Friday, June 5, 2015

another trip to the Singapore zoo

We have been going to the zoo a lot lately it feels like. I guess that's a good thing. Taking full advantage of the membership and all. I know we already did a pretty extensive post on the zoo here in Singapore but I brought the camera again this last time and there is just too much good stuff not to share. You'll see what I mean. ;) This was only the second time Brennan has been able to go with us and he had just arrived home from India around 7 in the morning. He is a trooper! 

Koalas are a new addition (perhaps temporary? It's unclear to me.) so there is koala stuff everywhere.
 Waiting for the Splash show to start. And this is where the fun began. No wonder Tatum has been dying to go to the zoo with dad. He brings the fun. :)
 He was chosen as a volunteer for this show which meant he got to throw a frisbee to the sea lion.
Please excuse the poor videography.
 Since he wasn't successful he had to dance in front of everyone. Could we be more different? Haha, not in this way.
The koalas were so adorable!

 Sibling love by the kangaroos.
 We took Brennan in the Fragile Forest for his first time. And we had some encounters that were all together too close for my liking. Brennan, on the other hand, got a real kick out of watching me practically pee my pants. A duck flew right over my head from behind, and I kid you not it almost touched my head! And the ginormous bats wouldn't stop flying around! Normally they just hang there eating their fruit. Not today. I'm not sure I'll ever go in the fragile forest again. ;)

We got to get nice and close to the lemurs which the kids loved.

 The splash pad was a huge hit, as usual.
 Brennan even convinced Tatum to sit with him and let the giant bucket dump on them. She loved it! Which will hopefully make future trips a little easier since usually she is scared to death it is going to dump on her when she isn't paying attention. He even forced Declan to sit with them one time. He was not a fan.

 This picture just makes me smile because we look kind of twinsy in our movement.
 And I find this picture hilarious. I don't know why, but I seriously love it.

Little India

Monday was Vesak Day, yet another public holiday. :) We took it easy most of the day after dealing with a sick Declan for the better part of a week. He was starting to be back to himself that day though so we headed down to Little India in the afternoon. Our first stop was at Zam Zam for some Indian grub. This was on Arab Street, which is really in Kampong Glam, but it was Indian food. :) We ordered the biryani and the murtabak. Biryani is Brennan's favorite Indian dish and this was my first time trying it. Murtabak was mostly new to us both and is what Zam Zam is most known for.

We were lucky enough to sit upstairs where there was some air conditioning, although it was quite weak. The food was spicy enough to make me sweat so I was grateful to have even the pitiful AC. :)

 He was still a bit 'off'. :)
 The biryani. It was really good! The chicken hidden in the rice was delicious, the rice was so airy and yummy and those curries?! Oh my!
 Zam Zam is there on the left. These restaurants sure try hard to get people to come in and eat. They even have workers just hanging out in the road trying to get cars to stop!
 Walking toward Little India after 'linner'.
 The Sultan Mosque. Unfortunately it is still under construction and because of the confusion from that we couldn't figure out how to get inside. Next time.
 I just liked those colorful HDB buildings.
 Little India

 A temple. I forgot to write down the name but it was Sri 'something'.
 The detail work on these temples is quite remarkable.

We did a little bit of shopping, found some good deals and headed home. It was a pretty short visit to Little India. We will definitely have to go back and explore some more. But after living in quarantine for so long it was great to get out and see a part of Singapore we haven't seen yet!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Brennan goes to Hyderabad, India

Brennan had another opportunity to travel for work and now gets the chance to blog about it! The kids and I survived well at home. The highlight being Declan getting his knee stuck between the slats of his crib during nap time. I could not get it out. He was screaming, Tatum was crying and I was panicking. But...I finally got it! No worries. Without further ado, here's Brennan. :)

Oh Hyderabad.... The land of traffic, rocks, security checkpoints, heat, wonderful people, and amazing food. Seriously though, that last sentence pretty much sums up everything about Hyderabad. I had an eye-opening experience seeing another part of the world. Let's kick it off with a few pictures:

Yep, you are seeing this correctly. That is a family of 4 on a motorcycle. No helmets. Believe it or not, I also saw a family of 6 on a motorcycle of the same size. I wasn't quick enough with my camera to snag a photo. Traffic was insane! I have never ever heard so much honking in my entire life. While we were driving around, I started looking at the cars and began noticing quite a few dents and scratches. I seriously had to look at about 20 cars before I saw a car without one! They weave and squeeze until they get their vehicles in the spot they want to be in. 

I had to take a picture of this taxi. Seems super legit.... right? Taxi for sure. 

The majority of taxis looked like this little three-wheeler here. I also had to take a picture of some of the rocks laying around. They were everywhere. The city of Hyderabad is build on a rocky plateau, so it must be a construction nightmare! 

Security checkpoints... everywhere. True story- On my way from the hotel to the office, the driver had to go through a checkpoint before dropping me off, I had to walk into an office and check into the gated office building area where the office is, then I had to go through a metal detector and bag search to get in the building, then I had to check in at the security desk at Rockwell Collins to get into the office itself. That is 4 checkpoints for one office my friends.... 4. On the way back to the hotel, the driver is stopped at a gate at the hotel where some guards open the trunk and inspect the vehicle. I then go through another metal detector while my backpack went through a scanner. By the end of the day, just in one round trip I have to go through security 6 times. A little excessive?

On Thursday, Ranjith (a co-worker) took me around to some of the highlights of Hyderabad. We stopped by an amazing area called Golkonda Fort. The Fort was built nearly 500 years ago and is located about 11 miles outside of Hyderabad. There are ruins that are pretty fun to go inside and see, so Ranjith showed me around. 

Ranjith and I posing in front of some of the ruins. One of the neatest things there was a sort of clapping chamber. The acoustics were set up so perfectly that if you stand in the middle of this open-walled room and clapped, someone could hear the clap from nearly 500 yards away up the hillside. It was a type of notification system to let people know they had visitors. 

Apparently, this weight was used by soldiers trying to get in the military. If a soldier could lift the 200 Kg weight, they were allowed to join. Obviously, I would have been a shoe-in. 

One of the buildings inside the fort.

A panoramic picture of the fort from the courtyard.

One of the historical gates to the city on one of the roads in Hyderabad. 

Ranjith and I stopped in at a museum to see some of the Hyderabad artwork.

Our final stop was a marble temple. I was about to run up some steps to take pictures at the top, but a a guard grunted at me. Then I noticed a sign saying that shoes had to be removed to go up the steps. I am glad I heard him or I might have had a security guard chasing me up the stairs of the marble temple. 

This is a picture of Hyderabad from the marble temple hilltop.

"Pregnant elephants." These carved animals are made from one piece of wood and have a baby elephant carved inside.

 A soapstone variation.

Last, but not least.... the food. Amazing!

Biryani is an Indian rice dish that I have grown to love. I had it 3 times while I was there.

Indian Naan. The bread is delicious dipped in different types of curry.

Honey, ginger, and lime smoothie. Some of my favorite flavors and it did not disappoint!

I am so glad I had the opportunity to see this amazing country. The people were so humble and welcoming. Ranjith was so nice to take his time showing me around the city. The food was fantastic. I hope I get the opportunity to travel there again.