Sometimes other people’s travel stories can influence the choices we make when travelling. For example, my personal assistant The Eternal Traveller told me once, in graphic detail, about the time she saw a tourist being chased by a monkey in Thailand. I have a mental image of this aggressive animal stalking the poor lady simply because she still had peanuts in her hand and I’ve been scarred for life.
While I was visiting Tokyo I spent a day out of the city at the Meiji Memorial Forest at Mt Takao and guess what’s there. A monkey park! When I first saw the sign for the park I was filled with trepidation. Would these monkeys have a built-in attack instinct like the ones in Thailand?
My curiosity got the better of me and I had to find out for myself so I followed the trail. I’ve heard that monkeys like to spend most of their time swinging through the trees and although I scanned the treetops I couldn’t see any. I began to get the feeling they were avoiding me.
Then, after hours of searching, I finally came face to face with a real live monkey. He was sitting very still and I think he was hoping I hadn’t noticed him. He looked harmless enough but I wasn’t game to get too close. I wondered if he was as wary of me as I was of him because we just sat and stared at each other for ages.
My only close encounter was at the souvenir shop at the end of the day. I found this very cute, very cuddly baby monkey and he was happy to pose for a friendly photo. Isn’t he gorgeous! Thank goodness he didn’t want to chase me.
Maybe he doesn’t like peanuts.
Meet my new friend – Caitlin of Caitlin’s Happy Heart.
Not only is Caitlin a wonderful writer and speaker, she is mother to five lovely children, including three year old triplets!
Three times three – now that’s an achievement!
I know I’m an alpine beaver and not usually bothered by heights but I met my match at the Diamond Tree near Manjimup in Western Australia.
This enormous karri tree hosts one of a series of tree towers built by foresters in the 1930s. They were used as lookouts to spot fires in the dense karri forests and the cabins at the top of the trees provided accommodation for the spotters during their long, lonely shifts.
For me, the problem wasn’t going up. The ladder is pegged securely into the trunk of the tree and there is a safety net to keep climbers from plunging to their deaths. The hut at the top is 52 metres above the ground and the viewing platform is 46 metres, high enough to give a spectacular view over the forest.
Unfortunately I have no photos of the view to show you, because I didn’t make it! I was so worried about going down again I had to stop at the halfway mark. My mind was playing havoc with my legs and I kept imagining myself slipping and sliding back down to earth. It was ghastly.
The trees are no longer used for fire-spotting and have been replaced by spotter planes. Now they tempt those who are brave (or foolhardy) enough to climb to the summit to enjoy the view before making the spinechilling descent to the ground.
My knees are still quaking at the thought.
When visiting somewhere special it’s important to dress appropriately for the occasion, and there could be no occasion more special than spending a day at Disneyland.
This week I went to Tokyo Disneyland! The rides were fantastic and the parades were spectacular but what I enjoyed most was the people-watching. Disney dress-ups were very popular. There were all sorts of character copies, from monsters to mice, and they all looked amazing.
If you want to have fun and look fabulous at the same time dressing up is the way to go. Here is my list of essential wardrobe items for a day at Tokyo Disneyland.
1. Mickey Mouse Gloves – These come in pairs but can be worn separately. You might find it difficult to eat your lunch while wearing them, but who needs lunch when you’re going for the Mickey look.
2. Hat – There are too many styles of Disney hat to choose just one favourite. I fancied myself in a Mickey hat but couldn’t find one in my size.
3. T-shirt – The Mouse theme continues with these colourful shirts. Wear one with a co-ordinated bow, bag or bonnet and you’ll fit right in.
4. Popcorn holder – Carry enough popcorn to last the whole day in one of these over-the-shoulder popcorn holders. My favourite was Mr Potato Head.
5. Ears – The ultimate must-have for any Disney fan, these ears come complete with a glamorous red polka dot bow and glitzy earrings.
Put all these dress-up pieces together and you’ll achieve the definitive Disney look, just like these three young Minnie lookalikes.
Aren’t they delightful?
I’ve started writing a book.
As you know, one of my favourite pastimes while travelling is eating and I’m sure I’m not alone when it comes to being passionate about food. With my handy gourmet guide, food fanatics will be able to find a delicious feast no matter where they travel.
It’s a work in progress. Here are the front and back covers.
I hope it’s a runaway success.
One of my favourite things to do as a world traveller is work experience – I love stepping into other people’s shoes for a day. This week my work experience reached lofty heights.
The lighthouse at Cape Naturaliste has been operating for 110 years, guiding ships along the treacherous coast of south west Western Australia.
Until 1996 it was manned by three lighthouse keepers, and even though the light is now automated, I got to be the keeper of the light and resident tour guide for just a day.
Come with me and I’ll show you around.
Before we begin our tour you need to know the rules of visiting a working lighthouse.
The lighthouse was built in 1903. There was a big celebration when it was turned on for the first time in 1904.
Here is the control room. Before electricity, this tiny kerosene light bulb was all that was needed to power the lighthouse. Giant mirrors magnify the light so it can be seen for miles.
It’s worth climbing the 59 steps to the balcony because the views of the rocky coast and the Indian Ocean are wonderful.
Hold onto your hat please – it’s windy up here!
Have you ever spent time daydreaming about how you would spend your winnings when your lucky numbers come up? Or making plans for when Fortune unexpectedly comes knocking on your door?
I thought Lady Luck had smiled on me the day I found this enormous gold nugget just lying around in the grounds of the Royal Perth Mint.
My imaginings turned to First Class Travel with all the trimmings…
…until I found out it was gold-coloured plastic! How cruel – all my dreams faded away as quickly as they had come.
Back to Economy Class for me!
Did you know there are some clever plants out there? I’m not thinking of Triffids though – they had very unpleasant personalities. I found three plants at the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore which were much nicer than triffids and far more intelligent.
Meet Sansevieria kirkii ‘Coppertone’ from Africa. The coppery tinge on its leaves make them look dead or diseased and even the hungriest herbivore would not find them appetising. Isn’t that smart!
Then there’s Lithops aka the Stone Plant. It looks just like a pile of pebbles but appearances can be deceiving. It is actually soft and juicy and full of water. Don’t give the secret away – a four-legged diner might find out.
The most interesting plant I met was Mosaic fungi, more commonly known as the Orange Tile Mushroom. There was a whole forest of them, all popping right out of the concrete, vibrant and shiny. Unlike Coppertone and Stone Plant, who want everyone to think they taste nasty, Orange Tile Mushroom definitely isn’t edible. He is just meant to be admired.
So why does the mushroom get invited to all the best parties?
Because he is a fun gi!
One of my responsibilities as a World Traveller is to take on every challenge that comes my way so I can report back to my faithful readers. I love to try everything once…and that includes food.
I take this particular responsibility very seriously. You might think that eating delicious food from all parts of the world is a dream come true and you’d be correct. There are times though when eating yet another cake becomes a feat of endurance.
But as I said, I am responsible for telling you all about my travel experiences and so, with that in mind, I take a deep breath and the tasting begins.
My stamina usually lasts until the last bite!
PS Here are some more amazing feats of endurance.