Want to feel energised, more productive and ready to take on the world?
Take a holiday.
My advice: Go to Thailand.
I am freshly returned from a 2 week hiatus spent lolloping on beaches, soaking in the blistering heat of a subtropical summer at the peak of its powers.
Some random observations:
Jesus Christ, it’s hot
Thailand in April is hot with a capital HOT.
I should have remembered this from living there.
Given zero chance to acclimatise by London’s damp fart of a spring, I can tell you that 38 degree heat is a recipe for an extremely sweaty afternoon.
On the hottest day I had to stop my routine of reading by the pool because I couldn’t control the amount of sweat that was dripping in to my eyes.
I’m pretty sure you’d find more salt on my sun lounger than in the entire Gulf of Thailand by the time I’d dragged my scorched carcass back to the pool.
Hot, hot, hot.
I miss it already.
Westerners and their Thai brides
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a guy moving to Thailand, retiring, meeting the cliche ‘Thai bride’, and starting a new chapter in his life.
I can see how and why it happens.
What I find distasteful is that for so many Westerners, this type of romance isn’t built on reality.
It’s a power trip.
Many times I would catch sight of a Brit treating his Thai wife or girlfriend as if she were sub-species. Just because you can exert that control and get away with it, doesn’t mean you should.
Thankfully there’s a younger generation of expats in Thailand who aren’t committed to fantasies of domestic totalitarianism straight from the 1930s.
But for the crustaceans who are… good luck if you ever run out of money.
Mental breaks from work
It’s amazing how the mind slows down when you disconnect physically from your work space.
I don’t mean to take a walk, or go to the pub. But to eject yourself completely from anywhere that resembles work or its associated habits.
By spending entire days away from the computer, you get a fresh perspective.
I often find that it takes this distance to allow myself to drop projects that are going nowhere, or to align my focus on those which actually mean something to me.
Reading fiction instead of non-fiction helps.
Escapism is the best distraction.
Japanese tourists and cameras
I swear to God, what is up with Japanese tourists and their infatuation with taking pictures?
In Hua Hin, one couple would sit in silence for breakfast, occasionally taking bites but mostly interested in snapping each other.
From every angle.
In eerie still silence.
Who needs to talk, or take in the stunning views, when you can just sit there vacantly taking pictures to live through when the experience has already gone?
I really don’t get it.
One of the group even stopped to watch me make a cup of coffee on my balcony, presumably because I was only wearing my boxers.
Normally if I caught this, I’d challenge them, “Why don’t you take a picture? It’ll last longer.”
Pretty fucking irrelevant if they already are.
Songkran public target number one
You’ve got to admire how the Thais celebrate their New Year (Songkran).
Bangkok turns in to a gigantic water fight with water guns, buckets and even fire hoses.
In possibly my favourite moment of the entire holiday, my girlfriend and I were wandering towards Emporium when a nervous, smiling Thai officer approached us with a tin of what looked like Quality Street chocolates.
We were already completely soaked through, so we knew the drill.
I ducked my head and winced.
“Sorry, sorry!” he pleaded, before walking straight past, tottering up to my girlfriend, and slowly pouring a full tin of water straight down her top.
It was one of the politest pre-meditated street assaults I’ve ever seen.
It got me thinking though.
What if you were visiting Thailand for the first time and you didn’t know what Songkran was?
How do you react when a Thai wanders in your direction, blasts you with a SuperSoaker, and carries on walking without taking his eyes off his phone?
I’d probably get back on the plane.
Old people and flying
If you are over 75, with a dodgy bladder, and extremely bad hearing… I’m sorry, but I don’t want to sit behind you on a 14 hour flight.
Old lady: “We’ve been flying for 9 hours.”
Her husband, shouting profusely, clearly deaf as a door mat: “I know. I’ve pissed myself twice.”
There’s something comical about hearing an old couple bicker, oblivious to their incredible decibels, marbles long gone and replaced by wholly British arguments, like:
“Why is my blanket wet? I want a dry one. No, not that one. I want a dry one, dunn’ae.”
“No YOU ask the lady. I don’t bloody know why it’s wet do I? I probably pissed myself over India.”
But after 14 hours sat there, awoken at one point by a strange outburst of applause and hollers — Old Man’s reaction to the end of Phantom of the Opera — I did want to kill myself.
I flew Malaysia Airlines, by the way.
You could sense the palpable hearts in mouths every time the plane changed course on the tracker, especially in turbulence.
Can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for cabin crew in the days immediately following MH370.
‘Cuties’ on the BTS
Ever wondered what Nicky Cakes is up to these days?
Well, here he is, captioned as Justin Timberlake (Timbercakes?), appearing on a Facebook page titled ‘BTS CUTE GUYS’.
I won’t lie. I did check the page to see if I’d made an appearance.
Not a god damn whisper.
So what happens when you go viral as a ‘BTS cute guy’?
I expect Cakes will be extending his visa.
Seduced by Thailand again
It’s difficult to leave Thailand.
Every time I visit, I question what ever convinced me to move back to London.
In reality, there were a number of factors. But it doesn’t stop the mind from wandering.
You think of the weather, the people, the food (God, the food), the beaches, the pace of life.
It doesn’t get any better.
If you haven’t visited Thailand, I highly recommend it.
Pics from the trip
A collection of pics from Bangkok, Hua Hin and Samphram, April 2014: