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Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Final Lesson

I saw Dad's name on my phone's address book as I looked for other people's contact the other day. Dad used a prepaid card and of course the number wasn't his anymore by now. I wasn't sure why I still kept it, but I was somewhat reluctant to delete it away. Probably it was my way of honoring his memory or perhaps I just wanted to preserve the last link between us.

Whatever the reason was, seeing his name brought me back to our last moments together. I remember his voice. The tone was so normal and positive that he didn't sound like a sick man. I thought it was just me, but even my wife, Endrico and Alvin told me so when they spoke with Dad. It was kind of sad that I would never hear it again if I ever pressed that number. 

Then I remembered the new Xiaomi Redmi 7 phone that I bought for him. He only managed to use it for two weeks before he passed away, but he was so happy when I created a Facebook account on the phone for him. It was a childlike happiness. He was so amazed that he could find so many family and friends on Facebook. I remember him adding them excitedly while telling me the short story of each person he added. 

I never dreamed of Dad since he left us last June. I took it as a good sign, that he had left this world peacefully. I did speak with my wife about him from time to time, though. There and then, as all these good memories flashed back the moment I saw his name on phone, I couldn't help smiling. 

Even in his death, Dad still taught me one final lesson: the quality of your life would reflect on how your dearest ones spoke so fondly of it. Dad was not a saint and he made a plenty of mistakes, too, but he did a good job living his life. His greatest legacy? The time he spent for being my Dad. 

Dad's Facebook account.

Pelajaran Terakhir

Baru-baru ini, ketika saya mencari kontak di telepon genggam saya, secara kebetulan saya melihat nama Papa. Dulu beliau menggunakan kartu prabayar, jadi sudah pasti bahwa nomor yang saya simpan ini bukan lagi miliknya. Saya tidak tahu pasti kenapa saya masih menyimpannya, tapi saya juga agak sungkan untuk menghapusnya. Mungkin ini cara saya untuk mengenang ayah, mungkin juga karena saya ingin menyimpan sesuatu yang bersifat pribadi antara saya dan ayah. 

Apapun alasannya, saat melihat namanya, saya jadi terkenang dengan saat-saat terakhir bersama Papa sebelum dia tak sadarkan diri. Saya ingat suaranya. Nadanya begitu normal dan positif, sama sekali tidak terdengar seperti orang sakit. Saya sempat mengira bahwa hanya saya yang berpikir seperti itu, tapi istri saya, Endrico dan Alvin juga berpendapat sama saat mereka mengobrol dengan Papa. Agak sedih rasanya bahwa saya tidak akan bisa mendengar suara ini lagi bilamana saya menekan nomor yang tersimpan ini. 

Saya lantas teringat dengan Xiaomi Redmi 7 baru yang saya belikan untuknya. Papa hanya sempat menggunakannya selama dua minggu sebelum dia meninggal, namun dia begitu gembira saat saya membuatkan akun Facebook untuknya. Ya, kegembiraan yang polos dan tanpa beban seperti kanak-kanak. Dia sangat senang bisa menemukan kembali saudara dan teman-temannya di Facebook. Saat Papa menambahkan teman satu persatu di akunnya, dia pun bercerita singkat tentang mereka.  

Saya tidak pernah bermimpi tentang Papa sejak dia meninggal di bulan Juni lalu. Saya anggap ini adalah pertanda baik bahwa dia telah meninggalkan dunia ini dengan tenang. Kendati begitu, terkadang saya masih berbicara dengan istri saya tentang Papa. Ketika saya melihat namanya dan kembali terkenang tentang Papa, saya jadi tersenyum. 

Bahkan setelah dia wafat pun Papa masih meninggalkan satu pelajaran terakhir untuk saya: kualitas kehidupan kita akan tercermin dari apa yang dibicarakan oleh mereka yang mencintai kita. Papa bukanlah orang suci dan dia berbuat kesalahan semasa hidupnya, tapi dia hidup sebaik yang dia bisa. Peninggalannya yang paling berharga? Waktu yang dia gunakan untuk menjadi seorang ayah bagi saya.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Book Review: The Travels Of Marco Polo

Marco Polo was, probably, the first travel blogger, except he didn't write it himself. Yes, I just knew it after I picked up the book. I thought it was like from one traveller to another, so I read his book. It turned out that the Travels was written by another guy named Rustichello da Pisa. Marco was jailed in Genoa when he shared his story with his fellow inmate. Their collaboration eventually became the book that shook the whole Europe.

In order to understand the significance, imagine the time before Google and AirAsia. The travels happened long ago in early 1270s. Not many were crazy enough to travel that far to the East, or to the West, if we were talking about the Asians. It took years and the journey was perilous. There were deserts and bandits, not to mention warring kingdoms. As a result, people from both sides of the planet vaguely knew there were other kingdoms on the opposite side, but due to lack of contacts, they barely knew what was going on there. 

Those that made it and returned home safely, they didn't tell their story or didn't do a good job in doing so. In fact, the first Polo to reach Cathay (North China) was Marco's father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, but yet they didn't bother to write a book about it. What Marco did in jail to pass time was, perhaps, the most important coincidence that changed the world. It inspired Columbus and many more explorers after him.

Now, after hearing all the hype, how was the book like? I had to say it was pretty boring, haha. I struggled reading it and almost fell asleep pretty often. The writing style was descriptive and Marco Polo himself was mentioned only in passing. The focus was more on each city he visited, for example what the culture was like (some were nice, some allowed strangers to sleep with their wife and daughters, etc.) and whether they were idolaters, Christian or Mahometan (the latter meant Islam, but throughout the book, Marco called them Mahometan). After reading the same info over and over again, you'd roughly get the idea and tend to skip those pages with similar content. 

If I needed such info, I'd browse Wikipedia. But if I looked at it from the perspective of people from Medieval time, this book was beyond the wildest dream. Marco told a tale about cities that were unheard of by people at that time. Names as foreign as Khanbaliq and Shangdu (which would be known to the world as Xanadu) that filled up a book as thick as 300 pages, they couldn't be just some fantasy, could they? The mystery was probably what sold the book.

For modern day's readers such myself, first and foremost, it was the travels that were charming. Marco travelled from Europe to Israel, Armenia, Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, from the driest land to the highest snowy mountains, before entering Cathay from Xinjiang. Then when he was in China, he travelled not only in Cathay, but also went to Manzi (Southern China). He even visited Tibet and Myanmar, where he heard of people from Bengal. But scholars couldn't help noticing that Marco actually failed to mention about the Great Wall. 

Anyway, whether he was really there or not, his story about the journey back to Venice was equally mind-blowing. He told about this island called Japan. He sailed from Cathay to Vietnam and then Sumatra (from the route, it was unlikely that he ever visited Java, but he probably heard of it and included Java in his story, too). After that, he continued to Sri Lanka, India and Iran. From there, he headed to Turkey and back to Europe.

Crazy, huh? What made the journey even crazier was, together with his father and uncle, he became the honorable guests of Kublai Khan, the greatest emperor of his time. If you'd like to know how great the emperor was, the Mongol Empire covered part of Europe (Russia included), Persia (that's Iran) and China (even kingdoms as far as Vietnam paid tribute to the Great Khan). So, yeah, Marco literally got a friend in a high place and he offered a glimpse of how history could have been different. 

As mentioned earlier, Nicollò and Maffeo Polo were the first Italians to reach Cathay. The reason why they left was partly because the Great Khan asked them to sent a letter to the Pope. Kublai Khan was curious about Christianity and he requested the Pope to send 100 missionaries, but the problem was, Pope Clement IV already died when the Polo brothers reached Europe. The new Pope was only elected when Nicollò and Maffeo began their journey with Marco, so in a rush, he only managed to secure two friars whom immediately ran for their life in the face of danger.

Years later, if Marco's account was to be trusted, the Great Khan did say that he couldn't be a Christian because unlike any idolaters from India, the Christian people didn't seem to be capable of doing magic. As the Great Khan, Kublai simply couldn't afford to be seen as endorsing the weakest religion. Too bad, eh? If only things went well, it'd be interesting to see how China looked like these days...

The story is ancient, the book is also old!

Ulasan Buku: Perjalanan Marco Polo

Marco Polo bisa dikatakan sebagai blogger pertama tentang kunjungan ke luar negeri, hanya saja dia ternyata tidak menulis sendiri ceritanya. Ya, saya baru tahu setelah saya baca bukunya. Sebagai sesama pelancong, suatu hari saya terpikir untuk membaca karyanya. Setelah saya simak, ternyata buku ini sebenarnya ditulis oleh pengarang yang bernama Rustichello da Pisa. Sewaktu Marco dipenjara di Genoa, Marco mengisahkan petualangannya kepada teman satu sel. Kolaborasi mereka inilah yang akhirnya menjadi buku yang mengguncang Eropa.

Untuk memahami betapa berpengaruhnya buku ini, anda harus bayangkan zaman sebelum Google dan AirAsia. Perjalanan ini terjadi berabad-abad silam di awal tahun 1270an. Saat itu tidak banyak yang nekad untuk pergi sejauh itu ke arah Timur bumi ini, atau Barat, kalau kita lihat Eropa dari sudut pandang orang Asia. Butuh waktu bertahun-tahun lamanya dan bahaya pula perjalanannya. Para pedagang yang berangkat harus melewati banyak padang pasir dan senantiasa dihadang para bandit. Belum lagi kalau mereka terjebak di tengah dua kerajaan yang sedang berperang. Karena sulitnya perjalanan, orang-orang dari dua sisi bumi ini tahu bahwa ada kerajaan lain nun jauh di sana, tapi terselubung oleh misteri karena minimnya kontak. Bagi orang Eropa, bangsa Mongol ini disebut Tartar karena mereka terkenal kejam bagaikan penghuni Tartarus yang berarti neraka dalam mitologi Yunani.

Jika ada beberapa gelintir pengelana yang berhasil mencapai Timur Jauh dan kembali dengan selamat, mereka tidak bercerita atau mengisahkan perjalanan mereka dengan baik. Bahkan Niccolò dan Maffeo Polo, ayah dan paman Marco yang lebih dulu mencapai Cathay (Cina Utara) tidak pernah berpikir untuk menulis buku. Apa yang Marco ceritakan saat berada di penjara menjadi suatu kebetulan yang luar biasa penting dalam mengubah sejarah peradaban manusia. Kisahnya menjadi inspirasi bagi Columbus dan penjelajah yang bermunculan setelahnya.

Nah, setelah mendengarkan ulasan betapa berpengaruhnya buku ini, sebenarnya seperti apa isinya? Jujur saya katakan bahwa buku ini sangat membosankan, haha. Saya berjuang menahan kantuk saat membaca. Penulisannya bersifat deskriptif dan Marco Polo sendiri hanya disinggung secara selintas di beberapa bagian buku. Jadi fokus buku ini lebih kepada kota yang ia kunjungi, misalnya seperti apa budaya kota tersebut (ada yang sopan, ada yang barbar, ada pula yang memiliki tradisi mempersilahkan orang asing untuk berhubungan intim dengan istri dan putrinya) dan juga agama yang dianut penduduk setiap kota (apakah mereka penyembah berhala, Nasrani atau Mahometan alias Islam). Setelah membaca informasi yang sama berulang-ulang, saya jadi cenderung melewati halaman yang kurang lebih sama isinya. 

Terus-terang saja, kalau saya butuh info seperti itu, saya akan cari di Wikipedia. Namun orang Abad Pertengahan tidak memiliki internet dan bagi mereka, buku ini sungguh mencengangkan. Marco bercerita tentang negeri asing di ujung dunia dengan kota-kota yang aneh namanya, seperti Khanbaliq dan Shangdu (yang kemudian lebih dikenal sebagai Xanadu). Kisah setebal 300 halaman ini tidak mungkin hanya sekedar dongeng belaka, bukan? Misteri inilah yang mungkin membuat pembaca terinspirasi. 

Bagi pembaca zaman sekarang seperti saya, yang paling mengesankan adalah petualangan Marco Polo. Dia datang dari Eropa ke Israel, lalu melintasi Armenia, Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan. Dia berkelana melewati gurun yang paling kering serta gunung yang tinggi dan bersalju sebelum memasuki Cathay dari Xinjiang. Tatkala berada di Cina, dia tak hanya mengunjungi kota-kota di Cathay, tapi juga pergi ke Manzi (Cina Selatan), Tibet dan Myanmar.  

Meskipun mereka yang terpelajar meragukan Marco karena dia tidak pernah berkomentar tentang Tembok Raksasa Cina, apa yang dia kisahkan cukup akurat. Perjalanan pulangnya pun tidak kalah serunya. Dia bercerita tentang negeri di seberang lautan yang bernama Jepang. Dia berlayar dari Cathay ke Vietnam dan Sumatera (dari rutenya, sepertinya Marco tidak singgah ke Jawa, tapi mungkin dia mendengar tentang pulau ini, lalu dimasukkan pula ke dalam ceritanya). Selanjutnya dia meneruskan perjalanan laut ke Sri Lanka, India dan Iran. Dari sini, dia kembali ke Eropa lewat Turki.  

Luar biasa, bukan? Tapi yang lebih dashyat lagi adalah posisinya sebagai tamu kehormatan Kublai Khan yang tersohor. Kalau anda ingin tahu sehebat apa kekuasaan Kublai Khan pada saat itu, Kekaisaran Mongolia mencakup sebagian Rusia dan Eropa, Persia dan seluruh Cina. Bahkan kerajaan sejauh Vietnam pun mengirimkan upeti kepada Kublai Khan. Jadi teman Marco ini bukan teman sembarang teman. 

Di sini Marco mengisahkan sepenggal cerita yang nyaris mengubah Asia. Seperti yang telah dijelaskan sebelumnya, Nicollò and Maffeo Polo adalah orang-orang Italia pertama yang mencapai Cathay. Mereka kembali ke Eropa karena diminta Kublai Khan untuk mengantarkan surat ke Paus di Roma. Khan Agung ini tertarik dengan ajaran Yesus dan di dalam suratnya, ia meminta agar Paus mengirimkan 100 orang misionaris. Masalahnya adalah, sewaktu kakak beradik Polo tiba di Eropa, Paus Clement IV sudah wafat. Penggantinya baru terpilih setelah Nicollò dan Maffeo memulai perjalanan kembali ke Cathay bersama Marco. Karena tergesa-gesa, Paus yang baru ini hanya sempat memanggil dua orang biarawan. Di kala keluarga Polo dihadang bahaya di awal perjalanan, dua biarawan ini lari terbirit-birit meninggalkan mereka.

Beberapa tahun kemudian, berdasarkan cerita Marco, Kublai Khan berkata padanya bahwa dia tidak bisa memeluk agama Nasrani karena penganutnya biasa-biasa saja, tidak seperti pemuja berhala dari India yang bisa sihir. Apa kata dunia kalau seorang Khan memilih agama yang tidak kelihatan sakti? Jika saja sejarah berkata lain, hari ini Cina mungkin menjadi negara Katolik terbesar di dunia... 

Saturday, November 14, 2020

City Vs. Nature

I woke up with this thought in mind: city or nature? Gosh, I must have missed traveling so much! I just had to get this out of my system, didn't I? So what will be the answer? To me, it's obvious. I love cities, but that's not to say I simply dislike nature. It's more complicated than that. 

Between the two options, I didn't really have good experiences with nature. The few trips I had, including Temajo and Boracay, were not exactly enjoyable. Perhaps I didn't really know how to appreciate the beauty of nature. To me, it was like, "okay, it's nice, but what should we do next?" 

Island hopping in Boracay. I don't think I enjoyed this, haha.
Photo by Yani Evelyn Robinson. 

I remember that as a kid, I had a three-hour car ride from Pontianak to Pasir Panjang. Once we reached there, all that I saw was a long stretch of sandy beach with endless waves came into shore. We were under the sun, playing with the waves, but it was only a matter of time before it started to get boring. It was the same with Temajo. Time passed really slow when we were supposed to relax and I felt inept when we started exploring the island. Being adventurous in the wilderness just wasn't for me. I was very much a city boy that my fondest memories in Boracay were sisig, the band that sang November Rain and the Da Vinci Code that was showing on TV.

I found it not sustainable to only go for nature. The story would be different if the sightseeing was part of the itinerary. For example, I cherished the visit to Chocolate Hills in Bohol and the time in Xihu, Hangzhou. The former was unique and the latter was majestic, but most importantly, I spent just the right amount of time to admire their beauty and by the end of the day, I got to go back to the city I originally visited to do another things.

In Chocolate Hills. Don't mind the expression. It was the sun!
Photo by Yani Evelyn Robinson.

So, yeah, pure nature just didn't work for me. Cities were better, but to be more precise, what I meant here were modern cities that are big and safe. Tokyo and Osaka were excellent examples. Not only it was easy to get around thanks to the extensive metro system, it also felt safe even at night (I somehow remember Dōtonbori). Choices of food were abundant. Attractions were aplenty and easily reachable. The good coverage of Google Maps was definitely a great help for me to explore the city.

Less advanced cities such as Yangon or Surabaya were notably harder to navigate around as they lacked of metro systems. Luckily, this problem was more or less resolved by Uber and Grab. But still these cities weren't pedestrian-friendly, which was too bad. As of why this mattered, that's because I loved walking since a long time ago. Back when I was living in Pontianak, I used to walk around with my friend Parno. Then, in Singapore, walking had become part of life. 

Exploring Singapore on foot with Endrico and Parno.

Up until here, you might have noticed that I mentioned metro twice. I just loved this transportation! It was practical and you wouldn't go wrong with it. Language barrier wouldn't be an issue here, because you just had to look at the map. The same reference was also useful in planning the route we would be taking. 

To summarize the answer of city vs. nature, I'd say this: always planned for cities with a slight detour to nature! I remember Hiroshima and the visit to Miyajima. I remember Guilin and the visit to Yangshuo. They were cool and memorable.

Cruising on the Li River, Yangshuo.
Photo by Yani Evelyn Robinson.

Wisata Kota Atau Alam?

Seminggu lalu saya terbangun dengan pertanyaan ini di benak saya: wisata kota atau alam? Sepertinya saya memang sudah butuh jalan-jalan sehingga sampai terbawa mimpi, haha. Kalau sudah seperti ini, saya perlu menuangkannya dalam bentuk tulisan. Jadi apa jawabannya? Bagi saya pribadi, saya lebih suka kota, tapi tidak lantas berarti saya tidak suka alam sama sekali. 

Di antara dua pilihan ini, saya tidak memiliki pengalaman yang menyenangkan tentang wisata alam. Beberapa liburan yang saya lalui, termasuk masa-masa di Temajo and Boracay, tidak begitu saya nikmati. Ini mungkin karena saya tidak begitu mengerti cara menikmati keindahan alam. Rasanya seperti, "oh ya, bagus sekali, tapi apa acara berikutnya?" 

Berlayar dari pulau ke pulau di Boracay. Saya tidak begitu menikmati ini, haha. 
Foto oleh Yani Evelyn Robinson. 

Sewaktu kecil, saya pernah menempuh jalan darat selama tiga jam dari Pontianak ke Pasir Panjang. Tatkala sampai di sana, sepanjang mata memandang, yang terlihat adalah pantai pasir dan ombak yang menggulung tiada henti ke arah saya. Di bawah terik matahari, saya diajak menikmati terjangan ombak, tapi lama-kelamaan bosan juga. Sama halnya ketika di Temajo. Waktu berjalan pelan saat kita bersantai di pantai. Saat kita menjelajahi pulau, saya justru merasa tidak bisa berbuat banyak di lingkungan yang begitu asing bagi saya. Bertualang di alam benar-benar tidak cocok bagi saya karena saya cenderung memiliki karakter anak kota, sehingga kalau bicara tentang Boracay, yang terkenang oleh saya adalah sisig, grup musik yang membawakan lagu November Rain dan film Da Vinci Code yang kebetulan ditayangkan di TV.

Pokoknya liburan yang hanya berkunjung ke alam terasa tidak memiliki pesona yang tahan lama dan saya pun akan merasa bosan karena tak lagi tertarik. Akan berbeda halnya jikalau menikmati pemandangan alam adalah bagian dari rute perjalanan. Sebagai contoh, saya senang dengan kunjungan singkat ke Chocolate Hills di Bohol dan juga waktu yang saya habiskan di Xihu, Hangzhou. Yang pertama terlihat unik dan yang satunya lagi benar-benar bagus dan damai. Namun yang lebih penting lagi adalah, setelah puas menikmati keindahan alam, saya bisa kembali ke kota dan mengerjakan hal lainnya. 

Di Chocolate Hills. Abaikan ekspresi saya. Ini karena sinar matahari!
Photo by Yani Evelyn Robinson.

Jadi saya lebih menyukai kota. Lebih tepatnya lagi, saya suka kota-kota modern yang besar dan aman, misalnya Tokyo dan Osaka. Di kota seperti ini, mudah bagi kita untuk pergi ke mana-mana karena sistem kereta yang ekstensif. Selain itu juga tidak terasa was-was di malam hari (saat menulis ini, saya teringat dengan Dōtonbori). Pilihan makanan pun berlimpah. Atraksi ada di berbagai sudut kota dan mudah dijangkau. Di kota maju, Google Maps juga akurat sehingga nyaman bagi saya untuk menjelajah. 

Kota yang masih agak terbelakang seperti Yangon atau Surabaya tidaklah begitu praktis untuk jalan-jalan karena tidak memilik sistem kereta bawah tanah. Untung saja sekarang ada yang namanya Uber atau Grab. Kendati begitu, kota-kota ini tidak ramah pejalan kaki. Ini menjadi masalah karena saya senang berjalan kaki. Dari sejak di Pontianak, saya biasa berjalan kaki bersama teman saya Parno. Kemudian, di Singapura, kebiasaan ini menjadi bagian hidup sehari-hari. 

Berjalan kaki menjelajahi Singapore bersama Endrico dan Parno.

Sampai di sini, anda mungkin memperhatikan bahwa saya menyebut sistem kereta dua kali. Saya suka metode transportasi ini! Begitu gampang untuk digunakan dan bahasa pun tidak menjadi kendala, karena anda hanya perlu melihat peta. Jalur-jalur kereta ini juga sangat berguna untuk merencanakan rute keliling kota. 

Akhir kata, jawaban dari pertanyaan wisata kota atau kota bisa disimpulkan seperti ini: yang paling seru adalah liburan ke kota yang juga diselingi kunjungan ke alam. Saya ingat dengan Hiroshima dan persinggahan di Miyajima. Saya juga ingat dengan Guilin dan saat saya mampir ke Yangshuo. Benar-benar mengesankan. 

Berlayar di Li River, Yangshuo.
Foto oleh Yani Evelyn Robinson.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Muscles Don't Lie

I'm 40 something, half way to 50 years old, hahaha. Due to this awesome age, I have to be cautious with what I consume everyday. I need to put on more effort to shape up. Hi, it's me, Parno. It's been a while since I wrote a story of my life. 

In 2019, our high school friend successfully transformed his body to a six-pack dude 😁 and this became a topic in high school chat group. We wanted to shape up and live a happy life, therefore we challenged ourselves. The reward was Bruce Lee's iconic yellow costume. I was encouraged and inspired by the role model Eday Ng. 

After that, I joined the WhatsApp group for bodybuilding where all the members were determined to shape up with cardio exercise, jogging, anything! Every week I had to take the picture of my tummy as a proof of our daily exercise. I got so tired but I knew muscles didn't lie, so I focused again. But a week later, there was still no result while my body was feeling like being torn apart. I started to get used to this habit, though. I felt that my body was getting lighter, but the tummy remained the same and it looked just like this, haha.

Sexy body.

My activities went on for the next three months and the result was facinating. I managed to reduce my weight from 68kg to 65kg. I felt reliable. I seldom fell sick, that's the most important one. But about your tummy, get real, haha. Face it. Muscle don't lie. 

I'm still the same old Parno 😁 and in this 2020, the year of pandemic, I still maintain my body. My daily exercise is from Monday to Friday, one hour of work out per day. I do jumping jack, running on the same spot, sit up and push up, then close it with plank. Try it at home, I guarantee it's working.  

PS: in the end, I still got kicked out from the group by the role model 😂

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Night Safari

Since traveling was strictly not allowed, life in the time of corona meant you gotta make do with what Singapore had to offer. Shortly after Phase Two began, we explored the country and visited the places I never thought I'd go before, from Jurong Lakeside Gardens, the Animal Resort to Admiralty Park. 

In the midst of all these visits, I suddenly thought of bringing my daughter to Night Safari. She had never been there before and it'd been a while since the two of us travelled together. Oh yes, the last time we did that, she was still chubby and short-haired. She was a lovely 5-year-old girl when we went to Hong Kong in early 2018. 

To the Night Safari!

Three birthdays had passed since then and my daughter was now eight years old. She was very much aware of this world than before, but yet more interested in YouTube and all sorts of things that one could find on a mobile phone. In a short period of time, she had changed a lot, so it'd be good for me to spend time with my little girl again. 

So off we went to Night Safari. Apparently there was a bus to Khatib MRT station that went via highway and we could also continued with a shuttle bus from there, hence the journey was rather smooth. We reached there right on time for dinner, therefore we went to KFC as planned.

The tram ride. 
Our zoo time began with a tram ride. I remember when I first had a ride in 2006. The thing with Night Safari for the first timer is, you won't know what to expect. The darkness will make you wonder, will the animals roam freely and suddenly appear next to you? I stared at my daughter as she observed her surroundings curiously. 

By the way, to answer the question above, the tapir did appear out of nowhere. It was both a nice surprise and a humbling experience. There was this feeling that we were really out of our depth when we passed by the woodland at night. The animals were in their element while we had to look high and low to find them. 

Exploring the Wallaby Trail. 

The second leg of the Night Safari was exploring the trails on foot. We started with Wallaby Trail and then East Lodge Trail, where we took a break for a while. My daughter was excited as we talked about nocturnal animals. Oh yes, she knows the term nocturnal, something that she learnt after she kept hamsters as pets.

For those of you who didn't get it, nortunal means active at night. If you ever thought of why the lions were just lying on the ground when you saw them at the zoo, that's because they are nocturnal. We saw both Asiatic and African lions while we were there, but her favorite animal was the sugar gliders, haha.

Ice cream time!

While we were at East Lodge, we had ice creams. I guess, in a way, a father's role is to spoil his daughter like the princess she is. Yes, a father is to instill manners and bring the best behavior out of her, but in a good day, it's anything she wants. Can't help it, really. How to say no? So, yeah, no mother would buy her daughter an ice cream at 8pm, but a Dad surely would!

And the journey continued from East Lodge to Leopard Trail and Fishing Cat Trail. There was still some energy left in her when we stepped into Mangrove Walk enclosure as she'd like to see the bats, the animal known to her as the carrier of coronavirus. But the bats flew past us swiftly. In the dark of the night, we could have a glimpse of something flying from one end to another, but we never had a clear look of the creatures.

Sharing a cup of slushy at Ulu Ulu Restaurant. 

My daughter lost her interest after that. It had been quite a long walk for her, so she felt tired and wanted to go home instead. Not even a pangolin or a gharial could save the night, so we headed to the exit.

Before going home, we had a cup of slushy, the flavored ice that causes brain freeze if you drink it too fast, haha. It was around 9pm at night. What was forbidden by Mum, was overruled by Dad for this occasion, haha. It was good to hang out with my little girl again. She grows up so fast that I may not have many chances left!

The map of Night Safari.

Night Safari

Karena liburan ke luar negeri tidak diijinkan pada saat ini, hidup di masa korona berarti beradaptasi dengan wahana yang ada di Singapura. Tak lama setelah Fase Dua dimulai, saya dan keluarga berkunjung ke tempat-tempat yang tidak pernah saya ketahui sebelumnya, seperti Jurong Lakeside Gardens, Animal Resort dan Admiralty Park. 

Dari berbagai pilihan yang ada, lantas terpikir oleh saya untuk membawa putri saya ke Night Safari. Dia belum pernah ke sini dan dua tahun sudah berlalu terhitung sejak kita terakhir kali berlibur berdua. Linda berumur lima tahun,  masih tembem pipinya dan pendek rambutnya ketika kita berlibur ke Hong Kong di tahun 2018. 

Di bis dari Khatib menuju ke Night Safari. 

Tiga ulang tahun sudah berlalu semenjak itu dan kini dia berusia delapan tahun. Wawasannya tentang dunia kian luas, tapi ketertarikannya pada YouTube dan hal-hal yang berkaitan dengan handphone semakin menjadi-jadi pula. Dalam waktu singkat, dia sudah berubah banyak, jadi saya ingin menghabiskan waktu berdua bersamanya lagi sebagai seorang ayah dan putrinya. 

Jadi kita pun berangkat ke Night Safari. Dari belakang rumah, ada bis yang langsung menuju stasiun MRT Khatib melalui jalan tol. Dari Khatib, ada bis jurusan kebun binatang sehingga perjalanan ke sana pun menjadi praktis dan tepat waktu. Kita tiba di sana tepat pada jam makan dan kita pun bersantap malam di KFC seperti yang telah direncanakan.  

Naik trem keliling kebun binatang.

Petualangan di Night Safari dimulai dengan keliling naik kereta. Sambil menatap putri saya mengamati sekelilingnya dengan penuh rasa ingin tahu, saya jadi teringat dengan pengalaman pertama saya di tahun 2006. Dalam kegelapan malam, saya jadi menduga-duga, apakah binatang-binatang itu dibiarkan berkeliaran dan bisa tiba-tiba muncul di samping kita? 

Bila anda ingin tahu jawabannya, di malam itu ada tapir yang mendadak terlihat di samping kiri kereta. Suatu kejutan dan juga pengalaman yang bersahaja. Terasa bahwa manusia itu tidak berdaya di tengah gelapnya malam dan lebatnya pepohonan. Hewan-hewan ini berada di elemen mereka sementara kita harus celingukan dan mencari di mana sebenarnya mereka berada. 

Menjelajahi Wallaby Trail.

Bagian kedua dari Night Safari adalah menjelajahi kebun binatang dengan berjalan kaki. Setelah kereta berhenti di tempat semula, kita mulai menyusuri Wallaby Trail dan East Lodge Trail. Putri saya bercakap-cakap dengan riang tentang hewan nokturnal. Oh ya, dia tahu arti nokturnal. Ini adalah kata yang baru dia pelajari setelah memelihara hamster.

Bagi anda yang tidak tahu, nokturnal artinya aktif di malam hari. Jadi kalau anda pernah merasa heran kenapa singa biasanya hanya berbaring saja saat anda lihat di kebun binatang, itu karena singa adalah hewan nokturnal. Di Night Safari, kita melihat singa Asia dan Afrika, tapi coba tebak apa binatang favorit Linda? Wupih sirsik alias sugar glider, haha.

Menikmati es krim di East Lodge.

Sewaktu kita tiba di East Lodge, Kita menikmati es krim sejenak. Saya jadi berpikir bahwa peran seorang ayah itu adalah memanjakan putrinya seperti seorang putri raja. Ya, seorang ayah berkewajiban untuk memastikan putrinya memiliki perilaku yang baik dan sopan, tapi di saat santai, sang ayah akan memberikan apa saja yang putrinya mau. Susah untuk menolak, haha. Sepertinya tidak ada ibu yang akan membelikan putrinya es krim jam delapan malam, tapi ayah akan mengabulkannya!

Dari East Lodge, Kita lanjut ke Leopard Trail dan Fishing Cat Trail. Linda masih terlihat cukup antusias saat kita melangkah masuk ke Mangrove Walk. Dia ingin melihat kelelawar, hewan yang diyakininya sebagai penyebar korona. Akan tetapi kelelawar melintas dengan cepat di kiri-kanan kita. Di bawah cahaya lampu di malam hari, kita hanya bisa melihat sesuatu yang melayang melewati kita, tapi tidak terlihat jelas bentuknya. 

Berbagi slushy di Ulu Ulu Restaurant. 

Putri saya pun lelah setelah lama berjalan. Rute yang kita tempuh tergolong cukup panjang dan dia merasa cape. Bahkan trenggiling dan buaya gharial tidak lagi menarik perhatiannya, jadi kita pun berjalan ke arah pinti keluar. 

Sebelum pulang, kita sempat beristirahat sejenak sambil menikmati segelas slushy, es parut rasa anggur yang dinginnya akan terasa sampai di otak bila kita minum terlalu cepat, haha. Saat itu jam sudah menunjukkan lebih dari pukul sembilan malam. Apa yang biasanya dilarang Mama, diijinkan oleh Papa di malam ini. Senang rasanya bisa bertualang berdua bersama putri saya lagi. Dia tumbuh begitu cepat sehingga mungkin tidak banyak lagi kesempatan yang tersisa buat saya!