Personal

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Five years ago today

Filed in Personal, Stress Busters

Today is the 5th anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake. Today is one of the reasons I am here in Ya’an – to be with the giant pandas and their keepers who lost their home in Woloing Panda Centre that was extensively damaged by the 5.12 earthquake.

Thanks to the existence of Bifengxia Panda Base, Wolong was able to keep most of its pandas together. Bifengxia was originally set up in 2003 “to avoid panda fatalities and the spread of infectious diseases in the Wolong captive population … Several pandas were taken to the base in order to secure the safety of the entire population as a whole.” (Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda official guide)

This means Wolong’s captive population is located in two places at any time – an excellent strategy, as it turned out, especially in light what happened during the 5.12 earthquake in 2008.

There are many things i am grateful for. Giant pandas, Wolong and especially Bifengxia Panda Base are some of them.

2010: An exceptionally black and white year

Filed in Personal, Stress Busters

This year marks my 10th year as a giant panda lover. It was in February 2000 when I fell in love with a 6-month-old giant panda cub making her public debut in San Diego Zoo.

Hua Mei was that 6-month-old giant panda cub. She returned to China in 2004. I first saw her in San Diego Zoo in 2001, and it was another six years before I saw her again in 2007, this time in Wolong. I have seen her every year since then, and it was only fitting that I would once again see her on our 10th anniversary.

She turned 11 in August this year, and is the mother of 8 – three pairs of twins (2004, 2005 and 2007) and two single cubs (2009 and 2010).


Beautiful Hua Mei (March 2010)


Pausing at the door to decide whether to go out to her yard


She’s quite a poser

This year also saw my adopted giant panda, Feng Yi (who I’d named Yoong Ping) turn 4. I’d adopted her when she was a month old in September 2006. I first saw her during my 2007 Wolong trip. In 2008, she was one of 8 giant pandas chosen to live in Beijing Zoo as part of the Beijing 2008 Olympic 2008 attractions. I flew there to see her after my annual trip to Bifengxia in August that year. A year later, she was back in Bifengxia and I saw her there in May 2009. In December 2009, she was sent to Guilin Zoo with another panda, Mei Xin.

Since I adopted her, I’d never celebrated her birthday for her. This year, I was determined to do so, and my determination paid off.


Enjoying the pool in her yard the day before her birthday


Official 4th birthday portrait – Feng Yi / Yoong Ping, 23 August 2010

There was another black and white birthday celebration I attended this year. Fuzhou Panda World celebrated the 30th birthday of their star panda, Basi.


Basi enjoys a close relationship with Ms See, her keeper of 20 years


I got my picture taken with the two special ladies

But it was also a sad black and white year. We lost six giant pandas during the year – Chuang Chuang in Shanghai, #20 in Jinan, #21 in Xiamen, Shui Ling in Shanghai, Kou Kou in Kobe (Japan) and Lang Lang in Nanjing. Of the six, Lang Lang’s death affected me the most. He was my photo pal during my 2007 photo session in Wolong. He was only 4 years 4 months when he died on 16 December 2010.


Lang Lang (25 August 2006 – 16 December 2010)

In other news, I had a short story published in The British Council’s A City of Shared Stories Kuala Lumpur.

I also published a photobook of Tai Shan’s public debut in Bifengxia Panda Base.


Proceeds from the photobook go towards Pandas International’s Wolong Earthquake Fund. Please order your copy here!

My home recycling centre

Filed in Personal

It’s complete and set up. One day before the end of 2010.

I’ve been collecting plastic, paper and glass into a reuseable shopping bag to take to my sister’s to add to her pile which she sends to a recycling centre run by the Buddhist Society every third Sunday of the month. Her pile is separated into paper, plastic, glass and metal. So I’ve had to separate mine when I take them over. Sometimes, when I don’t have the time, I leave the bag for the maid to sort. And recently got an earful from my sister who said I should separate the stuff myself.

So I decided to do a little recycling centre in my apartment. My sister’s consists of a big cardboard box (formerly used for holding A4 photocopy paper) for the paper, a smaller box for the glass and metal, and a large plastic bag for the plastic. I wanted something a little more, er, stylish for mine.

The boxes are from IKEA, set of three for RM35/-.

The plank is a shelf, also from IKEA, RM8.90.

The “legs” were the hardest to get. I thought of getting two wastepaper baskets to hold up the plank. But with nothing in them, they could be pushed around easily. Then this afternoon, while at HomeFix in 1 Utama, I saw these “heavy duty fridge stand (big)”, four for RM9.90. I made two “legs” of the four stands.

So now, I have a sorting centre for all the recyclable items.

I still need to find something to line each box so that I can just gather up each pile instead of transferring items from box to bag. Ideally, something made of paper, not plastic.

Special Day

Filed in Personal

It’s a special day today, and it will be even more special next year.

God willing, I will be here to see it.

Street Dogs have a right to life, too

Filed in Personal

I call them street dogs altho they’re better known, to most people, as stray dogs, or simply as strays.

We have a group of them here in Damansara Perdana. I used to see them during my morning walks. Then the group got smaller. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I hear howling from the streets below. Were they being abused, killed off?

I used to be really terrified of dogs, but now, when I pass them (or they pass me) in the streets, I keep calm and they mind their own business. I think animals smell fear and hatred and react accordingly.

The group dwindled down to 3, then 2. I’d see one and ask in my heart “where are your buddies?” Once, while doing a U-turn near my apartment block, I saw a brown dog up close, and saw that his back was one long open red wound. But he didn’t behave like he was hurting; in fact, he was quite a healthy dog except for the wound. It was from there that I started thinking of them as street, not stray, dogs. For sure, they are streetwise dogs.

Yesterday, while out on my first morning walk in almost a month, I was glad to see a group of 4 or 5. They were walking like they knew where they were going, like they own that particular street. A motorcyclist came a little too close to one of them and got barked at (maybe he slowed to kick the dog, but I couldn’t see). He then rode off, took the junction without looking and got honked at by an on-coming car. Served him right.

I wish there’s more I can do for the street dogs in my neighbourhood. I left messages on Facebook pages, I sent emails, and in the process, learned the politics that divide so-called “animal rescue” groups. Yet, despite the disappointment, I am heartened by the occasional individual who goes out of her way to do more.

I have seen that brown dog with the open wound again. He is still around, walking and running, the wound healing. For sure, he is a street(smart) dog, like his buddies.