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Distinguishable Differences

Last Friday night, I followed the birders to Frasers Hill & watched the masters at work. Sleeping at 1am & rising at 6am, I was so amazed at their dedication to be the first worms to bait the early birds. Here, I failed miserably to take pictures, resigned to the pavement & coffee station & watched. Dont get me wrong, I wasnt unhappy not being able to take pictures, I was just plotting how I can be a successful WANNABE!

Firstly, I have to learn the names of the birds so that I can rattle off as well as Chien when I see birds coming, or knows what on earth hes talking about when he sees them coming first!!!! Theyre everywhere!

Secondly, I have to wear camouflage. (Done. Ive gotten my spaghetti straps & hipster pants as Jason had suggested. Even got a sleeveless hooded camo jacket to go with it.) A support team has to be inconspicuous & stealth….just like the masters.

Thirdly, I must get over the shock & horror of Phil being able to eat anything under the sun or the fact that he would suggest eating them or catapulting them off trees or shooting a bow at anything with hoofs. Mention a hornbill & hell tell you they are not tasty! And to hear Chien add, Did you suck out the horn off its head too?!?!? Ohmigosh, a conservationists nightmare……Phil can be described aptly by two words, ABSOLUTELY ABO. (Short for aborigines/aboriginal). Hes great to be around though, he kept me awake with all these edible suggestions when I was on the verge of collapsing into slumber on my monopod.

Lastly, one must have the ability to laugh at oneself when you do everything for the first time. Heres an example of the differences:

The Pro (Chien)

The Abo (Phil)

Wannabe! (pummkin)

Cannot Be…

The birds are everywhere, sometimes you hear them but you dont see them. When you see them, you cant find them in your viewfinder. When you finally see through your viewfinder, the bird is so small, you squint & pray that your focus will lock on. Then they flee…….this is so frustrating……

You remember names but dont remember the sequence. Get corrected by Chien many times. You retreat to the coffee station & tell yourself to take a tea break. Then you hear a shriek, somewhat like bird with a sore throat. All you can manage to shout out is Tok tok tok! Thats a tok tok tok! When the surroundings cold, your brain freezes momentarily out of excitement, you say whatever that comes to mind. Woodpecker is non-existent in my vocabulary then. Just tok tok tok. A result of seeing too many PM threads of this name. An Indo Chinese Cuckoo Shrike becomes an Indian Chinese Cuckoo Bird to me. Soon, I was just pointing up in the sky shouting, Big Bird! Big Bird!

Here are some of my attempts but of course, no where near the pros. I stress that Ill stay as a Wannabe & stick to shooting micro underwater stuff, something which Im good at.

Tok Tok Tok…..dont know what kind. Ask Chien.

Forgetful Bird…….think its called Amnesia.

Some kind of thrush…….no, its not a disease.

Racket Tailed Drongo…….this one I know coz it makes a lot of noise outside my apartment every morning.

Phil being powered up by Tenaga!

The Real McCoys

Phil will be joining Philip this weekend & Philip is coming again in December, hopefully Chien can make it. Im going to set up the coffee station proper, be like a Yau Chin Tai-Tai (a rich man’s wife), sit down & wait for the birds to come before I lift my finger to shoot.

Category: Adventure, Birding, Event  Tags: ,  6 Comments

Peacock’s Pride

Since I got here, I noticed the peacocks had been roaming freely. The feathers are all stacked to make the patterns homogenous & uniformed. It’s like someone’s work of art on these birds as no two are alike. And they moult. I’d developed a favourite pastime of collecting their feathers, long, short & fluffy. Some of these are sitting between the pages of my Bible.

And with every find, I chuckle with glee, knowing that I’m competing with the rest of the resort staff who are also vying for this prized possession. Hahaha! The moulting process enables them to grow newer & more elaborate feathers. So the existing feathers make way when their time is up. What a splendid process. I have feathers all over my room now.

The Deck

Divers who come here, ask me how I can move from bustling KL city to a laidback idyllic island living. A girl friend whom I had met briefly before, was surprised to find me here too. I tell them that I am adjusting but the pace is still the same for me. The only thing I have to contend with is the non-availability of the usual convenience of midnight dining at mamak stalls. And the friends who would be awake to be there for you. Diver friends call me to give me encouragement & the inspiration to write. I needed it. Thank you, Eng Hoo, for believing in me in this occasionally lonely place. Then I told them of the birds that visit me are not the usual kind nowadays. I have three eagles atop the tallest trees in the jungle behind me, peacocks all around me & a rooster that likes to chill out at my balcony. Then the common mynahs will squeak when the monitor lizard emerges from below my chalet. The two dogs from the neighbours will roam into our place & I have access to so many pets in a gigantic marine aquarium that houses fearless Sergeant Majors & Cleaner Wrasses!! Ok, so I miss church & fellowship but I also get to meet people from all walks of life. We have had stories from a freight forwarder who transported dolphins to the Singapore Underwater World from Thailand. The whole operation was an intensive-care affair. Then we have the host of the Survivor series coming here to go diving with us. Shortly after, I met Erhling Wahlgren, former Mr. Universe! Who needs the city?

My Daily Visitor

So I have prided myself above the average city slicker (that I was) to come to this island & operate the dive centre with an equally if not more, proud city slicker of Singapore, my dive manager, Sam. Gene, a long time friend & fellow instructor, laughed himself silly when he found out. He didn’t think I could manage the compressor breakdown (if any) or the equipment breakdown (heaven forbids…) & asked me how I was going to manage them. Kaseng, my associate/godfather/guardian, interjected with “she’ll pick up her phone & call for help!” Swanky! That’s why I hired Sam. Life is never going to be the same again. When I made arrangements to cook our own meals, a friend enroute here kindly fulfilled my groceries request. Well, chocolates aren’t exactly groceries but they are my happy food. I got succulent grapes, a 300 thread count per square inch pillowcase & bonito flakes among others, to add onto my feel good therapy! Is he going to be the charming prince who rescues the princess from being marooned? I don’t feel marooned but it’s nice to make believe that I live in a fantasy once in awhile. Castle in a faraway land, an army of guards & servants. A tyrant king guided by an evil prime minister. And me? Stuck in the garden with my Golden Retriever & hornbill. Of course, ideally it should be pet tiger & a macaw but I’m being a bit realistic here. It would be better if this prince believed in Christ & walk in His ways. Maybe he was sent to be a distraction from the better things to come? Maybe he’s been sent by a competitor who’s got high stakes on a bet between themselves. Whatever it is, the last thing on my mind is to let a bet get in the way of friendship if friendship is what the friend is after. If the bet is really what this friend wants to win, then he would have lost the opportunity of my friendship.

The Beach

Relationships used to take up much of my time & effort as I’d placed so much emphasis on them. After going through life being single, I think I have an idea of what my soul mate would be. He will have to look like a peacock to impress me, drop life’s burdens no matter how much significance they hold like the moulting feathers, be ready to accept the period of looking bald & incomplete until the new feathers with greater magnificence grow out to replace the old. He must be monogamous like the macaws too. Tall order. Well, they say nothing is impossible with God. Just as He had arranged all the feathers to a pattern, numbered the hairs on our heads, letting a Godly man find me is like discovering my peacock feathers. Not knowing which peacock had dropped its’ feathers, chancing upon it is already an excitement. How the feather got there would be the adventure I’d live to tell my descendants, hopefully, in my garden full of flowers, hornbills & macaws, a Golden Retriever & God.

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