October 22, 2013


David Ellis

THERE are a couple of blokes gone down in history in Malta for enjoying a cold drink on a warm day – with its mostly warm days, Malta having every reason for a cold drink.

And many a visitor to its capital Valletta, pays homage to both these men – to one in the sanctity of a cathedral where hangs a priceless work of art he created some 400 years ago, to the other in a pokey bar where he dropped dead less-salubriously during a very boozy session in more recent years.

Michelangelo Merisi was an Italian artist born in the late 1500s, adopted the name Caravaggio after the town in which he grew up, and earned fame for his chiaroscuro style of painting (use of light and shade,) which he coupled with the dramatic and often theatrical.

And throughout his just-38 years he lived a bizarre double-life, being favoured by patrons from the Vatican and Italy's highest society for his art, whilst also being a street brawler, habituĂ© of anywhere a drink could be had, and killer – the latter seeing him flee to Malta after the death of a young man in a fight in Naples in 1606.

He was thus no stranger to the law, although he also enjoyed some protection by his many patrons, including in Valletta the famed Knights of Malta who conferred membership upon him after he did complementary portraits of their hierarchy.

Living this erratic mix of fame and notoriety, Caravaggio would paint furiously for days on end, then maraud his way through town for equally long nights on end, indiscriminately picking arguments and fights while a faithful servant traipsed behind to rescue him from bars, and not the occasional whore-house (many models in his most-famous religious paintings were, in fact, prostitutes.)

One of his most lauded paintings finished shortly before his death was 'The Beheading of St John The Baptist,' an extraordinary work measuring 361cm by 520cm (nearly 12-feet by 17-feet) that today draws thousands of viewers to Valletta's St John's Cathedral.

Caravaggio disappeared somewhat in mystery in 1610, reputedly dying in the Italian town of Porto Ercole: some said it was of fever, others syphilis, some claimed he was murdered on the orders of the Knights of Malta who'd tired of his errant ways, and yet others that wealthy patrons had equally tired of the discredit his lifestyle was bringing upon them.

Researchers, however, recently tested bones unearthed in a cemetery in Italy's Port Ercole, and from carbon dating and DNA are convinced they are those of Caravaggio… and believe he died, in fact, from lead poisoning.

Reputedly a "messy" painter, these researchers say the heavily lead-based paints he used could explain his bizarre behaviour, aggression and mood swings – all typical indicators of lead poisoning.

Malta's other famed embracer of a drink or three was swashbuckling British actor Oliver Reed, who died in a Valletta bar, The Pub after a lunchtime session in which he downed eight beers, twelve double rums and a half bottle of whiskey.

On Malta for the filming of 'Gladiator' with Russell Crowe in 1999, Reed had gone to The Pub on May 2nd  with his wife Josephine, and around 2.30pm got into an arm wrestling challenge with some visiting Royal Navy sailors.

A few minutes in, Reed suddenly collapsed over the table and crashed to the floor, dead of a massive heart attack.

His bar stool is now displayed in his regular corner, surrounded by memorabilia from his visits there – together with news coverage of "Ollie's Last Order" famed drinking session.

There are also newspaper clippings of his many other legendary drinking exploits, as well as radio and TV misdemeanours that included the time he arrived drunk and attempted to hug a renowned very feminist writer on-camera, blurting at the same time one of TV's more memorable impromptu quotes, "Give us a kiss, Big Tits".

As well as Caravaggio's famed painting in the cathedral and a visit to The Pub, Valletta's picturesque streets and architecture, and its Upper Barrakka Gardens with its panoramic harbour views, are all worthy of days of exploring.

As Sir Walter Scott once put it: "Here is a city built by gentlemen, for gentlemen…"

Caravaggio and Ollie Reed, we're sure, would doubtless drink to that.



1.MALTA's capital Valletta from the air: A city built by gentlemen, for gentlemen(Malta Tourism Office)
2. THE Pub, where Oliver Reed had his last fateful drinks... eight beers, a dozen double rums and half a bottle of whiskey over lunch. (Wikimedia)
3. OLIVER Reed as Proximo the ex-gladiator who trains the Gladiator (Russell Crowe.) (Universal Pictures)
4. CARAVAGGIO's The Beheading of St John The Baptist measures 361cm X 520cm (nearly 12ft X 17ft) and hangs today in Valletta's St John's Cathedral. (Wikimedia)

October 21, 2013

Struth! Dreary Scottish town wins award

In his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says the former mining community of New Cumnock has been named Scotland's "Most Dismal Town" for 2013.


New Cumnock's first mines opened in the 1700s, and the town had five in operation up until 1950 – employing 1,500 people, or almost as many as it's now-total population of just 1,800.


But all had closed by 1969, and although some open-cut still takes place it employs only a handful compared with the pit mines.


Scottish architectural magazine Urban Realm which awards the annual Carbuncle for Scotland's most dreary communities and architecture, said it had named New Cumnock  it's 2013 recipient because of the "haemorrhaging of High Street shops and a general absence of maintenance on derelict properties... raising a very real risk of irreversible decline if action isn't taken now."


And it noted that even the opening of a new school had been overshadowed by the threatened closure of the Town Hall, and sell-off of a local church.


Local historian, Geoff Crolley who accepted the Carbuncle Award on behalf of his community, said that towns like New Cumnock had given so much to businesses, but these had walked away as wind-farms had replaced coal mining for electricity generation.


Urban Realm said its Carbuncle judges had "warmed to the plight of the townsfolk of New Cumnock whose energy is as strong as ever… more than an escape valve for pent-up frustrations, they should see the Award as a springboard to tangible improvements."



(Picture: Urban Realm magazine)

October 19, 2013

Heatwave bike ride chill out in UK's Devonshire tunnel

by Graeme Willingham

Outside, in the UK’s July heatwave, it was a breathless steamy 29. “Close” in the old language. Inside, it was a refreshing misty cool 13. After cycling up from the charming Roman city of Bath in Somerset, the pathway at hilltop Bear Flat slips us into the first of two former train tunnels on our quest for a late afternoon pint of best local bitter in the Hope and Anchor pub in the village of Midford.

Twenty metres inside the Devonshire tunnel we welcome the chilled air. It is 407m long, lit every 25m with low-glow globes on both sides, producing enough light to identify path edge white lines and traffic ahead – fellow leisure cyclists, fast-pedalling lycra-ites, joggers, walkers and potentially dangerous ambling families. The sealed path was damp with condensation.

We switch on our cycle lights, not so much to show the way but to alert approaching traffic of our tentative presence.

After just two minutes, the outside hot air and bright sunlight hits us as we re-emerge to a high-up view of stunningly-lush English countryside, complete with a picturesque wooded lake immediately below where two anglers were lazing in the sun.

It was so slightly uphill and cool in the tunnel we didn’t need to pull over for a breather. We stop though to absorb the postcard aspect.

Onwards through beech trees that form overhead a sun-filtering tunnel of their own. That cover clears and we are in the midst of fields of yellow-white grain crops on the right and the deep green walls of the Avon River valley to our left. On the brow to our right is 1770s folly Midford Castle, once owned by Hollywood actor Nicolas Cage, but the story goes Cage never actually lived there.

We’re hot again so welcome the second tunnel. This is the 1.7km Combe Down tunnel which adds theatre to the cycling sensation. Midway, where thin mist hovers, we’re treated to motion-sensing instrumental music, composed specially for the route by British recording artist Mira Calix. The blue illuminated speakers are positioned in the regular alcoves constructed in the olden days to shelter rail gangers from passing trains.

This is a weird cycling experience ... deep underground, fine fog, moody music from coloured speakers, near darkness, out-of-nowhere flash-by cyclists, very cold air!

At times, we are alone in our visible section of tunnel so the atmosphere becomes enchantingly spooky.

We appreciate the ambience, so dawdle our way towards the natural light somewhere ahead.

This is now the longest cycle tunnel in Europe and belongs to the Two Tunnels Greenway recreational shared-use city-to-countryside pathway which was opened in April this year.

It runs under Combe Down, the high ground immediately south of Bath and was created as a short cut link to the Bath canal path to form a 20km circuit. It also joins UK’s national cycle network. The pathway’s $3million restoration was funded via the enviro charity group Sustrans.

After sidling past the defunct Midford platform, the destination pub provides the essential electrolyte replacement therapy for us athletes. This pub has been re-invigorated as a direct result of the pathway’s launch. Big seller on a substantial menu is the salmon fish cakes we are told by Georgia, the bar manager. We pose with our pints for the been-there-done-that photo under the big framed trout. Given its prominent archway display, this piece of scaly silver was caught locally, we assumed, but it seems it was hooked in Norway.

The tunnels were such a buzz we decide to return via the same route. Our options were to continue on for another taster at the Fox and Badger in Wellow, or take the downhill track to Tucking Mill and Monkton Combe to reach the canal tow path and so complete the circuit back to Bath. The scenery along the canal is peppered with brightly colourful tethered or cruising canal boats (a few are in state of neglect) so would have been an appropriate contrast to the muted tones in the tunnels.

Not that we were physically extended by the pathway’s slight incline to reach our pub destination, but the free-wheeling downhill coasting back to Bath was a real breeze, in more ways than one.

The tunnels provided us with reviving refrigeration, but come England’s winter and its plunging temperatures, their constant temperature might just be a comparative hothouse.

Bicycles can be hired in Bath from around $10 for the first hour and $2 per extra hour.

See. www.twotunnels.org.uk

October 17, 2013

A Short History of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company

(With kind permission of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company)

The original Irrawaddy flotilla was a naval task force of paddle steamers and flats (barges) sent from India to transport British and Indian troops upriver in the Second Anglo-Burmese War of 1852. Unlike the First War, when the British were caught out by the monsoon, this war was a highly organized affair. Preparations in India were extensive and included the transfer of steam paddle ships of the Bengal Marine for troop transportation on the Irrawaddy. These were officered by British and crewed by lascars. Taking advantage of divisions at the court of Ava, the flotilla advanced rapidly up the river capturing Prome and then the prized Myede forests just above Thayet Myo. The British had never intended to hack off so large a chunk of territory, the original plan was to capture and hold Martaban, Rangoon, and Bassein – the important southern ports. However, the Province of Pegu, rendered defenseless by a government in turmoil, with its extensive forests and rich resources was to great a spoil. Interestingly, the commander of the naval operations (who died of illness on the river) was the brother of author Jane Austen, Rear-Admiral Austen. Meanwhile, at the capital of Amarapura, the King Pagan Min was deposed by Mindon who promptly negotiated a treaty with the British.

In 1864 the Governor of British Burma, Sir Arthur Phayre, decided to privatize the flotilla. After the cessation of hostilities it had been assigned to peacetime duties. Todd, Findlay and Co., a Scots firm established originally in Moulmein and latterly in the emerging capital of Rangoon, purchased the four steamers and three flats. As a sweetener the government guaranteed mail contacts but, given the poor condition of the vessels, Todd, Findlay, and Co. had nothing but trouble with them. However, the potential had been realized and in 1865 a company was formed in Glasgow with Paddy Hendersons shipping line, who were already in Burma with Rangoon a port of call on their New Zealand runs, and Denny’s of Dumbarton, the shipbuilders. This partnership of merchants, shippers, and shipbuilders was to offer a combined expertise and experience that gave the company an entrepreneurial thrust linked to a grasp of technology.

By the late 1860’s it proved necessary to replace the old government steamers and new vessels were built on the Clyde, dismantled and shipped out for reconstruction in Rangoon. It took some years and much trial and error though before the company perfected a design suited to the difficult conditions of the Irrawaddy with its perilous shallows. By 1872 the fleet comprised eight new steamers and twelve flats. Services operated between Rangoon and Prome in British Burma, in Royal Burma up to Mandalay, and by 1869 Bhamo. The company realized the importance of the China trade and saw the importance of a river link to South West China through Burma. Though King Mindon was said to have moved capital to Mandalay from Ava in 1855 out of irritation at the sound of passing steamers’ whistles, and despite efforts to establish a flotilla of his own, the company prospered in Royal Burma thanks to the close relationship between the company agent, Dr. Clement Williams, and the King.

In 1885 the flotilla was used in the 3rd Anglo-Burmese War to transport an entire army into Royal Burma to occupy Mandalay with scarcely a shot fired. For the following sixty years, until the Japanese invasion of 1942, the story of Burma, with her rise to great wealth and economic supremacy among the Asian nations, is intertwined with the operations and activities of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company. Scots guile was quick to realize that Burma was a land of rivers and even with the completion of roads and railways the river remained the key to the riches of Burma.

By the 1920’s the fleet consisted of 622 units (267 powered), from the magnificent Siam class of 326 feet long (the same length as the height of the Shwedagon Pagoda) and licensed to carry 4,oo passengers, to pilot craft and tug boats. In a normal year the company carried eight million passengers (without loss of life) and 1.25 million tons of cargo. Irrawaddy vessels tended to have side paddles and would tow two flats, each lashed to either side. On the Chindwin, which was pioneered during Thibaw’s reign by company steam launch in 1875, a radical new design was created by Denny’s to cope with the shallow conditions. To balance the displacement, the paddle was situated in the stern and the boiler in the bow. This steam wheeler type would draw only 2.5 feet of water and, as the Chindwin valley was wooded, regular fueling stations were set up so the vessels did not need burden itself. The larger company ships had Scots masters and engineers and lascar crews recruited mainly from the Chittagon area, the lesser ones were entirely Chittagonian. The company had 200 expats based in Burma and a local staff of 11,000. Head Office was in Glasgow but in these pleasant phoneless and faxless days regional “Assistants” were autonomous. There was one telegram a month from Rangoon to Glasgow and that consisted of one line only – the total takings!
A replica steamer of the 21st Century Pandaw Cruises
In addition to passenger and cargo transport the company operated a fleet of oil barges to carry crude oil from the Chauk area to the Syriam oil refinery for the Burmah Oil Company. Paddy was carried for Steel Brothers on specially designed baddy boats and timer for the Burmah Bombay Corporation. The company pamphlet of 1935 describes produce carried:

“- great bales of cotton, bags of rice, blocks of Jade, lacquerware from Pagan, silk, tamarind, elephants, sometimes woven mats, maize, jaggery, bullocks, marble Buddhas, oilcake, tobacco, timber. Upward bound will be various imports from Europe, motor cars, corrugated iron, condensed milk, matches, aluminum ware, sewing machines, piece goods, soap, cigarettes, cement and whisky. Every class of goods that enters or leaves Burma finds its way onto an Irrawaddy boat.”

In 1934 the Irrawaddy Flotilla& Airways was set up offering scheduled services and charters – including an unusual service for devout Buddhists whereby an aircraft would encircle the Magwe Pagoda seven times. The passing of company steamers was part of river life and when the company changed steamer design and removed a funnel there was an outcry among the Burmese villagers. A 2nd dummy funnel had to be added in the interest of public relations.

The Irrawaddy is an untamable river – there are neither locks nor weirs to control the level as on the Mississippi or Nile – and in the monsoon the water level has an average rise of 50 feet (in the first Defile 200 feet). Nor are there charts, for the sands shift with such rapidity that they would be out of date before the ink is dry. Instead, the company operated its fleet safely end efficiently through the experience of her masters and pilots and a clever and inexpensive system of Bamboo marker buoys. Buoy Boats in charge of beats constantly checked and marked the channels with buoys and the bearings with marker posts on the riverbanks. If a captain went aground he had to stay with his vessel, in the case of the Momein in 1919 for a whole year. In 1877 the Kha Byoo was caught in a whirlpool in the second defile between Katha and Bhamo. She spent three days spinning in a circle before getting free and the captain’s hair had turned white.

The captains lived on the bridge and many of the river features were named after incidents they experienced at their hands, thus there was “Becketts’s Bluff” or “MacFarlane’s Folly”. Scott O’Connor best captures their proud commands:

“Some of the steamers that come this way are of the largest size; mailers on their way from Mandalay; cargo boats with flats in tow, laden with produce of the land; and when they come round the bend into full view of Maubin, the great stream shrinks and looks strangely small, as it if were overcome by a monster from another world. Three hundred feet they are in length, these steamers with flats in tow, half as wide, and they forge imperiously ahead as if all space belonged to them, and swing round and roar out of their anchor chains, while the lascars leap, and the skipper’s white face gleans in the heavy shadows by the wheel – the face of a man in command.

And when you see this wonderful spectacle for the first time, you step on board this great boat expecting to fin an imperious man with eyes alight with power, and the consciousness of power, and the knowledge that he is playing a great part. But you are disappointed, for you find a plain man, very simple in his habits and ways with weariness written about the corners of his red eyes. Ah! They know their work, these men…. And I say nothing of the Clyde men who rule the throbbing engines…’ Silken East, 1904

The story of the Irrawaddy Flotilla is a story of Scottish-Burmese partnership. As the yards on the Clyde where these great ships were built stand silent, so too do the yards of the Rangoon River where they were once reassembled. In the first part of the last century two dissimilar nations established a rapport and shared a prodigious wealth that neither country had known before or since. The demise of the flotilla was perhaps the saddest day of British merchant marine history; when else have six hundred vessels been lost in one fell swoop? That swoop was neither natural disaster nor enemy action, but at the hands of the companies own officers. In 1942, before the oncoming of the Imperial Japanese Army, following the evacuation of Rangoon and escape to the upper river, they gunned holes in the great ships’ hulls rather than let them fall into enemy hands. It was called an “Act of Denial”.

October 07, 2013

The Cursed Hotel the never opened

GOATS and other animals now graze on what should be tennis courts and pools. (Roderick Eime)

WILLIAM Wigmore's plantation was once lush like this
– after the curse of MetuaMore it, and subsequent other
ventures on its grounds, all failed. (FreeCopy.com)
PICTURESQUE from the air, Rarotonga still
has its haunting memories. (Cook Islands Tourism)
David Ellis

WITCH-DOCTORS and sorcerers have long cast their magic and spells over the islands of the South Pacific, but none with more devastating affect than Metua More in the Cook Islands in 1913, and her grandson More Rua 77 years on in 1990…

Because many firmly believe their spells have been responsible for business venture after business venture failing, companies collapsing, the Cook Islands government literally brought to its knees financially, and what was to have been a 200-room luxury Sheraton resort laying incomplete and trashed for the past 20 years.

And hauntingly, the long tentacles of the Mafia and associated con-men, spivs and other charlatans reaching all the way from Italy to bleed dry the Sheraton project, something that should have been a simple, straight-forward business venture.

The genesis of such an extraordinary saga in black magic was the lease of a block of land by a Cook Islander, More Uriatua to New Zealander, William John Wigmore for a copra plantation in 1891, and which half-way through in 1911, More wanted torn-up and his land back.

In an argument that ensued, More was shot dead. Wigmore claimed the shooting was unintentional but was convicted of manslaughter, given six months gaol and ordered on release to leave the Cook Islands or face deportation.

He left, but two years later successfully applied to return to "his" plantation. It was then that Metua More, the daughter of the dead land-owner, invoked a spell on Wigmore's plantation, beseeching that no business activity on the land succeed until that land was returned to its rightful island owners.

Bizarrely the curse appeared to have immediate affect: William Wigmore's until-then highly-profitable plantation suddenly ran into problem after problem, before ultimately folding. Wigmore walked away, and when the property was re-leased to other business operators, every one of their new ventures also failed – despite being run by some of the most astute entrepreneurs from New Zealand.

These included between the 1950s and 1980s an attempt at a commercial citrus orchard that ended in abject failure, a short-lived pineapple plantation that also went belly-up, and a nursery for growing tropical herbs and spices that met a similar fate after incurring astronomical losses.

But worst of all was the late-1980s Sheraton Rarotonga Resort venture on the old plantation land, and into which some $60m-plus had been invested – over $50m of this guaranteed by the Cook Islands government, and which has now blown out with interest and other charges to more than $120m being owed without a single guest having slept a night in the resort.

The Sheraton project was born in 1987 when a flamboyant Italian travelling salesman visiting the Cook Islands lauded to the government the value of the little nation having its very-own 5-star resort hotel. When the government agreed, an Italian Government-owned bank and a major insurance company readily put up the money for the job, an Italian construction company appeared on the site, and work commenced.

But at the project's official launch, Metua More's grandson, More Rua turned up dressed as a high priest in warlike regalia, and intoning the resurrection of his grandmother's curse.

He ended by slamming his spear into a rock onto which a plaque had just been unveiled by the-then Prime Minister, marking the beginning of the Sheraton project. When the rock split to ground level, islanders saw it as signifying the project's failure.

And within months millions of dollars of resort money unaccountably disappeared from bank accounts, new contractors with Mafia-connections appeared on the resort site demanding – and receiving – payment for work never, or only partly done, and the principal building company walked away broke.

Then in 1993 with 80% of the resort completed, work ceased altogether; squatters moved into the abandoned property, doors and windows, light fittings and kitchen equipment were stripped by thieves, and cattle, horses and goats wandered in to graze on what should today be tennis courts and swimming pools.

All attempts to date to revive the project have failed – the principal problem is that no-one quite knows who owns what's already been built. And until that is resolved, and the curses of Metua More and More Rua are lifted, the Cook Islands' grand Sheraton Rarotonga Resort simply continues to gather dust, and faster-still, bank interest…


David Ellis

IT'S a mere 110 square k's in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, has just six hotels and fewer restaurants, but it's a scuba-divers and snorkelers Utopia, an unexpected goldmine for archaeology buffs – and has connections to the Pacific's worst-ever rogue, buccaneer, swindler, confidence man and bigamist, the infamous 'blackbirder' William Henry 'Bully' Hayes.

And with all this, and the famed Frommer's Travel Guides putting it on their list of top places to visit for its beauty, peace and slow-pace of the South Pacific of 30 years ago, you'd think it would be now over-run with tourists.

But far from it: for getting to this minute speck just north of the equator and half-way between Guam and Hawaii is, as one traveller put it, "like taking a grand tour of the Western Pacific."

We're talking about Kosrae in the Federated States of Micronesia, and those visitors who do make the journey there have to first get to Guam, which is circuitous enough itself, and from there take the four-times-a-week island-hopper air service via a couple of equally miniscule islands to Kosrae… from Australia, something like a near-two-day journey.

But divers, bushwalkers and history buffs who do make that journey, say it is the ultimate find, although don't expect to see yourself checking into 5-star resorts: the half dozen hotels here are described officially as "rustic," with a total just-60 clean and tidy rooms and facilities, and excellent dining that includes Western and Asian and local dishes based on chicken, fish, pork, taro, breadfruit and bananas.

Rugged and smothered in rainforest, Kosrae has some extraordinary archaeological finds, including the ruined walled city of Lelu that was built by hand over several hundred years from massive basalt prisms hauled across the island in the 15th century. Today Lelu's crumbling walls still stand 6m high in places, and there are jungle-wrapped remains of residences of the one-time king and his family, royal tombs and hand-dug channels along which canoes carried-in food and other supplies.

There're also the Menke ruins with their religious platforms to Singlaku, the Goddess of Breadfruit whose magical powers produced food for survival during droughts; legend says she fled with the arrival of the first Christian missionaries, but many islanders believe her spirit still lives on today…

Hiking trails also take visitors to the 600m peak of the island's highest mountain, to a massive cave inhabited by thousands of swifts, a one-time Japanese WWII command post, and spectacular waterfalls.

But most visitors go for the diving and snorkelling, for here are vast hard-coral gardens, plunging walls, several ship wrecks, and marine life a-plenty including sharks, tuna, schools of barracuda and eagle rays in waters so clear visibility is a-near 60 metres.

And those wrecks include the few remains in just 9m of water of the notorious Bully Hayes' schooner Leonora; he had been trading in Kosrae when a cyclone struck in March 1874, the Leonora (named after his favourite daughter,) sinking under him. Hayes and his crew, when the cyclone passed, are said to have hauled four vast chests of treasure from earlier raids in the South Pacific into the Kosrae jungle and buried them.

Japanese troops, according to rumour, in WWII found one of the chests, but the other three with their-now millions of dollars in loot are still supposedly laying somewhere out there in Kosrae's steamy rainforests…

Hayes stayed on the island for seven months, terrorising local residents as he did wherever he went on his buccaneering and sickening "blackbirding" missions to kidnap local villagers as forced-labour for plantations in the South Pacific and Queensland, and when finally arrested by the captain of Britain's HMS Rosario, somehow escaped and fled in a 4.5m boat he'd built with timber from his sunken Leonore.

Hayes eventually got to San Francisco by way of Guam, acquired another vessel and sailed back to Kosrae to collect his shipwrecked cargo from the Leonore. But in a violent argument there with his ship's cook, 'Dutch Pete' Radeck he was shot dead and his body thrown overboard.

But instead of being charged with murder, authorities turned a blind eye and after being feted by locals as a hero, 'Dutch Pete' simply sailed away over the horizon...

For information about visiting Kosrae go to www.kosrae.com


Photo Captions:

[] MINUTE speck in the Pacific, but Kosrae proves the ulitimate find. (Kosrae Village Resort)
[] PICTURESQUE canoe rides one of Kosrae's many attractions. (Katrina Adams)
[] RUINS from the 15th century can still be found. (Wikimedia)
[] VISITOR accommodation is largely rustic, as seen here at Kosrae Village Resort.  (Katrina Adams)
[] INFAMOUS buccaneer, swindler and 'blackbirder' Bully Hayes met a fitting end on Kosrae Island. (FlickRiver)

Struth! Animal park in massive cover-up.

IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says a wildlife park in England is employing "Animal Print Bouncers" to make guests cover-up after noticing its animals becoming baffled by guests wearing animal-print coats and pants, or carrying snakeskin print handbags.

The Chessington World of Adventures south-west of London is using the "Fashion Police" in a new 10ha attraction called Zufari in which guests take off-road rides into an area replicating the Serengeti Plains and complete with a host of wildlife.

A spokeswoman said visitors wearing animal print clothing had been noticed to be causing some animals to become "antagonistic, excited, afraid or confused," and the park was acting to protect visitors and exhibits alike.

To stop the tigers and lions salivating at the thought of potential meals on wheels, or smaller animals scurrying away in fear, visitors who arrive in animal-print clothing are asked to cover-up with grey boiler suits provided by the "Animal Print Bouncers," or be evicted from the Park.


Photo caption:


[] Animal look-alikes getting English wildlife park inmates "antagonistic, excited or afraid." (Image: Chessington World of Adventures)


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