Om Once Upon a Time in the East
Isaan. Northeast Thailand. The furthest reaches of Old Siam. No coastline; no glistening lengths of powdery white sand; no Pad Thai- obsessed tourists; no touts; no taxis; no beggars; no hedonistic nights of extreme debauchery. Nothing. Just a whole lot of jungle. During a visit to Bangkok, I once saw a rack of t-shirts proclaiming that 'good guys go to heaven and bad guys go to Pattaya'. Nothing for Isaan though. After all, who wants to walk around with 'the clinically stupid' emblazoned across their chest?I first visited Northeast Thailand in my late twenties. Initially I was appalled by the lack of, well, anything. For a chap hailing from suburban London it felt like I'd alighted into a particularly tedious episode of the Archers. However, the people, the fauna, and indeed the flora, made this impromptu sabbatical a quite extraordinary experience.The stories on the following pages are an account of my years spent in hot and sticky rural Siam.