Back in April last year (2009) I had a flying visit from Ben Groundwater who stayed for two days as part of a whirlwind world tour. Please read this blog entry first about his visit.
Ben has a very successful travel blog with the Sydney Morning Herald and had put the call out to his readers to invite him to spend a few days living the life through an expats eyes at various countries from around the world. He mentioned to me via email that he was thinking of writing a book about his adventures but by the time he arrived (a few months later) I had forgotten all about that. Imagine my surprise when a few months ago I got an invitation from Ben to his book launch in Sydney!
A few weeks later a copy of his book which is titled 5 ways to carry a goat arrived via post. It was with some nervousness that I picked it up and delved straight to the chapter titled Thailand, 21 pages later I breathed a sigh of relief. As I had forgotten he was writing a book there was no need to put on any airs and graces and so I didn’t! He got the real me, and the real Thailand – and that’s what I was worried about! I needn’t have worried as compared to some other chapters I came out quite good and more importantly Ubon Ratchathani and in particular my little village came out smelling like roses!
I read an online interview with him and one question had me very interested in his reply.
How did you write the book? Were you constantly jotting down everything?
I was, but I tried not to be too obvious about it! I carried around a little notebook with me wherever I was, and tried to discreetly jot things down as they happened. Not to the point where I was locking myself in the toilets at the pub to transcribe entire conversations, but I would just jot down basic events to jog my memory later. People’s turns of phrase were a big one for me—I really wanted to capture people’s voices well, so I paid a lot of attention to things they said, and wrote down little notes about it when they’d gone somewhere else. Then whenever I had a block of spare time—say, on a train or plane—I’d get out my laptop and write out all of my notes, and the conversations I’d had, while they were still fresh in my mind.
Well he sure wasn’t very obvious at all because I never saw any notepad! I must admit I am sure there are a few quotes of mine in the book that aren’t quite correct as there are some words that I just never use but overall I think he did a very fine job. What did shock me however is how Australian I talk – my goodness, the slang that I use – what an ocker!
The rest of the book included chapters from Korea, China, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, the Netherlands, UK, Brazil, USA and Canada. It is an easy read but a really good one as well. Well worth picking up a copy if you get a chance. It is available in most book shops in Australia or you can order it online.