How to Get Really Close to Tigers

Ever been on safari, and wished you could get up close and personal with animals? Normally that’d be too dangerous, but one German performance artists has found a novel solution for keeping himself self while out in the elements.

He’s protected by a giant ball of steel wire. Not only that, the design of the ball allows him to move at will — propelling himself and the contraption simply by shifting his weight in a walking motion.

It’s part of a 220-mile publicity stunt to raise awareness for those who need psychiatric help. Seems a little random, but according to Arnd Drossel, the artist: “the whole concept is about finding the courage to do something and inspire courage in those who have lost their confidence along with much else.”

Drossel envisioned the idea after suffering a personal low, and realizing how little help there was for people in bouts with depression. So he enlisted the help of psychiatric patients around the area to build his unique traveling device, then set off at a pace of nearly 13 miles a day.

If nothing else, it certainly appears to have the tigers’ attention.

[via Spluch]

Trouble With Your Love Life? Visit the New Sexual Theme Park

As I’ve mentioned on a number of occasions, the sunny, temperate afternoons and lush green countryside make the UK a great pace to visit during the Spring and Summer. Ahhh.

Now there’s yet another reason for Britain-bound travelers to celebrate — a new sexual “theme park” is has opened in London.

In tourist-friendly Piccadilly Circus, you’ll find Amora, a “love and relationship academy” featuring exhibits that explore every aspect of sexuality, from flirting to fetishes.

After a jaunt though the erotic attraction, you can wander into nearby Soho — which not only is home to great bars, restaurants and jazz clubs, but also the city’s renowned red light district. And — while I wouldn’t normally admit this, but seeing as it’s pertinent — I can personally vouch for at least one of the district’s adult-themed stores. In what has been, as of yet, my only experience with a “sex shop,” I entered one of the Soho’s sleazier establishments at the tender age of 15, and…

Well, we’ll just say it was an eye-opener.

But, at least according to an Amora spokeswoman, sleaze is the last thing you’ll find at the new erotic museum, which aims to inform the more high-brow sexual connoisseur.

Seems worth a visit — as, by the sounds of it, you might even learn a thing or two.

Would a Dutch Smoking Ban Mean the End of its Famous Coffee Shops?

There’s plenty of reasons to visit Amsterdam — the people, the culture, the beautiful, walkable city — but let’s get real: the place is famous for its coffee shops, where patrons come to sit back, relax, and smoke a couple doobies. But like other European countries, the Netherlands is considering a ban on smoking tobacco in restaurants, cafes and bars — so will this signal the end for the country’s pot-smoking tourist traffic?

The answer, in short, seems to be no. Namely, because the clientele at these establishments aren’t actually smoking tobacco. Those who like to smoke their marijuana mixed with tobacco (a circumstance in which the ban probably would apply), will most likely get around the restriction simply by mixing their dope with something else. “You can bring parsley or old socks if you want, cut them here and smoke them, nobody will say anything,” one Dutch politician and coffee shop owner told Reuters News.

A ban — which could go into effect at the beginning of 2008 — might even mean good news for the makers and distributors of marijuana smoking paraphernalia, such as pipes, bongs, or other oddball contraptions potheads have dreamed up for the sake of improving their high.

So don’t worry, it looks Amsterdam’s tourists will be getting stoned wherever they like for the foreseeable future.

Driving On the Wrong Right Side of the Road

I remember when my family first moved from the US to the UK, one off the most obvious — and most difficult — parts of culture shock was driving on the opposite side of the road. There’s a number of little things that make this a challenge — for example, it’s hard to know where the left front corner of your car is in relation to where you’re sitting in the driver’s seat. This issue led to a couple awkward explanations at the rental car place.

However, far more troubling is when you have a mental lapse, revert to old habits, and drive on the wrong side altogether (which is surprisingly easy to do when there’s no oncoming traffic).

It appears Americans aren’t the only ones who space out while behind the wheel. Brits driving in France are apparently having considerable trouble remembering to drive on the right side of the road, as opposed to left as they’ve grown accustom. So much so, that police in a small town in northern France have launched a poster campaign to remind motorists to drive on the appropriate side.

They hope that by covering the town in English-language posters that read: “For your safety, keep right on French roads,” they can prevent additional tourist-related traffic deaths (there have been 2 in the last 2 years in this town alone).

Now if they could just explain how round-a-bouts work, I think we’ll be in business.

Beijing Cabbies Not Allowed to Dye Hair Red

Yesterday I posted about tickets going on sale for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Understandably, China wants to make a good impression on the hordes of international travelers who will descend upon their country. In an effort to control that impression, the government has made a 12-item self-improvement list for cabdrivers.

So, if you travel to Beijing for the games, you can be sure your cabdrivers won’t smoke, spit or overcharge. Women won’t wear big earrings or have red hair, and men’s hair will be kept short. They’ll also always use their meter, or they’ll run the risk of losing their license.

On the one hand, I feel sorry for cabbies who are having their appearance micro-managed by the Chinese government, but on the other, taking a taxi in a country you’re not familiar with — especially when your language isn’t commonly spoken — can be daunting. Travelers who are confident they can make their way around the city — without being taken for the proverbial ride — are far more likely to enjoy their stay.

That being said, what does the government have against red hair?