I was sent to Singapore by the school I work for in order to get my visa. I've been here on a tourist visa for the past two months which is the maximum length of time you're allowed to be here on one. Since you can't get a new visa directly from a tourist one, I had to leave the country. No complaints here. I want to see as many countries as possible. So I got a free trip to Singapore.
The school wanted me to fly there and back in the same day, but since there's no direct flight anywhere from Palangkaraya, it would take two flights to get there, and I refused to take four flights in one day. So I talked them into letting me stay for two nights. It's not a whole lot of time but just enough to do some site seeing.
The first thing I noticed when I got to Singapore was how clean it was. I read about it being clean, but you really don't have an idea until you see it. It's basically perfect. And it's not clean in the sense that there are trash cans everywhere for you to put your trash either. You can rarely find a trash can. You're not allowed to eat or drink in most places, can't really smoke anywhere, littering is out of the question, and you get fined up the ass for any of these offenses. And they take their jobs very seriously.
Their public transportation is the nicest, cleanest, and easiest to navigate that I've ever been on. You can't get lost. And you can't eat or drink on it. That's a $500 fine. I had a can of soda with me and realized I could be in a lot of trouble if I took a sip. Luckily, I had already finished it but couldn't find a trash can. I had to pocket it.
After not being able to get too many pictures of orangutan (which I covered in my last post) I did some research and found out that Singapore has a very famous zoo, so I decided that would be my first stop. I haven't been to a zoo in at least 10 years so I figured it would be fun, and I'd also be able to get some fun shots out of it. So I spent the day there. It's pretty big and they have a lot of animals. Surprisingly all of the animals are active too. It's not like going to some crappy zoo, paying an ungodly amount to get in, and then walking around to see sleeping animals. I actually got a bunch of pics of animals looking directly at me, and a ton of orangutan pics.
I got to see this guy...but I forget what he is. Some giant flightless bird from New Zealand. I saw hippos, white tigers, elephants, a bunch of different kinds of monkeys, and well, things you see at the zoo. I'm not gonna name them all. I was there for about six hours and still didn't get to see everything.
They had this one exhibit, though, that you could walk in and it was filled with ring-tailed lemurs, giant bats, tiny little elf deer, different kinds of birds, butterflies, and a sloth. Yup, a sloth. And these animals have no problems with people so they come right up to you. I was so excited that I hastily tried to switch lenses on my camera and watched as a lens cap slowly rolled off of a deck and into an area I couldn't walk into. Didn't care, better a lens cap than a lens. More importantly, there was a sloth eating upside down next to a bat and I wanted a picture of it. So here's what I got in exchange for a lens cap.
When the zoo closed I moved on to the Night Safari which I thought would be really cool. Unfortunately, it wasn't. It was just a night time zoo that wasn't lit that well and filled with nocturnal animals. Some of the animals you couldn't even see at all. But I'm still glad I went. It was a fun day and I got a lot of fun pics. Check out the gallery for more.
The next day I woke up to rain. A lot of it. I was disappointed because I really wanted to walk around and take pics of Singapore. I had to instead check out the other thing that Singapore is famous for, shopping malls. I'm not much of a shopper, but I did have a lens cap that I needed to replace so at least I would be a little productive.
Singapore is literally miles and miles of malls. Everywhere you go there's a giant mall. And across the street from it? Another giant mall. Sometimes they even connect to one another. And everything is pretty expensive. It took me a while but I found what I needed and ended up paying about double for it than I would have in America. Oh well. Such is life. Because of the weather I ended up having to check out a few different malls for half of the day.
When the weather finally cleared up a bit I decided to check out Little India. It's just a district where it looks like India. Not very exciting. In fact, it was just more shopping but for Indian things. I walked around for only about 30 minutes and had enough. Next stop, China town.
China town was also more shopping, but it was a little bit more exciting than Little India. This had more of a street fair feel to it and there was more to look at. More people to watch, salesman trying their best routines on you, and tons of junk to buy. One salesman actually got me into his store with a good pitch. He started talking to me about my tattoos, which always gets my attention, and asked if he could get a picture of them. Then he proceeded to try and sell me some silk shirts. Even gave me a free beer. I enjoyed the beer but walked out empty handed. He never took that picture either. I found an Indian temple after leaving that shop and stopped in. It had a lot of colorful ceilings that I took some pics of. They'll be down in the gallery at the end of the post.
I walked around for about an hour and then wanted to check out the Singapore Flyer for the sunset. The Singapore Flyer is a giant Ferris Wheel on the bay that you can see the whole city from. It's 541 feet tall. I was hoping for some really cool sunset shots but the weather wasn't working with me. But here's me in it.
That building over my left should is the Marina Bay Sands. It's a giant 3 tower building with a boat structure on the top connecting the towers. It also has a very upscale mall, museum, casino, and other attractions in it. After the Flyer, I wanted to walk over there and get some really cool night shots. I took quite a bit. First was the Gardens by the Bay which is in those domes. Then I walked under a bridge towards the Sands and got some really cool shots of the skyline and the bridges.
I started hearing music on my way over that blue light bridge and eventually found a light show was being put on by the Sands on the bay. It was really good timing and I found a nice spot where I could get some different shots of the Sands where no one else was standing and then some awesome shots of the light show itself.
After the light show I went into the mall and had some dinner and then decided to go to the very top of the Marina Bay Sands. Here I was able to see the whole city and get a couple shots. This was the end of my night, and basically my trip. The next day I was leaving and going back to Palangkaraya.
Check out the gallery for more images!
A couple of weeks ago I was able to take a boat ride up the Kahayan River to see orangutan in their natural habitat. My friend Allen was able to arrange this little adventure with some of his friends who work for the Orangutan reserve. So Allen, Reni, her brother Bayu, and I drove to Tankiling, which is about 35 kilometers from Palangkaraya. I thought we were going to some tourist place but instead we drove to a spot next to the river and just got into a boat. We took the blue one.
I was super excited to go on this boat ride. It's honestly one of the things that sold me on coming out here in the first place. As soon as we get on the boat I put my camera together and get a giddy grin on my face. Then I was told that we have to go through two checkpoints and that I will have to hide my camera at them. It wasn't the first time I had to hide it so I was fine with that.
Here I am on the boat.
The first check point was quick. We pulled up, pretty much waved, and then left. I had my camera out and ready. It wasn't long before our first orangutan sighting and it was a baby in a tree! It was amazing. The cutest little orangutan about 30 feet in the air hanging out with it's mother. It was a lot tougher to take pics of them through all of the foliage but I managed to get a few.
We kept going up river towards the feeding areas. These orangutan are taken from a rehabilitation center not too far from here and set free on this island to keep them protected. Since orangutan can't swim, they can't leave. But this island has no food for them to be 100% on their own so they're actually fed by the "orangutan caretakers" daily. They're fed some sort of vegetable everyday. The orangutan are on a feeding schedule so they are usually waiting at the drop off for the food to be delivered. You have no idea how excited I was to see this take place. From what I was told they walk down, grab the food, and saunter away.
We drove for about 20 minutes around the island until we reached the second checkpoint. As we come around the bend, before reaching the checkpoint, I see an orangutan lounging in the shade on the beach. Now this is where things take a disappointing turn. I was told to put my camera away. I think, no problem I'll hide it under the seat again, this will be quick and then I can put it back together. Nope, I'm told to dismantle it and put it away. I'm not allowed to be taking pictures of any of the orangutan on the reserve. My heart sank. All I wanted to do in Indonesia was take beautiful photographs of orangutan in their natural habitat. Now I'm here and I'm being told to put it away. We had to get off of the boat and talk to these rangers and, of course, their first question was if we had any cameras with us. Obviously, the reply was no. I went to take a picture with my phone and we had to explain that it was a phone and not a camera. They were serious about their jobs.
And then it happened. I look across the water and see a mother orangutan take her baby by the hand and walk to the water to get a drink. The lighting was perfect, the moment was perfect, you couldn't have dreamed of a better moment to photograph, and I couldn't. Now I know what you're thinking. I should have just done it. What's the worst that could happen? But I have to respect my friends who brought me here and their friends who took the time to take us out here. As disappointing as it was to not capture that moment, I'm still happy I was able to witness it.
We had to wait at the checkpoint for about 20 minutes before they would go and feed the orangutan and then we would follow. I was able to slyly put my camera back to together and get a few shots off after the feeding, but was instructed to be very quick. After the quick shots, we went back to the car. It was an incredible little adventure and even though I wasn't able to get all of the pictures I wanted to, I still got a couple and had an amazing experience.
On our way home we saw a traditional Javanese dance taking place so we pulled over and I was able to snap off a few shots there as well. Being the only white person around, I seemed to have taken a lot of the attention off of the dancers as everyone wanted to look at me. The whole crowd was staring, people coming closer, and a lot of cell phones were taken out to take my picture. Very friendly people. We were only there for about 15 minutes before it started raining.
A great day and a great experience. As usual, here's a little gallery of the images I took. It's smaller than the rest but some good ones. Hope you guys enjoy them!