- According to the World Meteorological Organization, Bangkok is the hottest city in the world.
- His late Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand was actually born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the United States of America, on December 5, 1927.
- HM the late King was a renowned Jazz saxophonist who has played with many of the world's greatest Jazz musicians.
- H.M. the late King once met Elvis Presley.
- Prior to 1913, most Thais did not have surnames.
- The dark skinned Thai women that Farang men love are not considered attractive by Thai men.
- Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia where Christianity is accepted and protected by law.
- According to the 'Guinness Book of Records 1995', the Thai language has the second largest alphabet in the world. The largest alphabet in world - Khmer.
- Thailand has the longest place-name in the world. The full name for Bangkok: KRUNGTHEP MAHANAKHON BOVORN RATANAKOSIN MAHINTHARAYUTTHAYA MAHADILOKPOP NOPARATRATCHATHANIBURIROM UDOMRATCHANIVETMAHASATHAN AMORNPIMAN AVATARNS ATHIT SAKKATHATTIYAVISNUKARMPRASIT, meaning "The land of angels, the great city (of) immortality, various of devine gems, the great angelic land unconquerable, land of nine noble gems, the royal city, the pleasant capital, place of the grand royal palace, forever land of angels and reincarnated spirits, predestined and created
by the highest Deva(s)."
- According to intensive research conducted by 'Journal of Vector Ecology 26 (2): 2001', about cockroaches in Thailand, it was concluded: 'an average of 5.2 cockroaches/house'.
'Chiang Mai, with 6 species, had the highest number of cockroach species recorded'
- The late King possessed the largest faceted diamond in the world, the Golden Jubilee (545.67 carats).
- It is illegal in Thailand for women to visit night-time entertainment venues alone. They must go with a man!
- It is illegal to leave your house if you are not wearing underwear.
- In 2012 the hospital treated 400,000 foreign patients-the highest of any hospital in the world-from more than 150 countries.
- Barbers are usually closed on Wednesday in Thailand because Thai people think it will bring bad luck to cut their hair that day of the week.
- Thailand is the largest producer of pineapples in the world.
- Thailand's national anthem was composed by a German, Peter Feit.
The road trip from Bamako was uneventful, notwithstanding numerous potholes that our driver negotiated with a natural skill. The view of the savannah, if one cared to look, was one of a desolate landscape mostly obscured by dust clouds thrown up by the land rover’s wheels.
Not that it concerned me, I’d worn out the ‘oh look at that’ T-shirt; nevertheless the thought of visiting Gao, one of the most remote sites of a humanitarian Aid outpost promised to be a rare event – one that I would never forget.
Africa never lets me down. What I imagined to be a township with little amenities let alone a hostel that catered for Bed and Breakfast guests, had exactly that. A terraced stone block with pebbled paths leading up to three wooden doors – I was given the key of the left one, and my colleague took the right one. The middle one was empty. So they said. Outside her door sat a squadron of fat toads who seemed to do nothing but croak.
My pathway was bereft of any such life, and once inside a bed awaited me. Clean sheets and shuttered windows to keep out mosquitoes. Another wooden door opened to a bathroom with shower.
We didn’t linger there as afternoon work took precedence, followed by an evening meal and wine at a local restaurant.
Later, we returned to our quarters. Lamps lit up our paths. Toads were still chilling out, warbling at the moon. I said goodnight, opened the front door, and hit the light switch. Undressed, opened the bathroom door, switched on the light and walked over to the shower. Turned it on.
Waited a few moments before hearing a scrabbling noise at my feet. Looked down to see a trickle of cockroaches emerging from cracks and crevices and up the drain hole, turning to hordes seemingly chasing me as I backed out and slammed the door.
Undeterred, they emerged from underneath while I flung open the front door, and jumped on the mattress. Being shocked was an understatement, my whole body trembled.
They poured out the open doorway as if going to war, only to be met by an opposing army of growling toads.
Next morning, after debugging the shower, I could wash and joke about it. But, needless to say, we never opened the middle room door.
From my archives 5 years ago. Seems like yesterday.
Tigger, a ginger, black, and white cat, has adopted me. I feed her. She follows me around. I feed her. Fish, rice, and fish biscuits. This cat could eat for Thailand.
Yesterday, at dinner time, I went to pick up her dish. It’s a hard plastic throwaway from a fast food restaurant that was used as a paint dish and recycled. Suitable for a stray cat. Not on the floor of the back balcony. I peeped over the seat.
I grumbled, replaced my slippers with my plastic flip-flops and went in search. Down the balcony steps, around the patio and criss crossed the wild garden full of marigolds and papaya trees.
Ou went to search. Said the wind must have blown it somewhere. Couldn’t find it. By this time Tigger was growling and about to tear my leg off, so I replaced her lost dish with a plastic box-type container. Fed her.
This morning, I went in search again. Could have won an orienteering prize, but still no dish. So I sat down and had a think – eliminated the impossible, and settled on this theory. Sometimes Tigger leaves a few grains of rice in the dish. Birds come – very aggressive these ones, as big as magpies and similar behaviour.
I think one bird stole the dish.
What do you think?
Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same colour as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated.
Ernest Hemingway, from the Old Man and the Sea.
Luanda Fishing Port, Angola. 8° 47' S latitude and 13°14' E longitude.
For most of my later life I wandered across continents, but unlike pastoral nomads, I’d find a haven by the sea. One such destination was here, in Luanda, in the summer of 2003. My severance stipend and my stumbling Portuguese — a smattering of slurred Spanish — enabled me to gain food and shelter.
I’d lived here for seven months and three weeks come next weekend, when the city dwellers would flock to the beach. I say flocked, but in reality the visitors were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Aid Agency workers, and most days the silvery sands were virgin pastures. As were the opaque breakers that rippled to the shore.
The result of civil war.
The barren beach was for ghosts and young spirits, and I spent most days seated on a wooden bench seat facing the harbour watching the fishing boats glide in at dawn. I got to know one or two skippers, older ones who had picked up pidgin-English at sea. They had frizzy hair, sun-hardened skins and white teeth that glistened. Wearing boots, dungarees and windbreaker jackets.
Most times, my offering of a few dollars was waved away, and my calloused hands filled with a handsome bream or grouper — maybe a tryst of mackerel if I was fortunate. At lunchtime, cleaned, filleted and cooked on my makeshift charcoal barbecue.
I could have said — and others too — that my existence was dull, dreary and trivial, but at nights alone, I made my way to a mound of dry sward above the shore to watch the breakers roll and glisten in the moonlight. A hand-crafted cigarette, its smoke drifting in the breeze, and a flask of dark rum — a local brew — was all I needed to find peace and tranquillity.
I knew they would come for me soon, so I had prepared. My assigned wet-suit, Aqua Sphere goggles and duck-feet swim fins, and I would commit myself to the sea.
As befits a washed-up warrior.
Bio: British age 73 (young) retired and living in Thailand. Profession, Charity Auditor working in some 40 countries over the last ten years before retiring. Familiar with writing reports to professional standard. Sense of humour, reserved, realist and down to earth. Enjoy writing with a passion for the unusual.