Thursday, 10 December 2015

The meaning of life?

Birthday Boy

I turned 42 last month. This got me thinking about the meaning of life. Curiously, 42 is, in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, "The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything". However, this coincidence does nothing to demystify the nature of the Universe from my end.

I left Geordieland when I was 32. Incredible to think this journey has lasted a decade. I don't regret a single minute of it. I can't believe some of the events that have transpired. On top of visiting dozens of countries I became a teacher. Retired at 39. Lost it all a year later. And just when I was wondering what to do next, the dream job popped up out of nowhere: teaching A Level Maths and Physics in Chiang Mai. Innocuous events chart life's course. I would never have predicted this from the bowels of a Nuclear Submarine in the 90s.


As ever I've been operating deep within local culture. Three of my favourite kids showing off their pet beetles at the dinner table. The little lass is Fon's daughter. Fon sells Soy Milk and small bits of bread fried in a massive pan of boiling oil. The kids lark around nearby. Obviously, the West would never allow Fon to earn a living this way because "Health and Safety". She'd likely be another welfare case.

A few beers with the lads who do security at a nearby mental hospital. Sometimes I wonder if we should, in fact, be patients there. Who decides if the patients are insane or not? Based on what criteria? Perhaps they're the sane ones and we're all mad for conforming to the modern way of living?

Pee Dae is a great bloke. He runs a nearby bar where he entertains guests with acoustic versions of Thai country songs. Very chilled. Sometimes Aussie Jo gets up and bangs out a few Rolf Harris classics. I had a go at singing the Thai song ฝุ่น (foon - dust) to which we agreed I need more practice.

These are the Karen lads. They like to drink local rice wiskey poured into a regular water bottle and mixed with fizzy green pop so not to arouse police suspicions. I prefer cans of Leo. Either side of me are my neighbours Wit and Kem. Kem recently bought a Kawasaki 250cc. We need to get on a trip together.

I love drinking with Bon's uncle Pee. He's a Project Engineer who's forgotten a few things from school (a long time ago). Since I'm currently teaching all this stuff he'll eagerly draw diagrams of problems on small bits of paper and ask me to solve them. It's great trying to work out mechanical problems while on the Leo.

Met this bloke in the wilds of Mae Jem. He'd ridden a scooter up from Bangkok. He makes a living gambling online. He was explaining how spread betting techniques are infallible. I remain skeptical after my own "infallible" investment turned out to be anything but. Twas a pleasure sharing a tab with this fellow.


Is an absolute joy. I'm teaching A2 Maths (Pure 3 and Mech 2) along with A2 and AS Physics. Finally doing what I've always wanted to do as a teacher! I'll miss these kids when they head off to University next year. Here they are blowing up capacitors (left) and calculating the charge of electrons using oil drops suspended in electric fields.

It's hard work teaching two challenging subjects at this level but the passion prevails. If you enjoy what you're doing can it even be classified as work? There's one drawback that I won't go into suffice to say I wish I had my own office.

One of the student's parents run this mint German Bistro near the 121/106 intersection. Well worth 190B for the all-you-can-eat-buffet on a Monday night.


Won four consecutive games to give themselves a great chance of staying up. However they lost last night meaning they NEED to win their final game (and hope Krabi lose or draw). Last week I watched them beat AngThong in a nail-biting last-minute-winner encounter. The fireworks were for the King's birthday - not the result. I'll be there this Saturday with everything crossed.

On your bike

Happily, I've been on the bike a lot more recently. One day I went off-road in MaeOn where I spotted this scarecrow in the rice fields. Funny how people like to fly-tip next to signs telling them not to fly-tip.

Another spin had me up to KewFin viewpoint before a coffee at Ban MaeKamPong where you can ride the zip lines high up in the jungle at Flight of the Gibbon.

One day I left home at 0900 for a Full English. I got home 9hrs later after riding 400km up to Doi AngKhang. It was good to ride a new stretch of road (the 1349 from Phrao to ChaiPrakan) as there aren't many left in the North these days. The riding around Doi AngKhang is spectacular.

I've had a couple of canny days with dirt-bike enthusiast Alex. One day we rode into the sticks to see these black piglets suckling underneath a house. Scarred for life.

Another day we did a loop through remote Lampang province where we saw old women rinsing sacks of coffee beans. Twas a long day and we enjoyed these beers at the end of it.

Did another new stretch from Mae Wang to Samoeng with Austrian Heinz. Only 1km of it is unsealed and that's currently being addressed. So that's another great half day option open for people with regular (not off-road) bikes.

Heinz rides so fast that he gets ahead to take photos. I wonder how fast he could ride the Samoeng loop? (From the Mae Rim lights to the Hang Dong lights). I did this 61.3km in 55min after a lad at work did it in 59min. I reckon Heinz could shave a few minutes off that??

What's not to like?


So after almost ten years this website reached 1/10th of a million hits. In that time it made me a massive $20. I think of it as two St James Parks.


The 2015 half-marathon is next week. Like last year I think I'll be good for the first 10km, average for the next 7km and then hit the wall for the last 4km. I ran it in sub-2hrs last year. This year? Dunno. We'll see how much the beer and tabs have taken their toll.

Still loving sunset jogs around SuanBuakHaad Park on week nights. I know lots of folk there after two years. I have to do three or four wais (Thailand's prayer like greeting) during the first lap.

I've been in Chiang Mai for 2yrs and 2 months. I think this is the longest I have lived anywhere in my life! Must be a good place then.


Money lost
Juncture past
Walk alone
Future vast

Love this land
Good it's been
A few more years
For us to glean

Little lass
Back of a bike
Smile on her face
Lights up life

Happiness abounds
If you can see
A beautiful world

Look at the stars
Infinite grace
Ongoing vastness
Moving away

Follow your dreams
Whatever they are
Ride a bike
Hills and far

Open the curtains
Bright light invades
Hurts weary eyes
Used to the shade

Run on a treadmill
At work and in life
Why do we endure
Perpetual strife?

Thoughts keep on spewing
What can I do?
End the dream now
Come home to you?

Time is eternal
Mine is free
The highest bidder
Fails to see

Farangs come en masse
Adventure in eyes
Bring Western ways
And cellulite thighs

This took half an hour
Could've had two wanks
Did this instead
Firing blanks



The word love is like dust. Hope's long gone. However, why does life still have value? I don't know. Not a day goes by that I don't remember her.
(Currently my favourite Thai song).

1 comment:

  1. I remember when you lost your savings and had to ponder what you would do. So glad to hear you've found your dream job and gained a fresh start.
    All the best for 2016.
    Frank (bbqboy)


Please be nice.