10 February 2011

Singapore II: Wild night

So now that I have your attention, here's what this post is really about: a night safari. I've been on one of those pathetic excuses for a safari things in India - Sariska and Ranthambore, to be specific, where all you ever get to see are a couple of deer and wild cows, maybe a parrot or two, a lot of dried-up grass and sometimes dust.

This was different.


When I travel, I usually obsessively research and make lists about the places I want to visit and how to go about doing it. This trip was by far the most unplanned, resulting in some not-so-smart decisions, and a LOT of laziness. Which is good too. An unplanned trip equals spontaneity. Laziness, however, equals leaving inexcusably late for every place that you ambitiously put down on the itinerary for the day. But I digress.

The Singapore Night Safari is famous. It's not just a safari, it's an experience complete with grub (at one of the many restaurants, some of which have animal-shaped stools to sit on) and performances. I don't have the inside story though, because, in case you didn't get the drift, we were late. We had about enough time for the 40 minute tram ride, which was fine because our feet vehemently protested against being used anyway.

I have never seen this many animals in my life. Seeing them at night, not behind bars, in their habitat and usual habits is simply exquisite. Some, like the deer, were fearlessly close, enough to actually touch while remaining comfortably seated. Both us and them, that is. A Bengal tiger reclined on a rock with her cubs, the "King of the Jungle" looked its usual majestic self, even as the announcer introduced several animals that could easily throw him off his throne. A pair of antelopes stood with antlers entwined in a fight of power while a whole audience of deer sat around in a circle to watch. Very Bambi. As if this were a cue, the announcer actually mentioned Bambi as a non-spotted deer and fondly asked if we remembered him. Gosh, that story used to make me so very sad. Sniff. One of my favorite parts of the night was a pack of wolves that stood, each on a different rock under the silvering moonshine, howling in unison with their snouts straight up. Leopards were seen when we were given a "walking break" on the Leopard Trail, and the hugest elephants you can imagine. Like, as huge as about a few hundred of me put together.

I'd heard that the walking tour was considered far more satisfactory, and I can understand that, though I can't ever imagine doing it all alone. Especially the caves where the bats reside and fly gleefully at unsuspecting strangers. No, I didn't actually go into the caves, but yes, I am fairly sure that that's what happens.

Also, do try not to fall for the $20 photograph they will try to sell you. I feel that it's my duty to pass on the warning, having failed at it myself.

I don't regret it, though. T'was a bloody awesome picture.


SINGAPORE:

I. Dawn in an airplane

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