Afloat in South Asia

Afloat in South Asia
Reclining Buddha; Rangoon

Monday, January 17, 2011

Birds in the Lion City

The longest commercial air route in the world is 18 hours from Newark to Singapore, direct. SQ accomplishes this by filling an A340-500 with only 105 business-class passengers and what a service it is! We arrived over an hour early, which put us at the Fullerton Hotel by 7am. This beautiful hotel was carefully inserted into the bones of the 1928 building that housed Singapore's general post office, stock exchange, ministry of finance and The Singapore Club. During a nice (very) early morning stroll, we planned the day ahead.

As I look back at this day, it epitomized what I look for in my travels - history, critters and friends - not necessarily in that order. On this sunny morning, we set forth on the MRT (Singapore's subway system) to get to Boon Lay, the stop nearest the Jurong Bird Park. I had fond memories of this park from ten years ago. It had the first large scale netted aviaries I had ever seen. The concept that a bird could be born, live, mate and die within the confines of a forest under a huge net was mind-blowing. At the same time, the place was distressing because the birds outside the nets lived in small, sad enclosures. The raptors were especially bleak. So - we set forth the see how the place was doing. Here are some of the critters who made it a wonderful afternoon....

The Loris are real Australian characters. We got the requisite little tub of Lori food and had a fine time with them.

This one was all over me! In this photo he was rifling my purse! I was not hiding any food in there - promise! I was not able to catch it on film, but this same fellow liked to lick my arm...salt deprived?

Everyone who knows me knows I love cockatoos. This pair was very demure....

These guys were more raucous and playful

And who could resist these parrots??

Another soft spot in my head is reserved for flamingoes. This guy and his friends get plenty of shrimp. There is another pool of flamingoes with a much paler pink color.
In amongst the pale flamingoes are some cool-looking spoonbills. This guy is taking off...

Sun conures are nearly extinct in their native South America - only about 1500 left in Brazil.
Jurong has a couple of hundred flying around in this aviary, where they were bred.

Finally - one last sultry, Australian gaze.......

We ended our first day with a visit with an old friend from painting class in Hong Kong. Caroline Mars lives with her family in Singapore now. She has expanded her skills beyond her Chinese painting...we last met when she was exhibiting in a gallery in NY's Chelsea. We saw Caroline and Rob in their sleek flat in the green belt - here we are standing in front of her installation based on the tenets of fung shui.

The tales of how this piece was made are fun! Getting her son to help set fire to the canvas with a hole; having the family help throw paint at a canvas from 4 flights up onto the top middle canvas....
After a fine Vietnamese dinner near our hotel with Caroline and Rob, we finally found our bed.

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