Twenty year old travelers’ coming to Bangkok in 2015 can’t imagine a time before guidebooks, when there were no tourist hotels, beach resorts and not one local speaking English. There was no internet, no smart phones, one long distance call box at the main post office on Charoen Krung Road, a single lonely American clerk in the American Express Office, and telex for emergencies. From the 1920’s well into the 1960’s there were few English voices to be heard in Bangkok.

The only foreigners in town were found at the bar of the Oriental Hotel on the banks of the dirt red Chaophraya River, pool side at the grotty Malaysia Hotel on Rama IV Road where war corespondents and political spies hung out during the Vietnam War, or the deeply depressing Mississippi Queen bar on Patpong Road where disabled veterans retold stories about the time “they’d fallen out of a helicopter”. There were no newspapers or western television by satellite. If you’d made it to Thailand, you were the type of person who’d worked hard at escaping to the fringes of the civilized world.

Into this void was born the now defunct Bangkok World newspaper, precursor to the modern Bangkok Post, once South East Asia’s only English language newspaper. In the mid 1960’s a young columnist named Bernard Trink arrived in Bangkok and took up the task of chronicling the night life that grew like a cancer out of the train wreck of Vietnam and with it the deluge of war crazed soldiers and dissolute bureaucrats. The sex scene in Vietnam, where flesh was traded for a day away from poverty, was transported to Thailand with the NGO’s and political wonks.

For travelers like myself Bernard Trink was a prince and a fountain of information. In his columns he disparaged the perversions he saw among those of the ‘farang’ community. He took it upon himself to expose the seedier side of foreigners, which had given rise to child prostitution. Trink championed women’s rights when he witnessed the degradation of poor country women forced into prostitution through poverty or force. Trink made famous the now infamous expression…”TIT”…..’This is Thailand’. A phrase oft used when no rationale explanation can be found for what goes on here in the Land of Smiles.

Bernard Trink was like a friend to isolated travelers of the time. His voice was distinct and many times the only voice in written English that could be found. Often western magazines could only be found after being left behind by airline crews on layover. Bernard Trink and his Nite Owl column was the definitive ‘Guide to Bangkok’ a decade before guide books would be invented.

End of Part One

life could be a lot worse

life could be a lot worse

Sex tourism to Thailand was once limited to a few seedy bars for war crazed soldiers on R&R from Vietnam, and foreign service workers cheating on their wives. In the mid 1970’s there were never more than a thousand foreigners in Thailand at any one time. Some of the American soldiers would never return ‘to the world’…due to battle fatigue, and they stayed on in Thailand under a government policy of compassion. The foreign service workers took antibiotic resistant strains of gonorrhea back to their wives upon returning home to Denmark and France. Mass tourism hadn’t been invented yet. Thailand was still a secret destination, hidden away from rest of the world.

You would never imagine then how three sordid bars on Patpong Road in downtown Bangkok and a dirt road naval base with two grass shack beer bars in Pattaya run by disabled veterans, housing six to ten splay-foot girls from the jungle, could have morphed into the industrial sized weeping anal fistula that sex tourism in Thailand has become today. If truth be told, it’s getting worse every year.

Pattaya has become a perverted Disneyland where Russian mothers stroll the sidewalks with babies in the pram while Dad is guzzling beer and stuffing rubles down a strippers bikini in an open titty bar, naked girls grinding in full view of the kiddies, showing off their wares to passersby…bizarro-world. The tourists in Pattaya obviously have very different moral standards than some of the rest of us where children are concerned. There are direct flights into Pattaya for sex tourists from Siberia, Shanghai, Tokyo, Helsinki and Seoul. There is no longer any pretense of tourists arriving for anything other than sex tourism.

I have watched as this scene unfolds for decades, with incredulity, as if in a satanic cinema where ‘sex-pats’ arrive in waves like Vikings to Britain, to rape, pillage and plunder. Of course the answer is overarching moral corruption from all sides and now being hyper-exacerbated by a grey wave of simultaneously retiring civil servants with monthly union pensions in pounds and dollars fueling the release of the long frustrated sex drive of hundreds of thousands of aging perverts from western democracies onto the exotic shores of Thailand. Hidden among this horny viagra fueled stampede are thousands of pedophiles who purposefully hunt for children, and hide more successfully than ever behind the curtain of fellow ‘sex-pats’.

Demographics and the western phenomena of a’ Baby Boomer’ generation population retiring simultaneously in huge numbers is behind the tsunami of the 50+ age group of grey, bald and sloppy fat ex school teachers, civil service workers, city workers, plumbers and electricians etc., that have hit the wall in Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Scandinavia and ‘The West’. Ridiculous as they look, as they waddle oblivious down the aisles of Big C and Tesco with a ‘rice paddy princess’ half their age, they pretend to be immune to criticism, despite the chuckles and outright ridicule from local Thai’s.

Lest we forget, ‘Baby Boomers’ are also known as ‘The Entitlement Generation’. And so, they come in hordes to Thailand to play-act out a twisted-pervert voodoo Lolita fantasy of what they never achieved at home…faux-domesticity with a younger girl who never talks back, who likely speaks no more than twenty words of English. She looks downcast and sheepish under the gaze of the Thai people because she’s an indigenous tribal person.

She’s very uncomfortable in her first pair of closed toed shoes, a lifetime spent barefoot in the muddy terraced rice patties surrounding her hamlet…and after moving from a medieval jungle village when the crop failed, to the pathetic anonymous life of a prostitute in Mega Metropolis of Bangkok, where anything goes, because her family was starving.

The one life saving thing she can do for her brothers and sisters is have sex with an aging western Lothario in order to keep her family alive on the pittance she receives for her services. The grey wave has become an industry in itself……end of Part Four

a work in progress

a work in progress

Ask any ex-pat professional and they’ve got a story about the ex co-worker who had a sudden uncharacteristic thermonuclear meltdown while on a foreign posting, and either left in an unannounced mysterious huff or had to be physically extracted due to ‘a situation’. There’s no telling who might go ballistic over some trivial event while in Shanghai, Bangkok or Riyadh. It’s as predictable as vulcanism. The clashing of civilizations is too great for certain personalities. In the traveling world, business or otherwise, is well described as ‘culture shock’.

Relocating to a foreign country, where language, extremes in weather, officialdom, expectations, going to the bathroom, the cuisine, walking down the street, banking, post offices, shopping, and social interaction are often the opposite of normal in ones home country can either be stressful…or entertaining, depending on personality. In some cases, you’ll either love…or hate your new home, and either might have consequences….for better or worse. You can usually tell who’s heading for a short stay by how much that person bitches and kvetches about local conditions. Some people adapt and thrive, others…not so much.

This is part of the reason there is always a significant ‘turnover’ in satellite offices. Human resource officers go to great lengths to attract and vet the right people for these postings, but there’s no way of telling how an individual will adapt to the local conditions. It isn’t always possible to attract the right skill set from the finite pool of experienced ex pats willing to relocate, in spite of offering lucrative compensation packages, signing bonuses, relocation allowances and RSU’s in a low tax country.

In spite of all that vetting, despite the beneficial financial offerings, newbie hirelings still bail in surprising numbers after short periods of time. It comes down to the effects of #culturetainment….you either like a challenge…or you don’t. In the case of foreign government workers and NGO assignments, these people are often fit into a compound type environment where they live entirely separate lives from the local population. To my observation this often leads to a neocolonialist attitude where the ex pats become entrenched in a game of ‘us and them’. In that case I have to ask, “Why leave home at all if you’re going to live in a sterilized bubble?”

#Culturetainment, as I call it, is to develop the right frame of mind to enjoy your new home, and find the good, rather than the bad, in the culture you have decided to co-exist with . The world as we know has gone western, or haven’t you noticed? No one traveling on business lives in a grass hut surrounded by half naked servants. The economic miracle of the past forty years has brought millions of people, in countries like Thailand where I reside, into the modern age.

Without exception it is possible to live a very satisfactory lifestyle here in the ‘third world’, often with more mod-cons than we have in the west. Thailand for example has embraced technology and provides internet services far in advance of those offered in Canada, my home country, at far lower price points. There are more fast food franchises than ever before. I’ll fess up and freely admit to making the KFC soft ice cream cone part of  every day.

Yes, the street life scene can seem a little weird at times. Society isn’t as stratified here as in a western city. You’ll get everything, across the spectrum, on any city sidewalk. There always seems to be a million people around you, and you have to get used to the idea that personal space rules are not in effect. Sensory stimulation is on overload, it’s never quiet, there’s always so much going on. Asians use loud music to block out the traffic noise. Trish and I appreciate the excitement, versus the sedate predictability of a western city.

I can guarantee you’ll feel alive in an environment like this, and when you’ve had enough, you can always go back to your modern little high rise apartment and stream Netflix. But…to go ‘ballistic’ because the ‘foods too spicy’ or some other excuse, don’t be absurd. Enjoy the free #culturetainment’ and remember, you can sleep when your dead.

sleep when you're dead

sleep when you’re dead

When I first started traveling there were only seats in travel agents offices, telex machines, long distance trunk call boxes located in a cities largest central post offices, no tourist hotels, guest houses or hostels to speak of, and no guide books. In the decades since there has been the introduction of an avalanche of disruptor technologies like cellular smart phones, email, the internet, Face Book, Instagram and GPS location, and lets not forget the backpacker guide book industry that lists every aspect of what another set of travelers has seen a thousand times before you, etc etc etc. When none of these things existed, travel was difficult, arduous, painful, scary, exciting as hell, dangerous. The world has become a much easier place to travel.

Since all of the things I just listed are taken for granted we seldom talk of their existence, unless you’re unlucky enough to be with a old school traveler like myself. I make traveling historically sound like I rode around on the back of a dinosaur. But, I try to adapt, even though I sometimes catch myself grousing over the numbers of tourists and the negative effects I see are the result of mass tourism on once pristine gems.

There are things I love about the latest disruptor technologies and systems that have evolved to make the travel life so much less hassle than it used to be. A few of these ‘agents of change’ have been very useful to me recently. I’ll focus on Grab Car, Grab Taxi, Uber and Air B&B. Let me start with the fantastic new car transport services that were in the past a horror for travelers to use. Everyone, of a certain age, has horror stories about how a local taxi driver ripped them off somehow. They were taken on long winding freeway drives, past seafood restaurants, tailor shops, jewellery stores…or just sat in angst and horror as the meter ran up while the cabbies drove around in circles for a hour or more. This was a particular problem for us and our friends in Bangkok, where the cab drivers are notorious for gouging everyone, but especially the tourist.

Grab Car, the latest entrant into the transportation space is eating the cabbies lunch, and deservedly so. With a free download of their app, you can call a car to your location, usually have it arrive within minutes, pay a pre-set price for a predetermined distance, and be driven by a driver who has no financial motivation to drive you around in circles as there is no meter. The cars are driven by local persons who use the service to earn extra money.

In Bangkok it has become fashionable for young people to drive the family cars and collect passengers. The cars are new, they use GPS to determine the shortest distance, and practice their English with a smile. I haven’t had a bad experience to date. Nor has anyone we know who are piling into this service to avoid the dreaded Bangkok Cabbie. And just so you know, only fools and drunks use the Tuk Tuk. You’re just asking for trouble if you do.

Grab Car is different from Grab Taxi in that they are private cars as opposed to Grab Taxi who are still Taxi Drivers linked into a reservation system. Grab Taxi is still a taxi service and there is a financial incentive not to avoid the worst traffic areas, so be forewarned. Uber works in a similar fashion except there is no cash exchanged and everything is paid by Visa in advance. But…there is still a KM charge. So far Grab Car has worked the best for me.

Renting a condo in Bangkok used to be a horror show. It’s got easier than the bottleneck that existed between property managers and real estate agents who controlled the exchange between owners and renters. At first renters were obliged to use a word of mouth system of small ads in travel offices and on the outer doors of favorite cafe’s. When the internet arrived and large numbers of travelers arrived wanting to stay for the entire duration of the validity of their visa, property managers and other professional sharks and hucksters saw an opportunity and seized it. Agents and property managers used internet sites and began to control large numbers of rental offerings and used this power to increase rents in popular areas and introduce hefty ‘security deposits’.

How the ‘security deposit scam’ begins is when the agent/property manager demands a ‘first month, last month..and security deposit’ to move into a rental property. The longer the lease period the agent can entice you to sign up for determines the amount of commission they take home. So be wary of agents who’ll tell you that there is a ‘set period of time’…ie: six months, one year ( now common) or two years. It’s the latter demand they use when they think you’re a complete idiot ready to be carved up.

My personal experience and the anecdotal evidence I hear from friends and fellow travelers is that the agents and property managers have been making it impossible to return your ‘security deposit’, instead they have been pocketing the amount, after telling you to wait for the last day before your departure, that something has gone wrong with your transaction and the deposit is being held back. The excuses I’ve heard and that other have told me about are legion. Here’s a few…”The owner went to China and took the money”….”The owner had a family emergency and has gone back to their village”….”We found ants behind your cabinets and you must have brought them in with your books”. Or…as my friend Hiroku has told me after going back to the property manager every month, “It’s coming”….. but it never does.

This is why I now only use Air B&B to rent my condo in Bangkok today. I am able to meet the owner. The condo is ideally located in a new building purpose built for this type of investment. I am able to inspect the condo if I like before occupying. The transaction is paid through Air B&B , there is no money in someone elses hands for me to have to chase down if something goes wrong. And as it is a VISA payment they will act as the final insurer of services rendered and return my money in the event of any scam. I am finding the Air B&B offering is proving to be a fantastic ‘disruptor agent’ to the traditional condo rental market. I do not have to pay three months rent up front…..nothing up front in most cases…unless specified.

I can rent the Air B& accommodation for days or months, whatever I choose to work out with the owner, but pay the same, without the ‘last month and security deposit BS. My Air B&B host will have provided me with a full suite of conveniences, much like a hotel service. I enter a condo full of all the towels, sheets, pillows, dishes, glasses, TV cable, wireless internet connection, …unlike in the old condo rental days, where landlords provided nothing but bare walls.

A great thing about #Air B&B for me is that I’m free to come and go as I please. I can leave for a trip to the southern islands or northern mountains and leave my contract by paying for the time used, and then come back and rent all over again without having to pay for time I’m not in the condo as you would have had to do under the old scheme. I’m finding that #Air B&B offerings are straight up competitive with traditional rentals, dollar for dollar, on a monthly/daily basis. And this is why I think that #Air B&B will eat the traditional rental agents lunch and throw them on the trash heap of history before long.

I believe that just as guide books and the internet replaced the travel agent and tour guide, and smart phones replaced the long distance call box and telex machine that these new entrants into the travel market, like Air B&B and Grab Car will replace the outmoded rental agents and taxi system, and none too soon in my humble opinion. The old guard deserve to have their lunch eaten by companies and technologies offering better, more efficient and honest service to the traveling public.

the people have spoken

the people have spoken

Recently my wife Trisha and I reached an age and time where we could fully retire, and we had a choice to make. We could hunker down in our comfortable home in Vancouver Canada, spending the last of our working years commuting, playing golf on rainy weekends, upgrading our house and furnishings, leasing a new Cadillac to impress the neighbors, and occasionally cruising with people older than ourselves. Life in North America wasn’t ‘doing it’ for us anymore. We decided to swing for the fences and try to land a dream job in some exotic place.

We’ve done the backpacking thing and budget travel has become less fun than it used to be while we were younger. Our stamina and willingness to be less comfortable is wearing thin with age. We like our creature comforts and the society a better quality of accommodation affords.

We have been ‘living away’ much of the time over the past ten years. We didn’t feel guilty about it, our only son was off at University and didn’t need us around. ‘Plan A’ as we call it, describes a life of traveling for six months and then returning home to work on short term contract. Was it possible to make our dream a permanent reality? Plan A works great, but not working at all and living on the fringes of a far flung community as a tourist is neither stimulating or interesting to us…been there done that.

I should premise this post by saying that we spent decades raising a family, becoming financially secure, investing for income and upgrading our academic qualifications and skill sets. We were ‘done’…and money wasn’t the driving force behind every decision. The question became, “What do we do next to accomplish our goal?” We wanted to live an exciting and interesting life before we were forced by old age or ill health to stay home.

Our travel credentials are extensive, in our personal and professional lives we’ve traveled to every destination that suited us. By that I mean countries where it is safe for people like ourselves and offer the ‘mod-cons’ we feel we need to stay healthy. In spite of our interest in European culture, we decided that visiting museums and galleries couldn’t form the basis of our everyday lives, and the overall weather isn’t to our liking. Honestly, we find the cost of every day life in Europe excessively expensive. I guess growing up frugal makes you ask if your getting value for your money. Europe wasn’t answering all the questions. Europe is boring.

End of Part One

 a day in the life

a day in the life

I was talking with my buddy ‘Aow’ in a clothing market up the street from my Bangkok condo. He sells jeans and t-shirts from a stall alongside hundreds of other vendors. Aow and his wife ‘Kid’ have been friends and neighbors for twenty years, where we have lived, on and off, in this tiny Thai suburb of Bangkok. These are closely knit communities, where families of a clan or particular Baan, Tambon or village, have lived together, and intermarried, even fought bloody battles together for various political causes, over generations. Bangkok is made up of thousands of these invisible villages. Outsiders are not accepted out of hand. Foreigners stick out like a sore thumb.

We helped Aow and Kid arrange their first family vacation, by booking their flights and hotel on-line, with my wife’s laptop, while sitting in a modern KFC franchise, to a resort in Thailand’s southern island of Phuket. They’d heard so much about tourism and wanted to see what all the fuss was about. They’d never flown on an aircraft before, their three kids were thrilled. To afford a vacation meant success, a step into the modern era, it was a proud moment, and made Aow and Kid local celebrities. We were ‘acceptable farang’.

Because there is little direct contact between foreigners and average Thai people, they look at us through the lens of a narrow stereotype based on sensational stories passed through by the media. ‘Farang’ ( foreigners) are known to do tasteless, strange and often unseemly things according to the media. Thai people in these outlaying area’s, outside Bangkok, treat foreigners with reservation, temerity, and suspicion.

Contact between Thai and Foreigner is limited to persons working in the tourism industry. Most Thai happily will spend a lifetime without meeting an outsider and never learn more than a few words of English.

What is a ‘farang’? Why is the word used as a derogatory pejorative these days? The colloquialism is the distillation of a Thai accent, describing the original white travelers from France, who were the first foreigners to present themselves to the court of the King. ‘Francia’, pronounced as ‘Falangset’…(Falancia) and shortened by slang to ‘Farang’.

The lingua franca was applied to describe every foreigner who came in later years, whether British, Dutch or Portuguese. All foreigners are now collectively known as ‘farang’. In recent years it is a term spit out by the Thai people rather than spoken. Thailand was never colonized by foreign powers and the Thai have always looked down their noses at those who were over run.

What is the difference between ‘acceptable farang’ and ‘falang spit spit spit’? Ask any Thai and they will tell you. When Aow and I had become close enough to have an informal honest, personal conversation he asked me, timidly…if I had ever been to ‘Patpong Road’, the notorious red light district.

I replied honestly, “Yes, but not for over forty years”. I told him that when I had first come to Bangkok as a young man on business in the early 1970’s there were only two bars on Patpong Rd, in use by American soldiers, deep cover spooks and diplomatic workers, on R&R from the Vietnam War. The now notoriously mob controlled Pattaya Beach was a dusty village beside a minor naval base for shallow-draft American ships patrolling for communists and smugglers along the coastline of Cambodia. I told him how I had ‘discovered’ a pristine Phuket before a single hotel had been built.

Aow was obviously relieved, that the trust he’d placed in his judgement to accept me as a friend and sponsor into his community wasn’t misplaced. I told him that I would never take my wife or family any where near a place like that. “Yes” he said. “That’s what I think”.

Aow nodded in agreement. “We don’t go there”, he spoke of the red light tourist areas that had sprung up after battle crazed soldiers refused to leave ‘exotic’ South East Asia for the bleak perilous streets of Detroit and Chicago. I understood Aow’s comment to be a general statement, true of all Thai people he knew. Nice Thai people just don’t visit the human toilets that grew out of infamy and corruption to shocking notoriety.

Today, the area of downtown Bangkok, between Soi Nana and Asok, which represent the worst of the human spirit, isn’t overtly recognized by any decent Thai. They block it out and don’t recognize the existence of such places. Thai people who reside for work or business in towns like Pattaya and Phuket will not admit to living there. The mere mention of these places is an embarrassment to polite Thai people.

But, whether by road or transit through these bleak tourist ghetto’s you’ll see sidewalks crowded with ‘farang…spit spit spit’, stumbling out of go go bars with desperate prostitutes, vomiting in the neon lit gutters, passed out in the darkened alleys, biker gang members from global crime groups, wearing full regalia, marking territory. You’ll see the most disreputable scum in the world, Caucasian, Arab, Asian, all within spitting distance, as if tiny cracks in the gates of hell had opened and the devil was showing his bum to the world.

Yesterday, in the Central Park of Bangkok’s version of Manhattan…Lumpini Park, my wife and I were listening to the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra playing The William Tell Overture in the band shell as part of an annual concert season. We were surrounded by Thai families, living the modern moral life most Thai enjoy.

During a break we were approached by a group of timid students, asking our permission for a video interview, as part of a project for the business course they were taking. We agreed of course.”We so happy you can speak to us”, one of the youngsters said. “We’ve been walking for an hour and couldn’t find a single foreigner willing to talk to us”.

Our interview was extensive. The kids were very happy to finally speak to foreigners who could teach them honestly about world affairs. They had stereotyped outsiders into a narrow range as we had expected, and they were delighted to turn the subject away from a focus on ‘Thailand’s Developing Nation Status’ and dependence on tourism.

Our perspective on Thailand had changed over forty years based on observation of the  visionary development that has taken place over the years we had been ‘in-country’ . This was the Thailand they could be proud of. As if on cue, the six o’clock chime from Lumpini’s famous clock tower rang out and from speakers set throughout the park the national anthem rang out. Every one stood up, the joggers stopped running..in silent respect for the nation.

The kids were knowledgeable about how many kinds of Eskimo’s there were in Canada and how Thailand also hosted many indigenous peoples. Of course, our polite conversation didn’t enter the ugly territory of the vice and corruption existing a mile away.

“We don’t go there”, the Thai will say of the tired prospects of the tourist who comes for vice. There are ‘Falang spit spit spit’…and ‘Farang’ who are part of Thailand’s accepting culture. The old Thailand is obviously behind them, the kids were on track to a better future…they are hungry for knowledge and communication with the outside world. The biggest problem said one ‘was a lack of English teachers outside Bangkok’.

I left the children with a word of advice, much the same as any parent would anywhere in the world. “Be careful who you talk to”. But… I suspected these kids were well aware of the pitfalls of dealing with certain ‘Farang’…as they were media savvy and modern, and had read all about the sordid behavior of some visitors. The fact that my wife and I are mature as well as being a couple was a signal they could feel comfortable approaching us.

The Thai are too polite to mention such things in conversation…but it isn’t if anyone isn’t aware of the sex tourist industry as being problematic and distasteful, let alone out of place in the modern age of this rapidly evolving Asian Tiger nation… within the vision these children see as the inheritance we will leave behind.

 'El Rey'

‘El Rey’

I just arrived back in Thailand and the season is already changing. I know what’s ahead when the Songkran Monsoon begins. I cringe at the thought of months of prickly heat powder and wet sheets soaked in copious perspiration at night.  Thai people celebrate the beginning of the rice planting season, but I know they’ll be as miserable as I over the coming months. Rainy season is also mosquito season…arrgghh!.

“It’s happening too fast”, I think. I’m writing with a towel on the desk, otherwise beading armpit sweat runs down and would likely flood my keyboard. I don’t remember Thailand being this hot so early in the year, but people tend to suppress bad memories instead of reminding themselves that it’s the same every year. I don’t look what temperature it is… it’s really freaking hot. A passing storm poured down overnight and cleared the air but the humidity is outrageous….like steam rising from a boiling kettle.

I have just received a permanent resident visa, good until I’m not welcome in the kingdom anymore. This is the fortieth anniversary of my first visit to Thailand and I’ve never been sure of my status….aside from being officially ‘farang’. Did I do the right thing? Will I be able to wear a shirt with sleeves and long pants anytime over the next eight months?

I passed a fellow on the BTS train platform this morning looking as if he’d showered in his suit. No one ever really acclimates to this heat…even the most demure of Thai’s sweat like dogs when they think you’re not looking.

“Take your jacket off fool”, I wanted to suggest, knowing by his actions that he was a newbie to the tropics and he’d either learn to adapt or die. My sweat glands will continue to gush like an artesian well for hours because I run on a treadmill every morning in an air conditioned fitness room overlooking a turquoise swimming pool I find too cold to use.

So many once famous people are dying on the front pages. I run as if I’m running away from a rampant pandemic affecting people my age. The society page obituary is now a daily occurrence, a rolling commentary of who used to be famous and influential. The media is discreet and respectful, saying these passing stars have died from ‘complications’. That diagnosis worries me…I’ve lived a very complicated life….am I next?

Personally I’ve never known anyone who’s died…aside from my parents whom I didn’t really know. They died within months of each other and it makes me glad that I married  a young woman who’s nervous energy keeps me young. Maybe it’s a good thing I’ve never made many casual friends. It’s saved me from attending any funerals. I’m OK with that. So what do I do? I move back to Thailand. Does that make any sense? I might have died of boredom if I’d stayed in Canada.

At 61 I had a choice to make, continue living the vagabond lifestyle of international travel and bird flipping irreverence or…lease a yellow Cadillac and take up golf…waiting for grandchildren to appear. My choice was the former, it could be the death of me, but I doubt it. I feel more alive here than anywhere I know. Thailand is a second home. Let’s see where this takes us…shall we. I have lot’s more to complain about. Thailand is my last resort.