In case you haven’t notice, it’s Hisham writing this birthday entry for Alya instead of Sila, because Alya was at the Tenth Floor when she turned 2 years and 2 months, and Sila thought I should write a word or two about my awesome little niece.
From the first time we met her, she was a darling. She was warm, funny (sometimes hilariously) and loved interacting with everyone. I was ecstatic that she got a long with her cousin Irfan great. They played together, read books together, and she always had something to say about anything, albeit her language skills were still that of a two-year-old.
Sometimes, she’d get me to draw animals, like bears and cats and bearcats, like I just did in the photo below, where her hair was going every direction under the sun and Atok tried to fix it. The photo was taken in the morning of her birthday in Kuala Lumpur, but not in Middletown.
It was after 12 noon local time when Alya’s birthday kicked in as per Eastern Standard Time. Achievement unlocked at this level allowed Alya to take a trip to Zoo Negara! Like her cousin Irfan, she loved animals and hopefully she’d be able to see beasts that she’d never seen before. Strangely enough, I think she did see a bearcat at the zoo.
Alya used eye protection against the glare of the tropical sun as we drove to the zoo.
Even before we set foot in the zoo, we’d already caught a glimpse of the elephant from the car park. Alya was doing her best elephant impression from the get go. The following photo was taken as soon as we got out of the car.
Right by the elephants are the giraffes. By this time, Irfan began writing names of animals he saw in the notebook he’d brought with him.
The expedition team proceeded deeper into the dark corners of Zoo Negara. Alya also saw the dozens of storks at the zoo lake that were free to fly away from the zoo’s airspace. We had seen storks perched on streetlights at the Middle Ring Road 2. I guess they’ve considered the zoo as their natural habitat and return there whenever they take to the air.
Birthday girl and Mama.
Yop Irfan also helped guide Alya through the zoo.
We found emus and wallabies in this section of the zoo. Kangaroos were in the adjacent pen, so I guess this was the Australian animal section.
Vin and Irfan spied a wide open enclosure and took photos of the animals within, which were…
…deers of some sort.
Then, Sila snapped a photo of wildlife she spotted. The spider in the photo below wasn’t in any zoo cage or enclosure. It was actual wildlife which was hanging out on a web it’d built somewhere.
The tapir was exhausted.
Then, we came across the big cats. The lion had a moat that separated us from its jaws and appetite.
Alya used a dried leaf to call out to the lion. Perhaps she wanted the lion to know she was 26-months-old that day.
The lions were pretty affectionate. The male even kissed the female (yeah, nuzzle, whatever) as we took photos.
It started drizzling as we rested for a bit.
The tiger was also lethargic on the warm, wet, humid afternoon.
At the savannah enclosure, we saw these rhinoceroses, which shared their space with zebras, ostriches, giraffes and antelopes.
It started to rain heavily at the Ape Centre. There were chimpanzees and orangutans, like this fine gentleman here.
This cougar seemed quite agitated for some reason. We wondered if it was ready to attack visitors, if it could reach them.
Among the animals we found in the Mammal Kingdom was this energetic raccoon. We also saw the bearcat in here.
I wondered if it was alright for us to put saddles on these Aldabra giant tortoises and ride around town on them.
The flamingos came in various shades of reds and pinks. They would be comfortable spending the night at Flamingo Hotel in Sitiawan I believe.
By the end of the excursion, birthday lady Alya was exhausted and fell asleep in the car on the way home.
However, at home she was fully recharged and went about her birthday doing her thing with Yop Irfan, including climbing onto me or giving her signature “AWP!” strike, which I think she should develop to be a coup de grâce attack once she’s older.
Happy 26th month, Yaya. Yop Irfan, Wan Yong and I were very glad you got to have fun with us on your birthday!