Sunday, March 03, 2013

Cruel and unusual

A friend of mine is visiting Singapore on a business trip, and as he was free this weekend, I took him and a colleague to the zoo. Unluckily for him, I hadn't taken into account that people need more than a few hours sat in air-conditioned meeting rooms to acclimatise themselves to Singapore's heat and humidity. They weren't jet lagged, but they also weren't prepared to traipse around the lush, warm pathways of the zoo. I'm vicious sometimes, I know.

Fortunately for them, you can buy an unlimited pass to ride on the tram around the zoo, which also gives you an excuse to sit down on something when it all gets too much. I took them to see the false garials (one of which swallowed an entire plucked chicken in a single bite, then stared smugly at us), the fish-stinking otters, and of course my favourites, the flying foxes and lemurs.

My friends were not prepared to be stared down by free-range lemurs, which threaten to be the cutest black-and-white killing machines you'll ever meet. Usually we go earlier in the day, when the lemurs are sleeping off the previous night's hijinks (I'm convinced those cunning primates have rigged up a whiskey still that runs on fermented rafflesasia plants) but at three in the afternoon they're very active, scampering around humans and occasionally looking like they might be threatening. We didn't lose any body parts though, and after watching the white tigers prowl around, took a taxi back to town.

Our taxi was one of those monstrouly expensive premium ones, which are double the normal price, but the driver gave one of us plasters for the blisters that she'd got from yomping round the zoo, as well as a rundown of the Singapore penal code. Dropping litter: $250 the first time, $500 the second time (and a two hour talking-to, which sounds bonkers enough that I almost want to experience it. Almost.), $1000 and jail time for a third-time offender. If you're in prison for littering, I doubt you have the respect of your fellow inmates. Maybe that's another reason not to drop trash anywhere but in the bin.

After that and a mindbendingly horrible discussion of caning, they were happy to leave the car, and I was driven home in style, which was unusual for me. Back to work tomorrow, with no more education on the penalties for felonies in this nation. And no more lemurs. The weekend always passes too fast.


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