places mentioned do exist.
names of main characters are made up.
dates mentioned are irrelevant, some events may have happened. Most are only
The writer has travelled extensively in SE.Asia and has worked in Thailand.
mountains rise steeply on all sides, covered with dense greenery as if a blanket
flung by a careless hand.
the valley below I see an earthen track beside a mountain stream, a wooden cart
drawn by two oxen and driven by an old man. On his head, a coolie hat made of
woven palm leaves.
stream winds across the valley floor, brown from the opening rains of a new
season. In the jungle reaching to its edge, a small square of open ground -
it’s a rice paddy, the only clearing and flat half acre for miles around, at
one corner and raised above the ground, a little hut of bamboo sticks, thatched
with the straw of last seasons rice crop.
scene witnessed from a train, or a bus somewhere in Thailand.
old lady walks by. She’s carrying several small pyramid-shaped cages made of
dried grass stalks. The woven cages, works of art. In each, two tiny birds for
say to my friend. “Why she sell these little birds?”
answer. “So you can free them.”
cost, ten baht.
all so bitter-sweet.
real life is but a dream.
waken sometimes to this world of real dreams.
short are real dreams.
they are real life.
watched as she knelt before her Buddha in a temple, or a street side shrine. I
felt something that I have never felt before, she seemed so pure, so perfectly
we’d kneel together in prayer as if in rehearsal for some other world.
a Thai person invites you to light the three incense sticks with them, to place
them at the alter before their Buddha and make a wish for a better life, a
better tomorrow, a win in the lottery, whatever - this is Thailand.
To do this is not to abandon any existing faith, but to submit oneself, for a brief portion of time and life, to the very heart and essence of this part of South East Asia.
first visited Thailand in the 1980s. This was in fact a package deal; the result
of a lucky, correct one-word answer to a simple newspaper quiz, his name had
been picked from the barrel, a one in a million chance. It included
accommodation in one of Bangkok’s top hotels for a seven day stay.
A very hesitant overseas traveller
in those days, Jim had hardly travelled from his home city in Western Australia.
Being a rather conservative guy, his thoughts had always been more towards the
safer English speaking countries such as the UK, the US, New Zealand, or parts
of Europe that many first time travellers go to.
On arrival at Don Muang airport, the
main terminal for Bangkok, these thoughts were soon cast aside after stepping
into the arrival hall. The excitement and activity all about him was
electrifying. By the time he reached the hotel his timid thoughts about Asia
were starting to change. Within hours he began to gain a taste for this country
and its people.
Although at first hardly moving more
than a stone’s throw from his hotel, he soon became fascinated by the place
– by the food, the rich world of smells and all the other indelible sensory
experiences. He was fascinated by the ornate art that could be seen everywhere,
by the calm people and their exquisite manners, even by their arcane spiritual
For the first time the word exotic
began to take on a real meaning. His love affair with South East Asia had begun.
impressions of a city are often the most lasting.
This chaotic city of about 8,000,000
inhabitants is teeming with people and traffic. Cars, buses and trucks, noisy
two stroke motor bikes and tuk tuks – those three wheeled vehicles
powered by a motor bike engine or similar, the driver up front, a partly
enclosed cabin extending back over a passenger area. Constant noise, vehicle
horns, the roar and revving of motors, the strident sound of Asian voices all
Many major streets are lined with
make-shift stalls selling radios, cassette players, watches, jewellery,
clothing, toys and just about anything else you could think of. Flanking, and in
between these stalls, are people sitting shoulder to shoulder on stools, selling
their wares from small tables, even out of boxes – these traders occupying
half, sometimes more, of footpaths already packed with pedestrians.
On corners and along the side of roadways and in nearby side streets,
food is being cooked on small carts that hold glowing charcoal fires. All day,
There are many narrow streets to lose
yourself in, these filled with the smells of fruit, spices and people. Leading
off these streets, dingy almost mystical alleyways, no wider than a metre or so,
hemmed in on either side with clothes and clothing hung from roof rafters to
floor. On quieter streets, people asleep on the footpath, under parked trucks
and in shop entrance ways. Many crippled and poor beggars, often in strategic
places where you must pass them. They will look up at you, sad eyes imploring,
hands steepled before their faces. A tin can, or a piece of rag laid out on the
footpath nearby will often contain a few coins to entice you to give.
This is Bangkok, Thailand.
in Perth Jim could only dream of the time he had spent in that exotic country,
its happy people, its beautiful women, its laid back guys and the wonderful
spicy food. Soon he was making plans to return, but next time as a backpacker,
to travel and explore the place under his own steam.
Prices in Australian Dollars CURRENCY
(c)2005 Poseidon Books All rights reserved.