Furious Japanese official Kazutoki Negishi got less than he expected this week, when he demanded the South China Morning Post apologise on behalf of the entire Hong Kong media for the negative coverage of his Foreign Minister, Yukihiko Ikeda, refusing to meet the protesting multitudes. Mr Ikeda was here to promote ties with Hong Kong, he insisted. The media were 'creating facts'. The minister, it seems, was not afraid of a bunch of old ladies with loud-hailers, and was not ducking publicity. But he refused to give his own name. Something to do with the publicity, we expect. Then it transpired he had not actually bothered to read the Post that morning. Only after one of his own colleagues hazarded an inspired guess at his true identity did Mr Negishi own up. Surprise, surprise! Nothing appeared in the newspaper. Nice to know that having the headquarters of the European Union and NATO on their soil hasn't killed the Belgians' sense of humour. Either that - or NATO's been testing some secret weapon that has slightly warped the local mind. Whatever the reason, we are astonished to report that intrepid Belgian traveller Axel Ewbank plans to travel overland from Bangkok to Brussels in one of the three-wheel taxis or 'tuk-tuks' that ply the streets of the Thai capital. According to The Nation, Mr Ewbank plans to spend a year taking his 500 cc motor-rickshaw across Malaysia, Singapore, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy and France. The trip is sponsored by the Belgian embassy and the Tourist Authority of Thailand, which wants to promote the 1998 Asian Games, to be held in Bangkok - although it might have the opposite effect. 'When I first came here [to Bangkok], I fell in love with this vehicle,' Mr Ewbank said. '[The tuk-tuk] allows the driver to make contact with other motorists and passers-by. It is unique.' Well, yes, that's true. But as anyone who has ridden in one of these death-traps will testify, the contact tends to be uncomfortably physical. Another first from Britain: houses you can smoke. British architect Ralph Carpenter has applied to the European Union (the Brussels connection again!) for funding to build two prototype homes using bricks made of hemp - a cousin of cannabis. We can see the idea going down well on Lamma Island - you'd only need to pull bits out of the wall to get a fix. Or, if you're really in need of a big high, you just set fire to the whole building and breathe in. OK, so the humble French-grown weed in Mr Carpenter's project is not supposed to have the narcotic properties of its better-known relative. But that should just make it even more attractive to Lamma Islanders. Imagine the conversation. Policeman: What is that plant growing in your garden? Islander, (rolling a cigarette): Oh that's pot, officer. But it's all right. It's the brick-making kind.