the buffalo funeral: soundbites from a songbird in siam
Asia is exotic, quirky, bizarre, beautiful and above all completely captivating. In fact Ange Takats was so betwitched by Thailand during an Intrepid trip that it led her to many more amazing adventures throughout the region and eventually the writing of her very own book…
“It’s not every day that an Australian girl finds herself attending a funeral for a water buffalo in Thailand… but that’s exactly what happened when I took up a job as a foreign correspondent in Southeast Asia.
The buffalo’s name was Boonlert and his big dead body was hanging inside a shed in a remote Thai village, with fairy lights wrapped around his horns and flowers stuffed into his ears. There were Buddhist monks, draped in orange robes, praying in front of him when I arrived with my cameraman and the spectacle of that story proved to be so memorable that it inspired the title of my memoir: The Buffalo Funeral: Soundbites from a Songbird in Siam.
I was 22 years old when I quit my job in Sydney and moved to Bangkok… and I can thank an Intrepid trip for being the catalyst! I had fallen in love with the Land of Smiles during a life-changing hilltribe trek, four months prior, and decided I wanted to move there.
My parents weren’t exactly sold on the idea (I think my father’s words were: “Why don’t you move to London like all the other Aussie girls?”) but I was determined and after several weeks of emailing the major media organisations, I had secured myself a job with an international news company.
Little did I know that my new gig would involve running from rockets at a rainmaking festival, interviewing heroin addicts in Hanoi, being chased by a tiger in a Buddhist monastery, witnessing a drug bust in the hills of Northern Thailand, and having my breasts massaged with Tiger Balm whilst filming a story about Thai boob jobs!
It was during my time in Asia that I was sent to cover the most significant story of my career – the release from house arrest of Burmese Democracy Leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 2002. I feel so blessed to have been in Burma on such an historical day and to have had the chance to interview a truly remarkable woman.
Strangely enough, it was in Thailand that I was also able to pursue my passion for music. I landed a second job as a singer in a folk rock band and spent my weekends drinking sweet Thai whisky and performing old hippie songs with some of Bangkok’s finest musicians. The guys in my band not only taught me a hell of a lot about singing, but they became my family, and showed me a magical side of Bangkok that I never would have discovered on my own.”
Ange Takats is a Queensland-based songwriter, journalist and first-time author of The Buffalo Funeral: Soundbites from a Songbird in Siam. For more information and to view Ange’s travel gallery, go to www.angetakats.com.au.
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You can check out other recommendations from Intrepid Express readers by clicking on the ‘books for your backpack’ travel theme in this blog or seeing the latest book reviews on the Intrepid travel website.