Monday, September 30, 2013

recent reads

/ mihi nui te ra with ron tekawa by stefan j simons /

being unemployed does have its upsides - being able to wear pjs all day (everyday) and reading! here's an update on the books that have been in my life recently.

p.s. the photos have nothing to do with the books, i just like them.

/ frost at palliser estate winery /

what i did read

finbar's hotel was a story where each chapter was written by a different author. it sounds quirky, but it really worked.

maisie dobbs was a very interesting read. always great to read about a mystery-solving and witty lady.

the alienist was kind of like csi: ny 1896. had some great historical bits about the city that were pretty fascinating.

a street cat named bob: and how he saved my life was the ultimate feel good book - a happy ending and a precocious cat. it wasn't great writing, but it was a great story. upon searching for this book just now, i see that there are some further books about bob that i will have to look into!

twyla tharp: the creative habit was initially a great read while i was sitting on a bench in the sun in central park. but by the time i got home and picked it up a couple days later, i was half way through it and it was already starting to sound much like the same old thing over and over again. i don't pick it up again.
what i am reading

the book of splendor is so far very fascinating and full of imagery, history and fantasy. every page is so rich and i am only half way through!

what i want to read

carnivorous nights: on the trail of the tasmanian tiger was a book that my parents read while on their australian cruise and actually recommended to me while we met up in australia. funnily enough, it came up again in my searches when i found out that the authors run a monthly science meet-up in brooklyn called the secret science club.

i am sure i will find plenty more good reads on the shelves of the basement library!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

stories from singapore: jurong bird park

/ pretty (not so little) pelicans /

there was one day when holly and keemin needed to work, so i ventured to the outskirts of town to the jurong bird park by myself. it was an easy train to boon lay and one stop on bus 251 and i was dropped right outside the front gate.

as i headed toward the ticket counter, there were bus loads of tourists on their way in and i was thinking i would be fighting for views the whole day. however, there wasn't anyone in line for tickets and once i passed the tram boarding area (free tram ride with the ticket), i was practically alone. it looked like hardly anyone opted to walk the park and very few of the bus loads even got off the tram for a closer look at many of the exhibits. needless to say, i didn't have to fight for any views!

side note: i got the parkhopper ticket since i planned to see more than one of the four main animal attractions: bird park, zoo, night safari and river safari. you can get any combo of 2-4 of these for much cheaper with the parkhopper ticket which is available at any of the 4 locations.

/ the waterfall aviary /

because i had the whole day to myself and no other visitors around to bother me, i took a seat at many of the enclosures and aviaries to just watch the birds. possibly my favorite long stop was at a viewing area in the african waterfall aviary. this aviary was HUGE, and as its name suggests, it enclosed an entire (mandmade) waterfall. at the top of a short climb upwards there were several feeding stations that a myriad of brightly colored birds were visiting.

/ fresh fruit feeding station /

another unexpected highlight of the bird park was seeing an awesome bird that i never expected to see in person - the shoebill! native to east africa, it is actually a fairly gigantic bird, think pelican size. he was just so impressive to watch.

/ the shoebill /
did you know that parrots are left- or right-handed? me neither. i learned it in the extensive parrot paradise exhibit.

/ parrots eagerly working to open their enclosure door /

not only did i get to see some birds that i have always wanted to see in person, but i also discovered birds that i never knew anything about! one example - the goliath palm cockatoo. another impressive creature.

/ goliath palm cockatoo /

did you also know that the australian pelican has the longest beak of any bird in the world? apparently up to 500mm. for your reference, female kiwi bills are generally over 100mm.

/ posing with a bronze pelican by the pelican cove /

aside from those babies i saw in incubators at the breeding and research centre, i spotted a few chicks and juveniles in nest boxes around the park and in various aviaries. this little cutie stuck his head out while i was wandering through and he just stared at me with the most adorable, fluffy face! i could have watched him for hours, he really made me giggle.

i can't remember exactly, but i think this might have been the jungle jewels exhibit and i came through just after feeding time so the aviary was particularly lively.

/ food time! /

even better than watching the zoo staff feed the birds was feeding them myself! in the very extensive lory loft, there were board walks and swing bridges winding through the tree tops. a spiral stair case rose through the center of the exhibit and was lined with feeding stations of small cups of liquid food. i was surprised when the lories flocked to me, they were hardly hesitant or shy at all. again, i could have stayed there for much longer playing with the birdies!

/feeding the lories /

i was very impressed with the park as a whole, including how well the birds seem to be taken care of. the exhibits were large, there was always ample access to water and enrichment activities and i didn't spot any animals that had obvious signs of stress or malnutrition. the only exception was the birds of prey, who i felt really didn't have the space or enriched environment they deserved. it was unfortunate to see these otherwise majestic birds in a rather lackluster situation.

/ great pied hornbill /

the hornbills and tucans were another surprise to me - i had no idea there were so many different species! more great discoveries.

/ don't worry, this was just a wooden tucan /

and i am sharing this picture because i just love this bird. he was such a camera diva.

/ from the waterfall aviary /

and to finish off my day, i managed to catch the high flyers show where, during the finale, 90 birds were brought on stage. it was a little bit cheesy, but it was ultimately entertaining and i was impressed with all of the trained birds that emerged at the end. 

you might have noticed that i really enjoyed this trip and i was actually really happy i went by myself because i spent literally all day there without feeling guilty that i was boring a non-bird enthusiast to death.

/ the grand finale of the high flyers show /

stories from singapore: haw par villa

/ happy goat dance /

these buzzfeed goats made me think of one thing - haw par villa.

why? you may ask. well this is why:

/ happy goat! /

and after this photo, holly made her goat face impression, which i will not share with the interwebz because i would never want her to do the same to me. i will keep that one all to myself. and giggle allll to myself :D

/ the entrance /

when i initially read about haw par villa, it sounded like a kitchy, run-down amusement park and had little interest in visiting, but when holly suggested it for one of our outings since she had yet to go there, we did a little bit more research. and the more we looked, the more bizarre it sounded. nothing prepared us for how bizarre it actually was!

/ the tiger balm connection /

right outside of the subway station, you are met with a sculpted mountain and an elaborate entrance with multiple statues even before you get through the gates. as you enter, you pass one unusual statue after another. some are by themselves, some are set in narratives. signs accompany most of the scenes, which are primarily tales of morality. as you continue, a small exhibit relays the story of the two brothers involved in the tiger balm fortune who built these bizarre gardens. and then you move on to the biggest draw: the ten courts of hell.

/ one of the many punishments in the ten courts of hell /

my camera does not operate well in dark environments so i don't really have many decent pictures from the ten courts. but you can find them all over the web and they are generally pretty grotesque. yes, the ten courts of hell depicts the various punishments that one would receive in the afterlife based on the crime committed while living. this includes all sorts of boiling, impaling, crushing, flaying, etc. it's all very comically gruesome.

/ yep, that's a rat with a pistol /

after leaving the ten courts, we found many animal statues and couldn't figure out the story behind any of them! we just kept wandering and the gardens and bizarre statues just kept coming and coming, it really was a huge complex! we had a such a good time laughing and posing with random statues that i decided to take dominique back there when she got into town. it is a place that you just have to see to believe.

/ what's the story here? /

/ even lady liberty is represented /

/ so many posing opportunities /

/ some kiwi make an appearance /

/ scary happy pandas /

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

stories from singapore: sentosa island

/ jean shrimpton via suicideblonde /

when i was flipping through my blog feeds this morning, this picture instantly brought up a memory of sentosa island.

/ candylicious store /

see the similarity?

i'm reminded that i haven't really done any blogging about singapore because of our move soon after that trip so i will try to recap some of my memories over the next week or so. luckily i took notes on many of the days i was over there and some things i even wrote about already. 

/ sentosa's merlion, one of a few merlions in singapore /

my trip out to sentosa was a bit of a girl's night out, but with twizzlers and merlions instead of cocktails and clubs.

/ riding the cable car over to sentosa /

dominique arrived toward the end of my trip in singapore on her way back to nz from a year in vietnam. since singapore was a completely different southeast asian city than where she spent most of her time, she was happy to accompany me to do whatever i wanted :)

/ at ya kun /

before we headed out to sentosa island - an island hardly separated from the mainland - we made a stop to get kaya toast and kopi-c. buttery and caffeine-y goodness.

/ yum! /

when we did get out to the island, we first took a million pictures at the merlion. then we spotted candylicious and just had to go in and giggle, well, like kids in a candy store. after purchasing some twizzlers (because i hadn't had any in years!), we were off to sea aquarium.

/ possibly my only good sea aquarium photo /

the sea aquarium was so amazing that i am not going to post many of my photos because my camera doesn't even remotely do the exhibits and the environment justice. i need to get the photos from holly and dom sometime soon because i know they got some great ones. i will, however, share the excellent fish photobomb i caught:

/ this cracks me up every time /

oh yes, and since i wore my blackmilk swimsuit that day, i had to get a sharkie photo:

/ ribs and sharks! /

and because it's singapore, it wasn't weird when we snapped a million photos of our food. we went to the malaysian hawker centre on the island and ordered a range of dishes. while my clay pot chicken was delish, i loved dessert.

/ ice kachang /

not everyone is into beans and corn and various jelly items on their dessert, but i am a big fan. as if that wasn't enough dessert, i broke into my bag of twizzlers while we wandered toward the evening crane show.

/ twizzler mos /

now the cool thing about the crane show was not only that it was free and had fireworks, but it was a show where the cranes (the birds) were made out of cranes (the mahines). how cool! the massive water-spurting cranes were out on a barge and were fully animated to music and ended with a firework display.

/ the crane show /

my pictures, again, were horrible, so go check out a video of the short show here. seriously, unless you are planning to go see it in person, you won't be sorry you watched - it's just so cute!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

joyful, joyful

/ san francisco - sharon gallagher by jordan matter /

i am very excited to be attending jordan matter's 'joyful new york' opening reception next week, not only because of the gorgeous photos but also to be out and about in the city :)

this is me

/ xkcd paths /

too cute

/ puppy love ornament by twentytwo turtledoves /

ok, i finally caved... i set up a pinterest account! it's just too damn practical for organizing my endless amounts of inspiration and images that i had to give it a try. so far, it's working very well and i hope it will mean i have less clutter on my desktop. find me here if you want to see what i've been pinning.

special shout out to andrea, i think you will like today's pic :)