It’s strange being back in a place so different from the small village in Nottingham I’ve temporarily relocated to, and yet find it so familiar. Bangkok’s streets are still a sweltering uneven mass of concrete crowded with sellers of every type of Thai cuisine imaginable, dogs, shop houses, the odd down-and-out, farang in bootlegged t-shirts, bike taxi gangs, and all the attendant drama of a major Asian city. Prior to coming out me, Sarah and the boys had gone sledging. A week later I’m eating at a pavement stall in my shorts and sandals. Everything is different, but our time here and personal knowledge of the city all comes back with clarity.
The Paradise Bangkok 3rd Anniversary had been a huge success. It was a much bigger affair than some our more intimate parties, but the band really tore the roof off, and seemed as overwhelmed as us from the crowd, (mostly foreigners and Bangkok Thais) and their reaction. It was the first gig they’d played in the city for nearly 40 years, and they buzzed through their repertoire with confidence and swagger. It was extremely satisfying and for the ensuing days me and Nat regularly bumped into people who had been in attendance, whether it was at the bar next to the ZRM record store, or, most suprisingly, in a French creperie uptown. All the feedback was positive.
My first week back was peppered with catching up with old faces as well as discussing with Nat plans for our fledgling label, which we’d also launched at the party. After reacquainting myself with some of the record stores that had aided me on this strange journey back in 2008, it was time to make plans to head to Jakarta. A further round of research and digging was on the cards after last year’s trip, and logistics allowing I was hoping to visit the famous flea market in Surakarta, further inland. Thus far my plans are open, and I’ll hit the Jalan Surabaya first thing. Having checked the weather, it seems that we’re in for a week of thunder storms, barely ideal for looking for records in an outdoor market! What I’ll find I’m not entirely sure on this trip, but, as one man correctly put it, “Fail we may, sail we must.”