In the Urban Jungle

17 02 2015

At Kowloon’s Queen Victoria Park.

Hundreds of cats to be crushed in building demolition

28 01 2015

Coconuts Bangkok reports on the tragic fate in store for hundreds of stray cats who have Murakami-esquely taken over an empty apartment block in Bangkok.

Message from the deep

26 01 2015

A whale swam into Victoria harbour where it was seen near Tsim Tsa Tsui, in the heart of the city. Sadly, it was found dead almost weeks later near Discovery Bay.

Bangkok surprise #1: singing at the llama farm

4 01 2015

This year, my home city of Melbourne opened its first cat cafe, a place based on the Japanese model where patrons can sip a coffee and stroke a selection of cats. It was lauded as a hot new thing. Pfffft. Bangkok is so far beyond that it is not even funny. The Thai capital is doing karaoke with alpacas. “Alpaca View” is a restaurant, bar and “karaoke farm” in Lad Phrao where the main attraction (obviously) is singing in a barnyard-like environment complete with pigs, and dining next to a herd of alpacas. The alpacas have been conditioned to come right up to the fence of their enclosure to be fed, and sometimes poke their heads over inquisitively at the nearest tables. But I did wonder: how do the poor creatures deal with the city’s heat and humidity?

There is also a flock of free-ranging, unrestrained rabbits who roam the premises and – what the hell? – a white picket Eiffel Tower in which sits an effigy of Spiderman.

The restaurant is part of a wider trend in Thailand towards camelid-related attractions. There is also a new alpaca farm in Ratchaburi and a camel theme-park in Hua Hin.

Tropical Romance: Biological engravings of the Victorian era

15 12 2014

John Gould’s Birds of Papua New Guinea


World wide weird

17 11 2014

The Brazilian city of Belem, on the banks of the Amazon, is best known for its colourful riverside market of rainforest herbs and strange, monstrous fish, almost constant rain and more recently, a vibrant music scene that has spawned the likes of Jaloo and Gaby Amarantos. It was also here, in my early twenties, that I experienced one of the more exotic episodes in my travels, waiting out in a decaying nineteenth century brothel for an emergency credit card – my lifeline to the outside world – to arrive. Yet this week it has been in the news for a string of “whats app” murders, preceded by a mysterious text message telling people to stay off the streets..

The residents of outer-suburban Paris were terrorised by a tiger this week, sighted (and photographed, indistinctly, of course) outside a local supermarket. Despite a massive military manhunt the beast has still not been found, although after several days and some track mark analysis, the threat was downgraded to “Eurasian lynx”.

And finally, a sinkhole opened today on a busy pavement in Hong Kong’s own Causeway Bay, swallowing a passing pedestrian, who was later rescued by an ambulance. A friend told me something similar had happened in Beijing once, but there the unfortunate victim had been boiled alive by leaking hot water pipes.

Fabulous beasts

17 11 2014


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