The place of the Dall sheep

Posted: August 14, 2012 in America

After spending two days at Anchorage, we drove to Denali with a rented car. Denali was quite far, and we rested after reaching Denali at around sunset. The next day, we went to Denali National park, one of the more famous one here in Alaska. We got on a shuttle bus at the main center and begin our tour in this super-large national park.

Denali National Park is a place full of wildlife, and thus, famous for it. This national park was created for the protection of Dall sheep, a beautiful but endangered animal with long, curved horns. This park covers a wide space and different stops are located at places that are near to trekking trails or campsites. Although the whole road is about 90 miles long, only the first 15 miles are accessible by private cars. Our destination, a stop named Eielson (located around mile-post 60), has a few trekking trails and the breathtaking scenery of the beautiful Mount Mckinley, the tallest mountain of North America. Plus, with its informational visitor center, many of the tourists go there. Though Eielson center is 60 miles away, it takes about 3 hours to get there because of the road conditions and wildlife + scenery viewing.

The bus we took was full with tourists and we took off around mid-morning. The road of the first 15 miles is paved, and private cars are able to access this road. The trees were high, and it was quite difficult to see any wildlife. Most of the bushes and plants are short after entering the second section, so we might be able to spot any wandering animals from quite a distance.

After about half an hour on the bus, someone spotted a few caribous grazing grass on a large open field. It was really far away and we can’t see them clearly even with our binoculars. Seriously, the guy who spotted the caribous must have really sharp eyesight. Tourists on the bus also saw a few Dall sheep at the edge of a hill. It must be quite far away, because I can’t really see them. Just before we reached Eielson, we saw a big grizzly bear walking around the wide open green beside us. We stopped for quite a long time and observed the movements of the bear.

The whole Eielson center was covered in mist. We followed the crowd into the visitor center, and then spent about an hour looking at the information provided at that place. Because of this bad weather, Mount Mckinley is covered by a thick wall of mist, fog, and clouds. We weren’t too lucky, but since Mount Mckinley is visible only an average of one day in July, you must really have a lot of luck to be able to see the highest mountain in North America.

We decided to give up on the guided trek because we can’t really see anything with this mist, so we went on a little hike just at a small trail beside the visitor center. Lots of beautiful flowers bloomed at the sides of the trail, and we took a lot of pictures. We even saw a bear with cubs (though it’s quite far away) at the other side of the canyon after the fog cleared up a bit.

We left on the same shuttle bus and made our way back. On the way back, we saw two Dall sheep sitting on a rock at a cliff just beside our bus. Dall sheep have two beautiful and curved horns. They are good rock climbers and usually take refuge on steep cliffs and hills because no predator would hunt them there. The two sheep we saw we sitting on different rocks on a steep cliff, resting. We took quite a few photos because tourists seldom get to see them that near. We reached the main center after 3 hours then took our car back to the hotel.

Today was a lucky day because we get to see 3 out of the 5 main wildlife of Denali National Park. We saw the Grizzly, the Dall sheep, and the Caribous, but did not spot any moose (which we should have) or wolves (they are really rare). It was a fun day, though.

First photo from the left: Caribou, Bear with cubs, Dall sheep, Wandering coyote (click picture for a better view)

Bears are cool, and so are salmons

Posted: August 4, 2012 in America

Day 1

Our trip to Alaska was fabulous. Here’s our story……

Flight from Houston to Anchorage: urghhhhh!!!!! Just four days ago we took flights that were too long… felt really bad on the plane to Anchorage.  We have a connecting flight to a place called King Salmon, a place accessible only by plane from Anchorage, Alaska. King Salmon is famous for Katmai National Park, a place where bears catching salmon could commonly be seen. Tourists don’t usually go there, though, because everything there is really expensive. We went there only because the other great place for viewing bears catching salmon is at Juneau, a place even further south from Anchorage to King Salmon. We took a really small plane (it only has 3 seats in a row) to King Salmon, because, as I have already specified, of how costly that small town could be. It was a short flight.

We reached the extremely small town of King Salmon around early morning, and took a van to a nearby port. The national park is on an island (or maybe, the national park is an island), so we had to take a float-plane to get there. We put down our stuff at the harbor office (as we hadn’t went to our inn), and took a float-plane to the famous Katmai National Park and Preserve. After about 25 minutes, we reached the national park. It was covered in trees. Immediately, after getting down the plane, we saw a huge brown bear (bears that stay near water; usually quite bigger than black bears). It was taking a walk down the beach, strolling around. We were advised to get away from the bear, although dad really wanted to take pictures of our first encounter with one.

We went to the office+ gift shop, where we would get a speech about specific information about the life of bears and what do we do if we see one. The first thing we were told not to do is to NOT run. ZZZzzzzz………….. I think everyone would run, though. ==’. After the bear speech, we start our exploration of this amazing national park. We followed a route which would lead us deeper into this park where we could see bear catching salmon at Brooks fall (not as large as waterfall; a mini-sized waterfall) of Brooks River.

Before crossing a bridge connecting two parts of the island, we were stopped by some park rangers. It appears that a bear is very close to the bridge, so that leaves people on both sides of the river unable to go through the passage (you must be at least 50 yards away from a bear at this park). After a few minutes, the coast is cleared and we got through the bridge. We followed a forest trail about 20 minutes before reaching Brooks fall. There is a small platform for bear viewing at Brooks fall, and so there is a limitation to the number of people being there at a time. We had to wait for about 20 minutes or so before it is our turn.

We got to the narrow platform and saw only a few bears, doing nothing, and only a few salmon were jumping to get to the upper part of the stream. It was a huge disappointment although it was our first time seeing a wild bear.  It was nearing sunset, so we left the platform after nearly 30 minutes. We met a friendly ranger on our way and dad chatted with him while we were getting back to the beach. On the way, to our surprise and horror, we saw a bear walking towards our way. Mom kind of panic, and Shu Wen actually screamed. Dad started taking photos (but was prevented by the park ranger because it is a dangerous act) as not much tourists has a chance to have this kind of experience. Thanks to the park ranger, we managed to get away from the bear unharmed. Boy, it was quite a horrifying but cool experience.

We took the same float-plane back to mainland, thinking about coming back tomorrow.

Day 2

We kind of prayed last night to get to see a lot of bears catching a lot of salmon with a lot of salmon trying to get to the upper stream. Today, though, we were first planning to go, with a tour, to the valley of the ten thousand smokes. The valley of ten thousand smokes (cool name 🙂 ) is a valley within Katmai National Park which is filled in ash from the eruption of Novarupta in 1912. We took a bus, after getting to the park, and started our tour. Along the way, we stopped for some fabulous sceneries and explanation from our guide. We reached a visitor center on a hill after about an hour’s drive. After a simple lunch at the visitor center, we hiked down the hill to explore more of the valley of the ten thousand smokes. The hike was OK but the way up was really strenuous.

We left the visitor center around 3pm then made our way back to the beach of the national park. We asked to stop at the entrance of the forest trail that leads us to Brooks fall, hoping we could get a glance of the bears catching wild salmon. On the way, dad asked other tourists that were coming out from the platform how was the wildlife doing. We never imagined that, but the tourists say that they were loads of salmon jumping. We quickened our pace and reached the platform much faster than we would’ve been. To our amazement, we saw tons of salmon jumping. Though lots of them are trying really hard to make it onto the upper stream, only few of them make it. It was a bit sad, to see their efforts wasted after a long journey to come back here, their birth place, so that they could give birth to a newer generation. It doesn’t quite make sense, but the bears aren’t actually trying to catch the fish when so much of them are around. We saw only a few bears (about 3 of them) catching the huge pile of salmon, eating them fresh just after catching them. Although, only few bears are present, it was already enough for us. We stayed longer than we did the day before, and then left this amazing park. We are leaving tomorrow for Anchorage.

We really had a great experience at Katmai National Park and I hope we could come back to this marvelous place someday.

Summer in Malaysia

Posted: July 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

在一位好朋友家所举办的班级聚会

从 八十五 天就开始倒数,我对这次会马来西亚度假真的感到很期待。

等着等着,剩下回马来西亚的天数屈指可数。要带回去马来西亚的东西可真多,东西只好硬着头皮塞进去行李箱里。心里真的感到很兴奋很兴奋。

我们乘坐接近早上10时的新航(SIA)飞机,transit 在日本,飞到新加坡,才抵达马来西亚。整个路程花了整整28小时。由于上次飞到美国时乘坐 business class,这次回祖国时坐 economy class 真的有点儿辛苦。

在美国已经跟亲戚朋友约好见面,在马来西亚天天都忙上忙下的。妈妈也得借姑姑的车载我们到目的地。虽然如此,跟亲戚朋友见面的时光都非常快乐。短短的一个月内,还去了两个朋友的家过夜,隔天又办聚会,过得十分精彩。我与妹妹到学校拜访老师,也见了一些久同学。我们也去了星期六的篮球训练探访教练及球员们。

当然,在美国那么久,会想念马来西亚美味佳肴,所以在那儿我们天天都去吃在美国难得一见的食物。在美国,唯一一间马来西亚餐馆离家大概2小时,所以我们极少到那儿。时光飞逝,短短的一个月到此结束。。。明年再见。

这次会马来西亚,过得十分精彩。希望明年更是。

再会啦,大家。

明年见。

Frog dissection 解剖

Posted: May 31, 2012 in America

 

 

 

 

 

Urghhh, I had quite enough of the earthworm dissection last week, but, today, my class is having a nasty surprise-dissecting a frog! I’ve heard from my parents that only students about 16 year old back in Malaysia get  to dissect a frog. Lucky me! During science class, wearing gloves and goggles, my three partners and I started dissecting a greenish brown large-sized frog.

Our first task is to get out the nicitating membrane that covers it eyes. It was quite hard and we damage part of the eyelid doing that. And then we are suppose to get the eyes out. We have to cut open the eyelid with a scalpel (gross!) and use the forceps to pull the eyes out. Not that its really hard to do that, but pulling out eyes from something really bothers me, plus, it’s a frog. After great difficulties, we manage to get the eye out. The eyeball, unfortunately, has burst open and slimy+blackish stuff came out of it.                                        

Next, we are suppose to break its jaw open to look at the froggie’s mouth. It’s tongue, mysteriously, is connect to the front of its mouth instead of the back. Also, juice came out from its throat, and trust me, you won’t like that smell.

Moving on, we get to cut the frog’s skin to get a better look of its internal organs. With the help of a scissor, we cut open the skin on its body. A piece of fat blocked the organs and we have to cut that out too. Once we cut open that piece of lipid, you can see, clearly, every organs in the frog’s stomach. Following the directions, we located organs that were mentioned in our lessons.

Also, we are asked to cut open the stomach to observe if there is any of the frog’s undigested food still in its stomach. And, indeed, we found the exoskeleton of some insects in its stomach. For extra credit, our group cleaned the bones of the frog. Covered with muscles, cleaning the bones isn’t an easy task.

It was a really interesting day. It was a really great experience and I hope u guys would get some animal dissections someday too!

Although I may have “escaped” from the terrifying UPSR, we still have to take a STAAR test here in the Americas. So, basically, here are some of the differences and similarities between the both of them.

Since I took the STAAR test, I am going to write about it first. First, STAAR stands for State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness Test. It’s not very hard, but I still can’t tell since I only had the writing tests. In fact, the test has a one-month gap separating the writing tests and the math and reading ones. Not all the students really work hard for the test though, and not like the UPSR, you don’t get rewards for doing well. I don’t really know if the grades affect your application for university or college.

The UPSR is like the most frightening, brain-racking test of all time. Students got loads of pressure, especially those in elite classes. Those in standard 6 have a hard time finishing their homework. In US we don’t usually have much. Classes lose its usual noises for every student was studying.

There are a lot of differences between both of these exams. Though harder, the UPSR gives students a higher satisfaction, and of course, rewards if you did well. The STAAR test is taken almost every year and it’s easier than the UPSR, so not much pressure is given.

Solo Contest (Scary……)

Posted: February 20, 2012 in America

Omigosh! My solo and ensemble contest is tomorrow! I am so nervous, my hands can’t stop from getting  sweaty……

—ONCE UPON A TIME—
About three months ago, my private lesson teacher asked me to participate in this district contest. He gave me a piece of music, by Mozart, the first movement of the K545 Sonata. I said OK and try it out and told my teacher, I would like to try this piece to for the contest. The contest is going to be really grand and participants would need to wear in ties and dress.
About two months ago, I just knew that this was a bit too hard for me although this is only the intermediate level (The band teacher also said that it was really hard). And the thought of being in front of audiences made me totally frighten.
And about two days ago, I got informed by the teacher we were not playing in front of anyone (Except maybe the judge). I am so relieved!!! Phew! Still, even though I was practicing like crazy about 3 weeks before the so-called “contest”, I can’t say I’m going to perform well during the competition.

—Performance Day—
So nervous…………
My turn to play in front of a judge. My mom I and found the room (with difficulties), and it was immediately my turn to play. My mom,
My piano accompanist is a band teacher, and we played in front of the judge. I played BADLY…… T.T

—After the competition—
My teacher told me I got a rating 2 in the “contest”. I am quite fine with it, although the other participants in my band got a 1…… ==’

Modern-day kids nowadays are really interested in using computers, Play-stations, Apple products, and lots of lots of modernized electronics. Electronics can bring happiness and knowledge, but it can also bring disadvantages. Facebook is one of the most-welcomed social networks.

Facebook can bring a lot of advantages. We can communicate with friends from faraway countries. We can chat with them when they are online. We can also post interesting stories and photos.

Facebook is important for me because I can know more about my friend’s (6B) status or feelings about their new school and life back in Malaysia. I can always acknowledge them about gathering times when we are about to head back to Malaysia during the summer break, to inform them.

We can also learn new songs, information, books, movies, etc. by sharing posts on Facebook. If we want to know more about something particularly, we can ask a teacher, or a student, if we do add them as a Facebook friend. I can notify and ask them about something through a message.

Although Facebook has a lot of advantages, it has disadvantages too. It will be bad for health if we are too addicted to the Facebook games. Our grades will drop rapidly too, if we do not concentrate on our homework.

Facebook is a social network that has both positive and negative aspects. Don’t be too addicted to a game. It may be a danger to both your health and your future. If you use it wisely and according to schedule, it will bring a lot of advantages.