Many, many moons ago when the Earth was young, when Pa still had an old black and white telly that he always had on loud because he was going deaf, when it was still safe to play on t’streets and eat chips covered in the vinegar from the giant glass pickled onion jar and served in old newspaper, our old mate Rob announced he was going to Thailand. This he did many times after and sometimes for so long we’d all imagine that he’d been eaten by cannibals or worse, decided to become an Australian citizen.
But no such horror had occurred and when he eventually surfaced he regaled us with tales of a beautiful land populated by exotic fair maidens and cheap beer. “You must go, you must go!” he shouted with the zeal of one those telly bible thumpers. I didn’t realize it then but what I saw in his eyes was something that was to become very familiar to me; he had full-blown TBF – Thai Beaver Fever and was now beyond any clinical help. Anyroad, Pa passed away and left me and my older brother a small cash sum to use wisely, save or invest, treat ourselves to some new underpants or summat equally sensible. Bugger that, we agreed, and so we bought some tickets for a Xmas holiday in Thailand. This was in 2001 and only now I can see that these were still the good times to go to what was to be called, with some affection, Lalaland. Over the years I travelled all over LLL with the odd tippy toe into Laos and Burma. The sights, smells, landscapes, the debilitating diarrhea, the people good and bad, ah the memories…but back to the people…
I can’t really remember how I found this site and it probably wasn’t from a Kiwi as I’d never met one who spoke loud enough for me to hear what he was saying to me. The earlier years of the site contained what I consider to be the halcyon days of some very fine writing in many and varied styles by some of the then regular contributors. Some of these fine reprobates I was to meet a wee bit further down the line, Thai Ties, that Diet Pepsi swilling jessie – BKKSteve, Phet, Fanta, Marc Holt, Lookpapa and others. All had a tale to tell on the common shared thread that was Lalaland, a type of addiction I suppose. Bruising slanging matches and belly-aching laughter was the order on some days, introspective and surreal on others and most of all a common bond of belonging to something, however fleeting, and what is it with Thai ladies and their wabbits?
Apart from the considerable output served by the high priests of regular contributors, what I think this site encouraged the most was to let other people that wanted to tell their tale but were not confident enough to just have a go. Every journey starting with the first step some say. When it was pointed out to me that Stick was throwing in the towel, I flipped through the archive section and smiled at the subs from my favourite years, ah, quite unique…oh yeah, I remember that one…and that place…a bit like walking down the corridors of my old school and hearing the echoes of a time past.
“Why pay to go to the zoo when you can come to Thailand and it’s free!” said a German friend who’d lived in Bangkok for 15 years. Indeed, sir, indeed.
So, what’s left to say apart from ‘Check bin kap’.
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