Friday 3 June 2016

Thailand 2016 Diary Extracts

Birdsong – The last natural things I saw before boarding my plane to Bangkok was the small flock of sparrows which have made terminal 2F at Charles De Gaulle their home. The first natural thing I saw when arriving was a car park black bird with a yellow eye, probably some kind of starling. Birdsong differs by continent; tunes and calls are always a surprise. It is more melodious here than Africa; fluid water warbling with trills. The doves are softer than our wood pigeons. This is my early listening before the chorus is drowned out by traffic and building noise, the children in the school next door, and police whistles. These are imitated by one bird, another screeches over my head as if it is having an orgasm. Bickering birdsong now, as if a hundred market traders are outshouting each other to extol their wares, and orgasma bird is frantic to join them.

Ladyboys – A friend warned me that the sex industry was hard to avoid in Thailand. I wasn’t trying to in Bangkok, but I honestly saw nothing. Admittedly, I did not prowl the Khao San road at night. I spotted one ladyboy in a shopping centre and very beautiful he was too, as was my masseur(se) in Phuket. If this sounds like the writing of a nineteenth century anthropologist, it makes me uncomfortable that I find this subject noteworthy. Not of course, that transgenderism is necessarily anything to do with the sex industry. The massage studio was very clear with its unequivocal sign – No Sex. It saddened me that this was necessary, but obviously, it was.

Traffic jams – On my last evening in Bangkok I was held up in traffic on the motorway from the airport forever, but was actually no more than ten minutes. The King’s motorcade of a more than a dozen vehicles sped past. What is it with me and foreign royalty? It seems that whenever I go away I run into them.

Please take out your shoes (Wat In).

We do not like in this bar people involved with drugs.(Khao San road)

Be very careful swimming here. The current is very strong. You might be absorbed by the water drain. (Phuket)


I don’t know what I am looking at (American tourist)

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