A Travellerspoint blog

Don't Panic!

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Took 12 hours to get from Krabi to Thong Nai Pan Noi beach on Koh Phagnan. Songthaew to Bus Station, Bus to Surat Thani, 3 hour wait for another bus to the port, ferry to Koh Phagnan then a 1000 baht taxi across island on dirt track roads to get to the beach. When I got there all of the receptions for guest houses were shut, and it was looking for a while that I might be sleeping on the beach. Luckily a friend was already staying on the beach and had been building up a relationship with a girly girl; me having nowhere to live meant that he could be thoroughly decent and offer me his room, but where would he sleep that night? Hmmmmm, answers on a postcard. I had also been very kindly offered a hammock by a lovely group of beach residents here in their house, but the free bungalow with air con (air con? I've NEVER had air con) won that one. I didn't like the air con much, when I woke up I had no idea what time it was. In the hermetically sealed bungalow it could have been any time, or any place. It was nice for a night though.

The journey across on the ferry was most beautiful though.DSC00378.jpgDSC00376.jpgDSC00381.jpg Had a few beers with a Dutch girl and a Swedish guy, knew their names at the time but alas they have escaped from my addled brain. Had my first discussion on this trip about selling up and investing my money in a beach resort in Thailand, though I've since had 2 more, including a serious conversation about investing 25K in a new Yoga retreat and restaurant. Don't know if I would really do it, but the people who ARE doing it are spending 6 months here and 6 months at home, which is awfully tempting.

On my way over I saw a guy with this tatoo.DSC00371.jpg I now know that it's from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (should have known that already since my blog name is also from there)...BUT in these parts it's better known as the name of a travel agent in Krabi. Like me, he got off at the bus station and saw the huge sign saying 'Don't Panic!' and laughed. Unlike me he later decided that he was going to get it written permanently on his arm.

Whenever I think about getting a tattoo, I ALWAYS think about being in the bath in an old folks home being bathed by a care assistant looking at my sagging 'Don't Panic' tattoo which is now a bluey blur down my arm. I imagine explaining that it's the name of a travel agency in Thailand and then think I might as well get one that says 'Lunn Polly' and be done with it.

COMING UP ON MY BLOG (to be read in an American voice over accent)

JJ spanks his Birthday's ass in his return to 'Guy's Bar'
AND
JJ unexpectedly meets a friend from Brighton who also happens to be there
PLUS
JJ gets massaged by an old man in return for paying his bus fair
THEN
JJ gets 'healed' by Sibena after the Birthday shenanigans leave him a broken mess.
ALL WHEN
SO LONG, AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH
CONTINUES...

PS The book is going well.

Posted by jjmaurage 20:14 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Another Stick in the Wall

I find my own stuff on stick Nirvana

Scott finally turnedup in Krabi, he was only a day late which is not so very much in Thailand. We had one last drinking session as he was off to Suann Mokkh to do a meditation retreat and I was off to Koh Phagnan to celebrate my birthday in the customary fashion. We had a wander down to the markets for some food, and low and behold I found down a street I've never been in the most incredible selection of stuff on sticks. I was in heaven.
DSC00355.jpg Of course she couldn't really tell me much about what the stuff on sticks was so it was a bit of a Russian Roulette. But this chicken and rice somehow combined and cooked on a stick was unbelieveable, it's modelled by Scott who is actually 41 if I remember rightly, he's quite photogenic the bastard.DSC00357.jpg There was a huge array of stuff and I couldn't try it all, if only I had found it a few days earlier. I was particularly impressed by cake on a stick. DSC00356.jpg

We had the usual evening of booze consumption, can't remember too much about it to be honest, all the nights in Krabi tend to blend into one. I know we tried on some weird clothes, I actually bought a t-shirt but left it in the shop and said I'd pick it up the next day so that I didn't lose it during the drinking session. Of course I forgot to go back so the result was the same. Scott didn't buy this t-shirtDSC00358.jpg which I think is a shame. And along the way I took these pictures DSC00363.jpgDSC00367.jpgDSC00354.jpg Quite why anybody would want a KFC in Krabi I have no idea. Whilst I quite liked Krabi I'd rather not go back there as I've been there about 4 or 5 times now and where I am now is bliss, but I've left my big rucksack there, so I need to. I've been following a policy of booking into a big hotel once in a while that has a proper room for storing bags so you can leave stuff and travel light. Didn't really say anything in this post. Still...at least I said something.

Posted by jjmaurage 00:10 Comments (0)

Meditation time, come on!

There's something going on right here...

I know I wrote loads about the retreat, but I didn't actually write anything about meditating. It seems that wherever I go all roads lead to the same place. People are reading lots of different self-help books (like 'The Power of Now' and 'Stillness Speaks') which all are pretty much saying the same thing as Theravada Buddhism. Often they do this in a much less idiosyncratic and certainly more secular way, but they do seem to be saying the same thing. It's all about the moment, the present, stop worrying about what you did and what you're going to do and live in the moment as often as you can. You can dress it up in a huge number of ways and use inumerable techniques for achieving this, mindfulness with breathing is not the only way and nor does it claim to be. But, it's been a succesful technique for over 2000 years, so it works and is therefore worth trying. The new techniques and versions are much more easy to take on board but only time will tell if they are as effective for everybody and not just the author and a few other people. The Power of Now has sold millions of copies because Oprah has adopted it as her pet project. But, even if millions of people think the book is great and correct, that doesn't mean that they are now able to practice what it proposes. As I said before an intellectual understanding is not worth much, you can read all the books you want, but if you don't experience it then it won't help you.

For me, the retreat was a chance to get back to some places I've been before. It took me 9 days to achieve what I achieved in 3 days this time (achieve is SO the wrong word, but I know you know what I mean). Finding moments of stillness in every day will help everybody immensely, of this much I'm convinced. I think the methods you use are up to you really: mantras, beads, dancing, eyes open, eyes shut...whatever, it's just about shutting up that part of your brain that's forever causing you stress. Some people call it the masculine brain, the ego centre, Buddhists like the 'monkey mind' analogy. Me I like to simply call it the 'left brain'. It's reductive though, modern neuroscience has shown that the striaght divisions of brain function are nowhere near as simple as we think, but frankly it doesn't really matter because it's a 'mind' issue not a 'brain' issue and so abstracted from biology that it's almost always talked about through the use of analogy because many of the concept are non-verbal and therefore impossible to unpick without some sort of analogy.

Posted by jjmaurage 18:51 Comments (0)

Sticky Fingers

Fishy Tales from Krabi (again)

sunny

Well I'm back in Krabi, this time I was supposed to meet Scott who has my main iPod (yes yes, I have 2 iPods OK! what of it?) but he didn't turn up, so I'm left sitting around like a spare cock at a whore's wedding in Krabi when I want to go to Koh Phagnan and get solidly wrecked for my birthday. I DID speak to him in detail 2 days ago and it was all worked out, now his mobile goes straight to answer machine and I dinnae know whit tae do.

So in the meantime I've delved deeper into the food markets in Krabi and (at the behest of John who wanted more photos) I've made a point of taking my phone with me when I'm out. I've already talked about my love of meat on a stick, but now I've discovered 'fish on a stick'.DSC00291.jpg I don't know what sort of fish it is really, it doesn't look much like fish, but my god it's tasty. These are the lovely ladies who were cooking it. DSC00290_1.jpgI also had my first taste of those little rubbery fish cakes you get in the UK but here I ate them 15 seconds after they'd been cooked and they too are heavenly.4DSC00288.jpg Absolutely SCREAMING with chillies and lemon grass and just zing in your mouth - the British ones are usually made here and shipped frozen to the UK. I then wandered around and found a strange thick pancake stuffed with sweetcorn, coconut and carnation condensed milk.DSC00287.jpg So after my food haul and a few cocktails at Charlie's place - a bar called 'Old West' - I've kind of gotten over Scott's non appearence. If he never turns up and I lose the iPod, then that's what will happen, I've still got my little Nano one. I'll stay one more day though, in case he turns up.

Posted by jjmaurage 18:32 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

We have NOTHING for you here

Meditating at Suan Mokkh - My apologies, this is very long...I've just read it back and I don't even talk about meditating really. Tut tut. But it is what it is, so if you get through it: well done.

sunny

2570276050_9638c3f955.jpgIt doesn't matter how often you're told not to have any expectations about what will happen at a retreat, the reason you're there is to stop your chattering monkey mind from fretting about what might happen, what will happen, what has happened and what the hell you're going to do about it (or what you should have done about it). So while the advice is essentially correct, it's near impossible to follow. If you’re capable of having no expectations then you probably don't need to go on the retreat.
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The first one I attended at Suan Mokkh was back in 2001. I arrived fat (16 stone I think...) and quite miserable, with terrible insomnia and a raging alcohol habit. By the time I left Thailand I guess I had lost about 2 stone - and would lose 2 more as I travelled through Australasia - and I drank a lot less: about a quarter of my previous intake. More importantly, I felt happy for the first time I could remember. If I think about that time now, I didn't fully understand Buddhism – this latest retreat, and one monk in particular has clarified many things for me - but I understood the calm that resulted from focusing on my breathing and from attempting to look beyond my very ego driven character; ego that was born of insecurity: a defence mechanism. I learnt on that retreat that to get annoyed with other people was a way of damaging myself. Being angry with someone doesn't affect them, it affects you. I resolved then that I would be more accepting - for purely selfish reasons: my own well being. The overall effect though is the same: you don't allow people to get to you, you treat them as an even better friend if they cross you. And by jove it worked. The problem is though, that you gradually creep into old habits and after 7 years, although I still felt the same intellectually, I wasn't living my belief system any more. Theravada Buddhists are clear that 'understanding' Buddhism and experiencing it are very different things. In many ways an intellectual understanding of Buddha, Dhamma, Dhukka, the 4 noble truths, the 8 trainings and all the rest of the teachings ‘in and of itself’ is worth nothing. The Buddha never asked anyone to believe his teachings, he asked them to meditate and find the truth of his teachings themself, and not to believe anything he or anyone else said unless they could verify if through their own experience. Which is why I was back: to rediscover my practice.

The effects of that first retreat were astonishing and I couldn't hope to have such a life-changing experience again. And I didn't. Instead, I found my own 'middle way' (a popular phrase in Buddhism) summed up in one of the readings as: 'not too loose, not too tight'. It's basically about understanding that some people need to be quite firm with their minds and some people need to give themselves a break; generally it's the opposite way from however you operate normally, so if you are quite a militant control freak you need to learn to allow your mind to wander, not get angry, bring it back and accept that it's ok. If you're a free spirited wandering hippy type, you need to be firmer with yourself, rein in your mind and force it down the path; but not TOO hard. I wasn't sure what type of person I was (I’m sure you have your own ideas), and indeed most people are somewhere in between, but on balance I think I'm more of a control freak. So last time (when I didn't really know about the 'not too tight, not too loose' philosophy) I was very very hard on myself, concentrating intensely all day and causing much stress and anger along the way. It was exhausting. This time, I gave myself a break. When I was meditating I was militant, but sometimes - rather than flogging a dead horse - I allowed myself to indulge in a half hour of completely abandoned daydreaming. Aspirations, plans, ideas, concepts, flights of fancy, whatever I felt like. It was bliss. So whilst I didn't meditate ALL day, I probably meditated 60% of the day very successfully and then rather than waste 40% on fruitless meditation and frustration I wrote songs, planned whole chapters of my book, imagined possible exciting futures, reconsidered the past. All of this is something you are explicitly NOT meant to do as part of Buddhist practice. Unless of course, you recognise that finding the right path - 'not too tight, not too loose'- means finding a workable solution that you can use in the real world. It also made me realise that in planning chapters of my book, I need to do more sitting with my eyes shut imagining scenes and scenarios rather than staring at my laptop.
This middle way sounds simple doesn't it? The problem is that Buddhism in the west can often be taught in a very hard and unforgiving way: do this, not this; this right, this is wrong. Many western Buddhists I've met seem very uptight and un-accepting of practice outside of their understanding. Thai Buddhist monks are really fun-loving, playful, and funny and will rarely criticise anything. They will tell you if something breaks a rule, but they won't scold you for it. Often they'll just laugh. One particular monk at Suan Mokkh this time was a perfect example of this, and he was incredibly inspiring.

Tan Dhammavidu & Ajahn Poh

Tan Dhammavidu is the Thai name of the inspiring British born monk who delivered many (off the cuff) Dhamma talks at Suan Mokkh. In common with many Western monks you meet in Thailand, he had been a hedonistic traveller type and travelled the world getting off his tits and shagging anything that moved. His life philosophy was completely anti-establishment: fuck the system, enjoy yourself at all costs. He then came to Thailand, gave it all up and now lives in a cave in the forest. Dhammavidu's tone was amazing; he's quite cynical about various aspects of Buddhist teaching. He is a scholar of Dhamma (Dhamma means a lot of things, but fundamentally it means 'nature' or the relationship we have with 'nature' but it's bigger than that because, of course, we are part of nature so it kind of means 'the relationship of everything in the experienced world'...is that helpful? Probably not.) and has issues with mistranslation and the like which he doesn't avoid mentioning in talks. He's also clearly still a rebel. He said that there were few Thai monks who could refuse fried Pork, and also confessed that he has one of those Italian coffee maker jobs and drinks coffee. The consumption of both meat and caffeine are forbidden as part of the 8 teachings, so Dhammavidu's confessions definitely contributed to the opening up of a more liberal 'middle way'. And in the summing up feedback discussions at the end of the retreat it was universally agreed that this had been one of the 'loosest' retreats they'd ever had. It sometimes felt that we were running our own retreat, the staff and monks ‘policing’ of the retreat was much softer than it had been on my previous retreat and I appreciated this enormously. It was exactly what I needed. I think it was Dhammavidu's teachings that contributed most to this ‘mood’ of the retreat. Thai monks teach in quite a specific way, which can be summed up as 'repetitive Yoda'. The abbot of the monastery Ajahn Poh teaches in this style; he also looks and sounds very like Yoda, beginning every session with the endearing greeting: '(clears throat) Good morning, every-good friends' - I love idiosyncratic English when spoken by someone as a second language. Ajahn Poh has an incredible presence: on several occasions he came down unannounced to join us in the meditation hall and, with my eyes closed, I could feel the room change when he arrived. When he teaches however, it can be a little difficult to maintain concentration, as he will tend to repeat many of the same things, coming at the concept from many angles to reinforce the point. This is the general style of Buddhist teaching in Thailand, so it's churlish to criticise it, but it does require supreme levels of concentration when you come from a culture so steeped in fast cut editing, soundbites and information overload. Often you could sum up a talk in 2 sentences, but that's not the Thai way. Dhammavidu on the other hand would weave around the subject like a stand up comic or a jazz improviser, stopping off for a little amusing detour that may or may not be related to the talk. Remarkably though, despite anecdotes about killing squirrels by twisting their necks, living naked on a Greek beach and looking at pictures of rotting corpses when you fancy a wank, the subject of his lessons somehow seemed to stick.

Interestingly, Dhammavidu mentioned that many elderly monks have had strokes in Thaiand; he put this down to their diet being bad. It struck a chord with me though as it pertains directly to my book. I'm wondering whether a lifetime spent repressing the ego/analysis/logic centres of the brain (generally consdiered to be in the left hemisphere of right handed people) causes that part of the brain to be more susceptible to strokes. This would help explain why my composer has essentially become a Buddhist but without doing any practice: he has damaged (in his stroke) the part of him which Buddhist work to calm through practice. It seems nobody has looked into this connection. Many monks have been analysed meditating (at the behest of the Dalai Lama who aspires to bringing Buddhism and Science together) to ascertain just where meditation happens (or doesn't happen), but nobody has examined why so many monks have had strokes. In fact, I'm not sure whether this fact is even known. Either way, I'm damn well using it in my book.
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Dhamma

The monastery is the middle of what was once a swamp and is now a forest. It's teaming with wildlife and you kind of have to get used to the scorpions, spiders, snakes, centipedes, millipedes and (the worst of the lot) the damned ants. My god the ants don't half bite. It really challenges your commitment to not killing anything. Just one or two ants will cause you an immense amount of jumping about and trying to get them out from inside your trousers. I must confess that I did kill one without a moment’s hesitation when it bit the end of my penis. This was very painful indeed. I was in the process of hanging out some laundry and then I suddenly had to pull it out and hit the end of it. It did make me think of that Billy Connolly joke about being caught masturbating and making up a story to try and explain what you were doing: 'there was this ant right? Massive it was, huge fangs and it BIT me and quick as a flash I got my todger out and was hitting it rhythmically to get the ant off when you came into the room and...etc'. I must also point out that I was inside the men's dorm at the time, I wouldn't have exposed myself in the meditation hall for instance.

Living Conditions
I adapted to the general living conditions remarkably quickly this time. You sleep on a concrete shelf with a thin rattan mat and a wooden pillow.713678171_d0dbe7b7be.jpg I must confess that the first time I didn't really use the wooden pillow, but this time: it was great. It has a curved head shaped dip in it and you really can ONLY sleep on your back. The morning bell is sounded at 4.00am (you have to be on your cushion by 4.30) and the moment you wake up, you wake up. There's no sense of wanting to stay in bed or turning over and ignoring it – the pillow is all the incentive you need to get the fuck out of bed. I've actually had a sore back since I left the monastery and slept on a normal bed with pillows and a mattress. It was fine at the monastery, but now… One night I decided to sneak my meditation cushion back to my room for the night instead of the wooden one. Big mistake. Woke up with an incredibly painful neck and decided to move back to the wooden pillow for the rest of the retreat. Karma was definitely at work.
There was a lot more and better food this time (including some tasty but very weird looking desserts: one a strange green lime-ish flavoured frog spawn in coconut milk) and in the evenings there was hot chocolate rather than insipid tea. Luxury. Washing was still accomplished by tipping bowls of cold water over your head from a huge concrete water bunker517982281_bbb37f8d54.jpg, which is a shock to the system at 4 in the morning, but it definitely wakes you up.

Al
The retreat started with a record 140 people and also ended with a record drop off at the 80 mark. Quite a difference. If you look at this picture of the meditation hall,517982149_..107a_2_.jpg it's got about 40 people in it; imagine it with 140. We were packed in. Most of us were glad to lose so many people. Interestingly, most of them left on day 8 and 9 and just over the water on Koh Phagnan on day 9 there was a full moon party happening. Conicedence? I did briefly contemplate leaving and going to the party, but I had to remind myself that I’ve been to 3 of them and I think they’re massively over-rated; if you’ve been to a decent party in the UK then you’ll be disappointed by a beach bound outdoor rave circa 1997 filled with English piss-heads passed out and lying in their own and others piss. Anyway, the full moon was great for us at the monastery. Every night we would go out on a group walking meditation where we'd walk in single file with bear feet around the monastery - the boys would go one way and the girls the other. This was a bit scary at first as you just imagine the many things you could stand on as you walk into the darkness; but you get used to it surprisingly quickly. If you know me you'll know that I hate wearing shoes anyway, I didn't wear any for the whole time I was at the monastery. On day one it was pretty dark on the walk, but they had a bunch of candles around the site which gave just enough light to stop yourself falling into the lakes. They also contributely hugely to the serenity of the evening walks. We would walk around for about 20 minutes, stop and look out over the lake en masse. Looking out into the darkness and seeing 140 people all standing in silence gazing across the lakes was incredibly beautiful and was one of my favourite parts of each day.535884109_61043fe4b9.jpg With each passing day the moon was getting fuller and fuller and you could really see the difference in light quality each night. It reminded me that this daily connection and conscious monitoring of natural phenomena was and is a crucial part of living; but one we've replaced with technology. It's no wonder ancient cultures had more of a connection with the world round about them. Observing the wildlife, the sun, the moon and all the other naturally evolving phenomena is the only way you know what's going on, what changes are taking place. As soon as that is replaced with an abstract concept such as 'the time' you are no longer connected to the world around you. Time doesn't seem like an abstract concept, it seems fairly concrete, but of course this is an illusion. When you arrive at the monastery you deposit watches and mobile phones at the reception, so you have no idea what time it is, you just go to the meditation hall whenever the big bell rings. Gradually the notion of what time it actually is becomes less important as your day is structured by what you're doing and the quality of the light around you.

It was on one of the evening walks that I first noticed Al. He was walking in front of me on a walk and, I must confess, I was finding him very annoying. He was tallish about 6'2", I guessed in his 60s or 70s, bald head, white beard and tinted gold rimmed Aviator glasses. What drew me to him - and what annoyed me - was that he kept pointing at things during the walk. He would see a firefly and point at it, see an Owl and point at it, see a snake and point at it. Generally, when one is walking you 'note' things you see: this is natural. You don't generally point it out, but especially not on a silent meditation retreat because it's a type of communication. The thing is, the silence at a retreat isn't a meaningless piece of dogma to be adhered to at all costs, you need to apply a bit of pragmatism to it: understand why we do it rather than just slavishly adhere to it. This swings both ways. I noticed several times people trying to communicate some slightly abstract or complex concept when doing their chores through lengthy and complicated routines of pointing and miming when they could have just used one sentence, got the point across and carried on. Communication, silent or not, is communication, and sometimes its pragmatic to make communication short and to the point by using a few well placed words rather than causing a huge kerfuffle of confusing gestures which is way more distracting to a meditating mind than the words: 'you do that bit, I'll do this bit and we'll put the rubbish over there'. Al spent the whole retreat trying to communicate to the world around him: I watched him crouched next to a massive spiders web for about half an hour, trying (successfully) to attract people’s attention so they would come over to him and join him in looking at the web. During one of the walking meditation sessions he noticed some sort of animal in a ditch and crouched with his torch aimed at it. Bear in mind that walking meditation is done collectively, we are all following the person in front and operating as a unit – except when the person in front of you is crouched in a ditch breaking the group into 2 with 50 people all wondering why they’re not moving and the rest of the group is on the other side of the lake.

Once when we both happened to be meditating near the same spot, the bell rang to mark the end of the session and he jumped up and said 'ALL RIGHT!'. I wasn't impressed, it totally ruined my own calm and I instantly got angry, but then stopped and wondered why I was getting so angry. I let this sit for a few days and eventually I turned a corner. After seeing the approach of the Thai monks to life generally, I decided that I wouldn't be annoyed, I would observe him and enjoy his idiosyncratic ways, and when I did he gradually became my favourite person at the retreat. He couldn't help his personality spilling out everywhere and I deliberately began to make sure I was near him during walks. When he pointed, I noted, he didn't point the way people normally do; he didn't follow his pointing finger with his eyes. He would point, but with a blunt meaningless point. As soon as he pointed he was already searching for something else to point at, so he didn't concentrate on the first subject. It was like he was mentally compiling a checklist and was ticking things off on it (grass: check, trees:check, sky:check). I watched him a lot. He sat just to the left of me, three people along and on quite a tall stool. On the final day, during the final meditation session of the entire retreat, we were nearing the end of the half hour session (I can time a half hour to within 20 seconds in my head now) when I heard a strange noise; a repressed strangled cry coming from the left. It was dark so I couldn't see much, but when I opened my eyes I saw Al jump from his stool and fall to his knees on the sand outside the meditation hall his head burrowing into the sand, a muffled cry coming from between his legs. 3 or 4 people ran to him and as they reached him the bell rang 3 times to signify the end of the retreat. And, of Al's life.
Not really. I don't know what happened, but he didn't die. It was VERY dramatic though and it would have been a glorious reminder of the impermanence of life if he had died, but he didn't. He later gave a 5 minute talk about his experience at the retreat, which was mostly a fascinating précis of his life. He had been in the Air force, he had set up various businesses, was now based in Bangkok and, most fascinating of all, he strongly believed that one should have clear life goals and really stick to them (the fascinating bit comes next BTW). His current goal, I kid you not, was to find a way of defeating gravity in order to help the environment by inventing transportation means that don't use damaging fossil fuels. I thought it was tough trying to write a book, but Al is working to defeat gravity. That is mint. I was glad that I had already decided to like him, because at the end of the retreat I felt like he was my best friend. He even invited to go and see him in Bangkok but I forgot to get his card when I left so...sadly, I won't be seeing him again. I would have loved to go out with him in Bangkok. We could have wandered the streets pointing together. If he could find so much to point at when he was at a forest monastery, think how much he could find in central Bangkok.

The Celebrity Game
I don't know if you ever play this game, but whenever I'm in a crowded place I like to pretend that I'm at a celebrity event and find people with only a vague resemblance to someone famous and commentate on the event as if I'm a presenter on ITV2 (say Kate Thornton or that smarmy kid who looks like an estate agent: Jamie something…maybe). So you spot someone and say something along the lines of: 'And over on the left we can see Kate Moss arriving with Janette Krankie. Kate's not wearing her signature pieces today, preferring to dress down in a pair of British Home Store slacks for that casual look, Janette's also out of her civvies today in a pair of slightly too small snow wash denims circa 2003, but she is of course wearing her trademark smirk - it's great to see them here today'. Whenever we were having tea (actually hot chocolate, as I said earlier) in the evening I always played this game, and what an odd bunch of people were at the retreat. Tennis Player Greg Rusedski; Director Steven Spielberg; The Italian Bepe DeMarco bloke from back in the day in Eastenders; Another Tennis Player Leighton Hewett (must have heard about it from Greg); Captain Birdseye; Frank Butcher; Naboo from The Mighty Boosh; Tom Selleck; radio jock Pat Sharpe. There were more but I don't have my notebook with me. Will add to the list later.
So there you are, that was the retreat. Kind of. I feel great. Am just in the midst of transferring the MASSIVE video file of the Bays video that I edited whilst out here - it's about 3Gb and therefore is going to take about 20 hours to transfer, but once it's done then (fingers crossed) it's JUST the book I have to worry about. Am gutted at missing my sister's wedding on the 28th (same day as my birthday this year), but I couldn't get a return flight this way round for less than 950 quid...which is just a tad too much really. I think she understands. I'm going to this place tomorrow

http://www.siboyabungalows.com/

for a few weeks so should hopefully get a serious amount of writing in - there being nothing else to do. Love to you if I know you (I seem to have lots of people reading this according to the stats.) and love to you if I don't know you. As the unhelpful bear once said to me (I think it was him anyway...) ‘if you want to know what to do with your life, make a list of stuff you want to do, and if you haven't done it DO IT! And when you’ve done it just cross it off the fucking list’. It was something like that anyway, but the point is pretty simple and summed up by Mr Miyagi in Karate Kid much more succinctly: ‘There is no try, only do’.

Posted by jjmaurage 05:11 Archived in Thailand Comments (2)

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