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A Furry Saturday A doggie haven near Johor Bahru where rescued canines run free.

Once in a while I lend my help to the people behind Noah’s Ark Natural Animal Sanctuary (NANAS), especially when they hold tours at their lovely compound in Johor, Malaysia. It’s a sprawling plot of land that serves as the animals’ (dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, horses, and monkeys) retiring home, which the public can visit via the public tours (there’s a bus which takes you there from Boon Lay MRT) or on your own on days where NANAS is opened up to those who wish to drive up on their own . (Just follow NANAS’ Facebook page to be in the loop for the various tour dates.)

I love this sanctuary because it brings me real joy to see the dogs being so happy when they run freely around the place. But even if you don’t fancy the earnest nudges by the sometimes rambunctious dogs, you can head for the feline blocks to be surrounded by the many, many kitties that also roam free within, where they are safe from the slobbering hyperness of dogs (although a few privileged canines have gotten the approval to share their space).

It was very nice to meet everyone who drove up to NANAS for a visit yesterday, and I’m sure the furry residents couldn’t be happier to be at the receiving end of all the zealous affection. The next public tour is on May 18, so you can hop over to NANAS’ blog to get more details on the tour, or email noahsarkcares@gmail.com to register.

A visitor with Max, the gentle rottweiler who’s allowed into the cattery.

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After a dip in the pond.

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One of my favourite cats, who lost its hind legs, but not its affection towards people.
One of my favourite cats, who lost both its hind legs, but not its affection towards people.

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The main cattery.
The main cattery.

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These quiet moments with individual dogs are the best.
Very often, a dog will trot up quietly to you and just hang by your side… These quiet moments are always the best.

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Jill, who unfortunately keeps getting swiped by the cats because she's partially blind and keeps bumping into them.
Jill, who unfortunately keeps getting swiped by the cats because she’s partially blind and keeps bumping into them.

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This one found new companionship with my backpack.

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The temperamental chow.
The temperamental chow.

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A rather coy one in the other cattery.
A rather coy one in the other cattery.

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Grooming time with one of the local workers.
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“How do you like my lush headpiece?”
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Thanks for sending me off guys! I’ll be back soon!

Scram!

Last week I went dirtbiking for the first time, and it was A LOT of fun. Tristan Park at Johor Bahru offers non-riders a crash course in motorbikes, and I needed that because I’m planning a Vietnam trip Top Gear-style (well, only part of the journey — not bike across the country), and I don’t have a bike or car licence.

So, thankfully, I had a couple of friends who were ready to get dirty with me. Ade is an experienced biker, and Weiming is a fairy who wanted to put his testosterone levels to the test. When I made the booking for the 3 of us, I mentioned that 2 of us were non-riders. But because of some miscommunication, we were presented with 3 fully manual scramblers instead. We arrived a little late (you can start riding at 9am, but we only got there around 11am), so there was a bit of pressure to pick up riding skills quickly. Weiming and I had our first taste of operating a bike (not easy at first but damn thrilling!) at a dodgy back alley in the middle of no where, and when the guide decided that we were really too amateur to ride to the main trail in the woods, we got into his jeep and rode the bumpy way in instead.

Into the woods for practice rounds.
Into the woods for some practise.
Before we knew how adventurous the trail that lay in front of us was.
Before we knew how adventurous the trail that lay in front of us was.

Once I got the hang of controlling the bike, I was hooked. But I still wasn’t 100% confident after two hours or so on the practice grounds. I kept losing balance at the corners because I was just not used to toggling the acceleration and braking. And when the guide said that it was time to head on to the real trail, I simply hyped myself up with some false confidence.

The beginner’s trail was no problem. It was bumpy and some paths were narrow, but it was real fun and we got through it quite swiftly. But it was also at this halfway mark that we realised that we didn’t bring enough water. So for those intending to go, bring along no less than 1.5L for each rider.

A pretty view of a quarry at the start of the beginner's trail.
We got a pretty view of a quarry before entering the intermediate trail.
Our trio of  Kawasaki KLX 150cc bikes.
We rode on Kawasaki KLX 150cc bikes (foreground).
All hyped up!
Martians all hyped up about exploring this new planet!
Our patient guides.
Our patient and rather under-hyped guides.
Navigating the narrow paths.
Weiming entering the first of many narrow paths.

It was after this point that my falling combo started. The intermediate path really tested my amateur riding skills, and I lost balance many, many times because I accelerated when I wasn’t supposed to, and my control of the clutch and brakes weren’t perfected yet. But as we weren’t going at great speeds, falling was neither scary nor painful. I just pitied our other guide, who had to keep picking up my bike. Well at least he was pretty entertained by my clumsiness. Haha.

But thanks to Ade who was super at off-road riding and always ahead of me, she managed to get a couple of nice shots of me looking all tough.
Sloshing through a stream.
Sloshing through a stream. PHOTO: Ade Chong
The trickiest part was trying to navigate through the woods at snail speed. (Photo by Ade)
The trickiest part was trying to navigate the woods at snail speed. Photo: Ade Chong

We had to wrap up by 4pm, and by then, Ade was super satisfied, Weiming was ready to fall asleep anywhere, and I was a little bruised — but we were all extremely glad that we went on this mini adventure. Our outing costed SGD90, and I highly recommend it for all the Singaporeans who have not experienced off-road riding.

How else can you get a chance of being featured in a male-targeted bike calendar?

Tristan Park
I’m sure you see the potential too. PHOTO: Ade Chong
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