A Travellerspoint blog

Jungle Drama

The Wild Side of Singapore

sunny 32 °C

I told Wim I was going to post about wildlife, and guess what he says...” I don’t think people can relate to your enthusiasm.” But I know you can! How could you not? I mean, just look at these most awesome Singaporean birds:

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Oriental pied-hornbills

Just after our arrival, I was taking Mogli for a walk in between high rises when I noticed something black and slithery underneath him. It was a three foot, black snake with a hood. But, but... we were in the middle of the city... in between huge high-rises... so it couldn't be a poisonous snake. I mean, poisonous snakes only live in the green jungle, right? Not the concrete jungle. My logic was strong... but nevertheless I made a note to myself to look it up when I got home. To my great surprise, the snake I had seen matched the description of a Spitting Cobra!!! Luckily, this had been a young one so it didn't know to spit blinding, fiery poison into Mogli's eyeballs.

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Different dog, different snake, same story

On of the big reasons we chose to live in our current area was because there’s a beautiful park nearby. It’s an old colonial fort with charming pathways that meander through the mighty jungle; its delicious droopy green lushness protecting you from the tropical rain and the equatorial sun. Its symphonic cicadas and calling orioles, its all encompassing heat and humidity, its intertwining vines and massive bird nest ferns covered in dew… so lovely. However, every time we took Mogli there, he started agitatedly hopping around and biting his feet. I thought that he was just being dramatic until I stuck my eyeball, bird style, right up next to the ground and realized that there were ginormous, red jungle ants with wrench-like jaws scurrying everywhere! And they were exactly the same color as the red brick path (coincidence? I think not). And there they were trying to carry off bits of his toes to their young! We quickly ran home and I made him some tuna/yogurt popsicles.

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Magical Fort Canning

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For a tiny populous island, Singapore is an immensely green city. By 2030, the government wants 85% of Singaporeans to live within half a kilometer of a park. At present, there are 300 parks and 4 nature reserves; which is pretty good for a measly 720 km² country. In these parks, you can find cool animals like four-foot monitor lizards, hornbills, sunbirds, snakes, otters, skinks, crocodiles, and a great assortment of off-the-wall insects. When you see some of these insects, your first thought is, ”that exists?”

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Clockwise: sunbird fledgling, mega spider, mealy bug (it exsists), fun caterpillar, skink

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One of the many beautiful parks

We have a squeaky family of otters living in the river outside of our condo... much to Mogli's delight and to the delight of the local otter fanclub. Smooth-coated Otters became extinct in Singapore in the 1970s (the otter family moved to across the straight to Malaysia) and so everyone got very excited when they moved back recently, becoming extant once again. More recently there are even two rival otter gangs, the asshole Bishan otters and our local Singapore River Otters. It's pretty much like any run of the mill gang activity you find anywhere. They've got territories and they try to expand. When push comes to shove, things get ugly and they end up in the newspaper. Recently, an article in the major newspaper told about the Bishan otters coming up river to kick out the Singapore River otters. However, the ever-present crowd of otter watchers jumped in between the two families in order to protect the Singapore River Otter with their pups, sparking a heated debate about human intervention in natural processes. This level of drama is seldom seen in the streets of Singapore.

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Otter fan club

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Smooth-coated Otters of the Singapore River

There are also turtles, fish and the White-bellied Sea Eagle, with a 2.2 meter wingspan that hunts for fish right outside our window... much to Kiwi’s horror.

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White-bellied Sea Eagle

We also have monitor lizards sprinkled plentifully around the island.

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Malay Water Monitor at the Botanic Gardens

The best thing to do on a Saturday morning is grab a coffee and go watch the Macaques in any of the nature reserves. These guys are so playful and they'll steal your things if you're not careful! They hang out next to hiking paths and groom each other, waiting for a hiker to come along with a snack so that they can scare them into dropping it. Evidently this works out pretty well for them, as there are discarded candy wrappers, torn apart plastic bags, and fruit peels strewn about their hangout spot. Next to the parks, you also find that many of the houses have iron bars on their windows. Those aren’t for human criminals, those are to stop monkeys from breaking and entering. This is Singapore after all...

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It's tempting to feed these cuties, but they have to euthanize them if they get too food aggressive. Feeding monkeys = murdering monkeys

The flora here is also amazing. Flowers and fruits everywhere, trees growing on trees and leaves bigger than my entire body!

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Top: Fish Killer Tree, Bottom left: tree growing on tree!, Bottom right: Elephant ear taro

They even have an art museum made entirely out of plants:

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Cloud Forest, Gardens by the Bay

Ok, one last lizard pic:

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Long lost lizard brothers reuniting

I promise to write about humans next time.

Posted by amyandwim 19:18 Archived in Singapore Comments (2)

We're here. We made it. No one died. Not even Kiwi!

sunny 29 °C

The Arrival

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As soon as I opened the airline carrier, an angry little ball of feathers shot out like a bolt. Never again would Kiwi let himself be trapped inside of a box for a 16 hour flight. Instead, he hopped around the Raffles hotel room until he found a comfortable spot by the curtains where he could watch the parrots outside and cheep at them. While that was all well and nice for him, that meant that I had to somehow manage the cleaning ladies so that no one came in and accidentally vacuumed him up. (for those who don't know, Kiwi is aeronautically challenged) I can just hear it, the sound of my little bird being sucked up a long vacuum tube. ShLuuuUuuP! All those months spent trying to get an international passport for a house sparrow, and then he gets hoovered. Imagine!

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Mogli enjoying the good life, after 10 days of quarantine.


Our New Abode

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View from our balcony

We searched and searched for an apartment in a neighborhood where we could walk Mogli. The problem is that people are generally shocked and/or deathly frightened at the sight of him. Some people smile in amazement and take pictures, but a lot of people cross the street in a quiet panic. You might expect the same reaction if you walked a bear down the street at home. (Americans would probably scream though, because they are more public with their feelings) So, seeing as how it’s a lot nicer to walk when you can kind of let your dog run around all willy nilly, we had to find a less densely populated area with more expaty type people. (I know, I know...)But, that’s what we did. I mean, we’re living in one of the most densely populated places on earth (7,000 people/sq.km) with the equivalent of a bear.

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Look at that guy.

So, although I have mixed feelings about moving to a foreign country and then living with expats, I have to say it was the right decision and we are definitely enjoying the place. Anyway, there are still enough Singaporeans here that we can still have fun letting Mogli approach groups of unsuspecting teenagers and then watch them scream and run. Teenagers are fair game, right? And...we did end up living over a belgian bar, chocolatier and a whiskey place. I’m thinking that this was not an accident on Wim’s part.

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Bomb Shelters

In searching for our apartment, we noticed that all of the apartments have bomb shelters. Apparently that’s usually where you stick your maid. But instead of sticking a maid in there, we stick Mogli in there when there are loud scary explosions in the sky. That's what bomb shelters are for anyway, right? It’s a dream come true for him. He's always wanted one. There is usually a tiny little toilet next to the bomb shelter as well. You can stick a full time maid in there for $500/month and they usually come from the Philippines or Indonesia. Our real estate agent told me,”oh look, this maid’s room has a window so your maid can see out. Not that you care about that!”

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Mogli hiding in the bomb shelter during a very mild, yet terrifying thunderstorm.

Our New Tesla

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We ride together on a little bitty scooter, and it’s sort of romantic and terrifying at the same time. Wim already yelled at me a few times for almost killing us because I leaned the wrong way. That was not very romantic.

If we had wanted to drive in this country, we would have had to first buy a license for $70,000. And then pay 100% tax on the price of the car. That means that, had I imported my humble little Honda Fit, it would have cost me around $100,000. That being said, the city is extremely walk-able, with lots of shaded paths, and public transportation is a dream.

The Heat

The heat. We’re sort of all getting used to just sweating and being sticky all the time. We hardly wear any clothes, and we drink coconuts everyday :) It could be worse. Actually, it’s supposed to get a lot worse, so you probably shouldn’t visit us until next October. (I’m not sure if coconuts will be sufficient from here on out.)

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After writing this blog post, I’m going to go out there and figure out what to do with myself. I’m spending too much time planning adventures, and it’s becoming dangerous for Wim. (How could we take a boat to Borneo and cycle across the entire thing? What kind of passport would Kiwi and Mogli need? What kind of exciting animals/diseases would we encounter?) So for now, I'm instead going to go do a bunch of volunteering. I signed up with 5 organizations to do things like work with injured wildlife and feral dogs, count seaweed populations, teach English to bomb shelter maids, and assist abused migrants.

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Feral dog eating my leg.

We do miss all of you. So please come visit. But do wait until October, like I said. We have a guest bedroom for you to share with Kiwi and some coconuts with your name on them!

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  • Kiwi and I will be blogging every now and then about our life here, if you want to know when there's a new post... subscribe!

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Posted by amyandwim 21:14 Archived in Singapore Comments (4)

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