June 30, 2009

Jurong Bird Park

Birds are the cutest creatures on earth. They are in several colors with soft feathers. I like observing birds from my window. They are very common birds like crows, sparrows, pigeons, mynah and parrots. Common but still very interesting.

Jurong Bird Park is a Bird Lovers’ Paradise. I have never seen so many birds together at one place. We spent about 3- 3 ½ hours in this bird park.

At the entrance we received welcome by beautiful yellow chirping parrots. They were bit noisy but I loved their bright yellow color.
Started our tour from African wet land; where we saw Shoebill, great white Pelican and SADDLE-BILLED STORKS. Pelicans are great fliers; I heard that they can fly day – night without taking rest but we were lucky to spot one taking nap.

Bird Park has lots of bird shows; we could catch up with one in Pools amphitheatre where a bird named Picasso were making painting. He was good at modern art. :)

Painter Picasso

There was a section called world of darkness; Asia’s first nocturnal house. I couldn’t take photos because it was complete dark and flash photography was not allowed. Here I saw different species of Owls. It was completely different experience of having a quite walk and watching these nocturnal creatures in their natural surroundings.

Then we captured Kingfisher and Scarlet Ibises. These birds were in vibrant red color; I felt as if someone painted them in red.

Above left - Kingfisher & Other photos of Scarlet Ibises

After spotting few more birds; we entered royal ramble section. This section was filled with Crowned Pigeons – world’s largest pigeons. They were very friendly and gathered around the people.

Few birds spotted on the way

Royal Ramble - Crowned Pigeons

Next section was Lory Loft with thousands of colorful Lories all around. Best way to get closer to these most colorful creatures in the world is to feed them. This loft is as high as 9 storey building with lots of suspension bridges.

Lory Loft - Colorful Lories and suspension bridge

Next- Bird of Preys and Dinosaur Descendants. We have captured Bald eagle, osprey and hawk. Dinosaur descendants had a huge Ostrich. He was I think about 8 feet tall that we stood on bench to take the snap. Other birds were double wattled Cassowary and Rheas. Rheas resemble the Ostrich.

Bird of Preys - Above left Bald Eagle, Above right Osprey, Below Hawk

Dinosaur Descendants

Then we headed towards Flamingo pool and Pelican cove. On the way we captured yellow parrots and a yellow sparrow (she was like common sparrow but in yellow color).

Yellow sparrow and birds

As we walk further; we had most spectacular view of hundreds of flamingos in the lake. On the other side we saw beautiful pelicans.

Above Pelicans, below Flamingos

Short stroll along the lake took us to Swan Lake. This park has monorail which gives a panoramic view of the park.

Swan Lake

Next stop was African waterfall Aviary. This is world’s largest walk in aviary with thousands of free flying birds and tallest man made waterfall.

Again we came across flamingo pool. Then we walked to Parrots paradise; this section in the park was most noisy. All kinds of parrots were gathered here but in different cages.

Flamingo pool

Parrots Paradise

Took quick tour of Penguin section; this section has 200 penguins of 5 species. It was difficult for me to understand the difference in species as all of them look alike.


That was the end of bird park tour and I wanted a souvenir to take back. Actually wanted to take a bird back with me…. Hmmm…I know that is bit troublesome. ;) So what could be the best? Took a photo stop with beautiful birds all around. :D

Souvenir Photo

June 19, 2009

Singapore zoo & Night Safari

Singapore Zoo & Night Safari

I love watching animals; especially wild. Whenever I visit any new city; I generally go to see the zoo. Condition of our zoos whether in Mumbai or any other city is not so good. I always feel when these animals are brought in zoo from their natural habitat; they should be kept in good conditions. It may not be possible to create exact original atmosphere but at least basic facilities like clean cages; good food, personal care should be provided.

I heard lot about Singapore Zoo from the people who had been there. It is even in one of the tourist attractions in their tourism advertisements. Decided to check it out. It is better to travel by public transport as given in website because the zoo is pretty far off. Entrance and ambiance was really good. We reached there only 1 ½ hour before the zoo closes. You actually need minimum 2 hours to see the entire zoo. We had ½ an hour less; so picked a map and started our tour. Luckily weather was good so we decided to walk instead of waiting for tram ride.

At the entrance beautiful birds welcomed us. We saw a small waterfall and some crocodiles in it. It was difficult take picture as all of them were in water. Clicked one but only tail can be seen. Next was the Otter and Tapir (Malayan). We saw this animal (Tapir) for the first time. I found this was the unique animal in zoo. He was half black and half white with long nose. Then; there was Babirusa. He is from pig family. Difference between common pig and Babirusa is his 4 tusks and size.
After a short walk we saw White Tigers. Many people were gathered to see them and taking photos but they were in their own world. Not bothered by so many people around making noise.
Pygmy Hippo; he was busy in evening walk underwater. It took pretty long time to capture him in photo. Unlike Hippo there were two snakes sleeping quietly and allowing everyone to take quick snaps. In Australian Outback section; we saw several kangaroos. They were bit far from us and was difficult to take photo but one small kangaroo came out of that section (he didn’t escape but they were allowed to go out) and we could even take snap with him (I actually touched him. I think touching animal is not allowed but couldn’t resist myself ;)). He was not anxious or scared just busy eating. After spotting Asian elephants, entertaining monkeys and Orang Utan; we moved to splash amphitheater where Sealion was entertaining people.
We entered the Reptile garden and surprised to see a long lizard lying on ground. Well, Lizard is not right word. He was Komodo dragon. I found one Chameleon on tree; he was in zoo but not part of his reptile brothers. Found few more snakes in this section.
Reptile Garden - Komodo Dragon in the Center, snakes above & below, left side Chameleon
Then I met my favorite animal giant Tortoise. There were 5 giant tortoises and several small. This small tortoise was actually running fast; I thought he don’t believe in proverb “Slow and steady wins the race”.
We spent enough time and now wanted to see the King of the Jungle- a Lion before the zoo closes. I don’t remember that I have ever seen any lion in any of the zoos. We walked fast and reached Wild Africa – We found Cheetahs, lioness, Giraffe, The King of the Jungle – Lion, Zebras. All from wild Africa and together. I felt worst part in Lion and Lioness life was their prey was in front of them but they couldn’t eat them.

Here I found each animal was so different from another. Cheetahs were too fast moving to take good picture. Giraffe had curiosity on his face; lioness was sitting quietly, lion just came out of his cave and searching something. Zebras were busy eating. We saw one Ostrich but he was very far off. After capturing all of them in camera; we moved on.
Zoo was already closed. We quickly took some more snaps of some deer, white rhinoceros and polar bear. That was end of our zoo tour; we covered almost everything. I was very happy to come to such a great place where I found all animals were happy. They were neatly taken care and original habitats were created for each animal. I think this is the best zoo in the world.
Above Rhinos, left side me & amit, right side Polar bear
After giving rest to our feet for 1 ½ hour and filling stomach; we geared up for Night Safari.

Night Safari is actually a zoo where we can see these animals in night. See them hunting. This place is right next to Zoo. It is better to walk but if you are tired; it is better to take tram ride. When we entered night safari; we saw long queue for tram ride and decided to walk down. But I think we should have taken a ride.
It is pretty dark inside and small dim light were focused on animals. As flash photography was not allowed; we couldn’t take snaps.

We didn’t see the entire night safari but saw some interesting fishing cats, Indian Ghariyal and lions.

I really want to visit this place again as we couldn’t cover much. Want to see each animal in day light and in night. This was the best experience.

June 18, 2009

Singapore flyer

Singapore Flyer – This tourist attraction has opened last year (2008). It is a giant observation wheel for a magnificent 360° view of Singapore city. Ticket is expensive but worth the visit. During clear weather; you can even see part of Indonesia and Malaysia. They have audio guide to give information about each place seen from flyer.

Singapore Flyer is similar to London Eye but much bigger than that. This gigantic structure is located near Marina Bay. Big capsule shaped compartment can accommodate more than 25 people at a time. There are 28 such capsules. Currently this is the world’s largest Ferris wheel.

We spotted Marina bay, formula one circuit, esplanade, Sentosa Island, Kallang River, Suntec city. (See pictures below; click on pictures to get enlarged and better view)

Flyer structure and capsule

View from flyer

June 11, 2009

Uniquely Singapore

I like visiting foreign country once a year. This year we had a plan to visit Japan but due to lot of currency fluctuation; travel expenses were going beyond budget and Japan is also very expensive. But wanted to go somewhere; so decided to go to Singapore and Malaysia.

The Merlion

As I wanted to maintain my budget; I did lot of R&D on how to stretch my dollar. As a result I found Singapore is very tourist friendly country. Their MRT and buses are cheap and take you from one part of city to another without any hassle. All the tourist places has their websites and given details of reaching there by using public transport.

We had only 3 days in Singapore and many things to do. List of must do / must visit was ready. Must visit places are Singapore flyer, Zoo, Night Safari. Jurong Bird Park, Sentosa Island.

Singapore is extremely clean, well kept and too advance country. They took so much care about everything and everyone that I couldn’t find a single mistake or anything which cause inconvenience. Most remarkable thing was all places were easily accessible for people on wheelchair without any assistance. For instance, all the signals have push buttons and footpath has slope for people on wheelchair. All buses and trains have sufficient space and stops at such place where there will be hardly gap of 1 cm between platforms and so on. Isn’t that great? I was so surprised to see that and felt very sad that none of such thing is available in my country. I feel we are almost 50 years behind.

Photos of Singapore MRT train, view from Flyer, beautiful road

Beautiful roads in Singapore

Day 1 – After reaching on airport; we decided to take MRT to the nearest station from our hotel (Hotel Link – Very good hotel, in good locality but tiny rooms) and walked down to our hotel from station. As all places are properly marked it took us about 10 minutes to reach hotel. I was so happy to be localized so soon. :) After taking bath; we went out to have food. We found local market (Tiong Bahru Market) near our hotel. This was two storey building with lots of shops and food outlets. There were hundreds of outlets and many local Singaporeans were having lunch. In those hundreds of shops I found two of them selling vegetarian food. Phew… (I am vegetarian) Food was very good and at very less cost.

Then we went to see the Singapore flyer and then zoo and then night safari. Night safari is just beside zoo and finally we came back to hotel at around 11 pm. It was very tiring day.

Singapore Flyer

We @ Singapore Zoo

Night Safari

Day 2 – We went to Jurong Bird Park. Like zoo & night safari; this was also an amazing place with thousands of birds all around. While on our way back; we went to several places to make arrangement for our further travel to Malaysia.

Jurong Bird Park

Late in the evening we visited Little India (it was not at all LITTLE). The moment we alighted on MRT station Little India; I felt that someone has suddenly dropped me from beautiful quiet Singapore to busy streets of Dadar Station (People staying in Mumbai will understand this). Footpaths were full of people (people from India); small open place beside road became picnic spot, no one was following signals. Little India was Just like India. Somehow did the shopping from Mustafa (This is a 24X7 departmental store) and within ½ hour went back to our hotel.

Day 3 – We went to a place Dhoby Ghaut (MRT station). That sounds funny because it is a place in Mumbai where all dhobis (washer man) wash clothes. See below pictures of Dhoby Ghaut in Singapore and Dhobi Ghat in Mumbai.

Dhoby Ghaut VS Dhobi Ghat

After finishing work at Dhoby Ghaut; we went to Harbor Front tower to take cable car to Sentosa. This is very easily accessible from Harbor Front MRT station (2-3 minutes walk). This was an amazing experience and my first experience to travel by cable car. We took glass bottom cable car by paying little more but glass was very think and dusty so couldn’t see much. Sentosa Island is full of fun. Transportation is free on this island. Must do activities are luge ride and sky ride and must see are Dolphin show and Song of the Sea (laser show). We took two luge rides and sky rides as one is definitely not enough.

Sentosa Cable Car Station

Me @ Southern Most Point Of Asia Continent

Luge ride

Sky ride

Dolphin Show

Song of the Sea (Laser Show)

After the laser show (Song of the sea) we headed back to Singapore city by Express Train (This was also free). It takes only 10 minutes. Train stops at Vivo City Mall.

That was end of our trip in Singapore. We wanted to stay few more days but next destination was waiting for us.

June 4, 2009

Vintage Cars

Amit & I are very fond of cars. We get to see Vintage cars in Mumbai whenever we visit south Mumbai. Many times Parsees are driving these vehicles. During Udaipur trip I found a grand collection of Vintage cars by King of Udaipur. This collection of cars includes models of Mercedes, Rolls Royce, Ford and many other companies. They also have Jeeps of World War II, truck and school bus. We took pictures of all the cars available for display. Our guide told us that all cars are in working condition and can run well on roads because of continues maintenance since several years. The oldest car was of year 1924….

too lengthy to fit in camera

Vintage Truck

School Bus

Jeeps of World War II

Jeeps of World War II

I like this one

Amit liked it too

One and only Vintage bike