We are continuing to enjoy the most pleasant time of year in Pattaya.
So far, we haven’t had any really cold snaps, when the temperatures can drop into the low teens (Celsius), but it is nevertheless quite cool for Thailand, with afternoon temperatures rarely going much above the mid-twenties, and by early evening, we don’t even need a fan when we sit down to watch a bit of TV.
How long this will last is anyone’s guess as it varies year by year, but hopefully it will remain cool for all of February before it starts heating up in mid-March as we once more approach the long hot summer.
My memory is probably playing tricks with me, but this the driest summer I can recall since moving to Pattaya from Bangkok over ten years ago. The level of the lake is very low and the grass hardly grows. All the green undergrowth that borders the lake has largely turned a parched shade of brown and the local council workers haven’t been out for ages to cut it back. It just hasn’t grown.
It seems difficult to believe that there will not be any major water shortages in Pattaya this year, as our lake is actually a reservoir; and is one of the major sources of water for the city. We shall have to wait and see.
Fortunately for us, we get our water from a deep well in our village, so unless that runs dry we will be unaffected.
In spite of my indifferent health, and a finite sum of money in the bank which will run out in a year or two, I can’t really complain. I am still living the good life in a tropical paradise, with a lovely wife who looks after me like a baby.
I have often written about the depressions which frequently wash over me, but just recently I have been making a huge effort to shake them off. It is crazy to be depressed, living in a place like Pattaya, and I am trying to become a happier, more content person.
The weather is great, I am enjoying my writing and I have my family around me. In early March, my eldest daughter will be visiting us from the UK, and later that month, Lek’s daughter will move from Nong Khai to Pattaya to live with us and my little family will complete.
I have found that every time I think about my poor Cookie, my golden retriever who died last year, it brings back feelings of sorrow and distress, so I have trained myself not to think about her too much.
Similarly, every time I think about all the money I lost, I become depressed, so I am ‘training’ myself not to think about that too, and to be thankful with what I have.
I want to free up my mind and devote the next six months to writing the best piece of literature I have ever done. I am fortunate in that I am receiving regular, constructive criticism from people I respect – one, an avid reader of books such as mine, and the second, a very well-read, retired teacher of English literature, who runs our little writers group on Friday mornings.
So far, they have given me the thumbs up on my first 4 chapters. I have also received a couple of emails from blog readers who have offered useful criticism. I received one the other day from someone who says he is an English teacher, so I will look at what he has to say next week.
The truth is that when I first started writing, some 15 years ago, I deliberately avoided reading any professional advice or books on ‘how to write’ as I didn’t want to be hemmed in by ‘rules’,which as far as I can see, are regularly broken by most – if not all the great writers
But the mistake I made was not realising that I will never be a great writer and that for a second-rate (or more likely, a third-rate writer), a few simple guidelines on how to write might have been quite useful, and saved me a lot of heartache.
Initially, I wrote for fun, as I had plenty of money, and it is only in the last year or so that I have needed to write in a more commercial way to try and make some money out of it.
In this week’s blog, I am publishing chapter four of my new novel, and all being well, from now on I plan to publish one chapter per week. That’s about 5,000 – 7,000 words, so it should be quite achievable, although there will be probably be times when I will fail to make it.
It takes me about two days to write the first draft, two more days to edit and re-work it, and another day to do a third edit – five days in all, putting in around 5-7 hours per day.
Some days I have to go out to take care of various errands and on Fridays I have my weekly writers meeting which means that often – but not always – I get nothing done on Friday. Weekends are mainly spent on writing and publishing my blog, so my life is a bit of a writing tread mill – albeit a pleasant one.
By the time I have have gone through the text three times, the chapter is usually in good enough shape to post on my blog.
Ultimately, the whole book will undergo further revisions before being published. but time needs to pass before going back to revise further, as I tend to get ‘blinded’ by what I have written and need to have a break before going back to the text with fresh eyes.
There may be times when I fall behind and decide to spend the weekend working on my book, which means that no blog will be published that week except possibly any recently completed chapters.
I am even considering changing the frequency of my blog from weekly to two-weekly, so that I can devote more time to the book, but haven’t made any final decisions on this as yet.
I don’t think I have ever seen Pattaya so quiet during the high season as it is right now. Not during the floods, not even during the Bangkok riots.
Even on weekends, the level of traffic in town is so low that we can drive freely everywhere with no sign of traffic jams. We can park on Beach Road on a weekend evening – something that used to be impossible at any time of the day or night – even in the low season, let alone the high. Similarly, out here on the lake, bar after bar and restaurant after restaurant is pretty much deserted, night after night.
The best thing I ever did was to get out of the bar biz.
There is little doubt that would-be tourists and part time residents have deserted Thailand in droves. There are so many reasons for this, but certainly the inept government, which is mainly run by retired and ageing generals, is not helping matters.
- For starters, they seem unable to clamp down on the scamming and entrapment of innocent foreigners on the streets of Bangkok, (now the recent subject of a major article in Time magazine, amongst others), which is receiving so much adverse publicity in the world’s press.
- Recent articles in the Thai press suggest that the PM has probably bitten off more than he can chew and that there are a number of factions within the government pulling in different directions. Nobody seems to be completely in control and as a result, misdeeds by police and others go unpunished.
- The never-ending, inexplicable deaths of foreigners on the tiny Island of Koh Tao in the South of Thailand – now up to six people in less than six months.
- There was the ‘on again off again’ threats to stop alcohol being sold over the New Year period. I ask you, what tourist in their right mind wants to celebrate New Year in a place where they might not be allowed to have a drink?
- Yesterday’s restatement of the law which prohibits shops, bars and restaurants from selling alcohol from 2 pm to 5 pm in the afternoons and after midnight is going to put off many tourists who come here to let their hair down.
- The as yet, unresolved visa confusion;
- The ongoing martial law and underlying concerns that violence may erupt.…
- The ongoing confusion regarding possible changes to the Foreign Business Act.
And so on…honestly, I could write an entire blog about how the Thai government and the Thai people seem to be hell-bent on ruining what used to be a tourist and expat paradise and are fast turning it into a tourist and expat nightmare.
But, as ever TIT, (‘This Is Thailand’), and the Thais will do it their own way for good or bad. Maybe sooner or later they will see the light and things will change; but I’m not holding my breath.