Tag Archives: travel

Getting to Madagascar, cost and itinerary

Madagascar requires a tourist visa, but can be easily obtained at the airport via Visa on Arrival
I got mine at the Madagascar Consulate in Singapore for sg$85.

Madagascar Consulate
1003, #04-24, Technopreneur Center, Bukit Merah Central Singapore 159836
Tel:  62231316
Call prior application as person in charge may not be at the office
Tourist Visa given for 3 months and starts on the date of application
Application requires one passport photo, flight itinerary, passport and sg$85, processing time 1-2 day. My visa was given on spot without the additional sg$50 for same day processing. The office was closed the next day for some official matters. Yippee for me.

International flight
Flights were booked via Air Madagascar local agent in Singapore. International flight transfers via Bangkok, a short 1 hour stopover in La Reunion to Antananarivo, Madagascar.

114 Middle Road #05-01 Singapore 188971, Tel (65) 6336 3877

Domestic Flights
Air Madagascar has the monopoly within Madagascar, so flights can get expensive. Best to pre-book all your domestic flights when making your international flight. 50% discount is given if you have a international flight ticket and quoted in US dollars instead of Euros if you book in Madagascar. Due to the limited flights within the country, suggest that you book your domestic flights prior.
All flights depart and return to Antananarivo, so it can be quite a hassle to waste a night or a day in Antananarivo to transfer from different cities. Domestic flights often experience delays and may take up to a whole 5-6hours just waiting about.

Flight cost
Singapore to Madagascar via Bangkok and La Reunion : sg$1650
Antananarivo to Tulear : Euro $225 return (50% discount if you have Air Madagascar international flight)
Antananarivo to Moroansetra : Euro$225 return
Antananarivo to Morondava : euro $220 return

Most Domestic flights were unavailable within my dates given, so I only managed my flight to Moroansetra

Total Cost
International Airtickets : sg1642.60 /Euro 963.70
Domestic Airticket : Euro 225
Food : Euro 179.80 / 459800 aviary
Water : Euro 4.97 / 12700 aviary
Hotel Accomodation : Euro 148 / 378418 aviary
Land Transport + airport transfer : Euro 29.04 /74250 aviary
Private car hire for 10 days : Euro 490
Non food items : Euro 2.74 / 7000 aviary
Activities : Euro 34.22 / 87500 aviary
Other items : Euro 137.31 / 351090 aviary
Other items : Euro 60

Total expenses (exclude gifts+international airticket) : Euro 1209.44
Total spent : Euro 2173.12

Average expenses  Euro$57.60/day
Average expenses for  include international airticket : Euro$100/day

At time of travel : 1 Euro = 2530 Aviary

(Note : Travel expenses shared by 2 persons, solo travel cost expense may differ)

Average Cost for travelling within Madagascar

Hotel average 20,000 aviary to 60,000 aviary per room

Food at Hotely are cheap, averages 2000 – 4000 aviary per dish consist of a meat + a large pile of rice + boiled rice water + soup.

Food at Hotels or Restaurants averages 3000 – 7000 aviary.
A plate of zebu steak cost average 6000 aviary, prawn dish cost average 5000-8000 aviary, chicken/fish dish cost 4000-5000 aviary comes with vegetables or french fries

Park fees : 15,000 aviary for smaller reserves, major reserves 25,000 aviary, private reserves 5000-8000 aviary

Guide fees : 25,000 – 35,000 aviary for 4 hours circuit walk

Airport Transfers : 10,000 aviary(shared shuttle) – 30,000 aviary Taxi (Anatannarivo airport)

Public Taxi Buses :
range 35000 aviary from Antisirabe to Morondava 10-12 hours
3000 aviary from Tulear to Ifalty 2 hours

My Madagascar Itinerary

Anatannarivo – capital city for travel arrangements

Private car hire with driver consist of 12 days drive from Anatannarivo down to Tulear return

Fanantenana-Andasibe National park – woolly lemurs

Antsirabe – city of crafts and major industries, great place to buy semi-precious gemstones

Ambositra – woodcrafts and precious wood

Ranomanfana National park – Sifaka lemurs

Finanarantsoa – second largest city in Madagascar, great place to stock up on water and other groceries if you are self catering.

Amabalavao – silk craft and the famous zebu market

Anja Private Reserve – semi tame ringtail lemurs and canyon walks

Ranohira – Isalo National Park – popular stunning landscapes, canyons and waterpools

Tulear – Tropic of Capricorn for its beaches

Mangily village at Ifalty beach

Drive Back to Amabalavao for the wednesday/thursday  zebu market

Continued back to Fianarantsoa and Antsirabe

Antsirabe to Morodava – 12hours by car

Morodava – Baobao trees for the full moon

Drive back from Morodava to Anatannarivo 13 hours by car

Fly Anantannarvio – Moroansetra


Nosy Mangabe National Park

Annatannarivo – half a day at Haute Ville

– End


1. Thoughts on Madagascar

Madagascar has been on my bucket list ever since I read Douglas Adam’s book ‘Last Chance to see’. Most people would think Madagascar is a movie animation with cutesy animals,  its one of the largest islands in the world filled with a fascinating wildlife endemic only to the island.

Part of my aim was to visit the endangered animals and trees endemic to Madagascar, Baobabs trees and the lemurs, primates that are even older than the primates in the rest of the world. Because of Madagascar isolation and its breaking off from Gondwanaland a few hundred million years ago, without competition with the newer primates, this set of older primates evolved into a wide range of lemurs from the strange and weird Aye Aye, the pygmy mouse lemur, the ringtail lemur made famous by the animated movie.

This has been a great experience and my first encounter with such beautiful animals up close. I’m bitten with exploring more wild life and have finally completed my long awaited journey to this amazing country. I climbed up a 5 storey high Baobab tree, saw the elusive Aye Aye, photographed the Zebu market, met the gorgeous locals.

Most Madagascans are so poor that even throw away plastic PET bottles and containers are so precious, many I met in the south were asking for them.  In most places I visited, infrastructure is sorely lacking, there is no sustainable energy grid and the roads are so bad that travel between different places could take much longer than we are use to. A 100km road take at least 3-4 hours of travel.

This country is changing rapidly, unfortunately not for the better, environmentally most of the land are being destroyed. A tough fight between the endemic wildlife and the growing human population.  There are plenty of wild life conservation organisations  but none that help the growing population, most are struggling to survive. Besides the basic education of wildlife conservation, there must be an effective assistance for the human population economically. Water source is limited and land is much needed for agriculture. A tough balance to feed the poor population and to keep the endangered wildlife in tact. Two third of the country have already been destroyed, exploited by mining, wood and other natural resources, only 10% of the original rainforest in the island have remained and converted to national parks.

The people of Madagascar are both warm and friendly and the environment vastly different area to area. Antannarivo the capital is more like some french town filled with colonial architecture and cobblestone streets, Tulear right at the Tropic of Capricorn feels more like a dry drought ridden dusty town, Moroansetra feels more tropical carribean rainforest.  From the cool highlands, to spiny desolate deserts to wet tropical rainforest, this big island has so many contrasts that makes a person like me want to revisit.

Transportation around Madagascar

Land transportation around Madagascar are long and awful, most would save time by flying via the only domestic airline, Air Madagascar and private planes.


A good suggestion would be to book and pay for your domestic airticket at the time of your international ticket purchase. You would receive 50% discount on the pricey domestic ticket and quoted in US dollars instead of Euros should you buy them locally. Flights are infrequent and often fly twice or once a week, as the planes are small, they get filled up quickly especially during peak season from July – November. All the flights depart and return to Anatannarivo, the capital city which makes it a pain and a waste of a day waiting for your city to city air transfers.


Best to hire a private 4×4 jeep to drive around the various places. The road conditions are so bad that a short 100km could take at least 3-4 hours.  Highways and major roads are old pothole ridden and often left to break down. Private car hires are expensive and it cost me Euro700 for a 10 + 2 day trip return from Anatannarivo to Tulear return. As I only rented a regular car, was not able to visit most of the other places and reserves due to the non-existent roads accessible only via a 4×4 wheel vehicle.  From Anantannarivo/Antsirabe to Morodava cost Euro$300 (bargained down to Euro$275). Private car hires are easily available in your hotels as most have tie up with travel agents.

Public taxi buses are cheap with average of 20,000 – 40,000 aviary (8 euros – 16euros)  for a 12-15 hour ride 400-500km distance. Its a tough ride and often jam packed with people and goods piled up high in the roofs.

Aside from taxi buses, zebu carts can be hired for short distances of less than 20km, extremely slow but effective if you like the scenic view and meeting the locals.

In search of the Aye-Aye : the elusive nocturnal lemur Part 2

On arrival to Moroansetra, I enquired if there were any captured Aye Aye in town or a zoo aka private reserve had any lemurs, a name, Julien popped up with much disgust within the Angap (national park registered) guides I met. The answer I got was, “you can find him, Julien might know where to find Aye Ayes but I don’t recommend it”

Julien Rabsoa former Angap guide, now he calls himself an extra guide was rumored to have a few kept Aye Aye which he shows to paying tourists, documentary and nature television crews. He proudly shows off his nature books, most it seems were given by the authors of the books.

Even Gerald Durrell the famous naturalist and author had his name on the acknowledgment as Julien proudly pointed out tapping at his name on the page. “A few weeks ago, your country television people, Japan Nippon (he thinks I am Japanese) came to film the Aye Aye.”

Being an Angap guide (registered National parks guide) is a poorly paid job, Julien said he makes better money as an ‘extra guide’, of course he does, by charging me 40,000 aviary (16 euros) for 15minutes of personal Aye Aye time.

The nature trip will take 1 hour he said, 10 mins to the forest and another 30mins of showing me all his nature books, and a short 10-15minutes looking at the Aye Aye. I asked if he was keeping the Aye Aye and he denied by replying “there were 6 Aye Ayes in the forest, all wild and free roaming, you don’t need to pay tons of money to Nosy Mangabe and Masaola National park to look at nothing.”

The long walk pass the hotel Relais du Masoala and into an dark empty field with the only remaining tree, the Aye Aye was there waiting. I had only carried LED head lamp and Julien had a torch which had low batteries, it makes bad photographing without a bright lamp in complete darkness. He pointed out the active Aye Aye jumping around the tree with my dim LED head lamp, injected with brief shouts of “Good show, Good show” when the Aye Aye decides to come a little lower and look at us. Indeed the whole 15minutes of Aye Aye viewing seem like a circus show with the Aye Aye performing for me. It was further marred by bouts of heavy rain as I tried to with much difficulty to photograph the animal in complete darkness. In one quick final act of the circus performance, the Aye Aye descended to the lower
branch and looked briefly at me before running up into the foliage, Julien ended the whole show abruptly by saying it was over, it is time to go, the Aye Aye now needs its rest and too much light would affect its eyes.

“Remember to tell everyone in Japan that I am the Aye Aye specialist, I promise guranteed Aye Aye sighting, I will give you my mobile number”, which he did.

The next morning I met him again while heading off to find where he brought me to. He invited me again to join him and a bunch of Americans to look for the Aye Aye and other nocturnal animals for a discounted 40,000 aviary per hour in the night. (I didn’t join in).

He went into his hut and gathered up more nature books to show me his and his siblings names in the acknowledge pages. Seems his whole family were all nature guides and all those published nature authors were using his family
for spotting wild animals. Makes me wonder if these authors and television crews even mention if the animals they recorded in their documentaries and books were wild or captured. I doubt these published authors were dare to mention it so, allowing their viewers to assume they found the lemur in the wild.

In the day, I revisited the area and found it to be a large cleared field surrounded by sparse forest. Right in the empty field was a lone solo tree in the middle, now without any Aye Aye. I surmised that the poor Aye Aye was placed there for ignorant tourists like me, it had no other trees to jump to and definately won’t be able to move across the empty fields in search for other trees to feed on.

More photos to show once I get a chance to upload them.

Location : Finding the tame Aye Aye

Julien Rabasoa’s house can be found just before Masaola Resort

The Aye Aye was located in the forested area is opposite Hotel Relais Du Masaola, you can visit the forest by your own in daytime to see the locals logging for rose wood and other timbers.

Cost of the brief 15mins viewing : 40,000 aviary per person

In search of the Aye-Aye : the elusive nocturnal lemur in Nosy Mangabe. – Part 1

Here in Nosy Mangabe, Nocturnal walks are best done with the occasional bouts of heavy rain pouring onto you while you try your best to look up into the tree canopies. The whole forest comes alive in pitch darkness. With reflected eyes of moths flying across your face as you shine your head lamp on the designated walk way, a pair jumping eyes of tiny mouse lemurs across trees tops , then stopping to stares at you as you walk away in creepy silence. A beautiful boa python lying in the middle of your path ready to strike, while it awaits for its prey, sleeping chameleons hanging right at the tip of tree branches for you to photograph its half open eyes with a terrified expression on its face.

The Aye Aye is a strange creature, its a lemur and part of the primate family. It has a scrawny haired body, looks more like a rodent, with long bushy tail, with bat like ears, with a face of a weasel, rodent teeth, thin hands and a long skeleton middle finger which it uses to tap like a woodpecker for insects and nuts. This endangered lemur is a protected animal and in 1960s, a few captured Aye Ayes were released in Nosy Mangabe, a small island reserve 20minutes across Antongil Bay, Moaransetra, Eastern Madagascar. An island I got to know from Douglas Adam’s book, “Last Chance to see” which was part of my inspiration for visiting Madagascar. Getting a chance to see this elusive animal was part of my bucket list, I am determined to fulfill my list.

My travel companion who thinks I’m already weird now decides that I am completely mad to find the Aye Aye to be such a cute and cuddly animal instead of the decidingly hideous appearance of a scrawny rat like monkey creature. A few other locals that I met, also found me strange to be completely obsessed in finding this rather elusive and solidary creature.

As soon as I landed in Moaransetra, a sleepy little town which grows vanilla, cloves, bananas and other fruits, I found myself becoming a regular patron to a friendly provision shop. With lots of broken french and barely there english, we communicated and had the owner of the shop calling up folks he knew to find a guide and boat hire. With only a few limited boats in town, boat hire to Nosy Mangabe is pricey, a day trip out to a national park can add up to almost 100 euros a day.

Getting to Nosy Mangabe
Arranging to Nosy Mangabe can be quite an adventure, if you are on the cheap and on the budget like me, it is no easy feat.

The return trip to Nosy Mangabe cost 100,000 aviary with additional 30,000 aviary for overnight stay and compulsory guide hire for the total stay cost 10,000- 25,000 (day walk 4hours) + 10,000 (nocturnal walk 2 hours). Tent hire cost 5000 aviary for the tent and a further 5000 aviary for the camp site.

My travel companion and me agreed that this guide named Serge was definately crappy while making arrangements at our regular provision shop. In the national park office, there were gradings of guides and they charge accordingly to their guiding skills and language level, Serge mentioned he was of the lower grading where you pay 15,000 aviary, 20,000 for medium grade and 30,000 for the highest grade. He mentioned he has worked as a guide for 8 years but only has a lower grade, still he was asking 25,000 aviary for his services instead of 10,000 aviary he was suppose to be charging. We didn’t mind much about paying him 15,000 aviary more as we didn’t really want to find another person given our limited time in Moaroansetra.

The first guide we found at the Moarasetra national park office was quite awful, a medium graded guide whom we barely understood and had trouble communicating, he was said to have proficient english. We wanted a high level guide which cost 30,000 aviary, the rather helpful officer couldn’t find the guides available for us. Having a good guide who can spot and explain the flora and fauna really help to enhance your whole nature experience.

Another guide, Rakoto at Le Coco Beach Resort, whom the lonely planet had recommended wanted 250,000 aviary a day for arranging a guide and other logistics to Nosy Mangabe and 700,000 aviary a day to Masaola Penisula nature reserve. As with all lonely planet guidebook recommendations, fame seem to have gotten the best of him. I won’t recommend Rakoto as your tour organiser as he does seem quite a smart ass take it or leave it attitude even with his unassuming appearance.

Serge was only a tad better as he could somehow communicate in understandable english. With 8 years of being a guide and only receive a low grade, you would think we should another guide. and no, lazy us decided we just keep him.

Our crappy guide constantly needs to be prompted for answers as he wasn’t readily able to speak or offer any other information. You ask him a question, he replies with a short sentence and that’s all you going to get, unless you prompt him for more. It got quite tiring asking him anything further about the other parks arrangements.

Serge demanded a further 12,000 aviary for his meals which consist of zebu meat (local beef) with rice and other imported expensive highland vegetables along with an extra tent for him (he never did use that extra tent btw) I had to further purchase a cooking pot and cooking charcoal fuel for him that was on top of the other food supply I had
to purchase for all of us. Of course I utterly refused his demands and told him that was out of the question. Why should I pay for all his equipment and buy him a cooking pot, we were paying him 15,000 aviary more than we suppose to. At the camp site I was the one cooking for all 5 of us while I had to prompt him to help with the food preparations

A kind lobster fisherman at the provision shop offered his motor boat for free which included his boat master and the boat man as well as the use of his cooking equipment. I only had to pay for the petrol and tips for the boat master who happen to have half chinese and half madagasy. He was puzzled as to why we wanted to visit the island let alone search for the elusive lemur who he referred to as a monkey, in an island that doesn’t have anything but trees and tons of mosquitos.

Nosy Mangabe

We started late at 9am, the boat master was arranging for petrol and other things, a small group of folks from the provision shop gathered and waved us goodbye. We crossed the Antongil Bay with high choppy waters and arrived to a island covered with dense forest and a small beach.

As a naturalist, Nosy Mangabe was one of those islands you would like to get stranded in for a few days. The camping facilities were pretty well equipped, sheltered site to set up your tent, an indoor kitchen with running water, 2 pesky tame lemurs to greet you once you arrive. In this island, the lemurs come find you, we didn’t have to do anything but mistakenly place our bags and food supply out in the open for those lemurs to raid. My bag of bananas got raided so were my shoes and my only candle lamp which got gnarled and eaten during the night lemur raid. What more you can ask for?

The 4 hour nature walk searching for the Aye Aye nest was one of the most boring walks we had encountered, hosted by our ever talkative guide Serge, we walked for 4 hours straight through dense forest and occasional rain with him uttering only a few words through my constant probing and questions.

There were lemurs calling for one another but I couldn’t see them through the tall trees and dense dark foliage. Hearing a strange bird like cawl, I asked Serge what made that sound, was it a bird, he said without turning, “Yes, its a bird”, I waited for a few minutes to allow him to elaborate what sorta bird, but he didn’t utter anything further. Impatiently I probed further, “So its a bird, what type of bird”, he muttered some name and walked on. My travel companion laughed and stated this guide is completely useless, wondering if he was even telling us the correct name, its no wonder
why being 8 years as a guide and still a low graded guide. We suspect if he was even a registered National parks guide or one of those freelance ones who prey on unsuspecting tourist.

The walk wasn’t completely a disaster, I got to discover a few amazing creatures only endemic to Madagascar. The miniature chameleon, Brookesia minima, the smallest chameleon in the world, plentiful in Nosy Mangabe you can spot on almost in every leaf pile. Brilliant tiny reptiles that play dead on the palm of my hand, the chameleon is only
2 phalanges long of my pinkie finger. Regrettedly I didn’t bring my macro lens to photograph this beautiful reptile.

The leaf tail gecko is another amazing reptile, designed to look completely like the bark of the tree, even its legs were ruffed like the edges of a leaf. Quite difficult to spot unless you know what you are looking at. Other animals included a sighting of the white and black lemur and a quick glance of a running common brown lemur and a pair of jumping yellow arrow frogs, Mantella laevigata which my guide promptly chased away when I saw them.

The night walk was quite dreary at the beginning with bouts of heavy rain that lasted the whole night. We camped out at the Aye Aye tree after seeing fresh signs of scarring of the tree bark. The Aye Aye uses its skeleton index finger to tap for insects hidden within the bark of the tree, boring holes in the bark of the tree. I caught a glimpse of a pair of reflected eyes up in the Aye Aye tree for a few seconds and didn’t see anything after. We waited for a few hours but
the Aye Aye didn’t return  It could have been due to my boat master pitching his tent in front of the tree, he had his tent near the shoreline to watch for the boat.

Nocturnal walks are best done without the rain, the whole forest comes alive in pitch darkness. With reflected eyes of moths flying across your face as you shine your head lamp at them, jumping eyes of mouse lemurs across trees then stopped and stares at you as you walk away. A beautiful boa python lying in the middle of your path while it awaits for its prey, sleeping chameleons hanging right at the tip of tree branches for you to photograph its half open eyes with a terrified expression on its face.

The night was stormy with strong winds and very heavy rains, the tent site was quite alive with nocturnal lemurs jumping onto the top of my tent and raiding my table of bag of shoes and candle lamp.

Nosy Mangabe overall was quite interesting, but i left disappointed not to see the creature that was on my bucketlist –  the Aye Aye.

Getting to Nosy Mangabe and Masoala National Park

The official cost of getting to Nosy Mangabe via Moroansetra town is rather pricey and all the prices are fixed with the official rates available in the Masoala National Park Office in town. Visit the office for reference.

Park fee to Masoala National Park and Nosy Mangabe
10,000 aviary for the day (you arrive at 8am and leave within 24hours)
15,000 aviary for three days

Guide fee
Day time (4 hours guided walk)
10,000 aviary low graded guide
25,000 aviary medium grade
30,000 aviary high grade

Night walk (1 – 2 hour guided walk)
additional 10,000 – 25,000 aviary

Boat hire
Motor boat 100,000 aviary return
30,000 aviary per night waiting fee for overnight charge, as petrol is expensive, the boat man charges for his over night stay in the island

Tent camping fee
5000 aviary for the shelter

Rental of Tent
5000 aviary per tent

Exclude food cost, cooking fuel and other misc charges

What I paid for Nosy Mangabe
Park Fee : 10,000 aviary
Guide fee: 35,000 aviary + 1000 aviary for his stay
Boat hire free but paid for 25Litre petrol : 85,000 aviary
Tips for the boat master and boat man : 15,000 aviary
Tent hire and camping fee : 10,000 aviary
Food and misc : 50,000 aviary total for 5 people

Masoala National Park

cost more and there is no camping facilities but private resorts where everything is chargable.

Park Fee : 10,000 – 15,000 aviary
Guide Fee : 35,000 aviary include 4 hour day walk and 1 hour night walk
Boat hire : different at different lodges ( see below)

Tampolo lodge
Bungalow 40,000 aviary for double
Food average 20,000 per meal, breakfast cost 10,000 aviary. No where else for food.
Boat hire : 385,000 aviary per person

Ensuite room 51,200 aviary
Double/twin beds 32,5000 aviary
Food average 20,000 per meal
Boat Transfers :
41,3000 aviary for one person
44,2500 for 2 person
49,2000 for 3 person
51,6500 for 4 person
Over night waiting charge 35,400 aviary per night

Other places to visit
Farankaraina Private Reserve 1650ha reserve, relatively new reserve founded in 2006, about 15kms from Moroansetra town, no roads, best accessible by boat. Has camping facilities and a upcoming resort.

Park fee : 5000 aviary
Guide : 35,000 aviary
Boat hire : 40,000 for row boat, 100,000 + 30,000 aviary for motor boat

Photographing in Madagascar Reserves

Photographing wild lemurs in Madagascar Reserves

Difficulty in photographing wild animals in dark thick forest reserves, big challenge for me with my slow and testy 70-200m F4. Not quite successful in having decent lemur shots as most are rather shy creatures often spotted high up in the trees hidden by the various thick branches.

For camera gear, best to bring a longer and faster lens,  macro lens, flash, rain cover and bright flood lights/torch light for nocturnal nature walks. I didn’t have all of those as I wasn’t a nature photographer.

Visited a few national reserves, Andasibe-Mantadia , Ranomafana, Isalo etc can be a pricey affair. Guides to all reserves are compulsory and they charge in circuits and hours. The successful ones have additional help, Lemur spotters, young men who spread out in the reserves finding Lemurs for paid tourists. All the guides work together, they communicate with each other through their mobile phones and have become pretty successful in finding the lemurs easily. We tourist get  to ‘spot’ our lemurs up high in the dark dense trees within 2 hours of our 4 hour circuits. This is commercial nature tourism for you especially for impatient tourists like us who want everything including those animals fast.

If you want to experience animals up close and personal, best to stick to private reserves where most of the lemurs are semi-tame and pretty use to being with humans. The reserves have less foliage cover and designed for tourists accessibility compared to the thick dense national parks, thus making photographing these amazing lemurs a less frustrating experience.

Berenty reserve in South Madagascar

Berenty reserve in South Madagascar is a commercial tourist orientated private reserve with semi tame ring tail lemurs and the jumping Verreaux Sifakas. Its about 80 km from Fort Dauphin, 2 hours along paved road. This is one of the best places to photograph the many lemurs up close as most are semi tame and pretty use to all the humans. The reserve is ultimately a touristy place with most of its trails widely paved flat and very accessible and quite easy to walk for those not use to the thick forest areas of the national reserves. This is where Lemur Street the popular Animal Planet animal ‘soap’ series is filmed. Many other nature documentaries on lemurs are also shot here given how easy to find the various animals and how close you can get to the semi tamed animals.

Nosy Mangabe : Refuse to pay the overpriced trip

Nosy Mangabe : Refuse to pay the overpriced tourist boat ride around Moaransetra and Masoala, lucky for me found a Lobster/ fisherman who offered his boat and the boat master for free. Paid for the gas and headed across the choppy waters around Masoala Peninsula

Madagascar : Had a crappy guide to Nosy

Madagascar : Had a crappy guide to Nosy Mangabe, asked what made that sound, is that a bird? Yes its a bird. he replied, i waited for him to elaborate but he did not, finally had to ask further what bird it was.

The lady with amazing voice, selling tissue paper

Listen to the Tissue paper song here

This lady with amazing voice use to visit my neighbourhood, selling tissue paper. I won’t call her the Tissue paper lady, but rather, the lady with the voice, selling tissue paper. She has been plying her trade for almost a decade.

However unlike many other disadvantaged Singaporeans, she sings for her sale, rather than just selling them. She was made famous by Tan Pin Pin’s 2005 documentary, “Singapore Ga Ga”.  Check out the documentary, a great piece on Singapore.

Whenever she is around, she really brightens my day with her beautiful singing, making it a rather colorful neighbourhood rather than a static and stagnant one. Thank you, I do hope to see you again.

About Tissue paper selling

A pretty common occupation for disadvantaged Singaporeans. It is not begging, for begging is illegal in Singapore, but a way for poorer Singaporeans to earn a living. In a highly developed city like Singapore where the wealth divide is getting larger, disadvantaged Singaporeans found a way to earn some money. Life is hard here in Singapore, if you are older, or handicapped, or disadvantaged in some way, selling packets of tissue paper may be the only choice.

Lets hope the higher authorities do not put pressure on these folks and raid them, but appreciate that life is tough here, and perhaps they could help and allow these people to ply their tiny trade.

About the Song

It is sang in Hokkien:

Tissue paper, one dollar one dollar, only one dollar

Aunty, Uncle, brother, sister, please help buy, tissue paper

one dollar, one dollar, only one dollar