Monday, 16 December 2013

Mission: Elephant (Kyra's Day Out)

Kyra loves elephant.. everytime we take her to the zoo, she is always 'glued' to the elephant area. We can walk around and see other animals, but she will always ask us to take her back to the elephants!

While her brothers are  having a play and study weekend at a friend's house, we decided to take Kyra on a day trip to the zoo. She was jumping up and down, when her father told her that she was going to visit the elephants..

Kyra woke up late this morning, so she had late breakfast. We left the house about 11 a.m. and we reached to zoo at about 11.30. The weather was warm, but thanks to the trees, it was nice inside the zoo. From the entrance, we went straight to the elephant area.

The first one we saw was the male (my personal guess was that he was the alpha). He was the biggest one we saw in the zoo and he had an area all to himself. He didn't mind the crowd, but he didn't really look for attention either. I tried to take shots of him and Kyra, when suddenly, he leaned to the wall that separated his compound from the next door compound. Not sure what he was doing, we were guessing he was looking for his family..

We moved on to the next elephant compound. There we saw two female elephants, one looked older than the other. These two certainly were looking (and enjoying) the attention from the visitors. We were not supposed to feed the animals, but some people tried to give peanuts to the elephants. One person even threw a mango.

I was worried the elephant would go excited and misplace his foot, which could result in the elephant falling from the high area of the compund. It turned out that the people coming with the guy who was giving peanuts, were thinking the same thing. They asked him to stop feeding the animals, and he did. I think the guy was happy enough because the elephant's trunk touched his palm when taking the peanuts he offered.

At that time, Kyra started walking away from the elephant compound. She wanted to have a ride on an elephant! She has been waiting for this chance for some time now. So, we started walking to the elephant ride area.

Before we reached the elephant ride, we went past the elephant nursery. I read about the baby elephant's birth on the internet, and I was so happy to see the baby with my own eyes! The baby elephant was so cute. It was walking fast around the nursery, while its mother was watching.

The baby elephant was thirsty and went to drink from the pond. The pond was surrounded by stones, probably for the safety of the baby elephant. The baby was safe from drowning, but it took a lot of his efforts to move his short legs around the stones. The baby was not about to give up though. It drank until it had enough, then it slowly walked back, over the stones..

Yep! The baby elephant and Kyra are as persistent as one another.. Children never cease to amaze me!

From the nursery, we went straight to the elephant ride area, which was only across the walkway. I bought the tickets for my husband and Kyra, and found a good spot to take pictures.

Kyra waited in line patiently (which amazes me, since the line up was quite long).

Once she reached the top of the stage thing, where she would hop on the elephant, I could see that she was eyeing all the elephants that were coming and going, trying to find an opportunity to touch the big animal. My husband kept asking her to stay away from the edge of the stage, worried that she might slip and fall. She followed her dad's direction, but, her eyes were still looking for any elephants walking towards her..

Finally, it was Kyra's turn to hop on the elephant.. YAY!

My husband asked her if she wanted to sit in front of the elephant handler (note: other riders, especially the kids, sit behind the handler. I didn't even think that people were allowed to sit in front of the handler). I was busy trying to take pictures, I didn't notice where Kyra and my husband were sitting, until later, when I was reviewing the pictures.. When my husband told me that Kyra wanted to sit in front, I didn't think that she was actually allowed to.. I was really surprised when I saw the pictures, it looked like she was rubbing the elephant's head and talking to it!

When the ride was over, Kyra hopped off the elephant, and gave a big pat on the animal's head. I think they have become friends now..

As we were walking away from the elephant ride, we saw one elephant was being taken out of the ride area, for drink and splash. While Kyra was lining up, I saw the other elephants doing the rides were taken out in turns for drink and splash. At that time I couldn't rush to take pictures because I was worried I would end up losing my spot, and couldn't take pictures of Kyra on the elephant. Now that Kyra's ride was over, I wouldn't want to miss the opportunity to see this rare occassion. I had my camera ready and started taking pictures..

I was enjoying taking pictures so much, that I didn't realise that the elephant was walking towards me and standing right in front of me! I wasn't using the zoom, because I was standing close to the elephant. Can you imagine how close this elephant got to me, if it shows up this big on my camera lens?

My husband was laughing at me, as I jumped back.. But the elephant was only as interested in me as I was in her.. It was an experience I would never forget..

Kyra waved at the elephant and asked us to move on. My husband suggested that we went to see the snake show. Luckily the show had just started, so we didn't have to wait long for the people to come in. At the end of the show we offered Kyra to have her picture taken with a giant snake, but she refused, "I like elephants. I don't like snakes, " she said.. I guess I have to accept that. Aza is the reptile lover, while Kyra is the big animals lover.. haha..

We started looking for the Children Zoo.. It turned out that it was on the other side of the zoo! We went in, and right away we could see little ponies were tied to the trees, ready for kids to take a ride on them.

At first Kyra didn't want to have a ride, but then, she started walking towards the ponies, saying that she wanted to pat them.. The handlers warned us that ponies are still horses, they have strong legs and they can kick!

I said to Kyra that to get near the ponies, she had to buy a ticket. She finally said yes. However, since it took some time for her to make that decision, two other kids had entered the pony ride before her. They took the ponies offered by the handler. Kyra didn't want the ponies taken by those kids. She had her eyes on the brown one.. the biggest pony there!

I thought that when one of the handlers brought the smallest pony to her, she would go for it, but NO! She actually said no to the handler, "I want the brown one!" So, the handler called out the other handler, the handler of the brown pony. The other guy was grinning, "She asks for the brown one! The big one!"

I told him that we just had an elephant ride, and she was riding in front of the elephant handler. The pony handler laughed, "That's good. It means she is a brave kid!"

Just like the elephant ride, I didn't realise that Kyra was holding the rein, not the stump on the saddle. The other kid who went on the pony was not allowed to do this. The handler kept reminding him to hold the stump and not to touch the rein. I guess, the pony handler was as brave and confident as she was.. ;-)

From the Children Zoo, we decided to have lunch before going home. On the way to the food area, we walked past the elephant nursery again, and we caught the sight of the baby elephant feeding.. it was a very beautiful sight..

After lunch, we finally went home. Kyra was already tired, and she had done everything she came to do. So, it was time to rest..

Until next time.. :-)

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Back in the tent..

Everything has the time and space..

There was no regret when I realised that my 'active' camping days were over. Not because I got married, or have children, but simply because life changes..

As time goes by, I notice that every time we are on family vacation in the outdoors, I feel happy and free, like coming home to the place where I belong.. and then, I start to to feel that I want to pass my skills and knowledge about the outdoor life to my children, knowing that such things will be their assets in the future. However, setting up the time and planning the actual camp is a big challenge.

One day, last year, a friend (my eldest son's friend's mum), who owns a life-skills training course sets up a camp for school children. At first, she set up a camp mid last year (2012), but the camp had to be cancelled for some reasons. Then, she set up another camp which took place last weekend (29-30 June 2013). The camp will cover character building, photography and writing skills. My eldest son was very excited about it. After discussing it with my husband, we agreed that he would stay home with Aza and Kyra, while I would accompany Ariq in the camp.

Waiting for the time, Ariq already had a few plans for this holiday. He wanted to visit my grandfather's grave at the National Hero Cemetary (my grandfather was a soldier during the independence war, therefore he had the right to be buried there). My parents agreed to take Ariq there, so Ariq stayed for a few days at my parents' home.

Prior to that, Ariq had his mid-year drum concert, which I will write about in another post. He also had a few 'appointments' with his friends to play together.. so, it has been a busy holiday for Ariq.

I delayed enrolling Ariq in the camp, since I wasn't sure whether he would be up for it when the time comes. However, when my friend called me to confirm whether Ariq would be coming, Ariq confirmed that he was coming. So, I officially enrolled him.

The morning of the camp, I found out that most of Ariq's friends' mums had cancelled staying overnight, therefore the cabins we originally booked were cancelled. There was only one other mum (apart from the one who was organising the camp), and we agreed to share a tent, if there was one available. There were a few other parents staying overnight too, ones whose kids were not Ariq's school friends. We were so glad that there were tents available for us at the last minute.

Parents' tents couldn't be too close to the kid's camp site, so, the camp site people set up our tents across the path from the kid's camp site. We could see the kids quite easily, but they wouldn't 'feel' our presence because of the little distance.

The other mum staying overnight with me is a very energetic person. She likes walking and riding bike. As soon as the kids were comfortable with the camp instructors, we (the other mum and I) quickly decided to start our own adventure. Meanwhile, the camp staff was organising our tents. They were supposed to be ready around 2pm.

The camp site was located in 'Taman Buah Mekarsari' (Mekarsari Fruit Park). This park is where lots of fruit variety are grown for educational, conservation and sales purposes. For Ariq and his friends, Mekarsari is not a strange place. The park is one of the most visited as school tour destinations. 

To me, however, it was my first time there, and I was amazed by the size and the beauty of the whole place. Mekarsari is so wide, green and clean. It feels like being in a perfect environment.

We took the train ride around the park. The ride started at the front entrance part of the park, and ended at the lake, which was the rear part of the park. Visitors are allowed to stay as long as they want around the lake, and they can take the train back to the front entrance anytime they want.

We took the train back around 2pm and unpacked in our tent. After that, we felt like walking around the park again. We walked to the lake again, taking a few turns to see what's behind the trees and to take pictures.

The walk to the lake didn't take as long as we thought it would be, although due to the stops we made, it was almost sunset when we reached the lake. As we were taking pictures, a security guard approached us and told us that the last train was leaving.. Then, we realised that we were the last people at the lake.. hahaha...

As we were arriving back at the camp site, a family of Ariq's friend arrived too. They occupied a tent near us. This mum used to go hiking and camping (even more active than me). We ended up chatting almost all night. We even came up with the idea of another camp for the kids..

We finally went to bed around 2am, although the quietness didn't last long..

The excited kids couldn't stay asleep for too long.. They woke up at 3am and started playing around the fire. So, no more sleep for the rest of us, haha..

After sunrise, my friend who was organising the camp told me that Ariq had a slight fever. He couldn't join the morning walk. After breakfast, Ariq was feeling much better, though. I guess the fever was just a result of lack of good night sleep.

The kids had 'FUN' farming activities.. which also concluded the camp. The other mum, who stayed in the tent with me, suggested to walk to a nearby garden and take pictures there. The garden was beautiful. We managed to take a few good pictures, despite the strong sun.

Then, we started packing, while the kids were having fun! After lunch, we headed home. Falling asleep in the car..

All in all, it was a great time. It wasn't a rough camp, but I'm still glad that I had the chance to do it.. and with Ariq.. Now I'm sure that I can do it again, hopefully with Ariq, Aza and Kyra..

-See you again-