What Lies Beneath.

Paul woke at 5am and clattered clumsily across the blindingly black room in the ‘See View’ guest house. He fell heavily over a ruck-sack and into something incredibly noisy before accidentally hitting the light switch. A harsh fluorescence flooded the cell like space and for a moment he thought he was in prison. He tried to remember what crime he’d perpetrated, but then saw his life sentence laying unstirred on the concrete based thing the hotel called a bed. Oh yes, that was it, he and Andrew had checked in […]

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Miss Loei.

Loei is a small town in Isaan the region that butts up against the serpentine Mekong in the northeast of Thailand. It is the poorest part of the country and the least visited. Less than one percent of overseas visitors make it here. It is mostly flat and dry by nature, yet it’s people are most certainly not. It is probably our favourite place in Thailand. It remains untouched by the outside world. It is real! At first sight some of the province can seem rather dull and ordinary. Were Isaan […]

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Buddha Nature.

Andrew and I set off at an ungodly hour, after an equally unholy breakfast for the bus station in Phitsanulok on Thailand’s northern plains. I say ‘in’ Phitsanulok yet Thailand’s bus stations have an annoying habit of placing themselves away from the towns they represent. Sometimes by miles. It’s akin to Victoria Coach Station being situated in Watford ! One invariably needs a long tuk-tuk ride from the terminus to get to the city one was looking for in the first place. Perhaps this is quite intended. A kind of […]

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What A Pallava!

Your name sir?’ ‘Paul’ ‘I am Kumar. Your hair very good – very nice.’ ‘Thank you Kumar’. ‘Very handsome man’. ‘How kind’. ‘I am stone carver. I carve stone for famous Buddha temple in Exeter.’ ‘I had no idea there was a Buddhist temple in Exeter.’ ‘It new one! You want see my stones? First we go temple – you don’t pay – I don’t do for money, but I see you are nice guy. I know special way. Come. Come….’ And so it began. My ego up, my guard down, and I’d enlisted Andrew and I on another south Asian magical mystery tour. This time, chasing the young stonemason, at rocking speed, around the seventh century rock temples of Mamallupuram. We staggered precariously along ancient steps, ingeniously cut from a titanic piece of granite, recklessly attempting to keep up with the young Kumar, who was practically Simian. We learnt later that this acrobatic detour was in order to circumvent the normal gated entrance, thus avoiding the need to purchase a ticket. An artful piece of dodgery from our new found mate – though we both suspected the relationship may get rockier as the daytime heat began to rocket. ‘How the fuck do we get rid of him now?’ Andrew asked me far too loudly. ‘Oh just chill out a bit – we’re getting a free tour, and free entry’ I countered.  Knowing deep down that we’d be paying for […]

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Vive La Difference!

Andrew and I have now traversed The Subcontinent, and made our way from the torrid heat of the south east, to the baking oven that is the south west.  We have now hit the steam-room of that ex French colonial town known as Pondicherry.  Or ‘Pondy’ to those in the know. Oooooh La La! Or Fuck Me!!! This has to be the steamiest place I ‘ve ever been – other than an infamous sauna I twice visited in Munich, but that’s by the by! The temperature here steadily remains above […]

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Beached Wails!

For too many nights and days , Andrew and I have been practically marooned on a first-rate beach, in a second-rate guest house, with third-rate plumbing, fourth-rate bedding and fifth-rate company!  We’ve loved it. After the rigours of Rajasthan it has been just what we needed. An almost antidote to India, but it has taken it’s toll… I have developed a near psychosis attempting to tan in what is constant sunlight – and yet, failing miserably. T’is true I’m wearing factor 30, but without, I would resemble a Heinz Ketchup […]

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Holi Cow Fatman – Don’t Lose Your Shirt!

Pushkar was impressively different from the moment we arrived. We drove, or rather, carefully negotiated the seven hours from the national park at Ranthambore, heavily delayed, of course, by a road that was severely ‘damaged’. Surely an Indian euphemism for non-existent. We dodged crater after crater, mile after mile, as if travelling by ‘moon rover’, across the other worldly landscape. Through the dusty haze we saw hardly any signs of life, other than the odd village and a couple of camel farms. Yet within the blink of a tiger’s eye, […]

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