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One traveller's day-by-day account of a year-long journey through Japan, China, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, America and Canada

That evening we had booked a night safari, and we piled into the back of a pickup along with a family we had a hunch were Italian. This was because one of them was cooking a pizza. Our guide perched on top of the cab, toting a devillishly bright spotlight to pick out the animals. Poor buggers. I certainly wouldn't want to be woken up by a Colditz spotlight in the name of tourism.

Still, the guy was incredible. Either he knew where to look night-after-night, or he had fabulous 20-20 vision, or both. Through the night, he picked out some, er, cows (ok they don't count), a circling eagle, a snugly-curled rat in a tree, a majestic owl, a massive spider hanging from a thread, a group of wild boar (one a split-second away from becoming roadkill as it dashed out in front of our pickup), and a small but apparently poisonous snake, which he nevertheless grabbed and held for us to see up close.

So as expected, no tiger then - I secretly hoped they were all currently hiding outside Camcorder Man's room, waiting to pounce for when he filmed his girlfriend walking to the outdoor toilet. The whole experience was great fun though, not knowing what was out there in the seemingly empty darkness.

Back at the ranch to turn in, we discovered we