News & Insights 7 October 2007

The Ultimate Paradise

The ultimate paradise..!Sunday 7 October, 6pm (Poolside, Phuket, Thailand):
I am reclining on a sun lounger beside a lagoon-like pool, flanked by coconut trees and rich, exotic vegetation, watching the early evening sun set exquisitely over the Bay Of Bengal. It is nearing the close of our first day here and it has already become clear to me that our Lonely Planet guide to Thailand isn’t exaggerating when it calls Phuket “the ultimate paradise”. And coming from someone who has actually been to the Coral Reef Leisure Centre in Bracknell, that’s saying a lot.

Our hosts, Athena and Russell, gave us a champagne reception when we arrived at Phuket airport yesterday, and their hospitality has continued to be first-rate ever since. Athena is very kindly putting us up for a few days in her stunning ocean-view home on the south-east coast of the island, and has been diligently plying us with Thai beer and tea to keep us amused.

Today, everybody went to local bar The Green Man to watch British hope Lewis Hamilton emphatically not winning the Grand Prix. I’d like to tell you what happened but unfortunately I can’t because I wasn’t there. Thing is, when I woke up this morning, I felt awful. I mean, really awful. I could sense as soon as I opened my eyes that my glands were swollen and my cheeks were puffy, but even that didn’t prepare me for what I saw when I looked in the mirror. I had a face like a bag of smacked badgers. I immediately began to panic. What could this be? I was fine yesterday. Had I picked up some rare and hideous strain of Elephantitis on the plane? Would my head continue expanding indefinitely until erupting dramatically like the dude from Scanners? Cripes. I really need my head. I’m quite attached to it in fact. 

This elephant lived in our hotelFortunately, after a day’s ocean-watching from the vantage point of Athena’s terrace on the mountainside, I feel a whole lot better, and my face has returned to its customary shape and size. Plus the boys arrived back from their first excursion on the island with the news that they’ve booked us another gig – this Wednesday at The Green Man. Sneaky buggers. I’m supposed to book the shows. Will have to stick close by them from now on, lest this kind of behaviour continues and they discover just how easy my job really is…

******

As we head out in a taxi for a bite to eat and a few drinks, Tony leans over to me and asks “What are the odds, do you think, that we’ll end up singing drunken karaoke to the hits of The Monkees in some obscure bar tonight?”. I chuckle, reflecting that if it weren’t for the fact that we’re not going anywhere near a karaoke bar this evening, it would be a highly likely occurrence. This tends to happen quite a lot when we’re on tour in Asia, you see. I am reminded of our first ever experience of Norebang in Korea in 2006, when I sang my heart out to Rage Against The Machine and John sang Beat It an entire octave lower than Michael Jackson. Classic.

We are heading back to The Green Man because, ahead of our gig there on Wednesday, we’ve decided to have a quick chat with the resident band, who are very graciously lending us their equipment for the show. Well, I say “chat”. That may be a rather grandiose term for two minutes of enthusiastic nodding, confused squinting and the excessive repetition of the only thing we know how to say in Thai. “Thank you” is a useful term but it turns out that building an entire conversation on it is simply impractical.

Tony jamming in The Green ManAn hour into their set, the resident band welcome us to Phuket, which is jolly nice of them. Next they welcome us on stage, which is odd, because we’re not playing tonight. We smile and pretend not to understand them, but it seems they really do want us up onstage. Athena gives her approval (she’s flown us over here so what she says pretty much goes!) and we jump up onstage and bang out a few tunes. It’s great to be playing again. When we’ve finished, the small crowd bay for more; however, we are under strict instructions not to give too much away tonight, so as to keep people hungry for the main show on Saturday. So we return to our bottles of Chang and enjoy the rest of the resident band’s set. A 5-piece Thai rock group playing Kylie Minogue’s Locomotion in a mock-Tudor English pub – it really doesn’t get much better than that, I’m telling you.

Oh, and before the night finishes we end up singing drunken karaoke to the hits of The Monkees. Old habits die hard, I guess…

Chris Lightyear
© 2022 The Lightyears. All rights reserved.