Saturday, October 23, 2010

Wait, where are the animal pictures?

HOT date at the Night Safari's Halloween event.

Before venturing further, we fortify ourselves with Bongo Burgers -- safari themed fast food. The burgers aren't quite the size we remember, but if most people's appetites are anything like June's, perhaps its just as well. Guess who had to finish her leftovers?

The Haunted Village attraction was at the zoo. It's not visible from this pix but behind us the queue to get in here snaked a very long way away. To get to this entrance took about half-an-hour of patient stand-look around-move forward-repeat. Lots of atmospheric sound effects, spooky music and the odd costumed party-goer to keep us company in the meantime.

This bunch of fraidy-cats pushed June and me to the front as soon as we stepped through the creepy entrance. Inside, lots of spooks got their jollies popping up and scaring the bejeebers out of our makeshift party. It's good to travel with a crowd of screamers. People tend to bring their own atmosphere with them.

A close encounter with a spook. I asked for a close-crop, but this is ridiculous.

The other highlight was the spooky tram ride. It's the usual ride around the park to view the nocturnal activities of the animals, but tweaked with a soundtrack and the guide adopting a Monsterpiece Theatre presenter's voice as she nattered through her spiel on lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Could tell she was having fun 'cos this is about the only occasion that she could threaten stubborn flash photogs with a 'poke in the eye'.

Along the way, there were also frequent 'visitations' from our guide's scarier colleagues. Somehow, they know how to pick the screamers. My observation: to avoid becoming a victim of these apparitions, choose a seat directly above the tram wheels. No ghoulie would risk squished tootises for the sake of a shriek. 

Lots of other photo ops at the entrance plaza. The costumed ones are not above sudden acceleration to startle the unwary and pursue the fleeing.

If you're thinking of going too -- there's still this weekend and next -- go early, and don't waste too much time over dinner. We thought we had lots of time but after covering the Gui Mansion, the tram ride and the animal show, it was too late for us to take the walking trail where more surprises awaited us.

Wonder what the tourists thought of this very Asian-themed Halloween celebration?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Reading aloud

Consultations are coming in thick and fast. They can be a lot more draining than regular classes 'cos the kids are actively engaged and focused on asking questions that really make you think before shooting off a reply. Many of these past nights, mental fatigue sets in and I'm passed out on the floor of the study again. It's a seasonal thing.

But I've learned from last year. Around this time, I lost my voice for a week, losing valuable consult time with last year's kids. This year, Im drinking more water and, more importantly, I'm making the kids read their work aloud to me. I can thus minimize my vocal input, inturrupting where necessary and reviewing Cowell-style after.

While conserving my larynx, the kids also benefit from the reading as they can catch awkward phrasing and grammatical errors they've made. Listening is a skill we don't train much at our level, but it's too important to neglect, especially when GP is so particular about the use of language.

Also, it's good for them to read what they have written because with a 'live' and immediate audience they have to take pride in their essays and AQs. All the more so if they're reading aloud to a small group consult. Given more time and more practice, writing quality is sure to go up.

In other news, it's been HOT. It's been so hot, June and I have polished off a pint of Benjamin and Jeremiah's frozen confections a night. Soon, we're going to become what we eat: a Chunky Monkey(TM) and a Chubby Hubby(TM) respectively.