5 - 26 Dec 2004. Night safari in Singapore Zoo
Our trip started at the Christmas Day. As always, first we need to fly to some bigger airport in order to take the long … flight. So our first 2,15h flight takes us from Tallinn to Frankfurt. In Frankfurt we had only 1,5 hours, which was enough to catch our Lufthansa flight to Singapore.
From Frankfurt to Singapore the flight takes 11 hours and it covers 10 290 km. The plane flew at night, but still the dinner was served when it was midnight at home. After the dinner we did wear ear plugs and eye shades and had a good sleep for almost 7 hours.
At 2PM Singapore time we woke up and then orange juice and breakfast was served. When we looked out from the window the weather looked pretty good – sun was shining, we hoped the same weather will continue in Singapore as we came from quite cold Estonia and getting some warmth and sun was one of the objectives of that trip. And happily the captain announced that it is 30 degrees Celsius waiting us in Singapore.
After crossing the border and customs we exited the Changi International Airport. The weather was hot and humid; we were a bit disappointed that no sun was out. The transfer bus waited us as agreed. In minivan we also put our mobile phones on and then bad news started.
Our relatives called us from home and told us that very strong earthquake took place in Sumatra, which has caused Tsunami. And the Tsunami has caused major damages to many beautiful Asian resorts. Our relatives were very worried about us because then looking at big map Sumatra is very close to our vacation destination.
We were so excited about our starting vacation that honestly, at first we did not realize how serious the situation was. Only then we got to our hotel an opened TV set we started to realize what has been happened and why our friends and family at home were so worried. CNN showed unbelievably terrible pictures. A lot of villages and towns do not exist anymore in Sri Lanka, Thailand and other beautiful tourist spots. The death rate was announced to be about 10 000 people, which seemed so huge. Now we know that actual number was 30 times bigger. Soon we saw pictures of Penang, the island in Malaysia which was our final destination. Tsunami has hit this island also. Our good holiday mood turned to fear and sorrow.
Our hotel in Singapore was Concorde; this is big 27 floor building with nice clean rooms. We had four double rooms for our travel team. After taking the shower and looking for some time horror news from CNN we decided to go out. Our plan was to go to Night Safari in Singapore Zoo. The sunset was at 7PM, so it was then enough dark to go to night Safari.
The Singapore Zoo is a model of the `open zoo' concept. The animals are kept in spacious, landscaped enclosures, separated from the visitors by dry or wet moats. The moats are concealed with vegetation or dropped below the line of vision. In the case of dangerous animals such as leopards and jaguars which can climb very well, moat barriers are not used. Instead, these animals are housed in beautifully landscaped glass-fronted enclosures. Oppressive cages which typify old zoos, are absent. The end result is a feeling of openness.
The Night Safari is the world's first nocturnal zoo and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Singapore. We also enjoyed the Night Safari. We sat in the train which took us through the pitch-black Zoo. Unlike traditional nocturnal houses, which reverse the day-night cycle of animals so they will be active by day, the Night Safari is an entire open-air zoo set in a humid-tropical forest that is only open at night. It is divided into eight geographical zones, which can be explored either on foot via three walking trails, or by tram. The walking trails there are named the Fishing Cat, Forest Giants & Leopard Trail. An interesting highlight is the Bat Mangrove Walk at Leopard Trail. The number of animals that can be observed at this safari park are 120, of which 72% are endangered species. The animals of the Night Safari, ranging from Indian rhino to tarsiers, are made visible by lighting that resembles moonlight (filmic blue). Animals are separated from visitors with natural barriers, rather than caged, similar to the Singapore Zoo's open concept.
After Night Safari we took a minivan taxi, which took us to Boat Quay. Boat Quay is a historical quay in Singapore which is situated upstream from the mouth of the Singapore River on its southern bank. Boat Quay is in nowadays a house various bars, pubs and restaurants. We had here a delicious Asian dinner. After dinner we walked through the dark Singapore to our hotel.