This morning I woke up early, on a Saturday no less, to go for a run. I started out with the idea of running towards what looks like a semi-industrial district behind our dorm. However, after a quick reassessment of my own stamina, I decided to nix that idea. Instead I ended up running along some of the side walks around where we are staying. My run turned out to be quite enjoyable despite the heat. During the process of pounding pavement, I had the opportunity to see some really cool animals, and plants.

While doing my pre-run stretches, I suddenly found that I was not alone. Right beside me on the pavement stretching his own semi-members was the largest snail I have ever seen in my life. He was also quite possibly the spiffiest as well with a neatly spiraling sea-shell on his back. I think it may not have been his own shell because later on I came across another gigantic snail only this one had a more traditional shell on. Although, I suppose snails can be trend setters, too.

After saying good bye to Mr. Snail, I continued on my way. I ran past a pond that was originally thought to contain a crocodile. We have subsequently revised our opinion and now believe that it contains only snapping turtles. It’s a common mistake. The next pond I ran past contained a whole slew of snapping turtles resting in a row on one of the pond’s ledges. The littler ones must of thought that I was intimidating because they quickly slid into the water as I ran past. The larger ones must have thought they were intimidating because they decided to stare me down. I just ran on.

After running up a couple of hilly sidewalks that simply stopped once you got to the top, I finally ran up one that continued past its summit. At the top of this little hill was a Chinese shrine. I recognized the two figures inside from their much larger counterparts at the temple at Ginza Plaza. The male figure always amazes me with his incredibly bushy mustache. He looks like someone took a wooden statue and stuck a giant, fake, furry mustache on it or rather through it, since the furry mustache part seems to be stuck through a hole in the statue’s nose. Around the little shrine, were a ton of squirrels. They are a lot like our squirrels back home at UNC: plump, tough, and mean. The only difference is that they have stripes like a chipmunk. I wanted to stay and see if they behaved any differently from our squirrels at home, but after some threatening tail thrashing I decided the answer was no and continued on.

I mentioned earlier that a lot of the sidewalks simply stop when they get to the top of a hill. I should mention that a lot of hills around here simply don’t stop. The campus of NUS is probably comparable in size to that of UNC; maybe a little larger. Like UNC, it is also a hilly campus only here the hills are much steeper. Dr. Quek told us that SEA nations like to situate their institutes of higher learning on top of hills. This might have something to do with the notion of being able to observe above the fray or perhaps simply the hope that better thoughts occur at higher altitudes. However, as Singapore currently lacks an excess of altitude, Dr. Quek mentioned that the NUS hill is not entirely natural. Natural or not, it was certainly a success as far as hills go. While I was running up it, a lorry full of immigrant workers passed by. As they passed, they offered some encouragement. At the time, what I really wished they had offered was a ride.

When I got to the top of the hill, it was only a short lope and a little jaywalking until I was back at the dorm. Trying to impress the canteen workers by powering down the hill, I was a little sad that my adventure into the amazing flora and fauna of Singapore was about to end. I shouldn’t have been so sad. As I walked into my room, I was greeted with quite a treat. Scurrying along my dorm room’s floor was a small lizard/very large bug. Further identification will have to wait for later as the creature, whatever it is, has gone into hiding, behind my desk.