Special Watch

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

What lies within

Hi hi,
This skool holiday is a wonderful one, as I have had opportunities to indulge in what I have to keep buried in my heart during the skool terms. Last Dec, I did the Wave rocks in WA. This Nov, I did the Glass House Mountains in Queensland + paid Australia Zoo (Steve Irwin's zoo) a visit + travelled with my dear dear aunts and sister (it is a feat that we were able to travel together), who were into nature as much as I do. So, it is 3 desires of mine fulfilled in 1 trip. Then, I did another trip to Hua Hin and Bangkok. It was my first Bangkok trip. But more importantly, it was a trip for friends to gather, and one of them hailed from Germany. :)

Queensland Australia
The trip is firstly a family gathering. One might ask why it is interesting to travel with one's aunts. Well, we are not too different in terms of age. Yep, a characteristic of traditional extended family . My grandad has 13 children, the oldest of whom were already at child-bearing age by the time his last few children were brought into the world. So, we do have cases of nephews/nieces being older than their aunts in my fully extended family. Also, we never seem to have enough of one another's company when we have dinner gatherings. So, a trip is what we have always been talking about. And, we are all very much into nature (true blue kampung girls) and animals. That makes us great travel partners. So, there we were, looking at plants, watching out for wild animals, enjoying the total immersion in nature (trees rustling in the wind & birds 'laughing').

Can't resist the beautiful Jacarandas

Some wildlife spotting - Kookabura & wallabies
Enjoying the cool evening breeze at the ranch we stayed

Enjoying the company of some farm animals

Secondly, have been wanting to get closer to a different sort of educator - Steve Irwin. His demise is a reminder of the respect we must give the wild creatures and if we must get close to them, we must play by their rules, not ours. One another level, it also reminds me that day in day out, we are encroaching on the habitat of wild animals. It is precisely because of this that my dear dear idol think it necessary to educate everyone on wildlife, before both parties get harmed even more. Sigh... And I'm deeply sorry that I have to wait till his demise to get my butt moving to visiting his zoo. Another lesson learnt. Never procrastinate what wants to do, especially when it comes from deep within the heart. So, here I am, to visit this wonderful zoo, started by the Irwin family.

Tribute to Steve Irwin

My favourite cute animals: wombats, koalas, Tasmanian devil

Animal show
One may object to putting wild animals in zoo. Another may object to subjecting wild animals to putting up freak shows for humans. Yep, on the one hand, I agree with them both. Yet, if the zoo animals are captured for the safety of both animals and humans (some of the existence in the wild poses danger to humans which in turn means the animals are in danger of being killed), I am happy excuse the zoo. And if animals are saved from say their dead mothers, which makes them incapable of surviving in the wild, this is my second excuse for having a zoo. Third, a zoo of course has educational value. That's the purpose of having the animal shows. The shows are there not to showcase how powerful humans are in controlling the animals. Instead, they show the real power of these animals, and from there, learn how we should respect them in the wild. Hmmm.... One can argue again that still we are intruding on the animals' privacy for the good of humankind. Well, go tell your specialist doing an endoscopy for you that he is intruding on your privacy.... Ok, one can argue on and on but this is not the place for some philosophical discourse. So, I will just leave it at that.

It is a great zoo. Thinking that it must be a rather small one, I planned for some other activities in the afternoon. But we spent the entire day there, from open till close. It is huge. Some of the enclosures and how they did their animal show are somewhat similar to our zoo's and bird park's, but that is because they work in close collaboration. And of course, the Aussie sense of humour simply rocks. :) And another good thing about the zoo, they do bring out some animals for the public to touch, in their effort to convert them to love these much-detested creatures instead of hating them just because they look er... "gross". For eg, we got a baby alligator, a snake and a skink we can touch. Cool! Yes, I am a true-blue convert. :)

Thirdly, on this trip, I get to lay my hands on some volcanic landforms again. Yeah! The Glass House Mountains are volcanic plugs. There is also a very interesting legend behind these mountains. Read about it here, from the website of the Ecolodge we stayed in. [Ohh, check out the wonderful Ecolodge for some environmentally friendly and yet cheap lodgings as well.] So, here they are:

A field lesson on the formation of volcanic plugs

Most peaks can be seen from this lookout
Zooming in in Mt Beerwah, the biggest mountain

Columnal formation within the plug
Yep, those were the highlights of this trip.

Hua Hin vs Bangkok
Hua Hin was wonderful. Cheap, and people friendly, helpful and honest. Just like the wonderful peeps we met in Krabi. But we decided we didn't like Bangkok. The infamous traffic jam is a constant headache. But that is a relative minor discomfort compared to how taxi drivers bully their commuters, us. Twice, we were thrown out of 2 separate taxis, although they have earlier agreed to bring us to our destination, but changed their minds later and refused to budge anymore. And the 'cheap' shopping everyone is going goo-goo and gah-gah about, that I can do without. While the shopping experience satisfy the needs of the world's best shopaholics, the prices there do not justify one paying for an air-ticket for that. No more shopping-in-Bangkok trips for me, thank you very much. Ah, but had a good time in the Royal Palace. Just that if you are thinking of watching the change-of-guards, dun think of UK's standard. But nevertheless, a nice visit. And I think I better stick to my 'no-cities' kind of travel.
Will certainly want to visit Thailand again.
And oh, gathering with friends was fantastic. Not an easy feat gathering most of us together as well. :)