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For the last two weekends, I did touristy stuff: visiting the Jurong Bird Park, and Sentosa Island. I also watched X-men: Wolverine and Xmen III: the Last Stand, thereby filling in some horrifying gaps in my education. Also, pictures.

Before going to the bird park -- that's a zoo just for birds -- I tried to do the responsible thing in buying a hat and some sunglasses. However, either the nearest big mall (Jurong Point, maybe 80% the size of Metrotown in Burnaby) failed me, or I fail at shopping. I spent an hour wandering around the mall, but couldn't find any non-designer sunglasses, and the only hats I found were either designer fashion things, or fishing hats from a sport store. I just wanted cheap, ugly sunglasses, and maybe one of those straw hats. I figured I could find them easily in Canada for $5-$10 each.

I found a ridiculous number of handbag stores, though. Granted, in my mind, "a ridiculous number of handbag stores" means "more than 1 per 100,000 people" or so... but still, I really can't figure the interest. Clothes, sure. I mean, there was a lot of those -- especially a lot of generic upscale clothing stores, with only two or three dozen dresses -- but those make sense. You change clothes at least once a day. But handbags? Especially ugly box-like handbags that could almost hold a basketball?! How many of those do women need?

As an aside, it's a pity I don't have a girlfriend. At the local mall (not the big one; this one has about 30 shops), I keep on seeing nice-looking dresses in temporary stalls in the hallway for S$ 10. I doubt you could buy a pair of female socks in Canada for that price, let alone an actual dress! It seems like a shame to pass up this bargain... then again, I couldn't imagine myself buying dresses without a girl by my side, even if I did have a girlfriend in Vancouver to give them to. Given that I have long hair in a braid, I think that people here might misunderstand...

Ok, actual impressions about the Jurong Bird Park. First impression: wow these things are colorful. I mean, "fake animal"-type colorful. You just don't get vibrant colors like these in Canadian wildlife, so my first instinct upon seeing many of these was to think of a child's coloring book, when they haven't learned that animals have dull colors to aid in camoflage.

I have no clue how these tropical birds manage to survive in the wilderness. I mean, it's like blaring out "hey, tasty snack here!" to all the cats. Then again, I can't imagine panthers bothering with some of these small birds, and I don't know if housecat-sized cats live in the jungle.

BTW, if you didn't follow the link to my pictures, I would recommend it now. I didn't take many photos, since I couldn't figure out how to turn of flash, and the batteries were running out. But there's a few nice ones there.

I discovered what must be one of nature's most ridiculous animals: the rhinocerus hornbill. I didn't take a photo, but here's a link to the wikipedia page, including photos. I have no clue what the third beak is for.

I also saw some ginormous (gynormous? sp?) pigeons -- almost twice as big as my cat. Sadly the photos of them didn't turn out too well; there was no convenient size marker to show how big they are. They just look like birds sitting in a jungle; the surrounding foliage could be at any scale, so it doesn't help in showing how huge these things were.

They had a penguin pond in an air-conditioned building (behind some glass, so I would guess that their area was even colder). I finally saw the way that penguins fly underwater, which was neat.

The "birds of prey" section was slightly disappointing. Ok, there were some big creatures there... but some of them were smaller than the pigeons! This was more a case of unrealistic expectations; after seeing the hornbill, the monster pigeons, and the child-colored felt birds in the "lorry loft", I was expecting fire-breathing monsters that could take on fully-armoured knights, instead of eagles. Oh, for any Americans out there: yes, they had two bald eagles.

I was impressed by the vegetation. Each cage was set up appropriately (or "approximately appropriately") for their normal terrain, so sometimes you had thick jungle next to desert.

There was one section devoted to an African rainforest and those birds; it was a huge cage that you could hike around inside. That was actually quite nostalgic -- with a surprisingly little bit of imagination, I could pretend that I was in British Columbia. Actually, the concrete pathway was the thing which was the hardest to ignore; the eye-level vegetation was quite similar to certain sections of hiking through the Coastal Mountains.

There was a small museum-like section about birds, showing egg sizes, nesting habits, etc. As always, I found the museum extremely boring and walked through it without slowing (unless forced by gaggles of children). But the boringness of it was quite nostalgic: it reminded me of family vacations twenty years ago. Umm, that came out wrong. I mean, it reminded me of family vacations, when I didn't have to worry about how to get places, or what to eat, or what I was going to do next on my job... or how long it'd take until I got home. I mean, vacations were at most two weeks long, so I always knew that I'd get home soon.

Yeah, I kind-of miss being nine years old. I had this awesome 8088 computer with an amber monitor. Mao, those monichrome amber screens were fantastic.

Huh. Now I need to figure out how to set my current computer to amber only. My friends will be so jealous if I can show them that when I get back to Canada.

Sentosa Island: this is an "amusement park" island, very close to the mainland. Walking over the bridge would take about three minutes, but there was no sidewalk. Another car-only bridge. :(

As a result, we -- yes, for the first time, I was going out with lab-mates (plus one person's roommate); we watched the Wolverine movie (more later) and then went off to Sentosa Island; you can see them in the photos -- took a train across. If it hadn't been so crowded, it might have given us a nice view of (part of) the island, but as it was, I would have rather have walked.

Hmm, I'm drawing a blank at further descriptions. We walked around a bit, ate, then walked around for a bit more. Saw some monkeys. Saw a huge statue of a mer-lion. Went home. Well, I went home; I exhausted from the heat, and was much too tired (and too hungry!) to try more Asian food. They were interested in a food court in the mall, so I told them to eat there.

X-men: two weekends ago, I watched the second movie on TV. Last Sat, I saw Wolverine. Last Sun, I watched the third movie on TV.

Don't worry, no spoilers for the new movie. Wolverine was... well, it was an action movie. An action movie with better-than-usual special effects (as least as far as I'm concerned... I'm much more appreciative of magic-like mutant powers than big explosions and military stuff). And, sad to say, worse-than-usual dialogue. And, unlike the other X-men movies, and (from what I hear) the comic books, no attempt at provoking thoughts.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. I mean, as long as you know you're getting mindless violence, and you're in the mood for mindless violence, then it's great! And thankfully I'd read a few reviews before going to the theatre, so I knew what to expect. Also, being a Canadian, I always had to cheer for Wolverine during the "present-day" movies (apart from his ridiculous interest in Jean Gray), so it was great to see more of his backstory.

Only 22 days until I return to Vancouver!