Saturday, September 30, 2006

Surprise visit to Buloh

This morning was a hectic yet productive 4 hours spent at the museum preparing for the recruitment drive at the NUSSU SAVE's Green Carnival @ Central Forum with Otterman and Whoapa. With the getaway car, we zipped from place to place, finally ending up at Sungei Buloh to drop Otterman off. As usual, Whoapa and the monkey got sucked into hanging around to provide transport for Otterman with the enticing incentive of the use of his lumix camera and the mangroves inhabitants of Buloh at our mercy! Muhahaha

Ready to go
"Let's go!" Whoapa ready to get going.

I must say that the initial getting use to the camera was difficult but the trip turned out more rewarding with every step deeper into the reserve. The rain cloud was upon us and the wind made it relaxing and enjoyable. Perfect weather for this monkey.

Tiger Shrike

The first exciting encounter we had was with a juvenile tiger shrike (identified later by Linda our friendly NPark officer at Buloh whom I worked with before). This must be one of the best photos I have ever taken of a bird. Mostly because I never had a camera with 12x optical zoom before!

Spotted dove

Just a hop away we met a spotted dove zebra dove/peaceful dove who was much more shy than the shrike. But surely these monitor lizards we see all over the reserve must be actors or robots installed by NParks to pose idlely at the same spot everytime a visitor walk by!

Monitor Lizard

We also saw 3 squirrels at play but no monkeys in sight. Guess there are no wetlands monkey. Some butterflies were kind enough to stop to let monkey admire their pretty colours.

Having attended Joe Lai's talk on insects of the forest this last thursday, I was able to appreciate the insects very much more! For example, we spotted the cotton stainers and many a spider (not an insect, i know!) like the St Andrews Cross Spider with all its stabilizers and the Golden Orb Spider which are both common sightings in mangrove areas and Pulau Ubin. We also saw many colonies of weaver ants, one on a noni tree and another possibly on a sea hibiscus if my failing memory serves me well. Stalking them was surely an unnerving affair with recollections of Uncle Joe mentioning bites by these fiercesome creatures as an experience I would not want to have! There was also the mysterious bubbles that Uncle Joe mentioned could be some egg protection and hydration mechanism by some insects... or that somebody has been doing their washings at Buloh!

Weaver Ants

Seeing how this monkey has lost touch with her trees, there were many a tree that went unidentified. Better do some reading up!

Unfortunately we didnt manage to meet Uncle Bob or as duck called him, Mr Bob. I prefer the name Bob the Buaya personally. Maybe he took offense and decided not to grace me a view of his elusive snout. Sadly I also did not manage to meet any otters of Buloh. Maybe it's only a sign that I'm meant more to be a rabid monkey than a rabid otter!

Uncle Bob the bobbing buaya. Photo by Duck

Definitely the experience of the day was when a rather boisterous crowd came up to us and said "hey you guys are taking photos right? There's a crocodile ahead!"

Excited about meeting Bob, we hurried over to be met with an empty scene. Thinking that they must be some experienced eyes, I asked where it might be.


Then I saw it. It was so incredible I was speechless.

"That is not a crocodile..." Monkey stammered. "It's... It's...."

"It's not? How do you know?"

"It's a monitor lizard! And a juvenile one as well"

I wonder if Bob would take offense to being mistaken for his lesser reptilian cousins.

Monitor Lizard
Who me?

See more photos of my visit.

Read full article here

Monkey sighted: Uberture Issue 3

Monkey Sighted: Uberture 3

A few months back I wrote an article "Old School Kicks Ass" (July 18, 2006) for a local ezine, Uberture. Due to some technical problems, the issue was delayed in its release. But finally, it is out and about.

It would seem that monkey has taken on the role of resident tree hugger. I just might be able to churn another article out for their next issue.

Read full article here

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Gone to bangkok to be precise.
Back in 2 days.

Read full article here

Monkey Quiz

I got 8/10 right on Anne's Quiz on Monkeys.

I was told: "You're one of the grad students working at the Regional Primate Research Center at UC Davis."
Nope, not a grad student, just a monkey. heh.

Read full article here

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Toddycats Exhibition at NLB

For the last 2 saturdays I have been stationed at National Library for a Toddycats exhibition in conjunction with Eco 4 the world's UNEP Passage of Hope photo exhibition. Being more of a regional perspective, our little booth brings a local perspective to biodiversity conservation.

Eco4theworld's Passage of Hope travelling exhibition.

Doing this partly as my project for NEA's Young Environmental Envoy, the toddycats exhibit was unfotunately the only 'booth' there. To rectify the problem, I attempted to bring the different groups to the public by helping them distribute their flyes and printed materials. It was an excellent exercise at consolidating the efforts of the different green groups in Singapore and complimented each other very well.

Thanks to Joe from SEC's Green Volunteer Network, Ria from Wild Singapore for providing their excellent Wildfilms presentations, Vilma from NSS for the free Nature Watch which were very popular with everyone, Abby from Blue Water Volunteers for their flyers and all the help from the toddycats, from planning to actual day manpower. Many were bugged by me for months and others responded brilliant to last minute calls for help from the monkey. Even without script, trained Pedal Ubin guide, Andy D was able to help with the exhibit effortlessly. Of course he mentioned that hearing me regale the public with the same stories every 5 minutes helped!

The first Saturday, due to shortage in manpower, we only had the monkey, lots of freebies and panels galore. Many people were wondering if we were selling anything till we told them that there were free things to be had. After 1pm, the lunch time crowd started coming in and it was a jam!

The only picture of monkey over the 2 weekends.

As the exhibition coincided with the International Coastal Cleanup in Singapore, one of the biggest event in Toddycats calendar, the monkey had a shortage of manpower. However, it did not stop us from spreading word of the coastal cleanup and the surprising biodiversity in Singapore.

"Did you know there are dolphins in Singapore" worked brilliantly as an opening line for me on the first Saturday.

On top of that, we had 2 videos from WildFilms, one of which I spent a whole night converting from powerpoint to quicktime while adding a soundtrack from Snow Patrol courtesy of Hua Qin. It proved to be worth the time well spent. We introduced more than 100 people about the marine biodiversity in Singapore, the curse of the plastics and what people can do!

The next saturday, we brought on the help of the specimens, a proven crowd-magnet over past exhibitions.

Time was spent packing the exhibits the day before and on the day itself, 2 toddycats met me in school along with Wai who was kind enough to come and give me a hand loading the specimens into the cab, pass me the BWV flyers and also lend me her camera or there would have been no photos of the day! Interestingly, most of the toddycats that helped out explaining the exhibits were mostly non-biology students but we had no problems holding their attention. There was the geographer monkey, an accountant and an accurer. In fact, our veteran is a bear making mechanical engineer! We may not know scientific name and physiology but we sent the public home with awareness of biodiversity conservation in Singapore anyways.

We had with us a Malayan Pangolin, a Colugo, a Hawksbill Turtle hatchling, a Black Spitting Cobra, a Dugong, a Knobbly seastar and a Beach Horseshoe Crab! People listened on, captivated by the stories and the opening line never failed me.

"Did you know all these animals can be found in Singapore?"

At times I felt like the mobile salesman you find outside NTUC selling his wares behind a table to a crowd of curious housewives. At one point when the booth was left alone save for a monkey, I had to resort to addressing all 10 people in front of me at the same time.

Still, it paid off but nothing beats having and seeing my volunteers attend to the interested public, giving them personalized attention. It's especially great seeing the kids take it all in.

I met a kid who told his mama that they should go to a beach right now and bring a horseshoe crab home to keep in his tank. Hopefully my asking him if he had a beach or mangrove at home to keep the horseshoe crab alive and happy persuaded him otherwise. I doubt he has a forest at home to keep the colugos happy either. Better keep it out there in the wild for all the share.

There were encouraging moments when I saw a returning visitor. A mother who visited the booth on the first Saturday with her two kids returned again to show support to our exhibition on the 2nd Saturday after hearing from me that there would be real specimens the second time round! In fact, the kids loved the specimens so much, I ran out of stories to feed their hungry enquiring minds.

It also helped that we played a little "where can these animals be found" game with the kids and adults alike, with NSS Nature Watch magazines to be given away as prize. Being so popular, the magazine had no problems enticing even the adults to play our game. Before we knew it, 200 copies of the magazine was given out over the two Saturdays! In fact, save for a few brochures, we gave out almost everything we brought to the library! Our bags always came back lighter.

Playing games.

At around 4pm, we packed up and ICCS zone captain drove down all the way from the museum to pick me and the specimens up from the library back to the school. It was a good way to spend my weekend. Talking for 6 hours nonstop was worth it!

Unpacked and home sweet home.

For more photos, see my flickr set.

Read full article here

Sunday, September 17, 2006

My Lovely Momo

Any fan of the korean drama My Lovely Samsoon (내 이름은 김삼순) would recognize this famous pig. In one scene of the tv series, this pig appeared at the aquarium as "Professor Time" in Meizhou's dream, along side with a turtle. In the dream, Meizhou thinks of herself as "Momo". Likewise, this Samsoon often refers to Momo such as wanting to name her cake shop as much to the objection of her sister.

If you are familiar with the book Momo by Michael Ende, perhaps you would already have jumped at the mention of the book very much earlier in the show. If not, like me, the book did not occur to me until much later when Meizhou, the niece, insisted on them buying the book Momo by Michael Ende at the bookshop.

Written by the same author who wrote The Neverending Story, Momo is about a little girl named Momo who "has the extraordinary ability to listen — really listen. By simply being with people and listening to them, she can help them find answers to their problems, make up with each other, and think of fun games". In the story, they had to fight with losing time and materialism along with Professor Time and the turtle, Cassiopeia. It is about how we no longer enjoy time and do carefree things that we enjoy. We no longer play games but work to utmost efficiency to "save time" but really we are losing it the more we 'save'.

Putting this into perspective, this gives the tv series a whole new depth. Considering that both Samsoon and Meizhou compares themselves to Momo. Meizhou who refuses to talk ever since an accident has the ability to listen which is very similar to Momo. At the dream sequence mentioned above, Professor Time asked her to return to reality.

Interestingly, I am also a fan of Michael Ende's other book, without myself even knowing it. Likewise, it was because of an adaptation to screen, the Neverending story became a big favourite. At the time, it was mostly because of Jonathon Brandis, who starred in the movie. I guess if I had not do a search for him online, I would not have known that the actor I had posters plastered all over my room over 10 years ago committed suicide 3 years ago.

Some people may think that watching tv may be a counterproductive exercise but I beg to differ. Of course if the only thing you do after watching is to go out and buy the first Samsoon pig you see, then I have nothing to say. That might just be the total opposite of what Michael Ende is trying to say in Momo. I'm glad I got to know a lot of "something new" from the show. A new book found. In fact, I believe I might just pick up some of Michael Ende's book the next time I hit the bookstore.

Read full article here

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Sneak Preview

Due to a rather impromptu decision made after the energy talk this evening, monkey sees herself giving my lovely samsoon a miss in exchange for company from other civet cats.

It was definitely not a decision I'd regret.

The toddycats were preparing for the exhibition tomorrow at the National Youth Environment Forum, organized by ECO Singapore and held at SMU School of Accounting level 2.

So here's a sneak preview for what to expect tomorrow, or rather today.

Photo courtesy of Yueat Tin

For more photos, see my flickr account.

Read full article here

Friday, September 01, 2006

Foreign Minister blogs

A few months back when Mr Wang reported that the Indonesian Defense Minister had his own blog. I was very impressed, mostly because the minister's blog was very intellectual and insightful which gave me a better impression of the hands in which the Indonesian government is in - in a generalized way of course.

Now I read that our very own foreign minister has taken up blogging as well!

I checked it out.

No real impressions at the moment but then again, Juwono Sudarsono's first blog post was on the birth of his granddaughter. And then he gets serious - his latest post being on the Lebanon crisis, discussing diplomacy and military balance.

I hope that BG Yeo will come through as well and engage readers in more intellectual pursuits rather than just sharing with us what he ate for dinner.

Of course there were commenters who wondered if it's really the man himself. Yeah, the monkey is trying to be optimistic.

This could be a step forward for Singapore.

I sincerely hope so.

On another related matter, Mr Wang reported later that he was informed that another of our PAP MP
Teo Ho Pin has his own blog as well and another commented that our famous opposition JBJ has his own blog as well. I shan't comment on opposition bloggers since some even have their own podcast. I think that it brings it to a higher level when its the cabinet ministers themselves. To me, defense ministers are like donald rumsfeld and foreign ministers are like Madeline Albright - critical people who represent themselves and their countries to the world.

Monkey wants very much to have a person she can be proud of to represent her, her country and fellowman to the world. Especially when I have had no opportunity whatsoever to elect my desired representative since turning 21 and experiencing 2 elections.

Read full article here