My "Too Cute"s

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bandung's Kebun Binatang

This is the thing about leaving blogging sooooo long. I don't remember anymore my Bandung stories except that it's really not a good idea to bring kids unless you bring along someone who's totally not into shopping so that that person can keep an eye on the kids.

Anyway, since I've forgotten nearly everything, here's the other cool thing about Bandung besides shopping: its KEBUN BINATANG! Yea, it had the usual standard stuff but it had something else that other zoos I've come across don't have. Here goes:

Day 2 Bandung, very early in the morning, we went to the kebun binatang literally translated as animal garden a.k.a the zoo. It was something for the kids, who I think I mentioned got very excited when we passed the zoo in our van when we arrived to get to our hotel on the first day.

It was about 9 a.m. when we got there if memory serves me correctly, it was already bustling at the zoo. Peddlars were selling nuts to feed the elephants and some were selling balloons and some were selling food and there were already quite a number of people. Apparently, it was school holidays for the kids there. And we can see kids from different schools in their uniforms walking around with notebooks and pencils in their hands and busy jotting down things they see. Some were from kindergartens.

More interesting for me though was that people could have picnics in the zoo amidst the animals and the dust that hovered in the air. We were about to go back when we chanced upon a clearing in the zoo area and we saw that there was flying fox going on there but guess who were the participants? Children, younger than my kids!

What impressed me what not so much the animals in the zoo, but children, kindergarteners, were climbing up a bamboo ladder to a platform near the top of a coconut tree so that they can do the flying fox. Wow, why don't we have this in Malaysia?

At first, I thought, it’s okay, our kids are not missing out anything, after all we have roller coasters and all these extreme rides in theme parks like Sunway Lagoon and Genting Highlands but on second thought, kindergarteners are only allowed safe rides like the merry go round/ carousel and for some more slightly dangerous rides, they require parental supervision and accompaniment.

So, when I saw it I was excited. I wanted very much to get my kids on the flying fox. But my mom, who came along for the trip, said I was crazy to risk the children’s lives. Looking at the setup, I told my mom, it looked safe (there were about 6 to 7 people involved from wearing the safety harness to the one removing the safety gear) and watching the kids being harnessed up and hooked up, I was confident it was safe but only Mika was game. Inez didn’t want to climb up not even after a lot of persuasion. Only after seeing Mika do it, and that he wanted to go up again, then only she decided that she too wanted to give it a try. So we gave in to Mika's request and this time both Inez and Mika did the flying fox. It was really nice watch Inez who climbed like a monkey. Who would have thought? Just before, she was so scared, she didn't want to go up.

Among the Indonesian children, I didn’t see hesitation, I saw bravery and anticipation. There was one boy who was very young, 4 years old maybe, and kind of very plump and had rather short legs that he couldn’t climb up the rungs of the ladder that the guy who wore him the harness had to carry him up the ladder to the platform above.

Anyway, after Inez came down, she wanted to do it again. Zul was already gearing to go but we decided that since Mika did it twice, Inez should also go twice.

I was very proud of them because it is not easy for even adults to do this and again I wondered why we don’t have this in Malaysia. Why wait until we are quite old to do this (like during BTN) when this can be done when we are young, as seen here in Bandung. If you are not afraid to do this, then, you are not afraid of many things. I think if we have this for the young 'uns, they will benefit greatly as it will give them confidence, teach them not to be afraid and the importance of safety, and have fun, and not to be ‘chicken shit’.

And as much as I think it’s a lesson for the kids, I think it’s also a lesson for parents because it teaches parents to encourage their children to be brave. The same way it teaches parents not to transfer their own fears onto their children or stifle children’s curiosity but stopping them from asking questions just because they don’t have the answers or are too busy to answer the questions.

Children are simple. Seriously, they don’t see the benefits that we see for them. When I asked Mika why he liked it so much, he said, “I love it Mom because I can fly even though I had to hold that thing very hard and it’s fun!”

Here's the video of the the kids doing the flying fox. It's soooooo cooool! And the kids want to go back to Bandung to do it again. Maybe when they can behave themselves when the adults are shopping.

Notice the queue. Inez is in front, it's her turn next, and mika's behind her. Inez is 7 going on 8 in the video. She's very small for her age, and so is Mika. Look at the kindy kids behind them, nearly the same height and on the right hand corner you can see kids queing to put on the harness. It's about RM5 if I'm not mistaken per attempt. The guy at the ladder hooks them up and the guy on the platform monitors them and if a kid gets stuck, the guy putting on the harness will just carry the kid all the way up. But it's sooooo coool right?