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Articles by Noble Wordsmiths and associates

Memoirs of a Geezer – By Paul Raftery

Hi Gang,

So as the summer is in full swing, I dust off my computer chair, switch on the laptop and try to write something. After almost a year’s hiatus, I’m struggling to find the words …

After publishing my book, A Learning Curve, in 2016, I set my ‘sites’ on building a cool website and magazine called the Bangkok Consultant but, unfortunately after spending an entire year on the idea, I left Asia to return home and temporarily abandoned the project. So what now? What’s next?

My next book is quietly coming to fruition, but since it is based on my travels around Central America (where I shall be going sometime in 2020) things are moving slowly. So it’s time for a new project? No moneymaking ambitions; no advertising plots; just good ol’ writing about the things I love. Namely travelling and travellers.

So here I go. As I begin to figure it all out, I shall design a better looking website than the Noble Wordsmiths blog, but for the time being this will do just fine.

After finishing, A Learning Curve, I edited out 14,295 words (33 pages) of manuscript which I didn’t feel made the cut. So as I am currently sifting through it, I realise the reason I edited a lot of it out in the first place was because much of it was utter drivel (It’s a process), however, there was one story that caught my eye, which I have enjoyed re-living, and definitely has some interesting points of view, I’ll bear in mind for my next book.

This piece is unedited and slightly rough so please forgive me. I titled it ‘Memoirs of a Geezer’ (which I never really liked). So as I get back to basics, I hope you enjoy this tidbit that never quite made the cut:

 

Memoirs of a Geezer

 

Towards the end of my time in Japan, I began to take advantage of the facilities at the spa. There was a swimming pool, gym and other services. The idea of the place was to want for nothing. There were disposable tooth brushes, razors, creams and so on. After a few days, I realised I could wear my outdoor clothing going to and from the dorm area, though I found I was excepted more as one of the ‘brethren’ if I adopted the blue panties and bathrobe attire.

I noticed there were also red panties for the larger brethren. I thought, ‘that is a bit out of order isn’t it, singling out the heavier-set spa enthusiasts’, fortunately I barely made it into the blue ones.

While I tried to avoid the areas where all the naked men ‘hung out’; I did fancy some steam after a swim one afternoon. It turned out to be an incredibly awkward state of affairs. As I stepped into the sauna, I realised it was a point of no return situation. It was quite a large area but there were three other guys already in there and, of course, everyone was naked. So there we all were sat in complete silence, everyone hot and steamy with all Japs-eyes on me!

In the end, I ignored certain rules, such as accessing my cubicle between 12pm and 3pm. I also walked around in my ‘civvies’ when leaving the capsule to go out. I wished I had taken more advantage of the facilities, but I’m a geezer from Southend on Sea, I’m not into all that metro-sexual nonsense, though, I must admit, I did feel like a prince after taking a shower. I’ve never felt so clean, or relaxed as I walked back to my capsule with a somewhat Mancunian swagger, looking like a glistening boxer coming into the ring, wearing my loose fitting bathrobe.

Unlike the beginning of my time in Asia, I was now a lot more confident about travelling and instead of just trying to figure things out as I went, which was still the case, I had now discovered some useful tools of the trade, such as Google Maps, Trip Advisor, smartphones, tablets, hotel and hostel booking websites that make travelling anywhere so much easier. I often found that spending a morning browsing the internet can save so much time in the long run, by understanding the local transport systems and having a rough plan of action of the day’s events. Of course, it’s best not to over plan and go with the flow in the hopes of discovering a few little gems along the way, but a decent idea of where I was going would at least point me in the right direction.

Looking back on years of funny situations, I had come a long way from those nervous few days in Malaysia arriving for the first time on my own, to travelling around Asia forging friendships with people from around the world and becoming part of a community of ‘global migrators’. I have certainly evolved into a more relaxed and laid back traveller, preferring the creature comforts of home whenever possible. By the end, I was certainly not a backpacker, I was a traveller. Backpackers tend to travel light, stay in dormitories where possible, and generally try to stick to a budget. I had a large suitcase with more clothes than I really needed, a bag of electrical wires, toiletries, a set of winter clothing, a tablet, 2 phones and a laptop (as well as many other knick-knacks I had picked up along the way).

I didn’t stick to a particular budget, but I would try and stick to some basic rules. For instance, If possible, I would never spend more than £15 a night, which was very achievable. I would try to stick to a £6 a day for food which wasn’t always so doable. I don’t mind sharing a bathroom but I would often try and get an en-suite, if it was within my budget. I would much rather go abroad for three months instead of six, if it meant I could keep within these boundaries for the most part. In the beginning, all that mattered was staying as long as I could, and I stayed in some truly grotty places, but I guess as a sign of age, or experience, certain things change such as the desire to stay more double rooms instead pokey little singles. Though, if it was only for a night or two the most important thing was just having somewhere clean and comfortable to sleep. Any longer than three nights and I would need somewhere to completely unpack my suitcase and get my ‘Feng Sui’ on to help cleanse my soul, and wash away the burdens of travel – Marco Polo I’m not!

I love the fact that I am not just another everyday tourist in Asia, who relies solely on package day trips to see the sights. I have favourite restaurants, taxi drivers as well as being known in a handful of hotels, which all added to the feeling of home. Although I’ve seen very little of Asia, what I have seen, I feel like I know like the back of my hand, and I feel very at piece there despite my recent loss.

Memoirs of a geezer

When it comes to acquiring keepsakes, it has been my motto to get something that wasn’t specifically designed to be a souvenir. My idea of a souvenir is tea from China or a piece of history from Melaka. Not the cheap tat that is often on display at tourist areas around the world. Though, one of my favourite keepsakes is a tacky porcelain plate with a photo stuck to it of me and Dad sitting on a boat at the Damnoen Saduak floating marketing in Bangkok taken in 2008, before my Asian adventure had truly begun.

I had visited a few Irish pubs in Asia and for the most part, they were quite good, albeit very expensive. One fond memory was having a drink in O’Reillys (changed to Flann O’Briens) pub in Bangkok on Sukummvit Road with Dad. It was my 28th birthday, so I didn’t need to worry about it being 250 bhat a pint, seeing as I wasn’t picking up the tab. It is quite a large pub with a friendly atmosphere.

During my first week in Asia, before I flew to Malaysia on my own, Dad and I went to see the Bangkok Beatles: a Beatles tribute act that is very popular. One performance that stuck in my head was the song Yesterday, not only is it a song that reminds me of late nights out with Dad in Spain, when I was younger, but also because the Thai McCartney sings it so brilliantly. It’s one of my favourite Beatles songs, and recalls nostalgic memories every time I hear it. It was one of the songs that I played at Dad’s funeral – I know he would have liked that.

If you would like to find out more about my book, please click here

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This entry was posted on July 6, 2018 by in Travel, Travel Stories.

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