14 March 2014 – Singapore Zoo

After a bad night where Anto was feeling the effects of Astrid’s virus and Soren was up several times and seemed to also be suffering, we were all down to breakfast pretty early.  We must remember to thank Astrid since my stomach still isn’t happy either.

After some very long and hot days we decided to have a quiet morning, lunch time naps and head to the zoo in the afternoon. The temperature is bearable until about 10.30am but we were finding it was getting too hot after that, especially for Soren. It seems to be better by about 4.30 or 5pm as the sun moves off and a breeze picks up. Given the zoo is open until 6pm and we were only going to get a couple of hours there before everyone was too hot and tired, we thought we’d try for an afternoon visit.

This meant that post-breakfast (where Astrid consumed half her body weight in peaches, toast, egg, muffin and croissant) we headed back to our room for Soren to have a sleep and Anto to try and rest and feel human. Trying to keep Astrid quiet and entertained meant resorting to games on the tablet and episodes of playschool. She did enjoy laying in our bed watching TV!

Once Soren was up and fed, it was now after 10am, so we headed back to the Katong shopping centre, behind the hotel, so we could pick up a few supplies and let Astrid have a look at some toy stores we spied the other day. It was already very hot out and rather smoggy. The number of face masks being spotted was increasing and the air smelt of charcoal.

The shopping centre was pleasantly cool and quite deserted. Nothing much opens here before 10.30am (we discovered that on our first trip here, many years ago) and even after 10.30 quite a few stores were still closed. We had a wander, picked up our groceries, and managed to escape the toy stores without any purchases.

In need of coffee we found an Italian cafe.  The coffee everywhere seems to be average, and expensive, but we thought we would try somewhere different as Anto had bought coffee from one of the other nearby cafes the other night.  It was now almost 11.30 and somehow Astrid thought she was starving (not sure how) so we grabbed a pizza for us and a got a free one for her and 2 coffees. It ended up being quite a cheap meal given it was an actual cafe and the pizza was pretty good too.

A quick dash back to the hotel in the hot and the kids commenced napping pretty rapidly, since they were so tired. Soren somehow managed to make sure I had to get up to him every 10 mins so I got no rest, but at least he (mostly) slept until he needed waking to feed so we could get to the zoo.  Getting Astrid up proved more of a challenge as she was tired, and it took a full 45 mins to get her organised to get out of the hotel.  Eventually we made it downstairs by 1445, in order to grab a taxi and head to the zoo.

It was going to take 2 hours on public transport to make it to the zoo so we had decided on the easier option of the taxi again. Once we were outside it was oppressively hot.  Every day we have been here the weather forecast has been 33-34 degrees, high humidity, and afternoon thunderstorms. Pretty much every day has been hotter and not a drop of rain the entire time.

After a short wait, a taxi was located and we were on our way.  The driver told us it was sitting between 38 and 40 degrees – no wonder it felt so hot! He also told us it hadn’t rained in 63 days! That explains why everything was looking so dry.  Oh so glad we bought those 2 umbrellas with us……..

During the long cab ride out to the zoo, Soren napped and Astrid asked a million questions.  Given I was broiling in the taxi with a baby strapped to me, I was somewhat skeptical about how long we would last at the zoo but we had already bought the zoo tickets along with the bird park ones and every day was hot, so we figured we might as well go.  We had plans to go to the water play area with Astrid and figured it should be cool there at least.  Once out of the taxi it was still pretty warm, but we headed in and grabbed our map and decided to concentrate on the animals we couldn’t see a the Canberra zoo and see how we went from there.

On our visit, 8 years prior, we had enjoyed the zoo and thought it was one of the best we had been too.  It is very large, with lots of vegetation and great, naturalistic enclosures for the animals. There are also lots of shady spots to stop and watch the animals from and lots of shade and fans. All in all it wasn’t too bad once we started walking around, as long as you avoided the really sunny areas.  However, I quickly abandoned any hope of keeping Soren in the ergo as he was melting and so was I. I figured carrying him around would at least give us some air-flow, even if it was more effort.  Astrid had the shady stroller, but alternated between running and being pushed.

We started out with the tapirs, false gavials (alligator like things), otters and various tortoise and primates.  We then visited the white tigers, who put on a lovely display hanging out on the rocks and taking a wade through the water to cool off.

We visited they pygmy hippos and then headed to the primate area to watch about 80 baboons clean each other and some goat like creatures (apparently nubian ibex) climb rocks around them.  We also visited the colobus monkeys, the capuchin monkeys and the patas monkey. All  monkeyed out we  promised Astrid some elephants but walked the entire (large) elephant area and failed to see where they were hiding.

At this point we were getting very hot so decided to catch the tram around for awhile.  We had the tram tickets included in our admission so Astrid got her tram ride today (we had refused to pay extra for it the other day at the bird park).  The tram turned out to be a good move. It was much cooler to sit on and we covered a fair bit of ground without any effort. We even got to see some of the animals on the way past. The zebras, hippos and giraffe were easy to view from the tram, so it saved us a long walk to see them and got us to the the ‘kidzworld’ area faster.  We missed a lot of the smaller exhibits on the ride around but we weren’t going to get to see everything on foot with the heat anyway.

We hadn’t been to the kiddy area on our last visit to the zoo .It was probably there but being kid-free we probably totally ignored it!  It has a huge water play area, a wild animal carousel, pony rides, a playground and rain forest area and a giant rabbit.  We weren’t paying for pony rides or carousels today but were happy for Astrid to play in the water area and had this time come prepared with her swimmers.  It was a pretty awesome water play area, with heaps of fountains, slides and a giant elephant that tips water over everyone every few minutes.  The area was full of kids having a ball. Astrid was off and racing and having a wonderful time.

I sat under a shady umbrella and fed Soren, who would probably have enjoyed the water play too, but missed out due to needing to be fed.  The water play closed at 5.30pm and they shut off all the jets about 15 minutes earlier, so Astrid (along with every other kid in the place) was led out kicking and screaming to get dressed and go say goodnight to other zoo animals.  She dried off in about 3.2 seconds and was placated with a chocolate milkshake from the ‘Ben and Jerry’s’ conveniently located in the kids area. We all shared the milkshake, which was very good, since we had chewed through the vast quantities of water we had bought with us.

Milkshake in hand we wandered back around to catch up with a tram and saw some chimpanzees, mandrills, orangutan and African penguins (lucky Astrid loves penguins!).  At the tram stop an elephant happened to be there giving rides, so at least Astrid got her elephant viewing in………

We then trammed it back to the front of the zoo and had time to visit the polar bear ‘frozen tundra’ area. Apparently the only polar bear bred in the tropics. Unfortunately we had missed the feedings and he was off sleeping in his den so we weren’t popular parents for failing to produce a polar bear. We did see some raccoon dogs and wolverines sleeping though.

It was now zoo closing time and we headed out.  Astrid was wanting dinner there but we convinced her it was a good idea to get back to the hotel as it was going to take awhile and it was getting very late. We sold her on the idea of a ‘hotel picnic’ and procured a packet of corn chips for her to tide her over.

The taxi line was ridiculously long, with no taxis appearing. This seemed a mystery since surely all the taxis knew the zoo closing time and knew they had a captive market and would probably get a decent fare taking all the tourists back to the city hotels. Once I realised the fares increased by 25% if the journey starts after 6pm it made sense. Sure enough, by 5 past 6 taxis steadily flowed through. We only had to wait about 15 minutes and we were on our way, in air conditioned comfort!

Soren, who had stayed awake through the entire zoo visit (somehow) napped in the taxi line and through most of the 45 minute long trip back through heavy traffic. Astrid reverted to asking a million questions, yet again.  Astrid was very disappointed we weren’t staying for the night safari, the other zoo attraction. We had done the night safari on our last visit and it was excellent but ran until almost midnight and didn’t even start til 7.30pm so, way too late for very little kids.  We promised to see about it on another trip. Finally back at the hotel around 7pm, we realised the smog was even worse, to the point where the hotel doormen were now wearing face masks!

Given the late hour and how sweaty we all were, we jumped in the shower and I fed Soren while Anto went out and grabbed some food for him and Astrid (my stomach was still dodgy) for our hotel picnic. He headed across the road to one of the eating houses and got pork and rice for Astrid (upon her request) and chicken rice for himself.  Apparently our hotel picnic was a hit and we finally had them all in bed by 8.30pm…… very tired and weary!

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