Posts filed under Travels

This is where my words went

Filed in Stress Busters, Travels

I wrote an article for the Pandas International newsletter, about my recent volunteer trip to the Bifengxia Panda Base.

Full story here

Celebrating Malaysia’s National Day …

Filed in Travels

… with a post about China. In particular, travel security during the recent Olympics.

As can be expected, security was stepped up during the recent Olympics in China. It was especially tight in Beijing, including travel into, altho not out of, as I was to find out.

In Beijing, the subway stations were equipped with X-ray machines similar to what you would find at airports. A newly-met friend (hi, Crystal!) took me on the subway on the evening of Thursday, 14 August 2008. I’d spent the afternoon watching the 8 Olympic pandas at Beijing Zoo and we’d arranged to meet at the zoo’s entrance and then decide where to go for dinner, etc. After we met, I said I would like to go to Wangfujin, where the official Beijing Olympics souvenir store was located.

Melody at the zoo had said Wangfujin was quite far from the zoo. But according to Crystal, it wasn’t that far. We waited for a cab for about 10 minutes, after which she suggested taking the subway.

The nearest station was a 10-minute walk away, it was after-office hours so the sidewalk was quite crowded, especially near the station. Walking into the station, we joined a queue and Crystal explained that we needed to put our bags through to be scanned. But it wasn’t so bad. The machine didn’t show up anything suspicious in my backpack, or anyone else’s bags.

So, that was a taste of tightened security within Beijing during the Olympics.

As for travelling into Beijing, I had a taste of the tighter security when I checked in my bag at Chengdu Airport for my flight to Beijing. Normally, you’d just check your luggage in and that was it. In this case, the counter staff held on to my boarding pass and told me to wait while my bag was being scanned. Then I was called by one of the officers at the scanning machine.

The machine had picked up a suspicious item inside my bag. I looked at the highlighted item and couldn’t for the life of me remember what I’d packed that could be suspicious or dangerous. It was when the officer said “either a knife or toothbrush … ” that I remembered what it was – my electric toothbrush. After I confirmed it was an electric toothbrush, he said okay and let me go. I collected my boarding pass, relieved that I didn’t have to open the bag to get the toothbrush to prove that it really was an electric toothbrush.

For my flight from Beijing to Guangzhou, I decided to pack the toothbrush in my carry-on backpack, which would be easier to take out and show to the officer. But the item didn’t show up at all when I put the backpack through the machine. It made me think all that extra security is just for within Beijing and travelling into Beijing, not out of.

And oh yes, Happy Merdeka to all Malaysians. Merdeka means independence, and we’ve been independent for 51 years. The 51 years’ independence is from British rule, altho I think the country is still struggling for independence in various other areas, most of them not involving anyone or anything foreign.

Turning 2

Filed in Stress Busters, Travels

She turns 2 today, and remains as feisty as ever.

She is Feng Yi, the giant panda cub I adopted in 2006. I’d named her Yoong Ping for my parents and also in memory of my niece, but have grown used to calling her by her official name.

Feng Yi.

I first met her last year when I went to Wolong, and she’d kept walking away from me. This year, she didn’t; she couldn’t as she was behind “bars” (to the animal activists reading this, if there are any – don’t get upset, it’s not cruel bars she was behind).

Last year, I visited her after she turned 1. This year, I visited her at the Beijing Zoo before she turned 2. I hope I will get to visit her on her birthday one of these days.

Judy, a fellow panda lover, asked if I’d asked her keepers at Beijing Zoo to give her something on her birthday. I hadn’t. But as I told her, we don’t need to do something for the ones we love – what matters is the heart, that we love them. And we can do something for them at other times of the year.

I did get to feed her during the visit. While in Bifengxia, I’d mentioned I’d be going onto Beijing and Cindy from the admin offices kindly called Wu Daifu, the head keeper, to tell him of my visit, and he’d said for me to contact him. So, as “mother” of one of the 8 Olympic pandas currently in Beijing as part of the Olympic attractions, I was honoured with a visit to the keepers’ quarters, to view the 8 pandas from a privileged vantage point, to watch Feng Yi in her training, and to feed her, too.

You can say my feeding her was our birthday present to each other this year.

She remains as feisty as ever.

There were 2 of them in training that day – her and Huan Huan. She went first, after which, they switched places, and she went into the enclosure next door. But she was restless. She knew what was going on in the next enclosure, and more importantly, what was available there – food! So she paced the enclosure and scratched the door, and even climbed on Duo Duo, who happened to be in the same enclosure with her.

Happy Birthday, Feng Yi.

Home … and one week later

Filed in Stress Busters, Travels

Well, it’s exactly a week since I came home from my excellent panda adventure. (A week ago this time, I was in Beijing, getting my luggage together to wait for my taxi to the airport.)

Apart from posting a video on 16 August, I haven’t updated my blog. In fact, I haven’t done much writing, and the AlphaSmart Neo is still in its neoprene case since arriving home.

What is wrong with me?

Actually, I’ve been ill – cold and sore throat, plus I stubbed my little right toe on the corner of a door in my sister’s house, which turned a sickly green 24 hours later – so I haven’t felt up to doing much.

I have managed to miss two birthdays so far, and if I persist in this state, will miss a third birthday.

The two birthdays were Mei Sheng’s on 19 August, and his half-sister Hua Mei’s on 21 August. They turned 5 and 9 respectively.

I saw them both during the Bifengxia part of my excellent panda adventure. Here are 2 pictures.

Mei Sheng in his favourite spot up in the trees:

Hua Mei, with wowotou in one paw and apple slice in the other:

Highlights of my panda trip

Filed in Stress Busters, Travels

There were many highlights, and this is just one of them.