Wednesday, October 22, 2008

the 'pek kong kuay'

this morning my walk at bukit batok nature park was aborted because the police had sealed off a section of lorong sesuai. this is the second time i encountered a number of policemen and police patrol cars at the park. the first time was in may last year when an unfortunate incident resulted in the death of a woman at the park.

so, i drove to chestnut avenue where i left my car and walked to dairy farm road to make a visit to the still-to-be-completed dairy farm nature reserve. soon to be ready will be a car-park that can accommodate about 60 vehicles and they are still in the process of installing lamp-posts on the one side of the road, which is going to be paved soon.

that was where i came across this chameleon sitting on the branch of a small bougainvillea plant. this is one common creature that i often meet on my nature walks. along this stretch, i have met a snake, skinks, squirrels and the long-tailed macaques. squirrels tend to be loners but the macaques always move in a troop. if you meet one macaque, you can be sure that there are a few others around.

when i was young, i was quite terrified of the chameleon which we called 'pek kong kuay' in hokkien. i had the feeling that it possessed some supernatural powers, otherwise why would it revered by the older folks as a creature of the god. whenever i saw one during my spider catching days, i would hastily move away from it. i was told by my mother that at mid-day, the lizard could transform itself.

when i came to know more about the chameleon, i understood why this creature was held in awe by people of my mother's generation. all chameleon species are able to change their skin colour.

when i was teaching in a secondary school, one day, after the examinations, one of my students brought two pets in an elongated card-board box to school. when he let them out to crawl on his desk, some of his friends screamed. they were his pet chameleons.

talking about encounters with animals, i think, the other day i chanced upon four or five wild boars along a deserted stretch of road in the lim chu kang area. when the headlights of my car shone on them, they scampered away and disappeared into the bushes. so, there are still fairly large wild animals in singapore.


JollyGreenP said...

You are not alone in having that fear when younger. I had a similar irrational fear of chameleons as well when I was younger. We lived next to a large tree in Wittering Road at RAF Changi that often had chameleons in it. There was a footpath ran under the tree and down across the golf course and chameleons would sometimes sit on this path. If there was a chameleon on the path I was seized by an intense overwhelming fear that I coud not pass the chameleon. I would walk down the road and then take the next pathway down onto and across the footpath. I cannot explain that fear but it was incredibly intense.

yg said...

coincidentally, i was around that area this morning. i had parked my car outside the changi beach club, along cranwell road where andover rd and leuchars rd meet to go for my morning walk along the changi boardwalk. did see any chameleon, though. saw a monitor lizard in the sea near the changi sailing club.