The other day we went hiking at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. We started out at MacRitchie Reservoir Park and hiked a 6-mile loop that included a treetop walk, which is basically like a suspension bridge up in the tree canopy. It's supposed to allow you to see different kinds of wildlife because of the unique vantage point, but all we really saw were a couple of little birds and some huge black bugs. The view itself was really cool though- lots of lush green, with the skyscrapers far off in the distance. It was kind of a strange juxtaposition- it felt like we were in the middle of the wilderness, but from the tress, we could see the city.
Our travel guidebook had pretty much promised that we would see monkeys in the area, so we weren't too surprised when we heard screeching up in the trees. We looked up and saw our first group of long-tailed macaques swinging and jumping through the trees. We got to see them grooming each other and we even got to see an adorable little baby clinging on to her mother. We were so occupied watching the ones up in the tress that I hardly noticed a strange sound behind me. I turned around and saw a male, noticeably larger than the others, sitting on a low branch very near the trail. I got the feeling that he didn't like having us around, so we didn't stay there much longer. It didn't matter though, we saw many more monkeys throughout the day- I was surprised at how unafraid some were of humans. We saw several right in the middle of the trail, and when people stopped to take pictures, the monkeys were totally unconcerned, sometimes even moving closer to the people. It was really exhilarating to get to be so close to the monkeys as they went about their business- eating fruit from the trees, and swinging on vines, but it was sad to think that their wilderness is so infiltrated by humans that they've become totally desensitized to us.Aside from the monkeys we saw lots of other wildlife: 11 clouded monitor lizards (one before we even got on the trail! We even got to see one chasing another- the picture to the right is a monitor), a bunch of plantain squirrels, a common tree shrew, a garden supple skink, a common sun skink (we're really getting our money's worth out of our wildlife book), and various other unidentified animals, including a bright red snake that I have been unable to identify, despite exhaustive Google searches (any ideas? It was bright red with a yellow stripe down its side, and it was rather small- about as big around as two shoelaces laid side by side).
The other notable wildlife sighting happened just after the treetop walk. I heard something rustle in the leaves and looked down just in time to see something furry disappear under the boardwalk I was standing on. Although I didn't see what it was, the sound drew my attention to the leaves next to my feet. Sitting perfectly still, coiled around a leaf stem, was a miniature green snake with red and yellow bands. Its bright colors and triangular head warned me to keep my distance, but I snapped a few pictures (left) and, of course, busted out the wildlife book. Turns out, it was (don't freak out, Mom and Dad) a juvenile Wagler's pit viper, a highly venomous species of snake. Before Bryan and I had figured out what it was, I had pointed it out to a passing family, and the young son had gotten dangerously close to it, snapping pictures with his phone. I was relieved that the snake never moved; apparently they're notoriously lethargic in the afternoons.
By the time our hike was over, we were exhausted. We've been walking a lot since we got here- every time we want food, we have to walk around Orchard in search of someplace reasonably priced, and there are, of course, the daily treks back and forth from the MRT. So, the hike was piled on top of our daily walking regimen, and we were tired and hungry. We got American food (pasta for me and a sandwich for Bryan...surprisingly tasty after a stint of Asian food) on our way back to our room. We took it back with us, and chowed down while watching some TV (the news and MTV China, my new obsession), and I was fast asleep by 9 pm. I'm still working on this whole jet lag thing...