Bali-The Phantom Soap Eater


April 1992

Didn’t sleep too well last night. The minute we  turned the lights off things started to rustle. My travelling companion and I managed to convince each other we weren’t doing it and then switched on the light.

Video about Ubud Town, Bali

Source: Lime Wave,

Our concern had been heightened by the fact that previously my friend had discovered that some creature had taken a huge bite out of her soap.

From the size of the bite and the volume of the noises we had been hearing, we had decided it must be a rat*. We had tried to convince ourselves it was outside, but a particularly loud noise came from under my friend’s bed and caused her to scream and me to turn the torch on in alarm. My friend had been concerned it might be trying to eat her flip flops as well as her soap. In the end we decided to sleep with the light on. This had quietened Roland’s (our name for our unwelcome room-mate) escapades.



Flip Flop gif


*We stayed in pretty basic accomodation. We were after all backpackers out for new experiences, although we hadn’t bargained on this one.


The Siberian Hamster-Fawlty Towers

Source:Fawlty’s Vault


The Old City, Jerusalem

February 1991

The weather was awful. It was incredibly cold and wet. We were very nervous entering the old city of Jerusalem.We had been warned how dangerous the Old City could be. Men stood around in dark corners. One had called out, “You want to peel my banana.”(subtle)

Jerusalem can get extremely cold in Winter.

We spent many happy hours exploring the market. Bargaining was fun and I soon found myself with a new jumper and two new pairs of trousers.

I had eventually got to know and love the Old City, as I had lived in Jerusalem for several months. I would often head down there on a Friday afternoon. On at least one occasion I was interrupted trying to buy food by a rabbi, insisting that the stall close. This is no problem in Jerusalem because as fast as one area closes another one opens. One of the benefits of being in a place central to three major world religions. I had developed a real love of felafel in Jerusalem. Felafel are always on sale somewhere.

A Walk Through The Old City, Jerusalem

I ❤️ felafel.


The Gaza Strip


We all headed off to see the Gaza Strip. We were warned not to step on the dirt road alongside the barbed wire fence, as it was regularly checked for footprints to check for possible incursions.. On the way we had stopped to look at a dusty, old Byzantine mosaic. We threw water over it from our water bottles to try to view the pattern. The water did bring parts of it to life.

An army vehicle changed direction and headed straight for us. We were scared but some had stood their ground. To our surprise the soldiers had posed for pictures. We were warned not to go up too close to the fence. We had seen the faces of children as they had called through the fence.

Diving at the Reef

The Great Barrier Reef February 1992

I confess I had had a bit of a crush on my diving instructor, so I have edited  most of those bits out.

We travelled 3 or 4 hours by boat to reach Michaelmas Cay. I had time to have a little snorkle. Little jellyfish stung me slightly, so I rushed back to the shore to survey the damage and I then decided it was nothing serious, so I headed out for another snorkle. It was really easy and really good fun.

I had snorkled in the Red Sea previously. It was also an amazing experience. However I had fought with my mask, snorkle etc. I don’t know why I had struggled so much with snorkling initially,  my children seem to have been born knowing how to snorkle.

The reefs were soft coral and there were many medium -sized fish swimming around.

blue tang

Don’t expect photos from me, I had lost about every camera I had ever had.

At 11:15 sharp I was called for my dive. My dive instructor had explained everything to us and had allowed us a good 10-15 minute practice in the shallow water. Three of us decided to go for a dive. We got deep very gradually. I did not really realise how deep we were until I looked up. It’s a bit creepy to see all that water over your head. What can I say? It was mind-blowing. The diving instructor had made me touch things. I held a sea cucumber and even swam through a gap in the coral. I was really scared all the time… I even put my hand in a giant clam. They take a long time to close.

Fortunately it is not like in the cartoons where these beautiful creatures suddenly slam shut and hold you in a vice-like grip.

Some of the coral looked like it was bright blue. I’m amazed.

Somehow I hadn’t panicked  even when my mask had come off mid-dive. I think that was largely due to the lovely, patient instructor I had had. (I told you I had had  a bit of a crush.)

The main thing I did not like about diving, was the thundering noise of the bubbles in my ears and so sometimes I had forgotten to breathe out for a while.


No this is not me. He looks way too proficient.

Oh and yes I did have a fish attack me. Ok so it was about 5 inches (12.5 cm ) long but I am sure it was trying to eat me. (It was more like a tickle than a bite.)

It had finished perfectly with a peck on the cheek from my diving instructor apparently.

I really don’t remember that..

On the way back they had set up a net off the boat and we had been able to experience something called boomnetting. The boat travels along while you hold onto the boom net.

A very sedate version of water skiing.

I think at the time I must have considered it a perfect end to a perfect day.


Fun at Shinjuku Station

Shinjuku Station-November 1991

I went to find somewhere for us to buy a ticket and left my friend guarding the rucksacks etc(Side note Lonely Planet had actually stated that you could probably leave an expensive camera lying around in the middle of Tokyo at that time and it would not be touched.) Of course I had not realised that the Yokosuka(? i can’t read my own writing.)) Line Platform was perhaps a mile long. I came down the wrong escalator and couldn’t locate my travelling companion.

Panic had then set in (thinking I might spend the rest of my days wandering Shinjuku Station) and I had begun to run around in a flap.

I retraced my steps eventually but even then had found her by only by yelling.

I had apparently been missing for half an hour. Remember we had had no Google Maps in those days.

Still I believe I am not alone in having got lost at Shinjuku Station.

I think this guy describes it perfectly.

In the last two minutes, he shows he too, had needed time to recover from the experience.

( I recommend carrying a distress flaredistress flare-only joking, I hope.)





See:Japan dos and don’ts: etiquette tips for first-time travellers

The Crocodile Park

It is my intention to periodically release extracts from my various travel diaries,  which I feel may be of interest.

The Broome Crocodile Park (now known I believe, as the Malcom Douglas Crocodile Park). 

Crocodiles leaping at the Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park.

Please bear in mind, I was there in 1992. I suspect much more has been learned since then and many views may have changed.

The highlight of my day has been my visit to the Broome Crocodile Park. We sat and watched a video which was quite interesting talking about crocodiles and their conservation. They only let them reach about about 6ft long as this is when their pelts are at their best. Crocodiles are only removed from an area when they are felt to be a potential threat to humans. Then they are used for breeding in crocodile farms. Relocating them is no use as they have a strong homing instinct and would return to the area where they had been causing problems. They can stay underwater for an hour and slow their heart rate to 3 beats every 2 minutes. It was quite frightening to see them leap out of the water for meat and to hear their huge jaws clamp together. They can leap right out of the water to catch their prey. Apparently crocs(salties/salt-water crocodiles) can never be tamed even if they have been hand-reared.

Bearing in mind that saltwater crocodiles can inhabit both fresh and saltwater in the tropics, it kind of makes all the waterways seem less inviting.crocodile in water