Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Singapore--Day 33

So today was the day that I was supposed to get the hippo pictures of the three hippos at the Night Safari. I had organized a private tour, and was going there early to make sure that everything would work out ok. I would go, take the pictures, then be able to leave& .right? Not quite. Here s how what turned out to be the most frustrating and stressful day of the trip started out.

I woke up and again had to wait until later on in the day to go to the Night Safari (hence the night part) so I thought I would go check out an exhibit going on at the Singapore Convention Center. Well I didn t make it that far, but ended up in Little India which is an interesting area of Singapore which was much like, well, India. J So I walked through a few shops and then saw a girl getting a henna tattoo on her hand. Ooooh, I ve always wanted to get one, so I queued up and asked to have something done on my foot. When I meant foot, I meant sort of on my ankle so that I could still wear my shoes but before I knew it she had taken off my shoe and started drawing with the henna on my foot.

Great. I mean, it looked great, but this also meant that either I wasn t going to be able to wear shoes for a while or I would have to wait for it to dry. Turns out, what she said as  only 15 minutes turned out to be about 45 minutes waiting for the henna to dry so that I could put my shoes back on. However, honestly, it was worth it because now I have this awesome design on my foot (don t worry, I won t go any further in trying to get this permanently done!) and I am impressed with how it turned out. Anyways, after Little India I headed back through some more shopping centers (as it goes in Singapore) and tried to walk to the Botanical Gardens but ended up walking the wrong way and having to just head back to the hotel since it was around 5 o clock by this point.

I got my things ready for the zoo and went to a camera shop on my way to pick up a tripod. I was all set, I was going to use my nifty new tripod and take pictures of the hippos with my ultra-cool camera and life was going to be great!

So I catch a cab to the Zoo (I should really be calling it the Night Safari). Anyways, I get there at 6 o clock and it doesn t even OPEN until 7 o clock so I eat dinner at one of the restaurants there and wait for the ticket booth to open. Once it does I am one of the first people in line to get my tickets and I proudly state to the ticket lady that I am part of the private tour and she hands me the special sticker that is going to get me on my own private buggy and to take pictures of the hippos.


Well, she hands me the sticker and tells me to go wait over there by the trams for my guide. Okok, so I go and sit down. My guide comes over to me and I immediately recognize her as the girl who gave me my first tour of the Night Safari (on the first tram that I went on) and she turns out to be a really nice person, but gets extremely confused when I tell her that I would prefer to see the hippos FIRST, then go on a tour of the rest of the park. Oh no, she says, we have to go to the show first and THEN on the tour. Oh NO, I say, I don t WANT to go to the show (please!) I want to just please go take some pictures of the hippos first. Hmm. I try to make my case with her but she decides that she has to go talk to her supervisor first. Meanwhile, let me remind you, the sun is quickly going down.

So I wait. And wait and meanwhile, several trams have already passed on their way to the hippos. I JUST WANT TO SEE THE HIPPOS I am fuming in my mind and eventually she comes back with her supervisor who is VERY unhelpful. I m sorry m am, you cannot go on this safari tour before the show, and he goes on this who tirade of what happens if other people come and want to pay for the private tour and then they can t go because we have the buggy?

But I PAID for a PRIVATE TOUR!! Screw them, I just want to take the hippo pictures!!

I try to make my case with the Supervisor but am VERY annoyed at this point and try to explain to them that this is the REASON I am here is to do this. Take the hippo pictures. Please. Now.

Finally after some debate (and a lot of waiting) the Supervisor finally gives in but now has to go in search of the keys for the buggy. Oh man, I can t believe it!! He locates the keys and we hop into the buggy and set off for the hippos. By now my spirits have set, much like the sun. Mr. Supervisor could tell that he had done something very wrong by making me wait (based on the mood that I was in at this point) and then began apologizing profusely that he made me wait. I was furious and went off about how I came here for this, and how NO ONE was accommodating to me and how hard is it to just get a stupid buggy so that I could take these pictures? (ok I didn't say that last part but that was that I was thinking!)

I m not sure exactly how to explain how I felt at this moment, but it was mostly in between bursting out crying and having a panic attack at the same time.

We get to the hippos and I ve already gotten out my tripod and so quick as a flash (haha, yeah right--I m not ALLOWED to use flash dang it) I start snapping away. But then, to my horror, a stupid tram comes and Mr. Supervisor makes me get back into the tram and then speeds off so that we can go see the show. WHAT?? I don t CARE about seeing the same show again, Mr. Supervisor, I just want to take pictures.

He feels really bad. REALLY bad, but he says that he has to take me back and then if I needed to after the show and then after my tour he could take me back to the hippos one last time--if I promise NOT to use my flash.

Oh man. For the next two hours I am subjected to not only the same silly show as my first night, but another tour (this would be my fourth) and I had to get out at all of the walking trails with the group and pretend that I was interested in the other animals. Ok, that was harsh. Of COURSE I was interested in the other animals, its just that at this point my morale had dug itself sooo deep, soo low into the ground that I didn t really care about seeing the spotted leopards and golden cats, or the world s largest rats.

Finally we make to back to the hippos, but alas, only for a few short moments. The girl sensed my desperation and knew that I was here just for the hippos so she let me off of the tram to dart across the tramway to take a few pictures. And I used my flash. At that point I didn t care if I got kicked out of the zoo, just as long as I got SOME pictures and without my tripod and with no light, there was no way I was going to be able to get a good steady shot.

Back on the buggy, I knew it was not going to work. I had failed. I hadn t gotten these pictures that I was supposed to get. And tomorrow I am heading to Malaysia and there is now no time to go back to the Night Safari and get the much needed pictures. What was I going to do??

Back at the hotel I downloaded my pictures and saw the three black hippos with red eyes laying in the water.


(c) 2004 Sarah Galbraith. All Rights Reserved.