15 February 2006

Moon over night safari

I forgot how much I enjoy the night safari.

There was a time when I was there thrice in two months because we kept having negotiators from out of town... That was a bit of an overdose, I admit. And I swear the lone bear who lives with the porcupine recognised me when I was there that often: it gave me a big fat yawn the third time I was there.

But since we haven't been having that many negotiations in Singapore these days, I was quite happy to be back at the safari again.

Except we had an uninvited friend this time however. It also gave us a big yawn, but this yawn was less endearing than the bear's. One of the Peruvians found it lounging beside him and thought it was a piece of string. I saw him fling it further away from him. Then ensued a debate within the tram carriage:

"Was that a snake?"


"No, a string."

"No, it's a snake."

So it vacillated between "No, snake" and "No, string" for a while until we finally saw our friend rear its bright green head. In a moment of eureka, a triumphant voice declared, "It's a snake."

The result of the triumphant declaration was that a few people jumped off the tram, myself included. I like nature, but not quite so up close and personal. Ms L, who was famously afraid of birds and chickens, peered curiously at Ms Snake in her bright green leotards.

"Look, it is actually quite cute."


Meanwhile, a crowd of zookeepers had come rushing by. When they saw the snake, they let out an anti-climatic "Ohhhh" and replied nonchalently, "This is just a tree snake. Very common. Harmless." Then they all stood around to look at it like it is some long lost friend.

"Erm, yes, it's common, but aren't you going to do anything about it?" That was me.

So poor Ms Snake got flicked out of the tram by a walkie-talkie antennae, while the rest of us got ushered into the tram again. The initial nervousness of finding another uninvited friend subsided some as the tram purred into the foliage of the night.

The night air was a little humid from the afternoon rain, but the solitude a joy. The green smell of the jungle was now starting gliding elegantly past our noses. How refreshing, the scent of grass and earth. But I could already hear the Singaporean men groaning silently - NS*. Funny how the same smell can bring on such different olfactory memories.

The tram approached the giraffe enclosure. This was my absolute favourite place in the safari. Not the giraffe enclosure, but the lookout spot beside it. It was a picture of serenity, overlooking the reservoir with the most gorgeous colour of the sky. Today, the scene was resplendent with a yellow full moon over a red night. It was the perfect jingjing** backdrop!

Elsewhere, the elephants are frolicking away. To put it less euphemistically, they are mounting each other in open sight, to the giggly gasps of its shyer but no less interested human brethens.

It is a full moon after all. Give us a break man.

*NS - National Service. The mandatory, potentially traumatic, military training that young Singaporean men have to go through for 2 years.
**jingjing - A file nickname for the Tang poem CD-ROM project I was involved 10 years ago with Ms T and others. I was working on Jing Ye Si by Li Bai, so I was constantly looking for different moons to use as the backdrop for long interpretative texts. The occupational hazardous result of this is that I can now no longer look at moons without thinking how wonderful they might look as jingjing backdrops...


  1. larling knows about moon safari? it's a fantastic album by Air, the french band who did the soundtrack for Virgin Suicides. Lovely jingjing music ;)

  2. Really! How appropriate! Do you have? I don't want to rake up the i*** word again - but whenever you are ready, I'll like to hear it :)