Tags: Malaysia, Sports, Travel
Recently, Itchyfingers did our first overseas run in Penang, Malaysia. Having done quite a number of races locally, I have always wanted to join overseas running events for a change and for the experience. But a lot of them are quite expensive to join, especially after you add the price of air ticket and accommodation, it can be quite a big sum of money just to go for a run! Hahah…So I thought maybe joining a race in our immediate neighbouring country should be friendlier on the pocket…hahah…
After looking around, this sounds-so-funny relay run – the Penang Pisang Relay Run attracted my eyes. “Pisang” in Malay means “Banana”, so yes, it’s a Banana Relay Run, which requires a team of three to run 8km each to complete a total of 24km. Why is it called “Pisang Relay”? Cos the banana is supposed to be the baton that you would be passing around while running! How funny is that?! The registration fee was RM155 for super early bird, which was less than S$55, and that would be less than S$20 per person. Not so expensive, and doing a fun run overseas sounds less stressful than a more serious competitive one. But we would need another person to run with us. Luckily our friend, Butterfly, who recently returned from her overseas postings was available and keen to go. So Itchyfingers were set to go banana in Penang! :D
Race pace collection was just one day prior to actual race day. So it would be perfect for us overseas participants since we would not need to arrive too early in Penang just for the collection. But we flew over two days earlier for our sightseeing anyway. The venue for collection was this MyTriathlonShop at Penang Plaza. Race pace collection was just outside the shop, pretty easy to find. But we only saw two or three people passed by us with the tee-shirts in their hands…Not a popular event maybe?
The race pack was pretty fuss-free – just the bib and running tee, unlike most runs in Singapore where we always get a so-called goodies bag which is supposed to have sponsored goodies inside but both the quality of the bag and its contents seem to have gone downhill these days. It’s a good thing to have none of those if they can keep registration fee low, cos sometimes the goodies are quite useless if they ever exist in the first place, as some runs only give you useless vouchers that you never use. Waste of papers and ended up with so many lousy bags. But I only realised later that there wasn’t a timing device inside….Well, maybe that’s why the registration fee was so low? :p
But there wasn’t even a race map inside! Even the website didn’t have it. When enquired, the lady just told us we were supposed to run around Straits Quay. Er, but where is that har? Oh, nevermind, we would just have to google it then…
The next day, after early breakfast, we drove to this Straits Quay place. Quite a nice place, something like our Robertson Quay or Clarke Quay. Oh, not a bad turnout actually! There would be a race-briefing at 6.45am but we were required to reach at 6am…So with too much time in hand, what was the best thing to do?
Take welfie! Our friend Butterfly will be the first runner, me will go second, while Tisu Boy will be in charge of making up for the time the two slowcoaches lost…wahahah!!!! I like it that they colour coded and numbered the tee…But as usual, there will always be people who dun wear the official shirts, which made it tougher for marshals to differentiate the three team members
The atmosphere was fun. The only complaint was there weren’t any portable loos, and the toilets were too far…
6.30am, first runners in red queued up for their first bananas….
For all three runners doing the first 4km loop, we were supposed to hold one banana while running. For the second loop, the first runner would have to collect a second banana and we would have to then run with two bananas in hand…how funny…At the end of the 24km, we had to make sure no bananas were “hurt”, that is, eaten lah! Otherwise, we would be disqualified…Hahaha….To make sure no one cheats, we were given rubber hairbands to put on our wrists once we passed a certain checkpoint. So each team must collect six rubber hairbands in total for the 6 x 4km loops to claim our finishing medals.
We were supposed to wait at this side and not cross over to the opposite side under the trees so that we could spot our first runners coming back via the road outside.
About less than 15 mins later, the first two runners came running back! That was fast! Many other first runners soon also passed their bananas to their second runners. Couldn’t really take photos cos it was quite chaotic with many second runners crowding around waiting eagerly for their team members to come back…Then finally, I spotted Butterfly!
So off I ran! Didn’t dash passed the spectators like most runners who just began their run. I just kept to my normal usual pace cos I didn’t wanna go too fast for the first loop and lose steam for the second. It had been very hot the past few days while we were in Penang and this morning it was getting warmer as the time passed. The route wasn’t anything exciting cos we were just running on the road passing some landed properties. There was no partial road closure so we still had to look out for traffic while crossing or making a turn. Luckily it was Sunday and the area seemed to be quite quiet at that time. But at some parts the air lingered with garbage smell…too early for workers to clear the wheeler bins? It was so hot my throat felt like sandpaper rubbing on it, and that made me cough quite a bit…No water points, and I didn’t run with my bottle since I thought I had the banana on one hand and would be taking photos using my mobile with the other. But no photos taken since the route wasn’t that exciting…
Not that many markings along the way but since I was not the first runner, there were always someone in front of me. Only remembered seeing the distance marker for the last 1.5km, which felt much longer probably cos of the heat…Then the blur me took the wrong turn when I was finally reaching Straits Quay! I hastened my pace and passed the runners in front of me but instead of running onto the pavement back to the starting line, I headed back to the road! Hahah…the marshall did shout to me, but as it was in Malay, I couldn’t understand! Only realised my mistake after about 20meters or so…hahah…
Tisu Boy must be shaking his head…hahah! Now you go and make up for lost time! :D
Took a look at my watch and was surprised I was slightly faster than my usual 4km speed…But second loop gonna be tougher cos the weather was getting hotter…
While Butterfly was doing her second loop with two bananas, the first team completed their race!
There! First to finish their 24km relay banana run! The finishing line was the same as the starting line, just closer to the trees…First and second runners had to wait at a spot when their third runner was approaching. It was still okay for now but later as more teams finished together, it would be very chaotic…not a good idea…All this while, the organiser was appealing to runners not to block the official digital timer so they could record the winning teams’ time! Wow so primitive need to record manually? The timer was placed low at eye level just behind where runners were standing and waiting for their members to return. A simple solution would be just raise it higher so everyone far and near could see it, right?
My second loop was initially smooth until I felt my tummy growling, probably from too much water? Or could it be the Milo I drank in the morning? It was so loud and uncomfortable that even when my legs and heart felt okay, I didn’t dare to run any faster cos I feared I might get stitches on the side. That would be more painful and slow me down…So for the next 3km or so, I ran with a noisy stomach…hopefully those running besides me would not hear it…so embarrassing…
This time I didn’t take wrong turn. Was glad to finish my run with bananas intact! Hahaha….
Was pleasantly surprised to get packs of fried noodles after our run…It was more like a fun run for us to experience an overseas event but I think we didn’t do that bad actually…about slightly more than 2.5hours for 24km…hahah….But besides the top finishers, there wasn’t any official timing for the rest of us. So we won’t know how well we did compared to the rest of the teams…Hopefully there will be more chance for more overseas runs in the future! No frills is fine, as long as it is well-organised, and low registration fee please! :D
Monday 4th May
The darkest and most tragic day for Itchyfingers.
After battling illness for more than a month, my precious darling Dou Dou 豆豆, also known as Baby, left us in the early morning of 4th May. He had just passed his 22nd birthday.
Dou Dou was the first Red-eared Slider turtle that my sister brought home in 1993. He arrived in our family as a small little baby on the 25 March, so I decided to make that his birthday. Three days later, he was joined by his sister, Mei Mei 妹妹, who had passed away seven years ago… :( Subsequently, my parents brought back Mr Mark and Girl Girl, into our family. Baby sliders are simply too adorable to resist bringing home…
Dou Dou was the most timid among my four turtles, and also the sweetest of all. I used to put him on my tummy for afternoon naps on the cool marbled floor cos he was the only one that would not panic and attempt to jump down…probably he was too timid to do that. Maybe the rhythmic up-down movement of my breathing made him drowsy, as many times I would wake up to find the cute boy sleeping too…
There was once he was out walking around the room, anxiously scratching with his front legs and standing only on his back legs trying to get out from the closed door. Suddenly he made a loud and alarmed hissing sound as his tummy landed harshly on the ground. Then, he quickly hid underneath the chair, all limbs tucked inside his shell. Upon checking on him, I found that he had snapped one of his front claws against the metal door stopper! The tiny claw was still stuck there. A bit of blood was oozing out from his hand (I like to refer their front limbs as hands) and I SWEAR his eyes were wet! It must had been so painful and traumatised for the timid boy!
Like all growing adolescents, Dou Dou loved to tease Mei Mei with his sexy long claws doing his pre-mating dance. Unlike the naughtier Mr Mark who started displaying typical aggressive behaviors in boys, Dou Dou was never a bully even though he was bigger size. He was such a sweet boy, never bit Mei Mei when she showed no interest to mate, and never showed territorial behaviour towards Mr Mark.
But he was also one fussy eater. Sometimes he would happily eat what was offered to him, be it veggies or his favourite fruits or little fish and prawns. But sometimes, after eating the same thing for two or three days, he would eat less or reject them. So I had to constantly change the menu to make it interesting. But this made detecting if he was unwell a bit difficult, as you would not be sure if he was just fussy over the freshness of the food or if he was not feeling well…
It could be due to age, or maybe the symptoms of sickness gradually showed itself? In recent years, I found myself bringing my turtles to the vet more regularly. For Girl Girl, most of the time it would be egg-laying problems, and for the boys, either abrasion or respiratory problem. Maybe it was also because I finally found a vet that is supposed to be more experienced with reptiles to seek help from without much delay.
Dou Dou was brought to the vet a couple of times for some early respiratory infection and eating problems. We also found the flesh near his hind legs getting a bit bulging. I thought it was because he was getting a little fat there. But x-rays showed that his lungs seemed to be not very well-developed, a result of a slight deformed shell. When I heard that, I felt so bad…When they were smaller, the four of them stayed together, and later lived separately as they got bigger. But even after separation, the housing size was still not so ideal due to space and budget constraints back then. As with Mei Mei, I didn’t know that poor housing would lead to deformed shells…and Dou Dou’s shell was pretty normal until much later that it gradually began to cave in slightly in the middle. But any deformity is not good, so that probably affected the internal organs’ development. With a slightly smaller lung capacity, many factors may trigger into a big problem. But each time after injections of antibiotics and multi-vitamins, my Baby seemed to get well and started eating again.
But not this time.
In March after we got back from a short trip, Dou Dou started picking his food again. So I got him fresh fish and then prawns to bring back his appetite. But after about few days of seafood, he rejected them again. Also, he was getting a bit lethargic and his left forelimb seemed to be in pain and paralyzed at times. Dou Dou has always been the quieter and shy of all. But recent years, he seemed to be more so….sometimes he would just stay on the dock and not go into the water, and when brought out, he only moved a little and stayed on the same spot for hours. I thought maybe as he grew older, he became less active, although the other two were the complete opposite. But this time, he was so lethargic… After three days of not eating, I brought him to the vet.
X-rays did not show any lung infection. Anti-biotic Baytril was prescribed just in case, plus Multi-vitamin with calcium jabs for not eating.
Still not eating. I tried every kind of food, even soaking him in carrot juice and fish soup hoping he would at least drink and take in some nutrients. But he just got so weak…The vet showed me how to force feed a special prescriptive critical care canned food for dogs and cats with a syringe. “Critical care” made me very worried. I couldn’t remember if I was the one who pushed in the syringe myself or was it with the vet’s help…was too nervous…Had to show Tisu Boy video of the vet’s demo and asked him to do the force feeding while I try to open his mouth. It was really painful to have to hold down his neck and try to force open the mouth, and then stick the whole syringe inside to pump in the dog food. The first few times was still manageable, as Dou Dou was too weak to resist. But it was still hard to repeat the procedure more than twice to get more food into his tummy, as he would also regurgitate some out. I continued hand feeding him, sometimes spending as long as an hour coaxing him to eat. He did try to bite, but was too weak to open his mouth big enough to get food in…
Baby’s neck looked more swollen, and he seemed to be in pain with bouts of contraction, as if he was constipated and trying very hard to poo…Rushed him to another vet as the first vet was on leave and the clinic was much further for us to make it in time before it closed.
The second vet saw him, and immediately said his swollen neck and puffy eyes may be caused by edema, or water retention. The reason for edema may be many – either caused by heart, liver or kidney problems. My heart sank when I heard this. He recommended a blood test to try to find out more, but was frank to tell us that he has not done it before other than for cats and dogs. Blood was withdrawn from Dou Dou’s tail…so poor thing…The vet tried comparing the result with some reference table, and after eliminating some causes, he said that it might be possibly a heart problem, though he couldn’t be 100% sure, as edema is a symptom of many complicated diseases. But not eating means not getting enough protein and that was why he got his edema. He suggested putting on a feeding tube to make sure Dou Dou gets the necessary amount of food instead of syringe feeding as he would regurgitate some out. But we didn’t wanna put him through that and would rather continue to try to force feed….He was also given some diuretic to help him pass out urine to help with the edema, and we were supposed to come back for a review in a week’s time.
Baby took a small piece of veggy. I was so so happy!!!!
Baby took a bigger piece of papaya after another round of long coaxing. I was over the moon! But then at night he stopped eating again. By now I have depleted all my ideas of different food source…
Syringe feeding continued, though I did not give up my hand feeding. We tried those little dried shrimp for turtles, something he had not tried before and to my greatest delight he ate quite a fair amount of the dried shrimps the first time he was offered them!!!!!
Poor Baby didn’t eat again. Also, he was getting wary of the procedure of force feeding, and would start to push the syringe with his tongue. Not wanting to hurt him by forcing the syringe in, it was getting more difficult to get more food into the stomach…Water retention seemed to have subsided a little with diuretic…his neck was less swollen but the puffiness around the ‘shoulder’ area and the fatty flesh at the back legs were still there…Left hand got better. He had not poop for many days too. Either not enough food to produce waste or constipated?
In the end, we had no choice but to agree to try the tube feeding as the vet said he would use the less invasive method of inserting the tube directing through the mouth into the tummy instead of through a hole in the neck. He got a little stitch on the skin of his neck to hold on to the tube in case he tried to rub it out with his hands…Really heartbreaking. Gotta go back to the clinic to fix his tube for leakage and realigning it to prevent blocking his nose the next two days. I stopped working to look after him as he had to be tube fed four or five times a day to make sure he got enough food. It was really painful experience to go through….He looked really uncomfortable with the feeding tube in the mouth. :(
What was that smell? Dou Dou finally pooped! I was hoping that he lost his appetite cos of constipation..But it was only solid waste on the first day, the subsequent days were all watery stools….
Swelling got slightly better but vet suggested leaving the tube in to make sure he got strong enough before removing it and see if he could eat on his own. Otherwise if we were to remove too early, we might have to put it back again…Still having watery stools. Was told maybe to stop diuretic or reduce dosage.
Did he suffer from diarrhea or was it normal to have watery stool since he was on liquid diet? His right hand started to swell up…
As if Dou Dou had not suffer enough….I was shocked when I saw a maggot crawling on his neck in the morning!!!!! Didn’t see any more until feeding at night and we pulled out and killed at least a dozen!!!! Vet was not in the clinic on Thursdays. He was the only one in the clinic that had some experience with turtle and it had to be a public holiday the next day!!!!
No clinic was opened, so we had to endure and keep checking for more maggots while applying Betadine to disinfect a little sore patch we found on the underside of his neck. We were hoping that this was the cause of not eating since it would be a much easier problem to deal with…
Went back to the vet. No more maggots and we were right to disinfect with Betadine. They did a faecal sampling as Dou Dou pooped watery stool again. No virus or bacteria and he was given an oral dosage of Flagyl Metronidazole for his gut problem. The tube was still kept since he couldn’t go into the water with the sore there. I was really hoping that the tube could be taken off after two weeks but this had to happen….
Feeding continued. But I found his mouth getting more foamy at times, and twice I saw foams from the nose. All this while, occasionally Dou Dou’s mouth would get wet, not sure was that his saliva (some people in the turtle group said they have no saliva?) or was it liquid from the gut or food…Each time I would wipe it with tissue. But today I was worried when I saw foams from the nose. He also seemed to be breathing a bit harder a couple of times. He had been dry-docking since he got the tube, so I really didn’t think it could be respiratory infection. It was Sunday and again the vet won’t be around until Tuesday. I thought I would monitor more closely first. No more foams after that….
4 plus in the morning. I was waken up by my mum. Rushed out to check on Dou Dou and was shocked to find him not moving at all!!!!! Before we went to sleep we did check on him. His eyes were still looking my way. The poor boy, apparently left not too long ago cos he didn’t feel stiff but the saddest thing was that his eyes were still half-opened! Did he want to take a last look at his Sister one more time before leaving us? I was devastated…I thought of all the sufferings he had to endure, and the pain he must had felt when he took his last breath….it really pained me….Why did my Baby have to suffer so much and for so long? What happened? What caused him to pass away? What caused him to get the disease, whichever it was? Would things have been different if we had consulted back the first vet for a second opinion? Did I cause him to suffer due to negligence in any way? Why didn’t I insist on removing the tube so my Baby could at least feel a little more comfortable in his last hours?
I sat there crying….I touched his little face, his shell, his little hands, his little swollen legs and tail…He had such smooth skin for a reptile…I tried to close his eyes with tissue paper but couldn’t…Heart wrenching…I must had cried until the sun came up…
Together with Tisu Boy, we sent him to the clinic to get his tube removed. My poor baby’s mouth could not be closed now that the muscles had stiffened up…His eyes were still opened, and he really looked in pain when he left…The poor boy was now limp after removing the tub that supported his neck to his body…I couldn’t stop crying….Tisu Boy said we should let my Baby rest in peace, cremate him and bring his ash back home, instead of repeating what we did for Mei Mei – buried her and constantly worried if she would be dug out. But it was so, so hard to say the final good-bye.
(For friends who have been following Itchyfingers, we had since dug out MeiMei’s remains and cremated her cos we thought the land was to be taken over. Her little urn is now sitting in my bedroom cupboard)
When I asked Tisu Boy what date it was, he told me 4th May. I couldn’t believe it.
It was the SAME day Mei Mei left us seven years ago.
Was it coincidence? Was it predestined?
In Chinese, couples always say this, “不能同年同月同日生，但愿同年同月同日死” (translates as “not born on the same year, same month, same day; I hope we can die on the same year, same month, same day) Did Mei Mei decide to take Baby with her to Turtle Paradise on this same day?
For Itchyfingers…it was just…
A most tragic day. Seven years apart.
Dou Dou was my favourite… :(
Tags: Animals, Bugs, Education, Environment, History, Life, Museum, Nature, Uniquely Singapore
Last week, Itchyfingers were among some of those who were invited to a special preview of the new Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum prior to its official opening today, 28 April, in appreciation of our little contribution. The museum has come a long way – possibly dating back to when Singapore was founded. It was last known as the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity and Research (RMBR), which only had a small gallery nestled in one of the obscure Science Block at the University, and was greatly in need of an overhaul and expansion. So it was indeed a good news to finally have a brand new building to house a proper viewing gallery, as well as facilities for its scientists and researchers.
Once you entered the new building at the National University of Singapore, visitors were welcomed by a huge wall mural made from photo collage of the specimens on exhibit…
The highlights of the museum are three much talked-about diplodocid sauropod skeletons, nicknamed “Prince”, “Apollonia” and “Twinky”. Each of them is about 80% complete, making them a rarity in dinosaur discoveries. They were the first thing you would see once you entered the gallery behind a glass wall. But you would have to maneuver your way through the plants section before you could come close to them.
Another smelly flower that we want to see too! This is a model of the Titan Arum, the “largest unbranched inflorescence in the world, reaching over 3meters in height. The inflorescence blooms at night, releasing an odour of rotting meat that attracts carrion-eating beetles and flies to pollinate it”. Few years back, our Botanical Garden had one, but it kinda withered prematurely, hence we didn’t have the chance to experience the rotting smell…
From the ground floor main gallery, we could see the dinosaur skeletons, which are considered a rarity for sauropod dinosaurs fossils as two of them come with skulls. These three skeletons were found between 2007 and 2010 in a quarry in a small town of Ten Sleep in the United States and are believed to be part of a herd or even a family. According to reports, the “American sellers had asked for $8 million but the Museum would not say what the final deal was”.
Not a great fan of dinosaurs, I wasn’t really excited to see the trios though… :p Despite having a new building, somehow, the space available for displaying the trio still feels very small and cramp. I was expecting to be able to really stand further to look at the sheer size of them. To make up for the lack of space, visitors can still view them from the second floor though. There is a light show at regular intervals but personally I thought it was a bit meaningless and doesn’t add any value to the exhibit. :p
Ahhhh…finally see a real Mud Lobster….albeit a dead one…Well…it was once alive! :O
I like the way they displayed these specimens in nice glass jars and arranged neatly on the shelf. But the names of the specimen were put too far at the extreme left, so whenever you need to find out the name, you have to walk all the way to the left. Why don’t they just label it below? It’s easier to change single labels if they want to change the exhibits, rather than to change the whole panel right? I also don’t really like the tv screen in the middle. Don’t think it is interactive cos no one seems to be touching it…
The squids and octopuses specimens were a letdown after looking at the beautiful set ups earlier. This Bobtail Squid could have been made more attractive if only they could spread out the tentacles and make it look as it was floating in the jar, like the frog above…
How can I missed this Orange-spotted Grouper! Such a big fish! But luckily I saw it at an earlier exhibition some time ago
And showed the colour and pattern variation between the young and adult, like this Wild Boar family
The Heritage Gallery is located at the upper floor with five exhibit zones that pay homage to the museum heritage. The gallery presents an account of the museum’s development and traces the relationship between Singapore’s development and natural history.
The Heritage Gallery’s layout is intentionally styled like an old-school museum with specimens on display in dark wooden cabinets.
You can check out the cabinets and drawers for more exhibits and information
Itchyfingers spent less than 2 hours in the museum, a rather short time for our liking cos our free and easy tour started about 3.50 pm. Our tummies were beginning to make noise so we had to cut short our visit. Was a little disappointed that they didn’t put up more specimens for exhibit. Hopefully there will either be rotating exhibits or new ones will be added later, or even better still, new gallery space will be created in the 7-storey building. There are many more interesting specimens not featured here and if you are really interested in plants, animals and natural history, a visit to the new the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum is definitely highly recommended! Check their website for ticketing details, as you can’t just pop by any time you wish and get tickets on the spot! A little inconvenient, but let’s see if they will adjust this later on.
Also see related posts:
> The Raffles Museum of Biodiversity and Research
> Hunters & Collectors – The Origins of the SouthEast Asian Collection