Two Cakes and One Schizophrenic

After reading the post title you may be wondering if lately I have been suffering with intellectual deterioration, social isolation and disorganized speech. Not at all, my life has always been like that. The pharmaceutical company that I work for produces over a billion tablets each year and the largest market is for a pill that controls schizophrenia, over the last few days I’ve been wondering if I should start taking some.

Today is my 50th birthday and tomorrow the birthday bash of Beyond The Mango Juice as it celebrates one year of riding the high waves of the Thai blogosphere. With a busy day ahead of me opening birthday cards, eating cake and downing many celebratory drinks I started it off by first sitting down and having a long talk to myself. Two cakes and one schizophrenic.

The Birthday Interview

proudly sponsored by Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey

Martyn:Congratulations Hoo Don on making it to your first birthday. How has the past year been for you.

Hoo Don: Let me just say happy 50th to you, that’s a lot of years. Were newspapers around when you were born.

Martyn:HD. Cut the crap, have a piece of cake and get on with it.

Hoo Don: BTMJ was actually launched in October last year but previous to its conception I had another rather cheap and tacky blog site that I started on August 12th that year. I uploaded some of the posts from that site and BTMJ was born. The past year has been an exciting and educational one for me in that I have had to learn the tricks and guile to establish myself on the blogosphere. Over the 12 months I have had a mammoth amount of help from fellow bloggers and I appreciate that without them BTMJ would probably not be around now. The year has been a tough learning curve with the home straight never in sight but at every pit stop I’ve had the most amazing crew to advise and encourage me. I won’t ever forget that.

Martyn: During the first year were you ever near to giving up on Beyond The Mango Juice.

Hoo Don: It has never entered my mind as I always had the intention of making the first year one to merely try and get BTMJ accepted on the Thai blog scene as an okay read with possible future potential. I think I have now achieved that.

Martyn: What is behind the Beyond The Mango Juice title. What does it mean.

Hoo Don: Simple. The blog is meant to be mainly centred around village life in Udon Thani but as I don’t live there then I have to more often than not recall previous tales from elsewhere and also some topical debate. However I rarely mention Bangkok (big mango) and its rich culture and vibrant nightlife (juice), making Beyond The Mango Juice.

Martyn: Staying with names. Where the hell did you get yours from.

Hoo Don: It’s a breakdown of a phonetic way of spelling Udon as in Udon Thani. Udon becomes Hood on, so I split it down the middle to make Hoo Don. I could lie and say my real name is Donald and I’m hung like a horse.

Martyn: Your first year produced over 100 posts, what is your favourite so far.

Hoo Don: That’s easy to answer. The Beginning Part Two is all about my first day in the Land of Smiles back in 1999 and is a story that I feel says the most about my writing. The post has a fairly fast punchy rhythm with the odd splattering of humour and I think it is probably the best script that I have put out to date. Unfortunately my writing has rarely hit those heights since. To stretch your question a little further I would add Crossed Wires and Being Frank, Regrets I’ve Had A Few as my funniest and most novel posts and Living A Dream as the one I most enjoyed writing although the script is rather poor.

I wrote Living A Dream at our village home in Udon Thani and the post was a chance to live my boyhood dream of being a sports journalist. There was a muay kai (cock fighting) bout taking place in the village and I went along to write a report on it for a post in BTMJ. I watched the fight, took loads of photos, had plenty to drink and then went home well pleased with myself. Feeling rather drunk I decided to sleep things off on the living room sofa and when I woke up hours later I couldn’t remember either of the fighting cocks names or even who’d won it. So I made up a story. With pen and paper and Wonderful Wi sleeping on the sofa I knocked back the Jack Daniels, smoked loads of cigarettes and nailed my story. Happy days and fond memories.

Martyn: And your favourite photo.

Hoo Don: The very simple one below. Me walking our two dogs Cola and Gaan up the tree lined stretch of road leading to Ban Norn Chad. The stick I am carrying is not because of any disability it was just to whack anything nasty that might come along.

Martyn: Any change of direction planned for Beyond The Mango Juice over the next 12 months.

Hoo Don: Not really just the ever hopeful desire to write a few more serious and well written posts. I also need to make more of my time in Thailand by being more aware of everything going on around me by clocking and stocking some of the everyday simple things that make interesting posts. I need a lot more Udon Thani / rural themed posts, get out into the rice fields and give it a go type of post. The problem is there’s no beer or ashtrays in the fields and that creates an embarrassingly difficult choice for me.

Martyn: Regrets you’ve had a few so spit a couple out.

Hoo Don: Time is the one thing I regret if that’s the right word, I just don’t have enough of it. I do appreciate the well paid employment I have but it leaves me with so little time to attend to my blog and I really would like some excessive free time to write, write, write. That’s only one regret because I haven’t got two.

Martyn: What are your goals over the next 12 months.

Hoo Don: I recently hit 3000 visitors in one month which I’m pretty pleased about and this time next year I would like that figure to be over the 4000 mark. The 3000 figure is good until you analyse it. I have a 77% bounce rate which I consider to be way too high and 54% of my visitors arrive from search engines (keyword search), again a little too high. I once read that if your subscribed readers figure is below 20 then don’t display it with a widget on your site. My reader count is around 12 and it’s there for everyone to see, I need to address that by getting it higher. Only quality and interesting articles will do that.

Martyn: Finally a few words of your own.

Hoo Don: I would like to say a big thank you to my readers and an even bigger one to the wonderful authors of the blogs in my sidebar and also to the many other blog writers whose wonderful scripts I regularly read but have no space to link. Thanks for making it a marvelous first year for Beyond The Mango Juice.

Martyn: I think it best I get hold of one of those tablets and we split it down the middle.

Hoo Don: We could wash it down with your Jack Daniel’s.

Martyn: No chance. You’re too young to drink.

Hoo Don: Bastard.

Best wishes and stay your way


Photograph    Health Showcase by  Juhansonin


I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

22 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    HD sorry me again, you may well have more readers for example I use Google followers to pick up your post which won’t show up on your feedburner stats.

    have a good day.
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..Tattooed in Thailand. =-.

  2. Mike says:

    Happy birthday Hoo Don & Martyn. This is a great post which made me laugh.

    Now you are 50 Martyn you can come and join us on a retirement visa in LOS. You can bring HD along as a dependent child.

    BTW the pills are much cheaper here!

    I look forward to many more years reading BTMJ.

  3. Malcolm says:

    Martyn, My Dad use to tell me it was ok to talk to yourself , but when you start to answer yourself you’re in big trouble , looks like you are on the edge to me , just maybe a little pill or two would not hurt you, in fact when you take those little pills you have to stay away from Mr. Jack , which would not hurt you at all , Maybe for a bit , but you’re 50 years old now and you can handle it . Congradulations again for blog and You . Malcolm
    .-= Malcolm´s last blog ..LONG LIVE THE QUEEN and HAPPY MOM’S DAY =-.

  4. Talen says:

    Happy Birthday to both you and the blog Martyn. Supposedly not many bloggers make it to the 1 year mark but you have done so with a style all your own which is what draws people in.

    I wouldn’t worry about bounce rate as every blog has a high bounce rate. In reality it means you have returning visitors that aren’t clicking past your newest post because they most likely already read the past few posts.

    Believe it or not you really want the Google search numbers higher. You want people finding your blog daily in every way possible. Besides gaining new readers you will also gain back links from people finding your site.

    I look forward to the next year of Beyond the Mango Juice and the great posts ahead. Cheers!
    .-= Talen´s last blog ..Chang Yim-Smiling Elephant Project =-.

  5. Happy Bday HD / Martyn. I like the schitzophrenic angle, I think it maybe something all us bloggers share… All the best and looking forward to yr 2. Ben
    .-= Ben Shingleton´s last blog ..Singha vs Leo =-.

  6. Hoo Don says:

    Mike thanks for everything. I think it will be around my 54th birthday before I take up the retirement visa. Hopefully Google followers has a few more readers tucked away, that would be nice.

  7. Hoo Don says:

    Malcolm thanks for the analysis of my mind and soul. As far as the Jack goes then I can leave it alone no problem here in the UK although I did have a few celebratory ones today. Those little schizophrenia pills you talk about are mighty strong things and would knock most people out for a good 12 hours.

    Talen thank you for the birthday greetings and I am well pleased to be still going strong at the one year mark. Thanks for the encouragement over the Google search numbers, I suppose it does show some of my posts are high up on the Google pages. I must start to do more of what you do very well and that is to take back home from Thailand lots of interesting stories about everyday life. Nearly forgot, thanks for the wordpress backup tip, I have now saved it.

  8. Hoo Don says:

    Thanks Ben and I hope everything is running sweet in the Thai Pirate neck of the woods. i would loved to have celebrated today with a few Leo beers but instead settled for John Smiths and a couple of JD’s, a bit of a quiet affair. Perhaps I’m showing my age.

  9. Talen says:

    Martyn, Bringing back all the interesting stories and pictures comes with a price. I get the dirtiest looks from Pookie sometimes because I always have my camera with me and I’m always asking questions.

    I have more than a few stories I can’t write at the moment because I have no idea on what they are about and my research has been fruitless all because it was best that I didn’t ask questions at the time when in Thailand.
    .-= Talen´s last blog ..Chang Yim-Smiling Elephant Project =-.

  10. Catherine says:

    What a hilarious take on a birthday post. Lol! You do have a unique way of twisting a story. Nice.

    Happy blogging Birthday! And welcome to 50 years old… it’s a great time of life (and as mentioned, a ‘retirement time of life’ in Thailand)

    So this looks like we all pretty much started our blogs around the same time last year? Could be.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Interviewing Successful Thai Language Learners: David Smyth =-.

  11. Hoo Don says:

    Talen I think your use of everyday photos is excellent an example of which was the heart signs on the doors of Pookie’s family home. I do intend to take a lot more of these type of snaps on my next visit as at times I do struggle for post content. I have learned a lot from reading your blog and a big thanks for that.

  12. Hoo Don says:

    Catherine thanks for the greeting, you must have been commenting here at exactly the same time I was doing likewise on WLT. The 50 mark does now open a great big door for me in Thailand but the problem is I’ve got enough money right now to carry through it, I need to get in the position where my money sack is that heavy that I’ve got to drag it through that lovely doorway. A few more years yet.

  13. Dutchie says:

    Hey Martyn,

    *Hugs* *50 big smackers :-)* Here’s raising my glass of JD to u n wishing u many many happy returns.

    When my hubby turned 50, I did joked abt trading him in for two 25’s (year olds) … seriously tho, guys at this point in life r alot easier to live with bec they hv finally matured into a relationship. Well, at least that’s my experience.

    R u taking early retirement at 54 ?

  14. Catherine says:

    Martyn, I know from experience that the money sac needs to get heavier each year, so I planned on more than I was planning on in the beginning.

    And (baring any disasters) I’ll be fine.

    I didn’t exactly put all my eggs in one Thai basket, so I do know that if I need to walk from my investment here, I’ll be ok. Not fantastic, but ok.

    Baring any disasters, that is…
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Interviewing Successful Thai Language Learners: David Smyth =-.

  15. Catherine says:

    I am NOT superstitious, but I just gotta say this anyway…

    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Interviewing Successful Thai Language Learners: David Smyth =-.

  16. Hoo Don says:

    Dutchie – Thanks for the birthday greetings. I hope to move to Thailand in about four years time but retirement may not be an absolute option. I would like perhaps to return to the UK for 3 to 4 months each year and earn a few bob. I think doing a little work now and then would be good for the body and mind.

  17. Hoo Don says:

    Catherine I’ll knock on wood for you as well. My own retirement plans are very dependant on the UK housing market picking up over the next few years. When I do move to Thailand I want to be like you and make sure I have more than enough. I have met a few ex pats who have returned to the UK skint and they ain’t happy people at all.

  18. *lynne* says:

    Happy blog birthday! Here’s to many more to come! 🙂
    .-= *lynne*´s last blog ..Congratulations to Travel Blog Awards’ Expat Blog winners! =-.

  19. Hoo Don says:

    Thanks Lynne and I’m about to check out the Expat Blog winners. I’ve got a feeling you must be amongst them.

  20. Siam.Rick says:

    A (very) belated Happy 50th Birthday to the two of you, or is that three (some guy named Jack!)? And a big thumbs up for cracking the one-year blog barrier, HooDon. The Thai blogosphere wouldn’t be the same without TBMJ. So you’ve got your writing orders, young man (Hah! I can get away with that since I’m 50+x). I wanted to quote you above but I see I can’t select type . . . so yes, I’d love to read more about Udon province, etc. Simple is great. We have enough complicated sheeyit back home to deal with, eh? (That’s Canadian for, chai mai.)

    I’m hoping for the retirement move in (less than) 4 years, too.

    Anyway, as I said, very late. Just too much work here in the Great White North and, until tonight, I hadn’t blogged in almost two weeks. My excuses are in my blog. (I know, pathetic!) Now, I must get reading . . .


  21. Hoo Don says:

    Rick thanks for the birthday wishes and also thank you for the kind words about BTMJ. Hopefully after my trip next month I will have lots of stories and backup about Udon to keep me posting for a while.I hope you are finding time to relax a little in the Great White North and good luck with your retirement plans.

  22. Surrey Nursing Homes says:

    Once you get hooked on the pills there is no going back, no that’s a lie, but good luck with it if you do take any. Also, congrats on the year blogging. How does it feel to have a listened to voice on the Internet?

Copyright © 2023 All Rights Reserved.  WP Premium Plugin

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap