Monkey magic on Orchard Road

I woke late today, and that stymied my plans somewhat. I was going to head to Orchard Road in the morning, then over to Marina Bay Sands and the Gardens by the Bay in the afternoon. Instead, I just did Orchard Road.

As a photographer, I have to say I was not stuck for material. The architecture and people made the walk along Orchard Road a very rich experience. I spent a number of hours ambling along, taking it all in.

One of the highlights of the day happened on the way back. I stopped in Istana Park to take some pictures, when a monkey appeared from nowhere and decided to take a drink. He spotted some picnickers sitting under a shaded area, and headed in that direction. He was a monkey on a mission, and the mission was food!

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He quickly scattered the picnickers, who ran squealing in the other direction, and helped himself to a banana, which he promptly peeled and started eating like it was an apple or corn on the cob. Then he spied a loaf of bread, and made off with the packet. I was amazed to see him open the packet easily, and get stuck into it.

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Next he decided he was thirsty, so he moved in on a bottle of Sprite, and unscrewed the top. It fizzed a bit, but that didn’t stop him. He waited for the liquid to leak all over the pavement and lapped it up.

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While I watched (and photographed) the monkey’s antics, I started chatting to a lady who was also enthralled with the goings on. Apparently it is very unusual to see a monkey*, and particularly one with such finely honed survival instincts.

I found out her name was Rea, and she was from the Philippines. She was a nanny and been working in Singapore close to ten years. Today was a public holiday, so she and her Filipino friends were using the day to spend time together. To cut a long story short, her children are back in the Philippines with her parents. She left her youngest when he was nine months old; he is now ten. As a single parent, she told me, she had to do this to create a better for her children. Her pay is much better in Singapore for an unqualified worker, and she sees here children about once a year, but Skypes them regularly. She missed them terribly, but feels she is doing the right thing by them, because she sends the money she makes home to spend on their education.

As a mother, I can’t imagine how difficult a decision it must have been for Rea to leave her children. To be an unqualified, poor, single mother must be an awful situation to be in, and I thank my lucky stars that I live in Australia. When I had my daughter back in 1993, there was ALOT of government support for solo parents (much more than there is today, by the way). I received an education allowance, and supported with child care when I started working. I was not well off, but I was certainly not poor either.

And at least I could watch my daughter grow into the lovely young woman she is today.

* There plenty of them around Fort Canning Park, where they are released if they are found in the city. If you feed them and you are caught, there is a penalty.

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