Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Adventures of Alice and Flat Gavin

Recently I received a letter in the mail. A friend of our family has a young nephew, Gavin, and he was doing a school project on a book called "Flat Stanley." In the book, Stanley gets crushed by a bulletin board and becomes flat, and then he can travel anywhere in the world in an envelope. Gavin's teacher had the students draw flat versions of themselves, and then the kids sent them all off to friends and family in other places. The kids asked that you take their flat lookalike on an adventure, and send them a picture and a little story about what you did. The stories would help the kids learn about geography. So I got a Flat Gavin in the mail, and then we got to go adventuring together!! Because my niece recently sent me one of her creations, a little plastic doll named Alice, I took Alice along for the ride. This is the letter I sent to Gavin, describing our adventure:

Hello Gavin!!

I was happy to take Flat Gavin on an adventure! As you know, I live in Singapore. My job here is to do research with wild long-tailed macaque monkeys. They look like this:

This picture is of Leo, the alpha of the group that I work with. He’s like the monkey king.

I thought it might be fun for Flat Gavin to see the monkeys, so I took him along with me when I went to work one day. We took public transportation to get to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, where the monkeys live. Singapore is a big island, and it has some of the best public transportation in the world- a network of trains and buses can get you pretty much anywhere on the island you want to go! Here’s Flat Gavin waiting to get on the train (that's Clementi MRT station, if any of you S'pore folks recognize it- I go there on my way home from BT).

And here he is with the sign to for Bukit Timah. If you look closely, you can see that the sign is in four different languages. English is the official language of Singapore, but there are people from all over the world living here, so the signs use different languages to try to communicate to as many people as possible!

And Flat Gavin got to meet the monkeys!! The monkeys in the pictures are young males that are old enough to go off and play by themselves. They like to wrestle and play-fight.

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve isn’t just home to the monkeys- it’s a rich jungle full of all kinds of plants, lizards, snakes, birds, and more! It doesn’t have any really big animals like tigers because Singapore is small and full of people, so those big animals wouldn’t have anywhere to live. Flat Gavin did get to see a big lizard, though! We saw a clouded monitor lizard climb a tree! Sorry Flat Gavin is blurry in this picture- it was hard to focus on him and the lizard at the same time and I didn’t want him to get too close- monitor lizards use their tails as whips if you scare them!!

Flat Gavin learned the hard way that he shouldn’t touch the prickly plants!

Flat Gavin even made a new friend in Singapore!! This is him hanging out with Alice, who was sent to me by my niece. Alice likes to go on adventures with me too!

I also took Flat Gavin to Hindhede Quarry- he loved the beautiful view!

I had a great time taking Flat Gavin with me to meet the monkeys!! I’m not sure how long your class will be learning about geography, but I travel around Southeast Asia a lot, and if you would like me to keep taking Flat Gavin on adventures, I’d be happy to send you updates on our travels!



So that was my first adventure with Flat Gavin and Alice. I enjoyed the strange looks that I got when people would spot me, holding a plastic doll up and trying to position her exactly right to get a good picture. At one point, I was going to put Alice back in my backpack, but I had to run to catch my bus, and I ended up just carrying her. I kind of forgot about her and a while later I realized that I'd been sitting on the bus, absentmindedly staring out the window, clutching a garishly colored doll on my lap. I must have looked demented. Anyway, I think I'm going to start taking Flat Gavin and Alice along when Bryan and I go on trips. I don't know how long Flat Gavin will last- he's paper and he's already looking a little ragged from our first outing, but Alice is pretty robust, so I'm hoping to drag her all over the place. Look for more awesome pictures of my new friends in the future!P.S. Sorry the fonts are messed up for this post- I copy/pasted some of this from Word, and apparently Blogger can't deal with that.

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