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Ponderings on all aspects of travel - both at home and abroad.

Kevin Pilley: The call of the wild

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If you want to see really wild antics, forget the animal kingdom, writes Kevin Pilley - look closer to home.

Seeing howler monkeys in Zambia? Not the holiday of choice for Kevin Pilley. Photo / Getty Images
Seeing howler monkeys in Zambia? Not the holiday of choice for Kevin Pilley. Photo / Getty Images

Somewhere like Borneo doesn't grab me. I'm not interested in visiting the habitat of hairy mammals with over-active scent and musk glands.

I have two children and I have been in their room.

I get eco-tourism. Of course I do. But I don't do it. I stay at home. To save the environment. And my savings.

Why would I travel the other side of the world just to see an animal when I can see it on television? Or sitting in front of me behind a desk.

My bank manager saves me a substantial amount of money every year. Not by tax advice and directing me towards loopholes but by looking like a dugong.

He has no external ears, as well as an impressive pair of pectal teats, which means I don't have to fork out absurd quantities of hard-earned credit to go and see a real dugong in the flesh.

Likewise, manatees. My father looks likes one and I have been really close up with him in the water.

And I have seen some of his friends in the wild too. A real one would only be an anticlimax. I know what noises whales make. I have a wife.

It's something that takes a lot of courage for a man to admit in public but I think eco-tourism is over-estimated. I don't mean that I think it valueless.

I believe in Earth and being righteous about its future. In the event of a thermo-nuclear war there would be nowhere nice to go at weekends. If we don't respect nature, zoos won't exist.

But I'm not big on the wilderness stuff. I have a television.

TV has shown me everything there is to see. Soon we shall pay travel companies to take us to see things we can't see on television. Like Michael Barrymore.

One of my friends has eyes that move independently so I am not much interested in chameleons. I have been to Sydney and I know what Aussie women are like after a few Bacardi Breezers. They are like howler monkeys in Zambia. Noisy and forever on heat. I've seen bouncers at work in Sydney, so I don't need to go to China to see pandas.

I appreciate natural beauty in the raw.

One of the abiding memories of all my travels is not seeing whales in Greenland but a huge nose belonging to a waiter in Marseille. I shall not forget it.

Another great memory is watching a group of Germans eat. They are an endangered species. Not Germans, people who eat nicely.

Why go to the sandbars of Africa to marvel at basking hippos when a two-star hotel on Spain's Costa del Sol will do?

I don't have to go to the other side of the world to see a gila monster when I can be just as awestruck watching my wife weeding on all-fours in our back garden.

I don't have to travel days and spend hundreds of bucks to see a mandrill or a chacma baboon. I just have to have a few gins and look at myself in my bathroom mirror.

I don't need animals in faraway places to remind of my roots. The nearest human will do.

One of the abiding memories of all my travels is not seeing whales in Greenland but a huge nose belonging to a waiter in Marseille.

- NZ Herald

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