Plagiarism rules today, so my apologies to Sadat Osman for stealing your entire article off inSing.com.
(L) Kai Kai the male panda and (R) Jia Jia the female panda (Photo / Wildlife Reserves Singapore)
Ni hao. People tell me I look like I haven’t slept for 10 years.
That is about the period of time I will be spending in Singapore with my mate, Kai Kai.
Trust me, we sleep, and will be sleeping, quite a bit. So I have no idea what people are talking about when they say that. Especially those cosmetic companies who use the line to sell their products, saying things like, “Get rid of panda eyes.”
That’s not a desirable look for human beings, I suspect.
But look here, I am writing this to mark and record my maiden journey from my homeland to Singapore, so even if I look weird to you, don’t squeal it to my face first thing you see me. A girl can be thinking about such things for days, especially since I do like to pose in front of the camera.
We also don’t like squeals. Or noise. I know it is hard for you to believe. Except when we hear our keeper snapping bamboo for us.
I am not sure why people call us “adorable” or “cute” though. We are animals. Some days, when we feel like it, we whack things. We can be rough. That’s just the way we are. Looks are deceitful. Yes, even panda eyes.
What else do you want to know about us? I love to climb trees and have my lunch up high, enjoying the breeze. Kai Kai also likes to eat, and he is friendlier than I am. I can be quite reserved. He is also called “Onionhead” because he has a tuft of hair on his head that sticks out.
When I woke up one day, Kai Kai told me about our move. I had mixed feelings. I couldn’t believe it because it sounded exciting. But I was also afraid of the unknown, if we will be able to adjust to a foreign place. We will be, gulp, foreigners!
He was sweet enough to arrange a flight for us by Singapore Airlines. He knows I like the good stuff.
When I asked why we were going to Singapore, he explained to me that there are not many of us around anymore – there are fewer than 1,600 of giant pandas left in the wild – and the good people at the Wildlife Reserves Singapore want to ensure we thrive, and, erm, make babies. They are working to promote giant panda research and conservation with similar-minded people from the China Wildlife Conservation Association.
Before we boarded the Singapore Airlines Cargo Boeing 747-400 freighter at the Chengdu airport, our friends gave us an amazing farewell. I almost cried. They even loaded our cabin with 90kg of homegrown bamboo, as well as fruit and water to help us through the six-hour flight.
The adrenalin kicked in. When Kai Kai and I finally boarded the plane, I felt pan-tastic!
The best part was how comfy it was even in the crate. The cabin temperature was between 18 and 22°C, just like our natural habitat in Sichuan. A team of keepers and vets from both China and Singapore also kept us company on the flight. The Singapore keepers have been spending time with us for a couple of years now.
Singapore Airlines and SilkAir are also providing air tickets for training and exchange programmes involving zookeepers, veterinarians and researchers from both Singapore and China.
Our journey was so smooth because we were sitting in the most stable (middle) part of the plane. Kai Kai was asleep all the way, but I was eating my butt off.
I was also thinking about our new home, if it would be spacious. Space is a premium in Singapore, I heard. They said we would be in a “climate-controlled zone” in the River Safari near the zoo.
Why is it called the River Safari? I cannot wait to find out myself. From what I heard, it is because the area is designed to a river theme, so well-known rivers from around the world are featured in the landscape, such as Yangtze, Congo, Ganges, Mekong Mississippi, Murray and Nile.
Guess which “river” is next to my pad? If you guess right, Kai Kai may do some squats to strengthen his hind legs. He needs strong legs to mate with me. My mind wanders.
I hope our neighbours wouldn’t mind us. Based on unconfirmed reports of what people are like here, I am hoping they won’t complain that China nationals are noisy, dirty and take away their husbands, CPF savings, jobs, and Olympic medals.
Upon arrival at about 8.20am, we could see many people greeting us. You couldn’t see it but Kai Kai was blushing. Singaporeans were so happy to see us. We felt like rock stars.
There were cameras everywhere and people were watching us being moved around via live streaming on the River Safari website.
We left the airport in a special temperature-controlled truck. As we passed some locations, we saw miniature versions of Kai Kai and I. It was weird. They have plush toys, t-shirts and all kinds of merchandise. Who knows, we may get our own Facebook page.
If we are such celebrities, I really have to ask the River Safari management if they can let us keep a mirror under the rock. After our month-long quarantine, maybe.
Do I really look like I haven’t slept for 10 years?
Come check me out for yourself around December.
(Journey imagined by Sadat Osman, with information from Singapore Airlines and Wildlife Reserves Singapore.)
On another note, check out this video of Jia Jia & Kai Kai’s first view of Singapore. I admit to squee-ing at 1:18, that look is just so cute. It’s all panda-ish “Hmm? Eh?”.