Sunday, July 27, 2014

Visiting The Singapore Zoo [Part 2]


Photo by: Elin Chow

Here comes Part 2 of the Singapore Zoo highlights. Just in case you have not read:

Click here for Part 1: Visiting The Singapore Zoo [Part 1]
Click here for Part 3: Visiting The Singapore Zoo [Part 3]
Click here for Part 4: Visiting The Singapore Zoo [Part 4]
Click here for Part 5: Visiting The Singapore Zoo [Part 5]

Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia

At the Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia, visitors will be able to gain a deeper insights into the life of the Ethiopia tribes.  So if you happen to get a little tired at observing animals, why not take a quick stroll around the Ethiopia villages and learn a bit about the African history.

#8 Hamadryas Baboon

To the ancient Egyptians, the Hamadryas Baboon, also known as the Sacred Baboon, was a very sacred animal. Native to the northeastern Africa and southwestern tip of Arabian Peninsula, the Hamadryas Baboon can be found living in semi-desert and rocky areas where there are cliffs and ample water source.



Different from other Baboons and Macaques species, the Hamadryas Baboons live in a highly patriarchal society where the males restrict and control the movements of the females. Well, I have to admit that I am not really a fan of Baboons, Macaques or even Monkeys, which also explains why I did not enjoy observing the Hamadryas Baboons very much.

#9 Nubian Ibex

The Nubian Ibex, a desert-dwelling goat species found mainly in dry mountainous areas of northeastern Africa and parts of Arabia. Coated in a light sandy brown fur and white underbelly, the Nubian Ibex has long and thin horns that bent backwards towards its body.

#10 Banded Mongoose

The Banded Mongoose, a Mongoose species that are commonly found living in savannas, open forests or grassland in central and eastern parts of Africa. Its rough fur is grayish brown in color with darker brown stripes crossing horizontally across its back. 

Australian Outback

Next, we headed to the Australian Outback, where it is regarded as the most vast, remote and avid area in Australia. It is one of the few places on Earth where it is left largely untouched by development. 

#11 Bearded Dragon

The Bearded Dragon is a species of lizards found in arid to semiarid and desert regions of Central Australia. Due to its hardy nature and easy care, the Bearded Dragon are popularly kept as a pet by reptile lovers around the world. 

Frankly speaking, I am not very fond of any kind of reptiles. Thus, I could never imagine keeping a Bearded Dragon as a pet. The sight of most reptiles terrify me very much.

#12 Kangaroos & Wallabies

The Kangaroos are definitely the main attraction at the Australian Outbacks. At Australia Outback, grey kangaroos and wallabies are allowed to hop freely around the walk-through enclosure.

I always have problem differentiating between the Kangaroos and Wallabies. Even worst, I have actually mistaken the Wallabies as young Kangaroos! 

So what are the differences between a Kangaroo and Wallaby? Well, the most obvious difference between Kangaroo and Wallaby is size. The Kangaroos are generally much larger and taller than the Wallabies. 

Other than size, one could also differentiate a Kangaroo and a Wallaby apart by its fur colors.  The fur of the Wallabies are generally brighter with a mix of two to three different colors. The Kangaroos, fur, on the other hand, are duller, usually in color of muted brown or grey.

Between the Kangaroos and Wallabies, I must say that I prefer the latter more. The wallabies are so much more adorable than the Kangaroos, probably due to its smaller size.



#13 Cassowary

Cassowary, a large flightless bird native to the tropical forests of New Guinea and northeastern Australia. It is the third tallest and second heaviest bird in the world. Due to habitat destruction and illegal hunting activities, the Cassowary is currenly threatened to extinction.

Unfortunately, it was a raining day when we visited the Singapore Zoo. Or else, I might be able to capture a better photo of the bird.

#14 Emu

The Emu is the largest flightless bird found largely in Australia. It is also the second tallest bird in the world after the Ostrich. 

Primate Kingdom

I believe most of you would know what to expect at the Primate Kingdom. Indeed, the Primate Kingdom is where a large number of primates call home. So if you happens to be a primate lover, the Primate Kingdom is definitely a great place for you.

#15 Sulawesi Crested Macaque

The Sulawesi Crested Macaque, also known as the Celebes Crested Macaque or the Black Ape native to the northeastern Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Other than its pink red buttocks, the Sulawesi Crested Macaque is entirely black in color. I believe this is also how its other name "Black Ape" came about.

However, due to the loss of its natural habitat and over-hunting activities, the population of the Sulawesi Crested Macaques is not only rapidly declining, but at the same time, threatened to extinction.

I did not managed to capture much photos in this zone because I am simply not interested in primates. However, never have I expected that its pink red buttocks would attract and interest me so much that I simply could not resist the urge to click on my camera shutter.

Don't you think those red buttocks are very attention seeking too?


Well, this is all for Part 2. Stay on for Part 3!

Click here to read Part 3: Visiting The Singapore Zoo [Part 3]


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Visiting The Singapore Zoo [Part 1]

Photo By: Elin Chow

The Singapore Zoo, formerly also known as the Singapore Zoological Garden or Mandai Zoo among the locals, is undoubtedly one my most favorite places to visit in Singapore. In fact, I love the Singapore Zoo so much that I made it a point to visit the place once every half year. So, that made it a total 4 trips to the Singapore Zoo within just a short 2 years time.

What Makes The Singapore Zoo Unique?

Since their official opening in 1973, the Singapore Zoo has been known to have one of the most beautiful wildlife park setting in the world. Adpoting an "open concept" of zookeeping, animals are free to roam and live as if they are in their natural habitats. Unlike most of the other zoos in the world, cages are almost non-existant. This allows the visitors to observe the animals from afar without the any kind of cage bars or wires obstructing their views.

The Singapore Zoo opens at 8.30am and closes at 6.00pm everyday. If you wish to visit every animals at the Singapore Zoo, be here early. I always make it a point to reach the place latest at 9.30am in order to visit every animals in the zoo.

I believe the Singapore Zoo has increased their admission fee recently. I remember it was SGD 20 per adult at the time I visited a year ago. But now, it will cost me as much as SGD 28 per admission into the zoo. Luckily there is a 20% discount given to all visitors if you have purchased your admission ticket online.

In this particular blog entry are the main highlights which I thought should never be missed whenever you visit the Singapore Zoo. I have decided to split this blog post into several parts to prevent it from getting too long and tedious to read.

The parts are as below. Click here to read: 


Before you start your wild adventures, it will be great if you could grab a copy of the Singapore Zoo's map. It will help you to plan your itinerary for the day. 

Tips For Visiting The Singapore Zoo

Here are some tips to follow in order to make your day at the zoo enjoyable and memorable.

1. Wear comfortable footwear and prepare yourself for an entire day of walking
2. Drink lots of water and stay hydrated
3. Apply sunscreen and bring along an umbrella
4. Apply insect repellent (optional)
5. Be there early in order to visit every single animal at the zoo
6. Most importantly, avoid feeding the animals

So, are you ready to explore the Singapore Zoo with me? Let's get started now!

Treetops Trail

The Treetops Trail - this is where your journey to the wild begins. Located right after the entrance of the zoo, leading into a rain forest courtyard and eventually onto an elevated boardwalk, this is where vistors could get closer and experience the real nature . 

#1 White-faced Saki Monkey

We were really lucky to be able to spot the White-faced Saki Monkey on a particular early morning. Having visited the Singapore Zoo for several times, that was actually the first time we ever saw a White-faced Saki Monkey chilling on a treetop.

The White-faced Saki Monkey, also known as the Guianan or Golden-faced Saki Monkey are largely found in Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname and Venezue. It is easily distinguishable by its furry black coat, flat wide noses, long bushy tail and reddish or white face.

I always enjoy the moment of peacefulness whenever I stepped onto the wooden boardwalk through the forest canopy. I love the feeling of being close to the nature once again. It seems to have the powers to make all the stress of living in a city to disappear instantly.


#2 The False Gavial

Right beneath the boardwalk, the False Gavials were seen lazing around the murky jungle swamp area. The False Gavial, also known as the Malaysian Gharial, is a freshwater crocodile with a distinctive thin and elongated snout.

The False Gavial is critically endangered due to the drainage of freshwater swampland and rainforests clearing activities. Apart from that, the False Gavials are also often the targets of illegal human hunting activities due to their valuable skin and meat.

Really fearsome looking creature, isn't it? Just the sight of the false Gavial is sufficient to send shivers down my spine!

The Tiger Trek

Right after the Treetops Trail, we headed to the Tiger Trek. Please do not ask me why are there dinosaurs in the Tiger Trek because I do not know the answer too. The main highlight at the Tiger Trek is no other than the White Tiger.

#3 White Tiger

Situated just right behind the Treetops Trail, after the Tiger Trek, is the White Tiger enclosure. The White Tiger is undoubtedly one of the star attraction of the Singapore Zoo due to its rarity and extraordinary beauty. A sub-species of the Bengal Tiger, the White Tiger are distinct for its creamy white fur with light brown stripes.

How beautiful and captivating these animals are! The White Tigers are definitely my most favorite animals to visit at the Singapore Zoo. Strangely, I find these dangerous animals rather adorable too.


Although the White Tigers are extremely fascinating animals, I got bored after observing it for a while as it spend most of the time of its days pacing back and fro in its enclosure.



#4 Greater Flamingo

The Greater Flamingo is the most commonly seen species in the Flamingo family. It is the largest species among the Flamingo family and its population can mostly be found in parts of Africa, Southern Asia and Europe. 

I wish I could observe these Flamingo from a closer distance. But sadly, this is the closest I could  get to these beautiful pink white birds.

#5 Babirusa

The Babirusa, also known as pig-deer, are found mainly on the Indonesian islands of Sulawesi, Togian, Sula and Buru. Why pig-deer? Well, the answer is  very simple. The Babirusa is actually a pig born with a pair long upper canines, which in fact, remind people of a deer. That is how the name "Pig-deer" came from.

Frankly speaking, I could not remember a time when the Babirusa were awake. They were always soundly asleep everytime I visited the zoo. Oh, did I mention that the Babirusa smell really horrible too?

#6 Malaysian Tapir

The Malaysian Tapir, also known as Asian Tapir, is the largest among all species of Tapir. It is easily identified by its appearance, looking something like a mix of a pig, an elephant and a panda.

#7 Pygmy Hippopotamus

Next, we headed to a giant aquarium where it houses two Pygmy Hippos. The giant aquarium is separated into two viewing galleries - the first one houses a varieties of freshwater fish and the another houses the Pygmy Hippos. 


Interestingly, if you have checked up the dictionary, "pygmy" refers to something very small of its kind. Therefore, I suppose Pygmy Hippo literally also means small hippo. Indeed, comparing to its larger cousins, the Pygmy Hippo is much more smaller in terms of size.

Unlike the common hippos, Pygmy Hippos live either live alone or in a very small group. Pygmy Hippos spend most of their time in hidden in the waters in order to keep itself cool. 

Finally, I snapped a face shot of the Pygmy Hippo on my iphone! A very painful wait.

With these, I shall end this post here. Stay tuned for Part 2!

Click here to read Part 2: Visiting The Singapore Zoo [Part 2]


Friday, July 11, 2014

Trip To Penang, Malaysia: Batu Ferringhi - ParkRoyal Penang Resort


Photo By: Elin Chow
Official Website: ParkRoyal Penang Resort

Last weekend, I decided to visit my husband in Penang. It was a last minute plan that ended up to be one of my most wonderful memories. Or I might call this trip to be a little unexpected surprise as this was actually the first time my husband has specially planned the whole trip for me.

It took about 4 hours to reach Penang from Kuala Lumpur by bus. Having boarded my bus at Plaza Rakyat bus station at 6.30pm, I arrived at Juru R&R in Butterworth at around 11.20pm. Since it was already late, my husband and I decided to check into a budget hotel for the night before we drove to our final destination the following morning.

The sandy white beaches located at Batu Ferringhi, Penang - this is where my husband planned to have most of our weekend together spent. After browsing through a few of the beach hotels and resorts, he decided to book the standard king room for a night with ParkRoyal Penang.

However, much to our surprise, we actually received a free upgrade from a standard to superior room from the ParkRoyal resort. The hotel staff who has helped us to do all the checking in even mentioned that this offer is exclusively only for that particular week. Can I say that we are very lucky?

Standard King Vs Superior King

So, what the difference between the standard and superior room? I must admit that I was feeling really surprised when I got to know that the standard king room actually is not equipped with a bathtub. Although I could not remember a time when I actually bathe in one, I always expected that every room, especially in a 5-star resort will at least comes with a bathtub. Surprisingly, in ParkRoyal Resort, this is not the case. So for people who just love soaking in a bathtub whenever you checked into a hotel, please do not book the standard king room.

Apart from that, the superior king room is also slightly larger than the standard king room, which explains the difference in price.


It was a very pleasant sight every time we stepped into our room. We were welcomed by a spacious, clean and well-maintained room. It is well-lit with yellowish lighting that seem to give the entire room a very romantic and comfy feel.

Definitely love the king size bed but hate the pillows. But please don't get me wrong. I only hate the ones in pillow cases. Sleeping on them made my neck ached like crazy the following morning.

As for the red and orange pillows, I have to admit that the very sight of them delighted me very much. 

Right by the window, beside the bed sat a cozy little couch and chair. This is where hotel guests could have an enjoyable time chatting with their loved ones while admiring the beautiful scenary by the window. 

Free fruit platter for every hotel guests, which includes a green and red apple and two oranges. In addition, every room will also get their choice of free daily newspaper hanging on their door every morning too.


I love the ensuite bathroom in our superior king room too. So posh and well furnished. However, the floor tends to get a little slippery when it gets wet. I have to be extra careful while stepping out from the bathtub after a nice shower. If not, the consequences might be unimaginable.


I was surprised by the amount of bath and shower necessities that ParkRoyal Resort is providing to every of their hotel guests. How generous of them! 

Just in case anyone is keen to know, 

From the top: Shower Cap and Facial Cotton Pads

Middle: Body Wash, Shampoo, Body Lotion, Hair Conditioner and Cotton buds

Bottom: Hand Towels, Face Tissues and Glasses


Just right above our bed, we found a wooden plate filled with dried flower petals. Not sure what is the real purpose of this. Is it a part of the room decoration? Or is it for us to scatter them all over the bed so to create a romantic feel? Or probably, it is for us to scatter into our bathing water while enjoying a nice and hot shower in the bathtub. 

 

Gorgeous view from our room! Again, it was not something we have expected. The original standard king room which my husband has booked was supposed to come with a hill side view. That is why the sight of the sea excited and pleased us very much. 


Just like any other 5-star hotels or resorts, ParkRoyal Penang comes with all the basic facilities such as a swimming pool, gym and even spa. Oh well, not one, but actually, there are two swimming pools in total. One for adults and another for children, which includes a baby wading pool and two giant slides. For parents who brought their children along, I believe the children pool will be a great playground for them.



As usual, my husband and I decided not to take a dip in the pool as we are always not a fan of swimming. I feels weird to be dressed in a swimsuit. Probably it's because I am just not so confident about the way I look. 

So instead of being in the water, we decided to buy ourselves some drinks and chill by one of the beach chairs. I believe ParkRoyal Penang Resort has more than enough beach chairs for all of their hotel guests. In fact, there were actually plenty of unoccupied ones throughout our stay at the resort.


The best thing of staying at a beachfront hotel or resort is having the beach located just right within your footsteps. So if you happen to be a beach person, then I believe you would enjoy your stay with ParkRoyal Penang Resort very much. 

It was late afternoon when we visited the beach. We did not managed to catch the sunset as the weather was quite gloomy on that day. 

We did not get to explore the beach further more on that day. It was starting to get late and I guess we were just too lazy to walk. It will be very nice to stroll down the coast, holding hands and just enjoy our moment together. How romantic. 


Sandy beach, peaceful sea and the clear blue sky. We were really glad the beach was not scorching hot on that weekend. Just the prefect weather for one to visit a beach! However, it tends to get a little warm while we were there as there was not much wind. 

I was really pleased that the beach was not full of people. It is very clean, with minimal of trash seen laying around. 

I supposed this should be a horse riding and photography session. Not sure how much each ride will cost, but I have to admit that I was feeling rather surprised and excited when the horse suddenly appeared before my eyes. 


The Ship, Batu Ferringhi, Penang


Source: The Ship Restaurant

For dinner, we decided to dine in at a themed restaurant named "The Ship". A little bit pricey but I thought the money was still very well spent given its nice ambience, tasty food and great service.

Dining at The Ship was indeed a very unique and different experience. The exterior and interior of the restaurant resemble almost like a life-size pirate ship. To complement with the nautical theme, the waiters and waitresses are all dressed in maritime uniforms.


After browsing through the menu, we decided to go all western. I ordered chicken Maryland for myself. That was around RM 23 on the menu. A little bit costly but still reasonable. 

My husband, on the other hand, wanted to try their lamb loin chop out. If I did not remember wrongly, this cost us about RM 43. 

After our meals, we decided to get ourselves some desserts. Or should I say it was me who wanted to get something sweet. Thus, I went on to order a banana split for us to share just to satisfy my sinful craving. It's been so long since we last shared our desserts together. 

My husband and I really have a wonderful and enjoyable time dining at The Ship. I would definitely love to visit this nautical themed restaurant again in the future.

Final Thoughts

Prior to our trip to Batu Ferringhi, there was lots of arguments and misunderstanding arising between my husband and I. Barely one year into our marriage, cracks started to appear in our marriage. What caused the cracks? We do not really know. Perhaps, it is due to the stress we get from working life or simply it is because we just miss each other too much. 

I always thought that we have understand each other very well, but actually we don't. We never used to have much arguments or miscommunications in the past. The fights and quarrels we constantly have over the text messages have put a strain on our marriage. In fact, sometimes, we have forgotten the real reason why we got married in the first place. 

However, a short getaway to Batu Ferringhi in Penang enables us to spend plenty of quality time together. Just the two of us where we could have a heart-to-heart talk whenever we wish to or just stay contented looking and hugging each other. We found the feeling we used to have for each other during our dating time. So, for couples who feel that your relationship with your other half has not been like before, I suggest going for a short getaway together. It might help to spice up the relationship and resolve some of the misunderstandings you have for each other.

If you are looking for an awesome beach vacation, Batu Ferringhi might not be the best option for you. However, if you are looking for a short getaway where you could spend some quality time with your most loved ones, then Batu Feringhi might be a good choice for you.  There are better beaches such as Tioman and Redang island in Malaysia, which will offer you clearer and more beautiful water and sand than Batu Feringhi. These destinations will be a real heaven for all the water sports lover.

Overall, my husband and I have a great time staying with ParkRoyal Penang Resort. I am really thankful for the free room upgrade which ParkRoyal has given us. Not only that, we find the hotel staffs very friendly and professional too. Did I mention that the cleaning crew always smiled and greeted us whenever they saw us at the hotel corridoors? It may be small little thing, but I believe this is what differentiate a 5-star and 4-star hotel.