Sunday 4 August 2019


Well, what a couple of months. I was hunkering down for a third year in the Hat when an offer came out of the blue. A chance to return North. I swallowed the inevitable pay cut and started making plans.

It was an opportunity to get back to more senior students (yr7 were tough) and endure fewer activities (was a Butlins Redcoat for the final week - ugh). Most importantly, however, was the chance to ride through glorious northern landscapes again - albeit on a CBR500 this time!!

Won't miss much about the Hat (or the south in general) but I will miss this fella. Sat many an hour in his garden philosophising the mysteries of being. Others might call it talking shit. But I'll stick with philosophising.

Was sad to sell the little Suzuki 125cc automatic Rice Rocket - loved crawling round the sticks on it. My landlord (retired copper) snapped it up. 9k? Bargain. There he is signing the green book.

They say a week is a long time in politics. I'm sure it is. I'd add that 13 years is a long time in a human life-cycle and that's how long it was since I'd left Blighty.

It was time to return ....... for a week.

Waiting at Bangkok's Heathrow was an old student. Taught him maths in Trang in 2009. He's high up in the airport security game and I was grateful for his company that night. Staved off feelings of loneliness that always seem to manifest themselves in airports.

24 hours later and my brother was a welcome sight at Newcastle Aeroporto. The best thing about the whole endaevour was meeting my niece. I wish she'd been around more that week. They refused my offer of boarding-cash, so I set it aside for little Gabrielle. She can have it in 2029 when she's 18.

Wor youngin fixed his bike allowing me to explore where I grew up. Here's the Wansbeck estuary.

Northumberland really is "the sticks". It's England's most rural county.

Suffered reverse-culture-shock back there. The best thing was being able to drink tap water. It tasted great and was ice cold. Awesome. The worst thing was using toilet paper. Felt filthy the whole time. Disgusting.

Jumped on a dilapidated train from Morpeth to Edinburgh to see the Scottish half of our tribe. Wor Stuart was my drinking partner in the 90s. No surprise to seem him running a pub in South Queensferry. Good crack in there.

Another shot of him having a tab. Canny backdrop.

Was only there a night as they had a Wednesday?? wedding to get to. Still, we had time for a pub dinner. Uncle Malcolm at the back did 25 years in the Royal Navy. Must run in the family.

Edinburgh's drank deeply from the "Diversity-is-Strength" well. Was walking around Waverly Station when a young black woman asked (in broken English) if I'd like to go on a £17 bus tour. Now that's authenticity right there! Could almost smell the deep-fried-mars-bar. The sight of this sub-Saharan selling traditional Scottish-ness invoked images of Rabbie Burns postulating "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft agley." I politely declined in my best Jock brogue.

Back to Geordieland where I set out to sample a Wetherspoons breakfast. Two things stood out:
1. Lots of people drinking at 9am on a weekday.
2. Jeans and a polo shirt made me the best dressed there.

Bought 10 x 200g bars of dark chocolate from ASDA for 
£10 to bring back to Thailand. Still got two left. Aroi.

Spent much time browsing old photos. Got emotional. 
If there's one thing I learnt from going home, it's that I absolutely made the correct decision to leave.

It was good to see what's left of my family and I enjoyed the contrast but the whole time I was pining for Thailand.

So it was with glee that I boarded an A380 back to paradise.

Managed to get a shot of the Burj Khalif in Dubai. We also flew over Baghdad - looked pretty all lit up. Thought about how the RAF would've flown over Iraq at night too.

F*cking Blair.

Back in the Hat I posted a suitcase to Chiang Mai and rode 1,700km over 3 nights. The best part of July. Utter freedom. Waiting at the other end was Aussie Joe. It was a huge coincidence he was here as he'd moved to Laos.

Where else should we meet but Nui's shop - complete with updated bar. Good catching up.

Only took a day or two to find a new room nestled in rice fields 20km south of CM. Couldn't be happier.

The rest of the time has been spent getting used to twisties on the bigger 500. When I lived here before I was on a less powerful but more nimble 250. Takes a bit of getting used to. I rode 140km to Wat Chan. Last time I did that was Jan 2014 - there was 40km of offroad torture that took 2hrs and shook some bolts loose. Now it's fully paved. Class.

That yellow sign says the road is narrow and steep with dangerous corners. Exactly what you want.

So, having arrived in CM in Oct 2013 with the intention of retiring here (aged 39), it's now 2019 and I'm back after a 2.5 year hiatus in Xi'an and Hat Yai. Who knows? Retirement might be back on the table.

If not, I'm happy to stay busy teaching IGCSE and A Level Maths at my new school. Looking like a pretty decent gig so far. Fingers crossed. 
Je suis Anglais mais j'adore la Thaïlande.


  1. Always great to read ya blogs marra, shame I missed ya when you were home, the night you and craig were going to go to the club i had to fulfil my committee duties and call the numbers for the Thursday night Hoosey. Maybe next time in a decade or so eh? keep doing what ya doing mate and maybe I'll get a chance to come and visit you sometime. Millsy

  2. Diversity is the strength well, 555!
    Canada leads the way in this matter, trully.
    I was given the gig teaching in Hua hin, but opted out in favour of more China years. Hehe. Off to Nanning next month. I sure hope that stupid TM30 will quickly dissolve into the nothingness. And stay away from smoggy season, bud. Its getting worse up North, almost as bad as in Chinese interior. Bla... Yours trully, Alex Lapp.