Thursday, June 01, 2006

Me, my friends and I on happiness

One of the problems with travelling alone is that it can be a bit isolating. I have to admit that the ability to turn to someone you care about and say, "isn't that X?", is an important one. And so, gentle reader, you'll have to stand in today.

Today, I thought that I would go to the zoo, here in Seoul. I'm rather fond of zoos, as I'm rather fond of animals. And whilst it was warm (about 29 degrees), it seemed like a good idea (for reference, I visited the zoo in Louisville, Kentucky on a day when it was minus 18 degrees celsius so my dedication is unquestionable).

What I didn't expect was that the zoo at Seoul Grand Park is rather "audience participation" in nature. The first picture is of my new friend, whose name I can't pronounce (it's Korean). He appeared unexpectedly with his keeper and, given that I'd gone all the way to malayan Borneo to see his relatives in the wild, how could I resist? As a cat owner, I know that the best way to make friends with an animal is to offer a hand very slowly so that the animal can respond. My new friend reached out, and held my hand, and then stroked my fur. So I stroked his and we spent a few moments bonding. Orangutans are such gentle creatures and it saddens me that their prospects in the wild are, frankly, rather grim. They have fingernails and long, delicate fingers and it was one of the most fun things I have done in many years.

I then went on to do something that I might never have done in the past. My next friend is an albino Burmese python, and I'd like to thank the keeper who kindly asked me if I had a camera so that he could take this shot. Isn't he cute?

Next, I found myself in a queue, being passed a plastic glove and, eventually, a whole fish (quite an attractive one, as a matter of fact), which I was encouraged to toss to a waiting sealion. Now, of course, I'm an expert in this particular art, knowing that you must toss the fish head first, as it is easier to swallow that way. Naturally, I spotted my sealion and tossed the fish straight down her throat. Gooooaaaaallll, Valladares!

Finally, I found myself at the elk enclosure, and encountered a friendly creature. It would seem that, having passed the giraffe taste test, elks find me quite palatable too, as my hand was thoroughly tasted by my elk friend, much to the amusement of the watching Koreans.

Being a foreigner in Korea is a bit like being a zoo exhibit. Small children wave and smile at you (and of course, I smile and wave back), and school children try to test their English out on you. Years of experience in India make it rather easier for me but I could imagine it being a bit daunting for a first time visitor.

And so, back to my hotel room, which has a computer in it, thus allowing me to post these pictures.


Kim said...

Hey..whose the monkey? What happened to my cousin in Korea?

Glad to know you are relaxed and having fun. Thanks for the postcards. Happy travelling.

Helen said...

Am very, very jealous.

Anonymous said...

And who, may I ask, is left to handle the Valladares Cats - and indeed empty their litter tray?

They are all alive and well by the way!