It was a cold, grey, windy winter morning in London and I was driving to work feeling even more miserable than usual. The worst bit of the trip was the crossing of Cromwell Road. I had a glance at the inbound traffic and once more I asked myself : how do they do it? All these people, they know they are going to get into this horrible traffic jam to go to work and they just do it, most of them five days a week and I can't even go from Fulham to Notting Hill Gate without getting upset.
I should have been happy, at least content, that I had an office job, a little flat in a very good area, no mortgage, and I was only 37. What was it that I missed so much? As I approached the posh Mews leading to my office, the wind had turned into gales, things were flying all over the place, and I remember thinking: stop bullshitting yourself, mate! You know what's wrong: the air, the climate, the hectic pace which is typical of all big cities and least but not last, the fact that you are not having any sex, let alone a relationship with a woman.
How had that happened? It was never a problem when I was young! Okay I lost my looks, but I'm not that ugly and some of the women I know aren't that young and pretty either, so what is it then? I guess one reason was that I could not go through the (in my opinion) enormous amount of crap which seemed to be required to have sex with a female. I found it boring, humiliating and absurd. I needed a break, a holiday, maybe a complete change, and yet I did not feel like just quitting my job and I had no more holidays left.
It was while entering the office that I realized my boss did not know that only a few days earlier he'd asked me about some other guy's holidays. All I had to do was to tell him I was due 2 weeks, hei! That's dishonest man! Not my style at all, well, I'll make an exception, I am desperate…
"Two weeks?!? And when do you want to take them?"
"As soon as possible"
I was supposed to go to Thailand two years earlier when I had a couple of months in between jobs, but as I'd never been there before and had no connections, I hesitated and was diverted to the USA by an ex-girlfriend of mine. This time I promptly called a mate who worked in a travel agency, told him what I wanted and he suggested Lamai, on the island of Samui. Lamai-Samui, sounds good, all right then, go ahead and book me a ticket.
It was the end of January, 1998, when I flew to the LOS for the first time. At the airport two minute girls in uniform shouted to me: Welcome to Thailand! And walked away giggling, they were not pretty, so why did I get the feeling I was already hooked up?
It took me about ten minutes to realize how fantastically cheap Thailand was. Little did I know that the economy in that part of the world had just collapsed and £1 = 80 baht! After years spent trying to make and save money, I suddenly decided that that was the time and place to stop worrying and start spending. So while waiting for the BKK – Samui flight I booked myself an octagonal bungalow at the Pavilion Resort. I think it was about £30 per night, outrageously cheap!
Love at first sight, it never happened to me with a woman, but it did with a place. Samui: ideal temperature, fresh air, coconuts all the way down to the beach, the white sand, the hills (like in my home town), the warm water of the ocean. The roads were primitive, there was no traffic in Lamai, just a few beat-up pickups and a lot of small motorbikes, Honda Dream 100 cc. The Thais did not look or seem strange to me, just Thai.
I'm Italian myself. I think we have more scooters in Italy than anywhere else in Europe. I got my first Vespa 50 cc when I was 14; the lyrics of a song of an Italian singer (an old-timer like me) goes like this, "What good is having a car if I don't have my scooter anymore" (translated by me). Now, what happened in Samui is that I got my scooter back and all of a sudden I was young again, YOUNG! Every time I took a look around me, apart from the backpacker contingent, most male single farangs interested in local women were older and uglier than me, so I was a handsome man again. HANDSOME! Losing my head in the magic but unreal and primitive therefore highly dangerous island? Unlikely, given that I was lost by the age of 18, spent about a year in Ibiza in the 80s and many other crazy places; by then I was a survivor. The warm weather and regular swimming would almost cure the health issues I had at the time, I knew that for sure. For once I had the feeling I had done the right thing (coming to the island).
At the time Samui was the recipient of the ugliest hookers of Thailand, the complete opposite of the kind of women Thai males like. I'm not Thai and for some reason at the time I quite liked even the ugly ones. I liked the dark ones a lot, wearing cheap plastic sandals, jeans and t-shirts 70s style. My favorites, they were well and truly funky and they didn't even know. Especially during my Camden years (Camden Town is an area of London, for those of you who are not familiar with the big "bad" city) the coolest people I knew were funky types. Watching them funky Isaan hookers dance to this music that was totally alien but fascinating to them was so much fun. I loved it!
I know it's hard to believe, but during those 2 weeks I only went with one Thai lady. I was so taken with the breathtaking beauty of nature I spent most of my time on the beach tiring myself, swimming and exploring the island, that's true, but it's not the real reason why I went with only one woman. As I mentioned earlier, for the first time in my life I was starving for sex. The problem was that I was still vain and stupid, that's why, I had not a moral issue. I was just too vain to accept the idea of paying for sex, no matter how incredibly cheap it was. Fortunately it did not take me long to understand that and the British pound did not collapse until 2008 so I had plenty of time to enjoy this wonderful opportunity of getting to spend quite a few nights and days in the company of mainly nice cheap hookers during the following years, but that's another story.
The island was then also known as little Frankfurt, but there were also a lot of Brits and central Europeans, Australians, a few South Africans. The Italians were yet to arrive in large numbers, and there were just a few of us then.
By the end of the two weeks I was feeling much better and I had a plan for the future which I'll be happy to tell you, my kind readers, about, if Mr. Stickman will be good enough to publish this first.