A Handbag Wielding Blogger

Quite a few people have said to me ‘ I could do what you do.’

They are talking about blogging and I’m sure some could do what I do and probably do it better but do they understand the commitment you have to give to this time consuming and financially unrewarding cause. There’s also the tools of the trade and the manner in which you carry them around, whether voluntary or as a means of keeping the peace.

‘ Hus…band, I want you buy this for put everything your dia..ree (blog).’
‘ Wilai it’s a bloody handbag. I ain’t carrying that thing.’
‘ Hus…band it look nice, I see many falang have same.’
‘ Wilai I ain’t walking around looking like a bloody ladyboy.’
‘ Hus…band I get angry if you not buy.’

I paid 200 baht for the thing in the top photo and nowadays I carry it around with all my blogging bits and bobs inside plus a few extras. Camera, notebook, pen, glasses, mobile, cigarettes, lighter and asthma inhaler. In days gone by Wilai used to carry it all inside her handbag, nowadays I’ve got one of my own. Unfortunately the extras on my recent Thailand trip were amoxicillin antibiotics and paracetamol. Do those people I mentioned at the start of the post realize the commitment needed to feed the cause. A blogger is never really on vacation. It’s a busman’s holiday.

The photo right is the forecourt of the Heritage Apartments in Udon Thani and is typical of the kind of spot I’ll sit alone mid afternoon or late night and lay down a post on pen and paper. From there it will be a trip to an internet cafe or hotel to put the post on my WordPress dashboard and when happy with it I hit the publish button.

Wonderful Wi is more into bites than bytes and I don’t tend to spend much time at all in the net cafes whilst on holiday. Us handbag wielding girls tend to stick together as a rule of thumb until we hit the shopping mall because that’s when I cut and run. I don’t need to be told I need any matching accessories for my long strapped multi zip monstrosity.

Our village home and the village itself has no internet at all and so late evening it’s back to pen and paper to write anything I need for reference or future posts. A trip to our local village shop sees me handbag free but always with my camera in hand, the camera I think is the bloggers biggest and most potent tool even if at times I just can’t pull the trigger.

My journey back home last week started at Udon Thani bus station to board a VIP coach to Suvarnabhumi airport and the coach stewardess was as always one very pleasing to the eye.

I didn’t pull the trigger but believe me her yellow and blue uniform clung to her well shaped body to perfection but she seemed a very rare breed of Thai girl who didn’t want her curves and natural beauty captured on film. Maybe she was just sultry or perhaps my deep hacking cough gave her that look. I do draw the line at taking photos of females if they’ve got that ‘please don’t do it’ look. Nobody knows you’re a blogger after all.

The journey is a night time trip and so the scope for photographic shots is limited and writing is not an option on the dimly lit coach. I dip into my handbag and view my collection of photos in between 40 winks. I’m going to photographically kidnap the girl next time.

Suvarnabhumi airport is a great place to take a few photos and who knows just one may launch a thousand words. It’s just the goddamn handbag that makes me feel so self conscious.

My flight from Suvarnabhumi to Abu Dhabi is an opportunity to view my photographs, make notes and perhaps compose a story. This time I missed the chance and slept, my chest virus being the major player in my game of choice. Even a blogger has to sleep sometime.

I travelled with my mate Dean and we had very little time at Abu Dhabi terminal, just a quick couple of cigarettes and the purchase of some duty frees. We were virtually the last to board but not without one big pleasant surprise. An upgrade to business class and a rare chance to clock, stock and photograph how the other half take a flight to the UK. This was one of the advantages of being a Etihad Silvercard member. My handbag sat sweetly next to me. Should I order a JD or Babycham.

The compartment was full with people dressed in neatly pressed clothes, expensive hand luggage, laptops and an old hack with a hacking cough and a handbag. About one hour into the flight one of the gorgeous air stewardesses came up and handed me a package, I froze solid. An eye mask, flight socks, lip balm, refresher mist, body lotion, tootbrush and paste plus a clear liquid in a bottle I was tempted to drink. It was all sat snugly inside a Etihad handbag she’d handed to me, unbelievable. I walked on the plane with one handbag and now I’d have to disembark at London with two. The thought of it made my nail varnish wrinkle. I just hoped it wouldn’t flake. I looked at the flight menu.

I wondered if the Branston beef fillet would come in a jar and I could spread it on the cheese. I gave it a go and on my first bite joined the famous mile high club. This was sex on a plate and funnily enough I’d had to leave Thailand to get it. I also quickly surmised that none of our works canteen ladies had ever worked on an airline, mind you a couple were cute enough to do so. Thoughts of yellow and blue.

Flying business class was a luxury, literally an office, living room and bedroom all rolled into one. How I wished I had a laptop. This was an ideal moment to put my thoughts in motion and I once again settled for good old pen and paper. Blogging bliss and champagne at the press of a button. Served by the sweetest of sweet looking girls.

I guess the point I’m trying to put over is one which says my journey back to the UK was a long one but one in which the blogger in you always stays alert even when you sleep. From Udon Thani to my hometown took over 32 hours and was tiring, had its enjoyable moments, surprises and disappointments but my commitment to my blog was always very much apparent.

So to all you non blog owners who can do what I and thousands of others can do then I’d say yes give it a go. You’ll probably make a better go of it than I do but you’re going to need a big bucketful of commitment too. Good luck.

I’d like to finish this post with a mention of a very worthy Thailand charity. The Set Foundation aims to give scholarships and other practical help to disadvantaged youngsters in Thailand. Here’s a piece from the Set Foundation’s website.

The SET Foundation has a very specific aim: to make a difference. That difference is between a youngster being able to study at a vocational college or university, or instead having to labor in the rice paddies, on a Bangkok building site, or in some other mundane, dead-end job.’

Catherine Wentworth blog author of Women Learning Thai recently wrote an article The Set Foundation : A Season for Giving Back and if you can spare a few minutes then please visit the links above and give consideration to a very worthwhile Thai charity which is making a huge difference to many young Thai peoples lives. I will shortly be receiving my first ever Google Adsense earnings and will be donating some of it to this wonderful charity. If you love Thailand then give a little love back.

Best wishes from the Beyond The Mango Juice team of myself, Wilai and the Buffalo Boys minus the rabbit but with its newest member pictured right. A real cute, scruffy looking bugger called Pepsi. He’s small enough to fit into most handbags, now there’s an idea. Wilai……


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.

21 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    Hi Martyn, having just spent the best part of an hour on the phone with you I thought I’d better leave a comment. Trouble is I reckon we said it all!!

    BTW MTF wanted to know what you said so I gave her a good tale about you having a lot of money and always flying business class. Very impressed!

    BTW I really did enjoy the post.
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..Trip to Ayuttaya and Samut Sakhon =-.

  2. Adullamite says:

    I like your handbag sweetie! 🙂 🙂
    .-= Adullamite´s last blog ..Scots =-.

  3. Simarc says:

    ahh its a nice post.. i enjoyed reading it..
    i m impressed man..

  4. Jungle Girl says:

    Hi Martyn,

    The comment of a hundred questions….

    great post, wow you are dedicated – how are you such a prolific blogger with no laptop? Its unbelievable, I can’t believe you do all your work from cafes!!!

    The handbag’s nothing to be ashamed off, it make you look like a pro (journo not working girl!!)

    When are you back?

    I’m just about to start saving for a new camera, mine finally died and so am back on an old 1970s manual one, which is fun but not nearly so efficient for blogging.
    What camera do you use?

    And finally why why why don’t you have a laptop? – do we need to start a bloggers fund for martyn’s laptop?

    .-= Jungle Girl´s last blog ..Very excited about Unearthing Asia …. =-.

  5. Hoo Don says:

    Mike I enjoyed the phone conversation. I’m sure you can spin a good espionage tale of champagne and martinis to Duen. The business class bit only comes about over the busy Christmas period when the flights are near full. Free upgrades don’t happen at other times of the year.

  6. Hoo Don says:

    Adullamite I’ve got two handbags now so I could always post one down the road to you. I’d love to see you walking through Glasgow with one.

  7. Hoo Don says:

    Simarc I kind of think your comment smacks a bit of spam but I’ll give you the benefit of doubt this time. All the best.

  8. Hoo Don says:

    Jungle Girl I only use the cafes when in Thailand. Here in the UK I have my own computer.
    I’m not so sure about the handbag making me look like a pro. Maybe I need to stick a pencil behind one ear.
    I’m back in Thailand on May 2nd. Can’t wait.
    The camera I use is a cheap Samsung PL50. I bought it for £89 after it had been reduced from £199. It takes a pretty good photo but has its limits, I like it although it wouldn’t be good enough for someone looking for more professional photos.
    I don’t have a laptop because I can’t really see as I need one. I would only need it for Thailand and I only spend about 8 weeks a year there anyhow and so it doesn’t really justify the money I’d need to lay out. Thanks.

  9. Talen says:

    Martyn, Very few people could do what you do. Just putting down words for people to see is one thing but drawing in a reader with stories about a place you obviously love is an art and you do it well.

    As for the purse, I mean bag lol I used to think the same way…last trip I realized I really needed something to carry the camera and accessories easier than a normal camera bag so I bought a bigger triangular shaped shoulder bag…and yes it matched my shoes. Likewise my girl brought up the idea first…must be a conspiracy.

    Who cares what it looks like as long as it gets the job done and at least it’s not a fanny pack.

    I’ve missed a few photos too that I thought would have been great because I felt like I was invading someone somehow…fortunately I have started to just snap away anyhow but still get a little nervous when I get caught. I’ve taken a few of the overnight bust rides and there is always one attendant that stands out.
    .-= Talen´s last blog ..Rice Paddy Fishing, the Sport of Peasants =-.

  10. Hoo Don says:

    Talen the fanny pack as you call it is known as a bum bag here in the UK and like you I absolutely detest them. There’s no way I’d ever wear one. It was due to reading your blog that I started to take a keener view towards photography. Living in the UK I need to take the photos when I’m in the LOS to give me ideas for future posts. On this trip despite feeling run down a lot of the time I still came home with 800 photos. I do draw the line towards taking photos of people if they obviously don’t want me to, respect and privacy are the words that spring to mind.

  11. Talen says:

    Martyn, I won’t take a pic if the person doesn’t look like they want one taken but I get the odd pic here and there from a distance and no one knows.

    The best part about taking so many pictures is that there are stories there that you haven’t even found or thought about yet that will come as an unexpected surprise.
    .-= Talen´s last blog ..Rice Paddy Fishing, the Sport of Peasants =-.

  12. Steve says:

    Martyn your writing is always wonderful to read and I think your comment to the non-bloggers is spot on. Not many have the dedication to not only start a blog, but to keep up with it on an ongoing basis. Really a much harder task than many think.

    I’m still a bit on the fence about the whole manbag thing though…not sure I could carry one, but maybe that just makes you a better man than me 🙂

    Typically I carry all my stuff around in a backpack when traveling…I guess that technically makes me a backpacker, but since the wife also fills 3 suitcases with stuff not really.

    I should really get more into photography when we travel as they say a picture is worth a thousand words. On all of our past trips Golf has done all the photography, but I can see that it might be a valuable addition to blogging as well as a fun hobby.

  13. Hoo Don says:

    Talen I’m with you the whole way on the picture thing, I took a distance photo of the coach hostess but it was night and it just didn’t turn out usable. My photo archives are a great inspiration too, many times I’ve plucked a post out of nowhere by just looking through them.

  14. Hoo Don says:

    Steve thanks for another great comment, you really do pen your thoughts to perfection. I think to keep a blog going you need to have a real love for writing and I mean a real deep rooted love. As far as the photography goes then see the comments between myself and Talen, they should tell you the value we both place in them. Cheers and I will get back to your email but it will take me a week or two to compile.

  15. Ratty says:

    Fun post. One thing living in a cold climate gives me is that I don’t need to carry a handbag for all of my blogging stuff. I wear a coat with a lot of pockets. I don’t take many pictures of people here, because most Americans are paranoid of photographers. They always want to talk, but if I point my camera at them they want to leave very quickly. Cameras come in very handy sometimes.
    .-= Ratty´s last blog ..A Hungry Robin =-.

  16. Hoo Don says:

    Ratty thanks for dropping by again. I’m currently living in a cold climate and yesterday I wore a warm coat with lots of pockets on a trip to my local bar. Alcohol lowers your body temperature and on leaving the bar I went to zip up the coat and the zip broke. It was bloody freezing walking home. The Brits are very similar when it comes to photos unless they’re high on alcohol of course.

  17. Catherine says:

    Martyn, my connection timed out (yeah) when I was hitting ‘send’ so I’ll try this again…

    I’m all for man bags, so when the man of the house started wittering on about them these past months (testing the waters I imagine), I said sure, fine, suits me.

    It meant that I would no longer need to stuff my purse with his two (now three) pairs of glasses, a mobile phone, and digital. And whatever else.

    So is it a female conspiracy? Heh…


    Thank you SO MUCH for posting about the SET Foundation. I rarely support charities, and for good reason. This one is a keeper.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..My 30 Day Thai Language Trial: Week Two =-.

  18. Hoo Don says:

    Catherine I’ve always put my stuff into Wi’s handbag in the past and that’s probably why she suggested I purchase the little number in the post.
    No worries on the Set Foundation bit, I’m just glad to try and help keep the ball rolling. I was reading on there that I can make a payment through the UK office. That somehow makes me feel a lot happier about things as I can send a cheque rather than put my card details on the net.

  19. Catherine says:

    Cheques – a flash from the past! We can’t get cheques in Thailand. I do not know how that came about… counterfeit problems perhaps? I was thrilled to see that SET uses paypal (less stuff to type in than Visa, etc).
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..My 30 Day Thai Language Trial: Week Two =-.

  20. Siam.Rick says:

    Great post Martyn. You are absolutely right. People do not realize how much time and dedication it takes to produce a blog. Last night, a Friday night in Bangkok, I worked on one post for probably close to five hours, a good hunk of that looking over photos from the present and past, post-processing them a little (brightness, contrast and saturation), writing and rewriting. But I do not know how you can write with, what was that, “pen and paper.” Sounds positively Dickensian.

    I think you’ve inspired me to write “so you think you can blog” post. BTW, my man bag has two straps and form fitting backpack.

    On the photo front, I am very reluctant to take a picture of someone head on without permission. I’ve missed shooting so many pretty uni, er, girls.
    .-= Siam.Rick´s last blog ..Vientiane a peaceful retreat from chaos of Bangkok =-.

  21. Hoo Don says:

    Rick it would surprise many people to know how sometimes a post can take hours to put together and yet only 90 seconds to read. The pen and paper bit is only in Thailand as I don’t have the internet at our village house and when staying in hotels I like to sit outside with a beer or two and write. Likewise some of the girls I haven’t had the bottle to snap has left me with big regrets many a time.

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