Night safari

23 03 2015

Last night, the boyfriend and I took a twilight jog up the mountain to the Peak through the forest that (still) grows on its Western slopes. On a side track that leads up from the Chi Fu housing estate and into the “wild” we were amazed to come across a family of wild boar, foraging through the woods as the sun dipped down, in the heart of one of the world’s most densely-packed cities.


It was a little scary too, as the animals have a fearsome reputation for attacking lone hikers, especially when their young are concerned. The animals we could see were not yet fully grown, and their protector was no doubt somewhere nearby, if unseen. As the night started to fall, and we found ourselves lost on a strange path far from our previous trips, I pictured us stuck on the mountain at night, when its other inhabitants come out to claim what is theirs…

But the boars soon disappeared into the undergrowth and we ran – and sometimes walked, panting – onwards, up curving paths through the gathering darkness, surrounded by the jungle-like sounds of water flowing over rocks, frogs and insects croaking, and larger creatures still (the boar) rustling in the forests.

At one point we found ourselves on a debris-strewn path right below the mansions of the Peak’s rich, their garden walls above us lined with razor wire and barbs, but the path then plunged back into the forest and soon all traces of civilization receded again. I thought of the thousands of eyes in the undergrowth, spiders no doubt watching us as we passed, invisible without headtorches.

Sometimes, a cool breeze would blow down over the mountain, or a view would open up to the twinkling lights of boats on the sea below, or we would plunge into the shadows of trees where it was hard to see even two metres ahead – and then suddenly we were up at the Peak, with its milling crowds and 7-11s and bright lights, before heading back down into the dark and restless wood.


20 03 2015

Natural history illustrations by Japanese artist of the 1850s, Takagi Haruyama.

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



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