For a young man alone in a
foreign country, loneliness will often lead to the comfort of romance.
There are three main characters in this story.
is a young engineer, aged in his twenties and lives in Perth, Western Australia.
The story begins when, as a very
apprehensive traveller, he heads off for a seven day trip to Thailand, this
being the prize from a million to one chance win in a simple newspaper quiz.
This first visit is enough to wet
his taste for adventure. During a second visit a year later he meets a young
lady in Bangkok. A romance develops between them as she guides him through the
wonders of her city. Later this leads to further travel to the outlying
country-side with her.
A few years later in the Southern
Thai city of Hat Yai he becomes romantically attached to another young lady with
lives in Bangkok, she is in her late twenties and works as a receptionist in a
medical clinic. She is a very headstrong girl, likes to make her own mind up and
is an initiative leader. This is all very helpful to Jim on his first visits to
this country. Songlee is also a very dedicated Buddhist, and welcomes Jim into
this side of her life as well.
in the southern Thai city of Hat Yai. She is also in her late twenties and works
as an accountant with a company that handles mostly electrical appliances.
She still lives at home with her
rather domineering parents, so although she and Jim become very close over the
next couple of years, most of their time together is restricted to restaurants
and hotel rooms.
In Store Price: $AU24.00
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Format: A5 Paperback
Number of pages:
Publisher: Poseidon Books
Date Published: 2005
places mentioned do exist.
names of main characters are made up.
dates mentioned are irrelevant, some events may have happened. Most are only
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 –
its 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. Shes 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
wed 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.
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 Bangkoks 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 stones 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.