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Paduka Fansiar is a beloved Phanganist reporter and we are happy to share his story with our readers too!
We are happy and very lucky to be able to share all Paduka's Phanganist writings here and we are very grateful to be working with an already skilled reporter who been working and writing out of Malaysia for many years now, though been loated on our Phangan!!
"Travelling has always been in my blood. My father was a career diplomat for the Malaysian embassy and I was born in Jakarta when he had his first posting in Indonesia.
After that, the family travelled with him to Laos, Rome, Hong Kong, London and finally Islamabad before he retired and headed back to Malaysia."
"In London I did my law degree at Middlesex University and my solicitor’s examinations at the College of Law in London. It was there that I spent most of my growing years.
I was there when Blur and Pulp both burst into the Britpop scene. I went to my first concert in London. I went to my first rave in London. I went to my first music festival in London. I had my first love in London. I had my first fistfight in London.
I even got chased by big burly bald BNP skinheads AND I got chased by the cops in London (for unrelated reasons).
London was my favourite place to be.
Or so I thought.
The one thing I love most about London is that it became my gateway to Europe.
It was in London that I got bit hard by the travelling bug. And in the 1990s, travelling was exceedingly cheap.
You can start off on a bus in London to Dover, grab the ferry to Carlisle and be in Amsterdam all under £50. With a student ID, you can get even less.
During uni, every summer holidays, my friends and I would travel all the way to Vatnajökull in the North, Córdoba to the West, Kraków to the East and Ayia Napa to the South.
And it was during these trips that I started a traveling journal.
This was way before Facebook, so there is no other medium for us to upload a picture of where we were or treasure such memories unless you start collecting your thoughts and writings down on a journal.
Mine even had countless stub tickets from the many busses/trams/planes/trains and other automobiles we took.
Along with my every day musings, my journal had theater tickets, stolen cafe menus, motel/hotel leaflets, copious amount of napkins from the numerous restaurants we visited and slowly, but surely, my journal became my obsession.
The more I write in my journal, the more I want to travel so that I can put more memories in it.
By the time I was 21, I used to boast to everyone that I had been to 21 countries. And I made it a point to go somewhere new every year. Now I’m… a lot older than 21, but I’ve only been to 30. Time to catch up.
The first time I reached Koh Phangan, circa 2006, was by mistake.
My friends and I were on a ferry from Samui on the way to Chompon to head back to Bangkok when the ferry had some engine trouble so we had to stop at this neighbouring island called Phangan that I’d never even heard of.
We were in a hurry to catch the Bangkok to Chiang Mai train that we were quite upset that we had to spend a night on this island.
But, for some reason, even at first sight I had a calming sense flowing all over me. That kind of excited feeling you get when you see a new island.
Although with fewer shops, Thongsala was bustling back then. There were loads of beautiful farangs with tie dye shirts and skimpy skirts and colorful hair walking around with guitars or just lazing on the beach. Just my kind of people, I thought.
I did feel a little regret that I didn’t have the chance to explore the island more when I had to leave the next day.
But I also did feel like I will be back again one day.
Back in Malaysia, I didn’t agree with the legal system there so decided not to practice law. Instead, I fell back to the only other skill I have. Writing.
I started working with an English-based Malaysian newspaper, from a photojournalist to a cub journalist to a court reporter to a writer to a reviewer (food/art/theater) and a subeditor. I currently work for a Malaysian online newspaper.
Basically, the reporters will email me their stories. I check the spelling, grammar, put in a heading, picture, caption and upload the story onto the website. I don’t have to be physically in the office and can work anywhere there’s WiFi.
So, four years ago, I decided to head back to Thailand. More specifically, Phangan. I’ve been to almost all the major islands Thailand has to offer, but Phangan has a special place in my heart. To friends who have never been, I describe it like a magnet that keeps pulling people back again and again.
The people here adhere quite well to my philosophy in life: You treat me good, I’ll treat you much much better… you treat me bad, I’ll treat you much much worse.
Here, I’m surrounded by beautiful souls from all over the globe from so many different backgrounds and religion and culture. All learning to live together.
Last night on Bantai beach we had a sufi, a Hassidic jew and an atheist sharing dinner together while talking about life and love and music and art.
We didn’t always agree… but we didn’t argue. We didn’t fight. We didn’t kill each other. We didn’t insult each other. We ended the night hugging and wishing well at each other.
Not many people anywhere in the world can boast doing such a thing. Only on Phangan.
All the people are here for so many reasons.
All have their own personal stories to tell.
And it is these stories that I’m after. Real personal stories. From real people. Living real lives.
I decided to share my stories on Phanganist. And I’m looking forward to share yours too!"