Do we really need a Zoo?

I’m no scientist. Nor am I a zoologist. But I do have a heart that governs my emotion and a brain that processes the rationality of that emotion. So while I may not be qualified enough to be definitively know for sure, I do feel we need to re-evaluate this particular thing we do.

I am of course talking about animals in “captivity”. Now I put the word in parenthesis because one can argue that it is not considered captivity so let’s just give them the benefit of the doubt. What I cannot understand is the motive behind keeping them in captivity.

While my girlfriend Alexandra was here, I brought her to the Resorts World SEA aquarium (because we had free tickets) and the Night Safari. Both of us were unimpressed. Not by the attraction itself because we can definitely trust Singapore to ensure that all our attractions are world class. It was the animals living conditions that we were unimpressed with.

Are we sure elephants, rhinos or hippos should be living in such an enclosed area when you find them in areas with enough land space for them to roam and never go back to the same place? Are we ok with keeping dolphins and using them as an attraction even if they are the dogs of the ocean? Are we ok with using any animals for that matter as a form of attraction?

Well perhaps. I couldn’t tell you. I’m neither qualified nor knowledgeable enough to give you an answer. But let’s think for a moment. Is it necessary for wild animals to be kept in captivity to be used as an attraction or even for “educational” purposes? It is in their nature to live in the wild, to be free and to roam where they wish.

I read arguments provided by attractions like these all around the world saying that they treat the animals very well and as a result their live expectancy in captivity is longer that if they were in the wild.

May I ask you? Let’s say they are treated like kings and queens, do you think that is enough? If I were to put you in a five star hotel for the rest of your life, would you be ok with never leaving your hotel room? I mean you are treated very well, why would you want to leave? Furthermore, if it improves life expectancy, shall we all book ourselves into hospitals and live there for the rest of our lives? I mean that is essentially the argument they are using.

I’m not discrediting the good work that the zoo or the aquariums do. I’m sure the workers do what they do because they believe in a good cause, especially when it comes to rescuing animals. But what if we couldn’t make money out of these animals, would we still be doing it? Would the animals still be living this “luxury” life? And if they are doing it for money, what makes them so different from poachers? They are just at different ends of the same spectrum.

Let animals be free. They came into this world free and that is how they should live and leave it. If you have watched the Lion King perhaps you would understand this… let them participate in their circle of life. If we want to interact with them, we should go to them. They should not have to come to us.

Because if  we believe that it is ok for wild animals to be in captivity because we treat them well, maybe we don’t understand what it means to be free.

Do we really need a Zoo? Part 2

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Thank you 2013

I don’t think I can perfectly put to words the year I’ve had. There must not yet be a word invented for the feeling I get when I reminisce about the year gone by. Or maybe it is just not in english. But it was the best year I’ve had thus far. And the best way to pay homage to it would be to pen down my absolute gratification for the year that has steered me into a new direction.

I would like to thank Ecuador. It changed my life. From the people I’ve met to the things I saw, they all seemed to have come at the exact right time in my life. It provided me with all the answers to the questions I had about life. It ignited this fire in my heart to try to make myself the best citizen this world could ever want. It also opened me up to this harsh reality but important nonetheless. In this new age, you can no longer change the world. You can only change yourself and hope that what you’re doing is the right thing. And if it is indeed the right thing, hopefully others will be inspired to do the same.

I would like to thank my parents. My sister couldn’t have said it better during her wedding. Thank you for giving me everything you could ever give. It didn’t matter how much the both of you had, you gave it all. And I don’t think I will ever find the right words or behave in the right way to ever show you how grateful I truly am.

However, my parents are not the only ones I would like to thank. This year is also the year I became part of a new family with my sister’s and cousin’s wedding. So, many thanks to my family both new and old. I may be a private person. But the thought of having all of you ever willing to let me in is a very very nice feeling.

Of course the LADS! It’s hard to imagine we’ve known each other for more years after our secondary school days than during it. 5 years during to 8 years after to be exact! We’ve known each other for so long that I wouldn’t consider you guys my friends. I would consider you all my brothers. Because brothers don’t have to be with each other all the time to know what we mean to each other. We can be apart for long periods of time and come back like nothing has ever changed. Let us never take that for granted and cherish this luxury that others might not have been so lucky to find.

And to my girlfriend Alexandra. If nothing else, I have been truly lucky to have met and fallen in love with someone like you. Like you said, what were the chances that of all the countries we could have picked or all the universities we could have chosen, we picked the same one? You are the first and hopefully not the last lottery I’ll ever win! 🙂

Say what we want about the doom and gloom around us but I think we get better as each year passes. Hopefully when we get it right, it won’t be too late. But if it is, hey… maybe the human race wasn’t mean to live for eternity on this earth. Like many creatures before us, maybe extinction is inevitable for us as well.

So here’s to a new year. A chance for change. A chance for improvement. Or simply a chance to be you. But I think with this new year, we should remember that the life we lead is not an entitlement. We are not promised anything, let alone tomorrow. The more we remember that life is a privilege and not an entitlement, the more we will live it well, with purpose and to the fullest.

Happy 2014 to everyone. Let this be the year of a better you.

5 types of backpackers you are bound to come across

Traveling has become significantly more affordable and accessible compared to as recently as a decade ago. And as a result, the world of travel has seen a rising trend in the quantity of backpackers exploring the globe. But no matter how many there are, you can more often than not pigeonhole each backpacker into a specific category. And if you’re a backpacker, you’ll probably disagree. Because we all like to think we are too specifically unique that it’ll be impossible to classify us.

But apparently not! After talking to a group of 6 people who claim they’re backpackers, we have identified 5 types of backpackers you will most likely see on your adventures because we’ve all encountered them at one point of time or another. While the list is not exhaustive, these 5 types seem to be the most common.

And so in no particular order, here are the 5 types of backpackers you are bound to come across on your travels.

1) The seasoned backpacker

Bear

These guys are the veteran backpackers. One can only assume that backpacking is their only style of travel and they have never heard of and/or stepped into a hotel before.

The moment they enter the room, they take out all their dirty clothes and proceed to the bathroom to rinse them. Subsequently, they take out a laundry line, hang it on the balcony or along their bed frame (if they are on the lower deck of the bunk beds) for it to dry.

Following which, they will disappear and you will never see them again. This is because they have an itinerary with a list of things they must do within the time they are there. And nothing is going to get in the way of them completing their goal.

Then one day, their clothing line is nowhere in sight, their bags are gone and their bed is nicely made. It’s as if they were never there.

Their main objective, which is to experience the people, the place and the culture was accomplished with such military precision that you sometimes wonder if they were actually there or if you were just dreaming it. Because other then a polite hi or bye, there is really no reason for them to talk to others who are not from the place they are visiting.

2) The prison escapees

prison-break

We all live in this prison. This prison called life. Or at least that is what these guys will tell you. And you can only identify them after you’ve struck up a conversation with them.

They would be the one’s who have quit their jobs and are spending a year just traveling to discover the world and find themselves because they didn’t like the life they were living. They would be the one’s with the most interesting personalities but when you ask them what they used to do before they quit, they would mention the most boring jobs like logistical matrix planner or accounting executive or something along those lines. In other words, they would be the one’s whose personality did not fit what they used to do.

And so they travel. Hoping that somewhere along the journey they would find inspiration so that when they come back to reality, they would have a renewed purpose.

In addition, like a prisoner, experiencing freedom after a long time will cause them to forget their inhibitions and cautious nature, which might lead to some bad but definitely memorable experiences such as waking up in a gypsy home after going through a ritual using cocaine and tequila to “cleanse your soul”.

3) The meat vendors

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Meat vendors refer to the people who parade themselves to everyone in order to attract a suitor for the night or the duration of their stay. By day, they are avid travelers but by night they begin thinking from the lower half of their body.

Of course none of us really ever have a problem with that even if we say we do. It’s always nice to have a girl come into your room in her underwear asking to borrow your toothpaste. But when she leaves you say to your friends, “What a slut!” but secretly you hope she returns your toothpaste wearing just her underwear if not a little less if possible.

Guys on the other hand will try to peacock as much as they can when they can. If you’re in a room of 10 people, don’t be surprised if douche-o-rama decided to drop and do a 100 push-ups in front of everyone. Or if everyone is in the common room, he’ll enter, no… you’ll smell him first by the excessive use of deodorant before he enters with one-liners such as “Whose’s ready to get fucked up?!?!”.

It’s this love/hate relationship with the meat vendors that keep us all entertained during the duration of our stay.

4) The “There was this one time” guy/gal

glennquagmire

We all know them and love them. These are the people we look forward to having a night cap with after a tiring day of exploring. They are an absolute delight to be around because they always have these amazing stories to tell, which allows you to not have to talk at all and to be entertained at the same time.

And when I say amazing stories, I mean it. From getting bitten by a cobra in the fields of India to running away from russian gangsters because they didn’t pay their bar tab, there will never be a dull story in their arsenal. Sometimes their story is so unbelievable you’d end up asking yourself, “Is this guy fucking with me? There is no way he ended up having an impromtu tennis match with Boris Becker in Costa Rica.” But by that time, you’re drunk enough to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Whether the stories are real or fake, it would never be a dull night with this person around. In fact, you might end up doing something crazy with him, which might cause you to be a character in one of his crazy stories.

5) The quiet ones

The Loner

There are two types of quiet people. The first are the ones who prefer to be left alone and not disturbed. They do everything by themselves with no intention of interacting unless absolutely necessary like when they ask you what the wifi password is. They like being alone and just observing everyone like they’re doing research for their thesis on social interactions.

The second type of quiet people are the ones who don’t have the social skills required to interact with others. They really want to. And they try so hard to be in a situation where it would be easy to talk to someone. They come down to the common room during peak hours or cook something in the kitchen when a fresh batch of backpackers come in to just chill before they head out again. They would even go so far as to come down with a map to pretend to ask for directions and recommendations.

But often not everyone notices how hard they try to be social and make new friends. At most, they are greeted with a friendly greeting or the “where are you from?’ formalities that everyone goes through. Nevertheless, they deserve some recognition. In spite of their lack of social skills or nervousness, they went for it. They tried to socialize and whether they were successful or not, they’re were successful. You know what I mean?

And so, these are the 5 type of backpackers you’re bound to come across when you go on your own backpacking adventure. But here are some that didn’t make the top 5 that you might recognize.

The wannabe’s

You’ll notice them struggling to drag a suitcase up the hostel stairs to their room, wearing branded clothes and carrying around a money clip if they’re a guy or an incredibly huge purse filled with credit cards if they’re a girl. Basically they are the ones who want the acknowledgement of being a backpacker without the desire to actually rough it out.

The overstayers

These are the people that fell in love with the city that they’re in and decided to stay for an indefinite period of time and just work at the hostel. They become so acquainted with the people and the place that they may even end up being your tour guide.

The “Just graduated”

Sound familiar? Many of us might have gone through this phase in some way or another. It’s our graduation trip with our best friends just to explore the world and see how far we can go with almost no money. They would often be hot girls. Because if you’re a hot girl, the less things you pay for and the longer you can travel.

The world’s unfair sometimes.  -_-

What are some types of backpackers that you come across? There could be a whole lot of categories that we have failed to mention. It’ll be cool to see what else is out there.