Monday, February 27, 2006

A day in Singapore

We spent one day there to minimise our jet lag when we arrived in Spain. It wasn’t too hot and humid fortunately. There isn’t a lot to do there apart from look at shops.

At one shopping complex on Orchard Road there were two large aquariums full of tropical fish and some small sharks. In the first one we observed strange behavior in two little, yellow fish and a lone shark. The two fish were swimming together being pursued by the shark who would occasionally open its mouth a little wider. We watched this for several minutes. After lunch, hours later we happened to come past this aquarium again. They were still at it. We concluded that they must be really bored and this was a way for the three fish to relieve that boredom through a mock pursuit. We dubbed this, the TFE: TriFish Entourage. TFE = another term for bored

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TFE*, drawing enlarged

While walking along the waterfront precinct we came across a laneway which had three giant, white, plastic (?), phallic objects. Definitely a WTF moment. Walking around to the back of them didn’t make it any clearer.

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We’d never seen anything like this before. Walking along further we came across some more. I noticed a small white streamer blowing in the breeze from of the rear, eyeball socket holes. Aha, it’s a from of climate control ... in an uncontained – save for the roof – outdoor space. They didn’t feel like they were doing anything in terms of comfort levels. Perhaps it would be more obvious in warmer weather. What a disgusting waste of energy. The shape was amusing at least.

At Barajas airport in Madrid we saw similar vents but their housing wasn’t phallic and they were inside the building.

We checked out the world’s first – and possibly at this point, only – night zoo. The Night Safari zoo opens at 7:30, which is when the sun virtually always sets in Singapore. It closes at midnight. It features an assortment of mammalian nocturnal animals, and at least one reptile (a large python). There are several types of wildcat including tigers and leopards, lots of possum-like things such as bush babies, fruit bats, various hoofed animals, rhinos and tapirs.

No flash photography allowed. Might as well not bother bringing a camera you say. No, because there are some funky animal light sculptures outside the zoo that made suitable subjects after our visit.

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Unfortunately there are no postcards of the animals, or any merchandise featuring photographs of them. This was surprising given that there are enough on their website and brochure.

I recommend forking out a little extra for the tram ride tour, as it will take you around most of the zoo fairly quickly. It stops at one place for you to get out and explore on foot. You get to come face to face with fruit bats. You’re in their enclosure and at times you may need/want to duck as they fly over you. They have a flying squirrel but it didn’t oblige us with a flight that night. It was content to sit in the shadowy fork of a tree and peer down at us.

There are three, count ‘em, that’s 3 otter exhibits plus they’re also in the Creatures of the Night show. They provide what has to be the world’s cutest demonstration of how easy it is to recycle. Towards the end of the show after a couple of raccoons raid a rubbish bin they put out 3 recycling bins. One for paper, one for metal and one for plastic. The contents of the raccoon bin are scattered on the ground. Two otters scurry out and start putting things in the recycling bin.

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Recycling Otter, drawing enlarged

The metal recycling otter was reluctant to let go of his/her one tin, repeatedly chewing at it, and popping it in the bin only to half hop into the bin to retrieve it and chew on it some more.

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Recycling Tin Otter, drawing enlarged

Finally a third otter, Pedro I believe, comes out to put away the plastic.

Website for the day
Official Night Safari Site

* I guess I should mention that these are my pencil sketches, drawn from memory. I've got one more from Madrid, and a pen sketch for Barcelona.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

We’re back

Here’s a bit about our trip to Spain. More details, reviews, tips, and images to follow in subsequent posts, after I’ve had a good night’s sleep and sorted out stuff one has to sort out when coming back from holiday. I’ve got so many things share :)

At times we looked blank as we smacked into the language barrier. Almost always instead of using the very useful phrase ‘No hablo espanol’ we tried to figure out what was being said. In Barcelona we found there were more English speakers, since it’s more tourist oriented than Madrid.

A renactment of how we probably looked when we didn’t understand something.

I was extremely disappointed that we were in town at the same time as Depeche Mode but couldn’t see them! The tickets had gone on sale 6 months ago and sold out in minutes - long before we were contemplating a holiday of any sort together, let alone an overseas one. Later we discovered that Bauhaus would be playing in Barcelona so we went and saw them there.

From what we saw, the Melbourne Goth scene compares favourably with the Spanish scene. They may all wear New Rocks but we’re generally more glamourous, we have cheaper cover charges and drinks, and cover a broader range of ages. Interestingly, though it may be different in Summer, there was no use of lace fans and very little lace in general. M suggested it might be because it’s historically a part of the Spanish culture. Very little corsetry or Victoriana style. More PVC, simple black garments, metal, studs, some beadwork.

In terms of dance style there was much swaying and stepping side to side, with no Gothic 3 step – though let’s be honest very few people actually do that anyway – only the slightest allusion to it. Virtually no hand gesturing. I think we’re more interesting, and certainly more recognisably Goth in style. We’re probably drawing more on the English roots of Goth aka the history of it whereas as they are doing something else.

There’s something to be said for walking into 666 at the Moon in Madrid, and for the first time on our trip, feeling right at home. At that point I didn’t recognise the music playing. Despite the differences I think the mentality and taste unites us. We saw someone who strongly reminded us of someone we know from the Melbourne scene. We kept expecting to see someone we knew; it felt that familiar to us. We spoke briefly with a pair of Madrid Goths who were very welcoming and helpful. They were assisting a German couple who were also checking out the scene and slightly befuddled by the lack of up to date club/shop information on the internet. I’ll post something here to try and help out with that soonish.

Website for the Day
Save the whales!