Save The Turtle! 亀

There are many areas in the house that require our attention, and this was one of the most serious.  When we finally got to cleaning up the turtle aquarium, I couldn’t help but feel bad for not doing it sooner.  This turtle was in a tank on the second floor.  I’m not sure who was supposed to be taking care of it, but it was sitting there in its filth, starving, with a glass full of turtle food on a nearby shelf that no one was giving him.  So, we started feeding him and kept putting off the inevitable, probably because of just how disgusting an event it would be.  We even hoped to find a cheap new tank for him so we could literally toss the old one over the balcony railing into the empty lot next to us.  That didn’t happen, so we had to take action.  We couldn’t bear to see the turtle suffering anymore.

Today while we were at the market we had to stop by the pet store to buy a few kilos of cat and dog food, so we got some new gravel, a water treatment liquid that will help keep the water clean and some turtle food, since we’d run out.  I wanted to get a filtration system for the water but they’re a bit expensive and we’re closely monitoring our budget until we get our first paychecks.  Instead, that liquid we bought will have to be enough.  That and some wire mesh screen we’re going to put over the top to keep the mosquitoes and other bugs from laying eggs in the now fresh water.

There’s only so much I can say with words, so here are some pictures and a video to help you get an idea of the disaster that was sitting in that aquarium.

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This is the tank before we got started.  It was mostly empty, without enough water, and it was packed with crawling insects, larva, and weird flying bugs that were clinging to the sides.  There was even a spider in a web.  The smell was HORRIBLE.

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We had my laptop out for some music to keep our mind off what we were doing.  That’s Lady Gaga’s new video, Alejandro, playing.

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The turtle was hanging out in a small bucket while we were cleaning out his aquarium.  He was pretty impatient about the whole thing and kept trying to climb over the edge.

Here’s a video of us cleaning the turtle’s tank.  You can see some of the larva crawling around in the bottom of the tank before we washed it out.  The whole thing was filled with a heavy goo that couldn’t have been anything other than waste.

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Here’s the turtle in his tank after it was cleaned.  You can see that we didn’t buy quite enough gravel to meet our needs.  We’ll have to fix that later.  It’s so damn clean you can’t even see the water in the photo.  Fantastic!

We feel a lot better about things now.  There’s no more guilt.  We weren’t responsible for the turtle’s condition, but we were becoming responsible slowly by ignoring the situation.  In the US, this type of thing would be considered a severe case of animal abuse, punishable by a fine at the least I’m sure.  Now, the turtle will live on happily with us ensuring that it’s well fed and taken care of.  If you’re wondering about the kanji symbol in the title, that’s the turtle’s new name, 亀.  It’s Japanese and it means ‘turtle’.  Spoken, it’s pronounced ‘kah may’.  Kind of lame, sure, but it’s relevant to my interests as I’ll be taking up Japanese courses sometime in the near future, if everything goes according to plan.

Goats Everywhere

One of the first things I noticed on my first trip to the Philippines was two goats tied to the side of a building in downtown Manila, near NAIA.  It was so amusing that I took a photo of it through the cab window.

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That was back in 2008, but things are still the same.  There are goats everywhere in my wife’s neighborhood.  They add character to the place.  Well, character and goat turds in the road.  They look like little black pellets and you have to keep an eye out for them while you’re walking around or you’ll accidentally track that shit into your house.

My brother-in-law has a cafe in the neighborhood across from a vacant lot.  This lot typically overgrows with shrubbery and every so often it’s chopped down by some guys with machetes.  The clean up crew is composed of one goat.  One goat is all it takes.  He ate that stuff pretty quickly.

While we’re eating at my brother-in-law’s cafe, the goat typically makes a lot of noise.  It’s like he’s singing or having a conversation with someone.  So, a few days ago I decided that I wanted to record him making all that noise to post on here.  Unfortunately, he was feeling stubborn and wasn’t as vocal as usual, but he did talk back when I started making fun of him at the end of this video.

Enjoy!

Thais Love Animals

The first time my wife and I walked around Patong looking for a place to eat we happened on a nice restaurant on a side street.  There’ll be more on that later, but when we were seated we looked around and realized that we were surrounded by cats.  It was kind of funny that the first place we would eat would be owned by a cat lover, given my wife’s love of cats.

Ya, the cat in the last photo hopped up onto our table and had a look around.  She seemed particularly interested in the plastic bag we had carried bottled drinks around in.  The cat was very friendly so I didn’t shoo it away until it was almost time for our food to arrive.

After seeing all of those cats we kept our eyes peeled and we saw quite few more pets and strays in the area.  Strangely, I never saw another cat.  I don’t want to make any guesses as to why that might be, but there were plenty of dogs around.  It seems like dogs are much more popular in Patong and you can see them alone or in groups roaming the streets.

I can’t say they were the cleanest looking animals, but not a one of them was in danger of starving.  We saw places where food was put out for them and, like the guy in the last photo shows, they were given attention not just from tourists with cameras, but by locals as well.  Not a one of them ever so much as growled at us, even as we stepped around or over them, or dashed across the road behind them.

More than anything, these dogs (and the cats from the restaurant) added flavor and liveliness to the scenery of Patong and were sometimes even a cause for a good laugh, like with the first dog pictured.  His balls are huge!

Not all of the dogs we saw were strays, though.  There was a booth with a girl who had her dog sitting on the counter.  I don’t remember what she was trying to sell, because I wasn’t interested.  I just stopped to look at her dog.  It was friendly, and I guess very obedient.  It wasn’t leashed.  It could’ve hopped down and ran off, but it was perfectly content to just sit there and watch the tourists.

I kinda want one for myself now.  Maybe in a few years!

Monkey Business and Peacocks on Sentosa

Before we went into Underwater World at Sentosa last Saturday, we passed by a group of peacocks that were hanging out on a grassy knoll.  This area is situated on the other side of a drainage ditch from a sitting area where people eat.  The drainage ditch is very small, so the peacocks go back and forth, begging for food.

Closer to the entrance to Underwater World we saw another peacock strutting its stuff on the road.

In the same area we saw some monkey business.  Literally.

Seeing peacocks on Sentosa was nothing new to me.  It’s neat, but I’d seen one there on my last trip.  It was in the sitting area of a cafe on the upper part of the island, looking for hand-outs.

The monkeys were what really excited me.  My wife has told me a story a few times about how she saw monkeys in the trees around the Bedok Reservoir.  I always listened attentively because it’s so unusual to think that there might be monkeys hanging out in the neighborhood park.  In the US the only place you’re going to see monkeys is in a zoo.  We went to Bedok Reservoir a few times and I always kept my camera ready, just in case, but I never got lucky with seeing them there.

I was really excited when I spotted the monkey sitting on the sign so I walked over and took a photo.  Then I noticed the monkey up in the tree.  I’m not sure if there’s anything in that plastic bag he’s carrying.  Maybe it smelled of food.  Before long I spotted another monkey off to the left.  Then I saw a baby monkey in the tree above a sign for Fort Siloso.

The locals, and those who seemed to be from this area, walked on by as if it were nothing special, but almost all of the Caucasian people stopped to take photos.  I suppose it’s just a matter of what you’re used to seeing in the woods around your house.  Perhaps the locals would stop if they saw a stag?  There’s nothing entertaining or interesting to me about a deer, but maybe they would think it was interesting because it was unusual to them.

Sentosa’s Underwater World

My wife and I last went to Sentosa in September of last year.  We showed up in the late afternoon so we didn’t get to do much, but we had a great time and planned to go back.

Today, we finally got that opportunity.

Our main objective for the trip was Underwater World.  The first time we went there I was really interested in it, but we ran out of time.  Later, I saw photos from someone else’s trip and got even more excited to go.  So, we headed straight for it.  The line to get tickets was rather long, but it only took about 20 minutes to get through.  Afterwards we took a short break to get something to drink before heading into the Underwater World area.

In the entrance to Underwater World there are a lot of tanks built into the walls where you can view some of the smaller fish.  There’s also a petting tank and a “feed the manta ray” tank.  That one was pretty interesting.  The rays in it were so used to being fed by people that if you stood near the tank they would come over to you and half flop out of the water expecting you to drop food.

After you pass into the main exhibit area the tanks for the fish get larger.  One of the more interesting tanks had Japanese Giant Spider Crabs in it.  Full grown, their front claws can be 6 feet across or more!

Just past the crabs is an area with a lot of jellyfish that are neat to look at.  One of the tanks, with the jellyfish shown in red in the picture above, rotates the ambient lighting in the water and as the lighting changes the color of the jellyfish changes.

One you go through this area you can head into the underwater tunnel.  The underwater tunnel is a long tunnel with a plexiglass dome so that you can see the fish all around you and above you.  There is a travelator along the left side and a regular floor along the right side, so you can either ride through and look around or jump off to snap a few pictures.  While riding through this area we saw a lot of large and small fish.  We also saw some divers in the tank feeding the fish.  You can see some shots of the fish in the tunnel-tank below.

(We calld this guy the “Nom Nom Nom Ray” because he was constantly munching on something and grinning at us!)