A Travellerspoint blog

What's it all about?

People or Places?



Is travelling about being in the right place or meeting the right people? Sometimes it feels like the place is a pretext for meeting the right people. Rather than having some intrinsic quality, it's redeeming feature is that it attracts the sort of people that you want to meet.

I've just spent a few weeks in Pai, and a few overlapping groups of people bonded in a way that none of us (or at least few of us) had experienced whilst on our travels. Many tears were shed as we all gradually left, and there was a real sense of us having unexpectedly stumbled upon not just a great community, but a group of fascinating, idiosyncratic, diverse individuals. Almost everyone was travelling on their own and was without a partner and they all had very distinctive and, I suppose, forceful personalities. Pai, for us, was not a place for wallflowers, travelling groups of friends or insular couples. This being my only experience of Pai I'm tempted to assume that this is the 'Pai' experience, but of course it may just have been a small personal experience rather than a generic Pai one. I, of course, will never know.

Our days consisted of often 4 hour long breakfasts in Good Life, where, in the grips of mass hangovers, we ripped open the underbelly of human existence. Or played stupid games. There was no small talk, only very big talk. One girl, the lovely Christina, mentioned to me -as she was guiding my pick-up truck through the Northern mountain roads - that whilst we had all bonded, she didn't know lots of the basic facts that are normally the subject of initial meetings. Namely: where you're from, where you're going next, how long you've been out, what you do at home, and so on and so forth. We didn't really discuss things like that, too many more important things to discuss. I mentioned in a previous post my intuitive aversion to small talk, and the fact that this group made no demands of it was both notable and curious. It seems that if you send out the right signals it is possible to skip the initial 'getting to know you' part of a relationship and get straight to the nitty-gritty. These friends were like friends you had known for many years, and it was as much a pleasure to sit silently doing your own thing near them as it was to chat incessantly.

Our evenings were taken up by the gigs in Edible Jazz which had a very special feeling about them. We never rehearsed, and the feeling of the music being put together in real-time added a frisson to the evenings that was quite infectious. It meant that each song was a journey of connections: of really listening, of playing mindfully. Sometimes we fucked it right up. But that was ok, because everyone in the room knew the rules. This wasn't a band on stage, it was a community experimenting and connecting. Sometimes people joined in, and we accompanied them. Sometimes it was just myself Matt and Aaron. But it was inclusive. We were the crowd, and the crowd were part of the band. It was all about human connection.

I'm a people traveller really. I love seeing amazing sights, but seeing them alone just doesn't do it for me. Even seeing them with someone I don't fully connect with doesn't do it for me. I've become aware, gradually, that travelling for me is a search for connections. For those transcendental, unexplainable, chemical, undeniable moments of clarity where you know that you share an understanding with someone; that there can be no ambiguity, no doubt, no insecurity; only reassurance and solidarity. They happen so rarely, but have arrived in abundance in the last 3 weeks.

These moments can happen between two people anywhere: of course. But when they happen with a large group, I can't help putting on my hippie hat (big pointy one with stripes and a bell on the end; it's a hypothetical hat by the way, I would never actually wear one) and wondering about leigh lines, and magnetic grids etc. Because there are certain places that seem to draw people together. Pai seems to be one of those places.

I wonder though, if I had arrived in Pai a month earlier or a month later, what would my experience have been? Would it have been less special. Would it just have been another place on the map? I know my experience was grounded in a group of fine people, so in the end I can only put it down to coincedence. Or fate, if you like. So travelling for me, is all about the people. But, of course, you have to go to the right places to meet the right people. Why can't we all just form some sort of online forum where only the 'right' people are registered? Wouldn't it make travelling easier? Or perhaps, restricting membership to the 'right' people would make it tedious. Because, individually, everyone I met in Pai was very different; they were only the 'right' people in that place at that moment.

In the end, travelling involves the psychological interaction of so many different people with different motives and viewpoints that none of it can be tracked or planned. We just live for the serendipitous collision of the right elements at the right time. It's a constant search, but maybe it only happens when we stop looking for it.


I'm in Chiang Mai now. Leaving tomorrow. My flight has been delayed and I and the five other people who have also been rescheduled were sent an email about it. They didn't bcc it, so I have the email adresses of the other 5 people. I sent them an email saying that we should all have a sock hanging out of a pocket to identify ourselves at check in as the rescheduled 6. Just for fun. I don't know if anybody will do it, but I will. Of course. Will report back.

So next stop Bangkok and then England. I will continue to blog of course, but not here. A new blog is in the offing. For now, food, booze and dancing are the order of the day.

Posted by jjmaurage 02:47 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Who ate all the Pai


I have made much music on this trip; mostly drunken sing-alongs with my slightly half-arsed guitar playing. I’ve got a good ear and I can play a huge amount of songs; I just play them badly. People are more impressed by someone who can play three songs really well. I keep thinking I should choose 3 songs and learn them really well, but I can’t for the life of me settle on what those songs would be. I end up playing so many different songs that I can’t remember them, and so I no longer try. Every time I play a song it’s like I’m playing it for the first time – I discover the changes in real time and am often surprised at what comes out.

5 days ago I arrived in Pai, a small and beautiful town in Northern Thailand. A girl Christina told me about a couple of Maltese guys who were playing guitar and drums in a bar called Edible Jazz (christ knows why, they don’t play Jazz OR serve food). We went down to check them out, there were only a few people there. The singer Matt has a BIG voice in the manner of Ray LeMontagne and I was quite impressed. Once I was suitably drunk I went off to fetch the melodica I had bought in Chiang Mai so I could jam. I arrived back in the restaurant during a cover of All Along the Watchtower, walked straight onto the stage area and played a screaming solo. I’ve had the story recounted back to me as a moment of perfect timing: it was the exact moment in the song where there was meant to be a solo and it took everyone in the bar by surprise. The thing is, I was oblivious to this, because I had just walked in: it wasn’t very surprising for me. When we finished the song Matt said ‘Cool, you’re in the band’ and I played for the rest of the night and agreed to come back the next day.

The next afternoon we played for a bit and I mentioned that it would be great to have a bit of bass, and that I’d always wanted an acoustic bass. 3 hours later I had bought the only acoustic bass in the only music shop in Pai (happy shop owner!) and we were playing a gig; with Matt shouting the chords at me before each song – although he often tests me by telling me the wrong chords. Since then, word of mouth has spread and we play every night with a great dedicated little crowd. It’s been lovely. I have heard maybe a quarter of the songs before, so I just make up the bass lines on the spot – working it out during the first verse and chorus with the volume turned down and joining in once I feel like I’m on top of it. As ever, I suffer from terrible performance nerves, but the process of working out songs on the spot is such an all encompassing one that it kind of takes my mind off of it. That and the Sangsom and Soda. It’s pretty lucky I came here at the end of the trip because I would have got precious little work done.

And also…

I must mention the guest house I’m in Pai Chan – it is absolutely one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever stayed. If it was 150 pounds a night it wouldn’t surprise me. It’s not. It costs 8 pounds a night. Very beautiful rooms, amazing views, swimming pool, hot water, lovely linen, proper pillows, I could go on… Check it out. Highly recommended.


Posted by jjmaurage 00:33 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Tribe Afor Ya Bai

That is a real tribe name, honest.


I people watch a lot. I always have done. When I was a child I was very shy and I still feel like that anxious child relatively often. So I watch and I listen. And I learn. I’ve visited a few hill tribes recently and in Northern Thailand you can tell instantly which tribe someone is from because their dress and behaviour is utterly distinctive. It started me thinking about the academic study of tribes. There is a notion that western culture has destroyed the idea of tribes based around blood and geography but rebuilt them based around shared belief systems: musical, artistic, pastimes, politics and so forth. While the glue that binds these tribes together is very different, the idea of dressing in a specific way in order to communicate your membership of a particular tribe is one that appears to be close to universal in human experience.

I’ve become a bit obsessed by this whilst in Thailand. If I wanted to integrate with the Thais in terms of my dress, I would wear jeans and heavy cotton t-shirts and some branded sports footwear: exactly as I would wear at home. Few modern Thais wear traditional dress; you will definitely see more Thai clothing on Westerners than you will on Thais. I was told a story once about a taxi driver in India asking why Westerners insisted on dressing like Victoria era Indians – for the taxi driver the concept of eagerly buying old-fashioned and shoddily constructed clothing was ridiculous. Imagine Indians arriving in the UK and instantly buying bowler hats, pin-stripe suits and umbrellas, except it too would be a poor facsimile of the real thing: maybe a thin paper bowler hat and a t-shirt with a print of a shirt and tie on it. And paper shoes that go over your sandals. It would be almost right, but not really. And we would laugh at them, as the Thais may at us.

I think that most travellers would cite practical reasons for wearing traditional clothing: it’s cooler in the heat, it’s cheap and light, it dries quickly etc. etc. But I think the more important reason is tribal in nature, it sends a signal about the sort of person you want people to think you are.

I often feel anxious that I’m not part of a specific tribe when I’m travelling. I’m under the illusion that I’m one of the few people travelling that doesn’t conform fully to a tribe – for I am my own tribe, obviously. Of course, most people claim that they are gloriously individual, free-spirited and in charge of their own destinies. Me? I’d like to just conform and be part of a group. At least that’s what I think I want. But I can’t find or at least I can’t define what that group is.

I love the hippy travellers, but I’m just too damn cynical: everything isn’t cool, not everyone is nice and yes I’m probably less happy for having such negative thoughts. I like to go out dancing and partying, but not every night and more importantly I’m just not manly enough to fit in with that crowd, where men are blokes and girls are birds; I’m sorry I’m just not interested in football. I love the adventurers, the people who are out discovering new trails and villages, who learn the language, who keep off the beaten track and stay in mud huts with the hill tribes, but I DO like a bit of luxury. Air con I can do without, but my own bathroom? I want that. So I look at the people who I feel have it sorted – ‘this is who I am, this what I wear, this is what I do’ etc. – and I get jealous. Because I always feel like an outsider: a non-conformist. But that’s not right: I’m not a non-conformist I’m a multi-conformist; a pluralist; a sit-on-the-fencer. This is a problem (just ask the Liberal Democrats).

People are drawn to like-minded people, so if your clothing or behaviour sends out mixed messages, then it becomes harder to find social acceptance. Of course, a quick conversation can do wonders in breaking down ‘tribal’ assumptions, but how many ‘get to know you’ conversations can you have in a day? I was thinking of printing a fact sheet with my name, where I’m from, how long I’ve been in Thailand, where I’m going next etc. so I can just hand it out to people. But that betrays the fact that I’ve always been uncomfortable with small talk, which is more about communication and ritual than it is about actual ‘information’.

The one thing that seems to unite people who (I assume) are part of specific traveller tribes is that they are completely oblivious to the concept of ‘tribes’ and being part of one: they just do their thing, it just so happens that they do it with a bunch of likeminded people. This is my problem: I’m so self-consciously fascinated by social behaviour, communication and interaction – particularly the use of clothes (among other lifestyle choices) as shorthand ways of communicating underlying belief systems and personality traits – that I find myself caught awkwardly between tribes. Which is not to so that I’m in the midst of some sort of tribal exchange programme; or that my tribe has dumped me; or that I’ve been made redundant by my tribe (‘Yeah, I’m between tribes at the moment actually’). It means that I send a number of mixed messages through both my clothing and my social demeanour that confuses even me as to who I align myself with.

I have a rule, for example, that is quite strict; yet I had never told anyone it till last week. It is: I can wear a hippy top, I can wear some hippy trousers (fisherman’s pants etc.), I can wear a bandana but I can wear only one of those at any one time. I am currently wearing a floaty white hippy top, with some urban camouflage shorts. Yesterday I wore some dark blue long fisherman’s pants, but I wore them with a very western black vest. I have some excellent bright orange low crotch Thai trousers that I love, but I’ve never worn them outside my room. I know, I know: I have issues. I need to just get on and do my thing and not worry about ‘tribes’, but it’s hard to observe human nature (for the purposes of writing fiction) without taking your observations on board. So I listen and I observe, and I try to position myself in between all of the tribes, conscious that in doing so I’m separating myself from all of them. Perhaps that it the place of the ‘artist’ anyway: to sit at a distance and self-consciously observe, note, analyse and dissect. If this is true then I am indeed an artist.

Posted by jjmaurage 02:06 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Chiang Rai for me Argentina

Road Trip to the other Northern Chiang

sunny 36 °C

Haven't written much travelwise of late as I haven't done much travelling. Arrived in Chiang Mai 2 and a half weeks ago and I'm not planning on leaving for another 3 weeks. I have been bitten by by both a metaphorical and a literal Chiang Mai bug. Actually, mosquitoes aren't bugs really, but lets not ruin things by being pedantic (it would be a first for me, I know).

The book is progressing nicely and I've fallen into a comfortable routine; notably, I haactually know what day it is now because I take the weekend off writing and get drunk on a Friday night, as per usual. I have a gym membership, am renting a motorbike for 3 weeks tomorrow and have an air-con room next to a small but nice swimming pool. And I've met some lovely people, so everything is sweet and lovely.

Jessie who I met in Koh Phagnan has moved to Chiang Mai with her Thai boyfriend Mek (not sure about the spelling) and together they've opened a small guest house called quite appropriately the 'Happy Hippy House'. Jessie speaks Thai and does project work with the hill-tribes in Northern Thailand, managing volunteers who come over, live in villages and teach them or help them build. She has been working in an Akha village near Chiang Rai. Last weekend, Mek decided to hire a car to go and collect her and bring her back to Chiang Mai, so myself and 2 other friends Dan and Carla decided to go with him. The plan was to stay for a night in the village and then spend another night in Chiang Rai.

Mek drove on the way there, and I watched him carefully as I was going to be driving us back and I was trying to work out the differences: what the 'rules' of Thai driving, whether officially or otherwise, actually were. Initaly Mek said 'Make up own rules'. It did seem like everybody was. Flashing lights definitely means 'I'm coming through' rather than 'go' like it often does in the UK. Lanes are merely a concept. Overtaking on blind corners is normal. And just assume that there will always be a motorbike trying to pass on both sides of you, and you should be fine. I didn't see many speed signs, but Mek said the speed limit was 120kmh. I've since looked online and discovered that there are only certain roads, that it's generally 90kmh, so I was generally breaking the speed limit.

We arrived in the village fairly late, about 8.30pm. There were about 12 western volunteers and numerous Akha tribes people welcoming us with huge smiles and warm greetings. Unbeknownst to us, they had all been waiting on us as the 'guests' to arrive before serving dinner: a huge range of tasty and spicy dishes served communally with sticky rice. I've eaten with Thai people a lot over the past few weeks and the whole sharing multiple dishes idea makes so much sense that when I go out with westerners it feels odd that people order their 'own' dishes. Communal eating provides more diversity, brings people together in a shared experience, allows people to eat as much or as little as they want, makes less waste, and is just generally more fun. No idea at what point in the history of Western civilisation we lost this important human experience, but it's worth recapturing. Think how much more fun barbecues and picnics are?

The food was lovely as were the bottles of Chang beer that swiftly followed; and the bottles of Lao Kao. I was despatched to the village shop (think more like a very small room in someone's house that you thenrealise IS the house). The shop was surrounded by about 9 Akha women all sitting round a television watching a Thai soap opera, as I approached them they all smiled welcomingly and one of tem vacated I seat so that I could join them in watching the soap opera. Whilst I appreciated the invitation, it was booze I was after and luckily 'Lao Kao' is the Thai and the English name so it wasn't a difficult negotiation. As I left though, after making broken small talk full of ridiculous gesticulations and much laughter, they tried to find me a girlfriend, dissapointed as they were that I was single. They did this by pointing at a series of girls some Akha, some Western and making a gesture with their fingers that could be fairly universally understood. It was quite embarassing, but I appreciated their help. They were also notably oblivious to the 15 year age gap between me and some of their spousal candidates.

The volunteers were made up predominantly of gap year students who were giving between 4 and 6 weeks of their time teaching and helping the villagers construct a new building before they headed off on the backpacker trail. Despite their young age, they were very articulate, well edcuated and had strong opinions; I had some of the most interesting discussions of my whole trip with the volunteers; and a few heated debates (I blame the Lao Kao). Most (not all) of the volunteers were educated privately, and I must say that private education seems to breed both a remarkable self-confidence and a breadth of cultural understanding that isn't always found with other people I've met travelling, regardless of age. (I'm reminded of a guy I met who was pissed off that they had a "fuckin' picture of a burger on the menu but they don't do no burgers; or even some bloody chips") If anything, it makese me worry that our public education system doesn't invest enough time and energy in building confidence and giving a broad, pluralistic education: more of a 'world' view. The focus in education nowadays is on achieveing specific and quantifiable 'learning outcomes' rather than producing rounded members of society. I understand the rationale, but I think it actually serves to deepen the class divide.

The villagers were just as entertaining, though not as articulate (in English at least, they might have been HIGHLY articulate in Thai). The volunteers had given them all English nick names as well as their Thai/Akha names. I can only remember a few of their names: Cheeky Chops, Akha George Clooney and Papa. What was very sweet about the villagers, and Papa in particular, is that they really worried about their guests safety and wellbeing. I was up tallking to one of the volunteers till late o'clock in the morning, and Papa had been lying in the shadows making sure we were safe. Apparently we were up so late that he fell asleep and we went to bed (we didn't know at the time he was there), when he woke and discovered we were gone he worried that something had happened to us, rather than that we had just gone to sleep (passed out might be closer to the truth). One of the volunteers had apparently been staying there for many months and made a point of drinking a whole bottle of Lao Kao every night. He got so drunk that every night the villagers would help or carry him back to his hut and sleep on his balcony to make sure he was ok. Of course they eventually bored of this after a few weeks and left him to sleep on his own. But the thought was there.

We had come on a particularly auspicious day as the next day was the day when the 'spirit gate' that protects the village was being rebuilt. This happens only once a year, and it was great to see their deft touch with a machete. Akha George Clooney was particularly skilled. I learned that if anyone touches the spirit gate then it will bring bad luck to the village unless a pig is sacrificed (or something...) so we all gave the gate a wide berth. Animism infuses everything in Thailand. The villagers belief system is based on Animism, but then Thai Buddhism is a fusion of Buddhism and Animism. The Buddha said nothing about having spirit houses outside your house so that the spirits don't live with you, but all Thai people have them. Don't question them on it though, they don't have an answer: it's just the way it is.

Was so taken by the hill tribe, and driving in Northern Thailand that I put a deposit down today for a hire of a pickup truck, so am going to drive all around the North for 2 weeks. I have a few meeting points along the way, and am picking up some friends at various locations, but mostly I'm on my own. In a big silver truck. Get in!

Revisiting the village I've just been writing about (I, ahem, don't know the name of it, but I will...soon and come and edit the post when I do) a few times, going to Pai, to Mae Hong Son to Mae Sai, Golden Triangle and wheresoever the whim takes me. Till then....

Posted by jjmaurage 03:47 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Nobody does it Meta

Except that's all anybody does now.

50 °C

A METABLOGUMENTARY DISCUSSION - Or what is the bleedin' point?

    ‘Bless me Father Stephen for I have sinned; it’s been 7 weeks since my last blog entry. I’m sorry, I’ve been…you know, busy’
    ‘I see. Can you tell me JJ, how it is that I – adorable lovely Uncle Stevey pooh – am capable of writing regular and, lest we forget, expansive blog entries despite my hectic schedule of travelling the world, acting my little heart out in various trifling nickelodeons, presenting TV programmes and performing the necessary chores of a professional technophile, twitter evangelist, celebrity homosexual and all round good egg?’
    ‘Erm, is it cos you’re dead clever an’ that?’
    ‘Precisely; please leave the web. You are shit. And I would NEVER say “you are shit”, even your attempts to parody my affable eccentric English intellectual demeanour are pitiful. Now fuck off.’

This latest blog entry is more like a meta-blog entry, it’s essentially empty of meaning. I make no apologies for this. Everything is so damn ‘meta’ nowadays. I thought postmodernism finished ages ago, but it seems to be the intellectual movement / conceptual framework / pretentious-load-of-old-bollocks that just keeps on giving (you the same old shit, but in a slightly different coat wearing those big glasses with fake moustache things). It’s like the war on terror: ill-defined, impossible to lose, impossible to win, an excuse for doing whatever the hell you want and quite obviously a triumph of form over content. Or in simpler terms: all mouth and no trousers. Still, that’s the world we’re living in, and god knows I love to conform even whilst complaining about it and attempting to break the system down from the inside (another ‘feature’ of post-modernism by the way). So I wanted to just talk about talking about stuff while I work out how best to continue my so called ‘travel’ blog. I quite fancy a normal NON travel blog now so I might just migrate over when I get back. We'll see.

When my last missive was thrust into the social meedyverse (maybe needy-verse is more apt?) I was a long long way away having quite a lot of real life, honest to goodness fun. It’s one of those rarely admitted truths that – for me at any rate - when you’re enjoying yourself the idea of then writing about enjoying yourself will necessarily decrease the amount of time you have left for yet more enjoyment. I find this to be true also for mega-boring things like uploading photos, I just can’t be bothered. It’s a waste of my damn time, and anyway: I was there, I remember it.

Luckily I lost my camera in Malaysia 2 weeks ago with loads of photos, so no more uploading (yay!) which means, I’m afraid, just boring old words on the blog from now on. Unless someone else has taken an appropriate photo which I can then acquire from Flickr and re-use (I’m allowed, I’m playing the postmodernism card remember, recontextualising found artefacts and subverting their meaning? We used to call it theft, but that’s a very outdated concept). Did I ever mention that ‘my’ pictures from the monastery on an earlier blog entry were just nicked from Flickr? May have done, may not have (probably the latter). My camera had ran out of battery so what else could I do?

The way I see it, for pictures of the ‘sights’ – you know temples, views, buildings, policemen beating people up, all that sort of thing – unless you’re a really great photographer, somebody else has a better picture of it on Flickr; better weather conditions, better camera, more attractive friends etc. So why not just show people their photograph instead of getting a low quality simulacrum? I’ve got a cupboard full of old skool prints of things like a rainy, cloudy, crappy Golden Gate bridge taken in a rain storm. The bridge hardly even looks red, it just looks rubbish, and it doesn’t represent the bridge as convincingly as the iconic blue sky and bright red paintwork picture that I could get from Flickr in 2 seconds would. The only difference is that it’s mine, a concept grounded in the possession of physical artefacts. Does that mean that it’s better to have something a bit shit that doesn’t efficiently represent the thing/place/site/sight convincingly because at least you know that you took that photo? Maybe is the best answer I have for that question.

Of course the opposite perspective, taken to extremes, is quite disturbing: that specific photographs of ‘sights’ become ‘anchor’ images or the ‘master’ aesthetic representation of any given object. That seems an almost communist and certainly de-humanizing viewpoint, the idea that we all have share a ‘common’ selection of holiday photos. So everyone who has been to San Francisco has the same photo of the Golden Gate Bridge in their photo albums because, well, it’s the best one. The difference is, though, that the best photo wouldn’t be defined top down it would be defined through popular consent.

I can’t help wondering if the idea of a photo as an ‘object’ to be possessed and owned is a hangover from analogue prints and that people won’t feel the same attachment to specific photos once a few generations have come and gone. Individual cameras taken near identical photos of the same thing at the same time is often highly impractical. At the end of my meditation retreat everybody posed for photos in a group, and about 60 cameras were placed in a pile. It took ages for each camera to take variations of exactly the same photo, because everybody needed their own photo. But all of them were digital cameras, I mean, pick the best camera, take 10 shots put them all on Flickr, let everybody choose their favourite. That will happen I feel, but not for a few generations. We still don’t trust that we will be able to get hold of them, so we must have our own.

Actually, the one thing you do need a camera for is to take pictures of your friends (bless ‘em) because they are (more or less) unique to you. But I do find that many pictures of me and my friends tend to feature of a bunch of gurning drunks in a faceless bar/club/beach/house/rave/festival somewhere with a gazillion watt flash burning out everyone’s retinas and turning my already pallid complexion into an even closer approximation of a tin of Dulux pure brilliant white emulsion. Which is not to say I don’t like those type of pictures (they do capture a moment, possibly the ‘same’ moment every time, but…) it’s just that you don’t really need a good camera to take them. I haven’t bought a new camera since…you know what? I don’t think I’ve ever bought a new camera. The last camera I bought was a second hand Olympus OM10; an analogue SLR that I still own and love

I’ve written about this before, but it’s basically just another example of my extreme personality which can cope only with only 2 things: all or nothing. If I’m going to take photography seriously, then I’m afraid I’m going to need a top of the range DSLR and I’ll have to carry it everywhere because I might miss the shot of a lifetime. And I’ll need loads of lenses and accessories and just the whole shebang. So no, no camera. Not yet anyway. You’ll just have to believe me that if I lift a photo from flickr and use it in my blog that I REALLY was there. Just not necessarily when the photo was taken, that’s all. And my long rant was a futile attempt to intellectually justify the fact that I’m not buying another camera while I’m here.


I’m writing rather a lot in this entry considering I don’t much enjoy writing. I’m not someone who lives for writing; someone who feels knotted inside if their ideas aren’t given some sort of external physical form. I like stories. I don’t mind how they’re delivered to me but I find the process of writing them – as compared to the process of telling them orally, or constructing them visually – tortuous. So why the hell am I doing it? Well, I have a story in my head and it’s fully formed and, well, it’s just too long to tell as an anecdote. So a novel it has to be.

Writing a blog is quite fun in a way that the novel aint. I don’t edit my blog entries. I don’t spell check them either. They’re written fast and loose so that I enjoy the process; it’s more like a counseling session I suppose (sorry about that!). Not writing a blog entry for a while has also re-enforced my afore mentioned extreme personality issues. After not writing an entry for weeks I basically thought ‘if you don’t maintain your blog regularly, what’s the point? All or nothing, remember?’ So I wrote the blog off.

It wasn’t just that, I was also staying in various places with only limited amounts of electricity a day. I generally write for 2 three hour sessions a day, which is about the same amount of time as my fully charged laptop battery gives me. Quite simply, the novel gets my six hours, not the blog. However, I’m now in a guest house in Chiang Mai with electricity and internet and so therefore the blog is getting some attention. The problem is, though, do I write a bunch of blog entries for each place I’ve been in the last 6 weeks? No, I think not; boring for you, boring for me. Instead, I’ll do a summary. Soon. Not now. For the moment, these are the facts. Now. At present. The missing period I have begun summarizing (a rare bit of pre-planning for my blog) but it will take a while to get it short enough. I want it to be like a blipblog, you know ultramicrosocialmedia or Nanoblogging if you will.

I’m in Chiang Mai. I love it here, there’s something intangible here that’s instantly comforting but also gives me a little electrically-charged lift. I’ve only ever got it from New York City before. That’s not to say that they’re in any way similar, but there’s something going on here (and in NYC) that connects with me in a pure gut instinct sort of way. It’s a city (biggest in Thailand outside of Bangkok), but it doesn’t feel like one; more like a cosy little town. It makes me want to get involved in the ‘real’ life of the place, to join a band, get an apartment; to just ‘live’. So I might well stay here for longer than planned. I've got a bicycle and a gym membership so far, so I'm obviously not leaving any time soon.

The book is progressing nicely if assessed from a simple quantative perspective; qualitatively I really haven’t the faintest idea. It’s FAR too long, I know that much. It has that in common with this blog entry.

Posted by jjmaurage 04:02 Archived in Thailand Tagged travelling_with_pets Comments (1)

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