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Touring Around Singapore: Mother-daughter date to the River Safari

Ever since River Safari, the latest zoo in Singapore, opened, I wanted to bring my mum there. I finally achieved this today on a mother-daughter date. Armed with a corporate pass, and the permission to leave school earlier (It’s marking day and I’ve finished marking two days before), I took a cab down to the River Safari at around 3.00 pm. I normally would not have done so but since her work ended a little late at 2pm and I wanted ample time to stroll and dawdle at the River Safari, I decided to splurge.

We splurged? again on  a panda-shaped chocolate custard pau (bun) that costs $2.90 since we shared a miserly meal of a pack of char siew rice before we entered the park proper. We were fascinated by the exhibits in River Safari, different types of exotic animals that we would never imagine seeing were right before our eyes. Being the more well-read (hehe) of the two, I was naturally less wide-eyed than my sua-ku mum but I was glad to that she enjoyed herself and saw animals that she would otherwise never see. The exhibits were divided according to the different major rivers found in the world and their accompanying habitats and wildlife which makes for a good Geography and Biology lesson I suppose. I was enthusiastically translating for my mum at first (Not all signs were posted in Chinese) but became tired after a while so I stopped.

After seeing many fishes and other freshwater creatures (exotic and interesting but we got a little tired), we finally saw the pandas. To be honest though, I was more fascinated by the colourful bird (can’t quite remember the name) and the red panda than the giant panda. The poor red panda was napping on a tree but didn’t have a nice nap because of some rather noisy visitors. It kept getting startled, woke up to see what was disturbing its rest before it adjusted its sleeping position and went back to sleep. I guess I wasn’t that excited to see the giant pandas since I saw many of them once on a school trip to Chengdu 8 years back. (gya!!! 8 years!) Furthermore, all I could see was the posterior at first. I was worried that I had to wait like Yoo Jae Suk just to see its face. I was disappointed more for my mother than myself, since I had seen them once. Luckily she convinced me to take a walk around the souvenir shop (where we bought a magnet) and return again. We returned after that to see many people snapping away on their phones and cameras and the panda’s face. This was not the highlight, though.

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The colourful, brilliantly-patterned bird

The Red Panda

The Red Panda

Panda Posterior

Panda Posterior

Finally, the face!

Finally, the face!

The next part was more exciting – The Amazon River Quest. However, before we reach the part of the park with this exhibit, I saw something that made me rather sad. A polar bear exhibition. True, there was a pool large enough for the polar bear to swim in but it was obvious that there was nothing much he can do except to swim/ paddle to an elevated platform and use it as a jumping board of sort to propel itself to flip backwards and swim in in the same direction.I stood here for around 5 mins only to see the poor bear repeating the actions over and over again. Worse still, there is no company. Only one bear with nothing to do with itself but to exercise?

We took a boat ride around part of the exhibits and saw even more exotic animals. We didn’t manage to see everything but got to see the Ibis up close. Real close. And the jaguars. Not that close though. They were safely behind a glass enclosure. It was sadly too fast and too short so we barely caught a glimpse of the animals before we moved on. This was also not the highlight.

The highlight for me was the last – the Amazon Flooded Forest. For a Leo, and someone so strongly connected to the sign and the element of fire (even in the Chinese Zodiac), I have an unusual fascination with water – the beaches, the waves, the way water ripples, the rain, etc. I loved the fun-loving otters playing with each other and the huge tanks with the sting rays and the dugongs. The dugongs were so cute; they hugged the diver (probably one of keepers) and seemed so reluctant to let go of him. I love how the exhibit starts from the lowest level (where you can stand / sit and stare at the tank for a long time) and gradually move up so you can see what it is like under the water and what it is like below. The otters! *Squeals!*

All in all, I would say that this is an attraction worth checking out, whether you are a Singaporean or a tourist. I saw the kids enjoying it and my mother enjoying it, and I myself enjoy it so I daresay it does cater to different age groups.

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Touring Around Singapore: Gardens by the Bay

Every year, we only visit my grandmother’s place during Chinese New Year. After this, we would just cross the road to go back home, and make up for lost sleep, having 守夜 the night before. This year, I’ve decided to shake things up a little by planning a trip to one of the tourist attractions around in Singapore we have yet to pay a visit to – Gardens by the Bay. We went home to change into more comfortable clothes before we set off. I am glad we did so because it was so crowded in the train. Having never taken public transport to go 拜年 during 大年初一 since all I need to do is just to cross a road, I was somewhat surprised, though I shouldn’t be. What should and did surprise me was the number of locals we saw at Gardens by the Bay, when I expected most to be 拜年-ing. I was happy about the blue skies but less so about the humid heat when we first reached the gardens.

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However, it was a long walk between this^ and the conservatories, arguably the main attraction of the Gardens. We stopped during our walk for a quick family photo. It was the only photo that my brothers would let me post anywhere, not that I would post one here anyway.

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After some more distance, we finally reached the conservatories. But before we do anything, I had to get the tickets. I had wanted to buy them online the night before but it turned out that I couldn’t get the Passion card or SAFRA discounts if I had bought them online. Luckily the long queue was a fast moving one. We took the route recommended by the older of my two younger brothers (both had been there before), that is to go to the Flower Dome first before the Cloud Forest. My brother took so many photos of the flowers but there are too many to upload. I’ll post two photos of the impressive Cloud Forest though:

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The first is a photo taken near the entrance; the second from one of the walks. It was beautiful but my mum and I were too scared of heights to fully appreciate it.

We rounded off the trip to Gardens by the Bay with Texas Chicken for dinner, forgoing our usual 初一 steamboat dinner at home because we were too hungry. I then took the parents to have a quick look-see of the MBS and the façade of Art Science Museum before heading back. I certainly hope that this 初一 family outing would be a family tradition for many years to come!