kind of funny.

We ran into Jessica and her brother while we were eating our pastry lunches that we bought earlier to avoid the high price of zoo food. Singapore is a VERY small country. I guess it’s not uncommon to randomly run into your friends anywhere and everywhere.

In the evening, we went to the world-famous “night safari.” Here`s a footspa at the entrance where you pay to have little fish eat the dead skin off your feet. I didn`t do it, of course, because it costs about $10 for ten minutes and I can get it for free in Nabari with the local fishes in the waterfall! It tickles:

I had a lamb burger at the bango restaurant. Ground lamb just doesn’t taste as good as ground beef. It has a greenish/yellow color to it too. It tastes much better as a kabob or in strips in a pita pocket.

First, there was a cultural show where men in native costume from some other Southeast Asian country breathed fire.

They all drank from a thermos that seemed to contain some sort of special liquid. I just looked it up, and it appears that it was probably liquid paraffin wax or mineral oil. The liquid is sprayed over an open flame and the flame intensifies. Apparently, if done with the proper technique, it is quite safe, as the direction of the spray, away from you, prevents the flame from coming into your mouth. But the really cool thing was that they could “eat” fire! That’s something I couldn’t get an answer to. I know it has something to do with cutting off the oxygen to the flame in your mouth, that there are no special liquids involved, and fire eaters often have blisters covering their mouth and tongue, but that’s all. There was a girl in the show too, dressed more conservative than the guys, and she juggled fire.

On a side note, I find it very interesting that America, Japan, and Korea are the only countries in the world that I’ve been to so far where I`ve seen women dress less conservatively than men. Usually, it’s the other way around. Even when they don’t wear a lot (like when I was in Africa), the women still tend to wear more than the men. Most Americans (such as my father, for example) seem to think that countries where women cover up are more censorious of women and treat them as second class citizens who have no control over their own bodies, but I wonder if it’s not sometimes the other way around. In cultures where women are so exposed, is it not easy to see them as objects? In Korea, women undergo ridiculous plastic surgery so people will like their faces and bodies. If a woman covers up and tries to look natural, it has the potential to place less emphasis on her appearance and more on her voice, thoughts, and personality. Now that’s an interesting thought.

After that, we saw the creatures of the night show. Very fun. They “lost” their giant anaconda snake and “found” it in a box in the bleachers, and then it ended up around some audience guy’s neck. That was pretty funny.

Then we took the tram to see the animals up close and roaming, then walked just a bit on the separate walking trails. I thought Asian river otters were active during the day, but they’re even more hyper at night! They chirped at us and played with the little laser light someone brought. When do they sleep, I wonder? The safari was open until midnight, but we left around 9:30 because it was still so hot and we were tired.

Ying-Ying’s dad and mom picked us up in the car, and they had a surprise for us. Her dad had bought real durian fruit! Here they are:

Here’s what the fruit on the inside looks like:

And here’s me eating:

They were pretty good, oddly creamy. When I burped, I could smell it on my breath, it was so strong. I think I ate too much, though. I threw up a little. Or maybe it was just all the weird food. I don’t think I ate a single “normal” thing the entire time I was in Singapore, and by “normal” I mean things I had eaten before, except for that McDonalds at Sentosa. I will have to remember for Thailand to try to eat at least one “normal” meal a day to keep my stomach from getting too confused.

Tuesday was my favorite day! Stay tuned for that next time...

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