Today I decided to go to the Jurong Bird Park. I remember going here with Shona when I was only about 23.... mumble mumble years ago, and it has certainly changed since then. I remember being fascinated by the birds back then, but I also remember it was a hot day and there was a lot of walking and not much in the way of shelter. The whole complex now seems to have so much bush there, that though it is hot, it sort of feels a bit sheltered.
It was an easy trip out there on public transport. I caught the MRT out to the end of the line at Boon Lay, past Chinese Gardens (which was the stop for D's apartment when I arrived here in 2006). Then it was an easy transfer onto a Bus #194, air-con, to the Bird Park. It didn't seem like a large proportion of the park's visitors came this way, but it was perfectly easy and straightforward.
There were friendly people near the park entrance, and first off I was told that the penguins were about to be fed. Ahhhh, it was gloriously cold when I went in there! There were five different species in the exhibit, including the Humboldt, which is found near South America. There were King Penguins. It was fascinating watching them swim, as they seemed to use their wings in a gliding motion, as if they were gliding effortlessly through the air. This contrasted with the puffins who seemed to have to wave their wings frantically to get around in the water. The puffins' beaks also seemed quite odd! There were quite a lot of penguins in the exhibit. Not sure what I really think about them being in such a small space in the tropics, even though I loved seeing them.
I thought I might climb on the Panorail train next, but another friendly guide pointed out that the "birds 'n buddies" show was about to start. So I headed in that direction. The bird I loved the most was the Hornbill, which flew across above the audience, displaying its beautiful wings. Luckily, a little later, I happened on a talk about the hornbill as well.
Next I climbed on the Panorail, which travels in a circuit around the park, passing high above many of the exhibits. While some of the birds are caged, there are some very big aviaries as well. The first stop was at Lory Station, where the Lory Loft is full of parakeets. It is "9 storeys" high, and you come in near the top of all the rainforest, then walk a little lower along a wooden structure that has 'swingbridges' and towers. The lorikeets have a large area in which to fly freely.
Next stop was the Waterfall Aviary, which the monorail goes right into. It is huge and doesn't feel like you are in an aviary, but rather in a tropical rainforest. The waterfall is man-made, and gives moisture into the air, that is beneficial to the birds. I was fascinated by the various species of tropical starlings, with irridiscent feathers... quite amazing!
There was plenty to see at the park.... and I spent several hours wandering there. There is still plenty I haven't seen, but maybe I will go there on my return... decided there was no point making myself see 'everything' in the heat.
I took the 'long way' home on the MRT, just to see some different apartment blocks, and yes, to sit down in some air-con comfort for a while. It was 3pm when I got back to Little India station, but a nearby restaurant was happy to serve me at any time. (I will have to remember in the next few days to eat at the 'proper' French times, or I will go hungry!)
Now I have re-packed my bags with warm clothing at the top, ready for a most dramatic change in climate!