Posts filed under News

Giant Panda Cub Births

Filed in News, Stress Busters

Two new additions to the 2010 batch.

To Yang Yang at Vienna Zoo, a single cub on 23 August, approximately 100g, sex still unknown. Yang Yang has great timing – her first cub, Fu Long, was born exactly 3 years ago on the same date.

To Gong Zhu at Bifengxia Panda Base, a single cub on 24 August, weight and sex unknown.

I was on TV

Filed in News, Stress Busters

Thanks to that American-born panda, Tai Shan.

In Pictures: Tai Shan’s Big Day

Filed in News, Stress Busters

After a month in quarantine since being returned from the United States to Bifengxia Panda Base in China, American-born giant panda Tai Shan came out of quarantine today and was moved to his new home on Leopard Mountain at the Base in a special “Tai Shan Moving House” event that attracted the local media in full force.

I was there, but not specifically to attend the event. I’m here for my annual volunteer trip which happens to coincide with Tai Shan’s big day. Here are some pictures from this special day.

The weather forecast had said rain from 6 March (the day I arrived), but it only rained on the 3rd day. This morning, rain in Ya’an became snow when we got to Bifengxia Panda Base. Only for Tai Shan!

Welcome banner and red carpet at the start of the path going up to Tai Shan’s new home

Volunteers called up on stage to receive certificates of appreciation

There were blank cards attached to the railings at his yard for volunteers to write messages to him. This was mine.

Caught in the act!

The volunteers each received a goody bag with a panda soft toy inside. Mine is US bound for a special foo-foo pet … I mean, baby.

And now some pictures of today’s star attraction, Tai Shan.

His keeper and team really got into the spirit of the occasion and decked out a buggy for Tai’s personal transport up to his new home

Within minutes of arrival, he was allowed outdoors. He came out, looked around and headed straight for the slope on the other side so that he disappeared for a while. But he was soon back up and facing the pandarazzi on the other side of the railings.

After the excitement of the morning, he settled down quickly to his usual routine of eating bamboo! We went back after lunch and were rewarded with his left profile …

… and his right profile

Tai in his yard – an overall view to give an idea of the size of the yard.


Filed in News

I am currently in China, and have discovered the “Great Firewall of China”.

Yup, no access to Facebook and Twitter in China. I feel “offline”, altho I have Internet access in my hotel room, and brought along “H”, my Asus eeePC 1000H, so I am online, just not on Facebook or Twitter.

I’m at the Bifengxia Panda Base for my annual volunteer trip. This trip coincides with American-born giant panda Tai Shan coming out of his 30-day quarantine and moving into his new digs today. It’s a big event with 20 volunteers helping him to move. I’m one of the 20.

This should be a fun day.

I just remembered my blog entries are sent to my Facebook account, so this should go up there, too. If any of my FB friends read this, please post a comment on my blog to let me know. Then, I’ll update my blog more often while I’m in China.


A Year of Anniversaries

Filed in Memories, News

Today is the 20th anniversary of the Loma Pieta earthquake, better known as the San Francisco earthquake.

This has been a year of anniversaries …

Of course, every year is an anniversary for some event that’s important to someone somewhere in the world. 2009, however, seems to have more than its share of anniversaries for events that have affected not just individuals, but whole groups of people.

In addition to the San Francisco earthquake, other notable anniversaries in 2009 include the 40th anniversary of both the May 13 incident in Malaysia and Woodstock from 15 to 18 August, and the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen Square on 4 June.

It is also the 40th anniversary of Stonewall on 28 June. I mention this historic event separately because, although I’d heard of Stonewall, I was not aware of its anniversary date until recently.

In contrast, I have personal memories of the other four events.

May 13 in Malaysia

For many years, there were different versions of what happened, why it happened and who was involved. My grandfather’s Chinese herbal shop was on the street where it all started. I still remember all the other shops were already closed, but ours wasn’t. My dad and his older brother refused to close the shop, instead waiting at the entrance and it was only when they saw a group approaching from the opposite side of the roundabout that they decided to pull the metal shutters and lock up. Till today, I still shudder at what would’ve happened if one of them had stumbled and they were a moment too late.

I remember sitting at the round marble table upstairs doing my Malay homework. I also remember thinking “No school tomorrow!”

For many years, the different versions of May 13 conflicted with mine, but the recent publication of May 13 by Dr Kua Kia Soong has verified that what I remember of that night is true.

Woodstock – 3 Days of Love, Peace and Music

No, I wasn’t at Woodstock but I did go to see the movie when it was shown in Malaysia about a year after the event. It was a heavily edited version, altho there were still shots of that naked woman bathing in the open. There was only one female singer in the movie – Joan Baez – and it was there I heard her for the first time, and fell in love with her voice. Another vivid memory from the movie – Alvin Lee of 10 Years After being given a huge watermelon which he slung over his shoulder (can’t remember right or left shoulder).

Years later – late 1990 – I accepted an invitation to visit my professor and her family at their house near Woodstock. She took me to a poetry reading and I wrote this in my journal:

It could only happen in Woodstock. A number of 60s people still remain, and these are the people who have formed a group to protest the possibility of war in the Middle East that seems imminent. There was a draft resistor there who may be going to jail for what he’s doing. IT”S VIETNAM ALL OVER AGAIN.

Tiananmen Square

I was in my final year at the University of East Anglia when Tiananmen Square happened. This is what I wrote in my diary of the event.

Sun – 110689 (1:16)

I’m going down to London later this morning to join a demonstration in Chinatown. Heard about it on the telly on Thurs, and immediately made the decision to go. Was hoping to thumb a ride from Michael and Siu Lin but they’re not going. Apparently, there’s a coach going from UEA but I want to travel on my own.

However, the more I think of it, the more I realise it’d be a mixed demo, with different political groups joining in. All the more reason to go alone, so I can drift away if I get cheesed off.

Mon – 120689 (23:41)

I’ve worked it out that I was on the go 16 hours yesterday – from 6 am to midnight. And it told on my work today. So many errors! Also, I really felt TIRED.

Yesterday has been physically and emotionally exhausting. I took the 7:20 to London and it was a slow train, taking more than 3 hours, and changing once, arriving at 10:13.

As far as demos go, yesterday’s was in the same mould. Apparently, about 20,000 turned up. I don’t agree with a lot that went on, altho the demands were intelligent, particularly asking the British Govt to extend the visas of the mainland Chinese students.

I felt excluded, because almost everyone else there was with a group. I went as an individual.

It was very emotional overall, but the only time I got emotional was during the singing of “Heirs of the Dragon”, especially the line “Black eyes, black hair, yellow skin, forever heirs of the dragon”.

When the march started (after 2½ hours of listening to various speakers), I moved to the first corner and stood there, scrutinising every face walking past. I was waiting either for Julia or the UEA group. No UEA group, but saw Julia and walked up to her. She was REALLY surprised to see me.

She agreed the demo was basically a lot of “fei wah” (literally “wasted words” but actual meaning is “rubbish” or “bullsh*t”). The march progressed to the Chinese Embassy, by which time both of us were really tired and fed-up. Also, I was having one of my infamous headaches. We left at 3:50 p.m.

San Francisco Earthquake

I can’t find my 1989 diary where I must’ve written something about this. The following is taken from a post I wrote recently on the Flickr AlphaSmart group.

I had just arrived in San Diego to start my grad studies in 1989 when the Loma Prieta earthquake happened. Of course, at the time, I didn’t know it was called that. I remember being outside and hearing a female student walk by quite hysterical and telling her friends her grandmother’s in San Francisco and she couldn’t get her on the phone.

Around 2 a.m. that night, my phone rang and it was my sister asking if I was alright and they heard on the news that the Golden Gate Bridge had collapsed. What happened was the tenant in my dad’s shop had heard the Chinese news (news on Chinese language radio) about the earthquake and the bridge in San Francisco collapsing. For many Chinese people around the world, there’s only one bridge in San Francisco and that’s the Golden Gate Bridge, that’s why my sister asked.

Actually, there’s another anniversary of importance this year, altho compared to the other anniversaries I’ve written above, this one is just a “baby”, just a year old. But in terms of magnitude, and especially in terms of what it meant for my beloved giant pandas, the May 12 earthquake in 2008 ranks alongside the others, maybe even more. I observed that 1st anniversary by being with my precious bears on that very day itself.