Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How to design a blog ?

When I first started my blog I spent almost a week designing and redesigning this blog. And its daunting specially when you have so many templates ,colors and fonts to choose from.

Its never ending ,everyday I used to zero in on a different layout and finally I decided to just launch my blog.Its been alomost 8 month and since then I have drastically changed my blog twice. Now I feel its time for the third change.
Sometimes what you think is the best design may not be so good for others so its a never ending journey to reach the ultimate design with which you will finally stick for the rest of your life(dramatic me!!).

So if you are starting your own personal blog then here are few tips

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Festival procession at our doorstep

This month is going to be all about festivals.This post is unexpected though.
As we were getting ready to have our dinner today Naveen called me downstairs to show some procession being held .

My wild guess would be this an extension of the hungry ghost festival .

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What exactly is a mooncake ??

Mooncake sounds like an exotic name given to a sweet made of dough , lotus seed paste and egg yolk . It's made only during mid-autumn festival and the shops are filled with all shapes , color and sizes of mooncakes.

The way we exchange different dry fruits assorted in funky package during Diwali , people here exchange mooncakes during mid-autumn festival . They are either circular or rectangular in shape and are embossed with intricate designs on top .The shops here are stocked with them and equal importance is given to packaging. The better the packaging ,the expensive the mooncakes.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mid Autumn festival

It's a popular harvest festival celebrated by Chinese and Vietnamese .People get together , exchange gifts and celebrate the festival with family .

The most prominent thing that stands out during this festival is lantern and mooncakes .I don't know the importance of lantern , they are everywhere - hanging by the streets , mass processions are held by people holding lanterns and it can also be seen hanging outside houses .

Monday, September 12, 2011

It's raining flowers

Literally , when I was walking out of office today I saw so many flowers scattered on the pavement .

It's a rare sight , firstly because Singapore being clean freak this flowers would have been removed off immediately and secondly according to quick google search such shedding happens here only once in 10 years .

If you are curious enough , the flowers are called pink memphat and they blossom only after a long spell of dry weather . Singapore weather is unpredictable - it's combination of rain , sun , dry throughout the year hence the weather is not suitable for this flower blossoming .

This is the tree responsible for such beautiful blossoms.

But sometime if there is prolonged dry season followed by a cooler temperature it will produce such eye pleasing view . The mass flowering is usually associated with japan cherry blossoms and is known as sakura (Japanese for cherry trees)

This is Singapore's very own Sakura sightings .

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Are the ghost hungry ?? Sure they are it's hungry ghost festival

Second half of the year is a festive season in almost any part of world . There was hari raya , ganesh chaturthi ,next is mid autumn festival , Diwali and Christmas .

Although this post is late , hungry ghost festival ended in august but still better late then never .It's a Chinese festival and the major ethnic group here are Chinese so this festival celebration is pretty evident .

According to Chinese belief the gates of hell are opened during this time and hungry ghost will be set free and they will wander around earth . So in order to please them offering of food , fake notes , drinks etc are made .

And the offering are always kept outside so that the ghosts spot them and don't enters the houses to trouble the residents!!

The festival was celebrated now and then whole of previous month. Every other week we would see offerings like above near our blocks . And the best place to get a glimpse of such things is at the heart of the community centers and HDB .

I always see old and middle age folks burning the fake notes near this container(which are kept there throughout the year) , it's pretty obvious that the younger generation is not much into these kind of beliefs .

I assume this is also a part of the offerings . We were curious to try it out as we thought that it might be some new fruit but it felt and looked artificial so we backed out .

Then there are getai shows organized to please the ghost .
They start building the tent previous night and next night we could see some traditional Chinese dramas . Well the one that happened in our block their were no audience !!!! Most of the people were busy eating which was also arranged as a part of whole show I guess .

We also saw that the front rows were always empty , it's only later that I came to know that those seats are for the ghosts . The getai shows are mainly organized to please the ghosts .

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Singapore Zoo at last :)

It's been one year since I came here and till now we have never been to the zoo - the top tourist destination in Singapore although Naveen had gone once .

So we finally decided to go this tuesday, we had a long weekend with Monday being election day and hari raya falling on Tuesday .Since it was a public holiday there was bit of queue and crowd but once you buy your ticket and enter inside the crowd starts disappearing .ristWe had plans of reaching early morning ,the zoo opens at 8:30 but we got up at 8 and left by 9:30 and reached the zoo by 11.Because it was a public holiday we had to wait in queue for 30 min to get the tickets . Not bad given there were so many people.
The below chart will give you an idea about ticket pricing . Combined ticket can be bought for visit to multiple attractions like the bird park and the night safari . We opted for zoo +bird park . It's valid for 30 days which means very soon there will be one more article on bird park .

There are some food joints outside the zoo so we bought few snacks before entering . It's advisable to bring some light snacks and drinks from outside as the prices here are double the normal price . And outside food are allowed , nobody will check your bags unless you bring something so aromatic that it ends up attracting both animals and humans alike .

Singapore zoo is a open concept Zoo . There are no cages neither are any of the animals tied by a chain . It's build on the concept of rain forest so it gives you a feeling that you are walking in a jungle .

Naveen at his previous outing to the Zoo.
There are around 2000 species of animals and the zoo is spread across 28 hectares of land .It will take you atleast 5 hours to cover the entire zoo.

This was the first animal we saw and I went into photo clicking frenzy . It seems like a some breed of monkey very small though and ofcourse was very cute .
Then you come across bridge called treetop trail which will be our entrance to this man made rain forest . Below the bridge there is river in which crocs can be found so the treetop trail actually gives you a feeling that you are crossing the river and entering the jungle .
Now it's time to decide what to be seen first . Make a note that there are 3 to 4 shows which you can see so it's imp to plan all the animals seeing around this shows .

You can get up ,close and personal with animals during their feeding time.

White tigers are one of the main attractions of the zoo .
If you were not aware below are some interesting facts about them.

As you see there are no cages . They are separated by a steep slope which has moats hidden cleverly under vegetation , I guess the animals are aware that they cannot escape but it's not so obvious to humans that they are actually caged .

In 2008 these white tigers attacked a cleaner and mauled him to death . Don't blame the tiger as the cleaner purposefully jumped into their habitat and started provoking them .

Just to refresh your memory on what a
warthong is - he is the famous character
pumba from the lion king .
I dint like them as they dint look as they were in good shape . I love the screen character more.

Me with agh... I think mongoose .

pgmy hippo

If you can't read let me write it down-
The pgmy hippos can't swim and it's body is too dense to float . It tiptoes under river bed gracefully like a underwater ballerina . To breathe it uses it's hind legs to push up above the under water to surface .
We were actually standing in a row near the glass pond bc one active hippo decided to swim back and forth to entertain us .

Be ready to walk a lot as the zoo is pretty big . There are trams also which will give you a mini tour around the zoo in 20 min but we dint go in that as we wouldn't have been able to take pictures .
It was 12:30 and we decided to have food. I was so hungry by all the walking. There is only one foodcourt named ah meng and it has many options. We took veg biryani set.

The first show we saw was 'Rainforest fights back' . The Shaw theater where it was hosted was jam packed, the show is about some evil guy wanting to cut the trees and how the animals trouble him and fight back.
There is a girl who narrates everything and as you watch you see monkeys, birds, ducks emerging out one by one . The monkeys will come through the ropes hanging above the stage so its fun to watch them and you are specifically instructed not to keep any food items outside.

Few interesting facts about 'Ah Meng' . The food court is dedicated to Singapore's famous orangutan named 'Ah Meng' who died in 2008 due to old age. The orangutan was iconic to Singapore and was the first one who helped start a program called 'Breakfast with Orangutans' .
Yes you heard it right ,Singapore is probably the only zoo in the world where you can have your breakfast sitting next to orangutans for probably $20 dollars.


this one looked old and was starting constantly at people who were taking the pictures. It was sitting in that position till we left that place. Looks unhappy to me !!!

Lions ,look at how they just sit there and stare at everyone. I wonder do they get bored ??

A male zebra flashes this smile to threaten young males who try to steal his potential mates.

The smile also sharpens the male's sense to detect certain scents in the mare's unit.
The presence of the scents = mares are ready to mate.

And we thought the zebra was happy to see us !!!!!!!!!!!

Giraffe,they were pretty close and as usual no barrage. It was painful to watch them struggle hard to reach for food on the ground.

Our next show was 'Elephants of Asia' which started at 3:30 pm. we reached there by 3:10 and my god the place was fully occupied. we somehow managed to get a seat.
The interesting info shared was all the elephants in singapore zoo are trained in sinhalese(Local lang of Sri Lanka) why ??

I dint get the exact reason but its something like one of the elephants came from Sri lanka.

The show basically depicts elephants at work having fun. They showed how elephants can move heavy logs.

Gaint turle - this is one animal which amazed us by its sheer size. I had never seen anything like it before.

Just to give you an idea you can compare the kid standing next to it. It can stretch its neck very far and it can also come upto my shoulders

Rhinos- They had scars on their bodies and very pretty dusty

After I came back from zoo I googled around to see some images and strangely this particular snake pic was there in many places and guess what it was lying in the same position.

I think it likes coiling like that !!!

I was surprised to see penguins kept in open. I was expecting them to see in an enclosed ice chamber,turns out they are African penguins

Beautiful lotus leaf spread across a small pond..no lotus though !!!!
Some african theme going on with utensils and huts

Then we understood the theme. Welcome to the largest display of baboons in a zoo.There are a colony of 40 I guess.

Tapir use scent to talk to one another. They mark their territories with urine;males use it as a scent marker when looking foe mates.

Tapirs use high pitched sounds to pacify their young ones or to announce their location.

Kangaroos are kept in a section called Australian
Outback. Its obvious from the no crossing sign that they freely move around a big ground solely meant for them.

Singapore zoo is a fun place for family which some of the shows being interactive and educative as well. As for us this trip was long overdue and we were not dissapointed.It lives up to its name of a open concept zoo.

The ride back home took some time as the bus stands were pretty crowded.