Monday, March 7, 2011

The Big Day Out

The bus pulls up outside the school. Packing it with children and food will relieve some of the tension which has built up in the last half an hour. The Major has chucked a bit of a tanty over what the teachers are wearing, so we’re all looking at each other and rolling our eyes, while he stomps around the playground having a vent at anyone unlucky enough to be in range.

This is all pretty normal, so no one is fazed, and pretty soon we’re on our way to Taiping. It’s grey and drizzling, but this is also normal (Taiping is the wettest town in Malaysia), and will clear up later in the morning. However it’s a bit odd to be sitting with a bunch of rowdy teachers up the front of a school bus, with a bunch of well-behaved kids minding their own business down the back. Positively weird.

In fact, apart from the odd toilet situation, today will be almost completely uneventful. So completely unlike any school trip either of us can remember, we wonder why anyone would get too stressed about it. The kids aren’t noisy, they don’t fight with each other, they don’t taunt the animals, they don’t taunt the public, they don’t chuck stuff around the bus, at each other or passing motorists, they don’t wander off on their own, they don’t get busted smoking weed or having sex in the loos, they don’t deface public property, they don’t whine, or sit around sulking all day texting their boyfriends. Yes they’re special needs, but c’mon… Compared to normal kids they’re little angels.

The teachers on the other hand…

Tickets are free for everyone, part of the zoo’s yearly public service. And after filing off the bus, through the turnstiles and onto the ride, military style, we hurtle around the zoo, “safari style”, for about half an hour.

“Hey look, was that a …?” “Check out the…” “I’m sure I saw a …” Lion, tiger, zebra, leopard, elephant, rhino, chimpanzee, camel, cassowary, ostrich, python… it’s all a blur. And so we get off and wander around, “homo-erectus style”, instead.

Lucas promises not to take photos of anyone standing next to a gorilla, but when Aleif decides he wants to imitate one…

Some of the crowd appreciate his talent.

Some don’t.

A monkey.

Another monkey.

After the obligatory class photo, we slowly make our way back to the bus. It’s obviously lunch time, as the teachers are all grumbling about being hungry.

But this isn’t just any day out, it’s a Malaysian day out. Which means unpacking and distributing enough food to feed an average sized town.

The irrepressible Aleif. Fed and watered.

Threseni. Four feet of cuteness.

No day out would be complete without a trip to the museum, although at least one of us admits to being, on the whole, bored senseless by them.

This little guy seems to be pointing out that it's time to go. No wait... he's just obsessed with his watch.

Selemat jalanTaiping…

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