- JW Rolling -

6th January '18

I've now been in Bangkok at least once per year, for eight straight calendar years (2011 to 2018).

It's strange for me to say that, because it feels like only recently, that all I knew of Thailand was what I'd seen in Rambo IV, which I'd watched in South America.

To go from that, to being here for eight straight years makes me realise... fuck. Life is happening.

What's making me feel old at the moment, is you know those annoying 'Those were the days...' posts that people put on social media, attaching a picture of something that makes them feel nostalgic for their childhood?

I've seen a couple of them on Reddit of people posting pictures of video games or of consoles that remind them of their youth and...

That's a picture of a PS2.

When my contribution to such a post would be a NES or a Sega Game Gear, it makes me all like... fuck, I'm old.

As I said in the last blog, I had three things that I wanted to do this holiday:

And before the start of the holiday, I had three goals and three weeks to do them.

Well that seems pretty simple; break it down into a week each. A week to get back into exercising, a week to write a terrible book, and a week to look at app development and perhaps buy a Mac.

Unfortunately, having a fever for the entirety of the first week threw a wrench into my plans, so at the start of week 2, I figured I'll just exercise and write a book at the same time.

Yeah, not so much.

Since I joined the gym, my weight has gone up, my body fat percentage has gone up, and I've seen a sharp decrease in my fitness.

I am probably not the poster child they're looking for.

It wasn't like this snuck-up on me though. I take my weight and fat percentage everyday for a reason.

Rather, I just saw it as a sacrifice worth making to put all of my effort into improving my flexibility by doing yoga because... well that's my biggest weakness.

My flexibility, or lack thereof, is the thing that I see causing me the biggest problems whence I reach old age. And so better to do something to try to remedy it now, than waiting until I'm seventy and unable to pick something up off the floor.

And my attitude since joining the gym has been more or less to exercise once every weekday, and to recover over the weekends, when I'm busiest at work.

Which is fine, except I was doing yoga on four of these five days. I would sometimes do a bodyweight class on Thursday as well, but really, Tuesday was my only free day to fit in either running or swimming or weight-training and... well all of them started to get somewhat neglected.

That was what I wanted to fix this holiday, by doing less yoga, but also by exercising twice everyday as well.

And my intention was to exercise once in the morning, then once in the evening.

Maybe yoga in the morning, running in the evening, something like that.

What naturally happened was... well fuck that shit.

If you exercise twice, that means you have to go to the gym/park/pool twice, you have to get changed twice, you have to shower twice, you have twice as much laundry and... who has the time for that? Even when I have no work that's a pain.

So what naturally started happening was I'd exercise twice at one time instead.

On the Monday, I went to a hot yoga class, then went straight across the street to Lumphini Park and ran 10km.

On the Tuesday I did a weights workout, then went straight into a spinning class.

On the Wednesday it was back to yoga and running in the park straight afterwards.

And this was good. It stopped me from neglecting any type of exercise, but it didn't take up my entire day either.

In fact, if my schedule's kind and I'm disciplined, I could keep up something similar once work starts again.

Makes me wonder why I haven't been doing it like this already. Laziness I guess.

I was also having a sauna/steam after every workout, which I started just because I was still recovering from a fever, and I figured it might do me some good. Help clear my body of any remaining gunk. But then I kept up with it.

And this whole process was great. I wasn't going into any day with a preset plan; I would just exercise how I felt when I woke-up, which stifled any attempts of a routine to sneak into my lifestyle. I wasn't neglecting any type of exercise either, because I was doing so much that I had time for everything. And then... fuck I felt great afterwards. So relaxed. Floating on air.

That was the biggest problem.

You try doing an hour of hot yoga, running 10km in the lunchtime heat of the hottest city in the world, sitting in a sauna for twenty minutes... and then writing a book. Even a terrible one.

Fuck you, I'm playing Battlefield.

So my plan to do both things at once didn't materialise immediately but... I felt amazing, so fuck it.

It was less than ten months prior to this that I ran 10km around Lumphini Park in the lunchtime heat, in 43 minutes.

My time this week had been 52 minutes.

Yeah, that's bad. Losing nine minutes in less than ten months. I mean, that's fat person speed. Probably not coincidental knowing how my weight has gone up.

I was happy that I was back running 10km again, because I wasn't for a while. But seeing the speed I was doing it at, galvanised my motivation even more.

Sure, flexibility is important and my biggest physical weakness. But I can't neglect every other facet of fitness because of it.

If you give one dog too much attention, the other one will bite you in the ass.

So I was doing what I'd hoped to do in the first week of this holiday, in the second week, and was really paying attention to my health again.

Feeling motivated, making sure I had variety, determined to start running sub-45 minute 10km runs again, but not neglecting anything else to do it. All the while hoping that my new manager, whomever that my be, is kind enough with the schedule that I can keep up with this once work starts again.

It was worrying that it was only come the Thursday that I had the revelation... if you exercise in the evening instead, then you'll have free time in the morning when you feel awake and energised, to make progress on the other things that you want to do this holiday.

I'm a genius.

Except I had to go to the supermarket on Thursday morning, which takes me 2-3 hours because it's a couple of short train rides away so...

Alright, well I won't have time today then. But soon.

My exercise this day was a body-pump class followed by a spinning class. And it was sitting in the steam room afterwards, that I finally realised why I like going to the sauna/steam room so much.

I'd always figured it was just because it makes me feel so relaxed. But as I sat in there today I realised... it's the only public place I'm aware of, with absolutely no mobile phones.

You'd think that things like yoga classes would be mobile phone free, but Thailand has... a problem. I don't think it's a stretch to say that.

I worry about the social skills of humanity, twenty years from now, when then-adults have never known a life where they didn't look at a screen. Where they've never had to deal with boredom, and had to make their own fun.

It's a Steve Jobs induced worldwide pandemic, but it's as bad or worse in Thailand than anywhere else.

I'm quite literally the only person who doesn't take their phone into the gym with them.

For me, I don't see the point. I'd rather focus on exercising, but I'm the only one.

No matter where in the gym you are, every other person will have a phone in their hand.

Even the personal trainers.

Someone's paying them... I don't know, £20 per session for their guidance and expertise, and they spend half the time looking at their screens.

Yet the people that're paying them don't mind, because they're looking at their screens as well. They both suffer from the same affliction.

And this unhealthy addiction to mobile phones stretches to the vast, vast majority of people, in almost every location here.

And wracking my brains right now, I cannot think of another public place, apart from a steam room/sauna, where people don't take their mobiles.

That's what it's come down to. The only way that you can escape mobile phones, is by immersing yourself in conditions so extreme, that phones can't survive in them.

People's addictions are so absolute otherwise, that they dare not part with them.

Come the Friday I was on morning workouts again.

After body-pump followed by spinning the night before, I knew that the longer I waited before exercising, the sorer my body would get. So I did an hour of weight-training, before another hour of hot yoga. And almost as if to prove my point, one guy came into this yoga class of just three people, and laid-out three mobile phones at the front of his mat.

I can't even fathom why anyone would have three mobile phones to begin with.

And he was wearing an Apple Watch.

Alright, fuck it. I need to get back in the sauna again.

With the two hours of exercise on this morning, and the two hours the previous night, for the second time this week, I'd done four hours of exercise in less than 24 hour (having also exercised on Tuesday evening after meeting a friend in the morning).

Alright, fuck it,' I said to myself. 'I'm done.'

My body was basically broken by now. I wasn't physically fit enough to exercise like this without recovering.

I'd been planning on taking the weekend off anyway, but now it became a necessity.

Alright finally, for the first time this holiday... finally, I have no need to exercise, I'm not feeling ill. Finally I can get started on writing the world's worst book.

The question 'How long should a book be?' kind of sounds like asking 'How long is a piece of string?' but I put it into Google anyway, and there actually is an answer.

80,000 to 90,000 words.

Well that's not too bad. I've been pumping-out terrible blogs of thousands of words for almost a decade now.

I just sit-down at my laptop, let my brain do the thinking and my fingers do the typing while I sit there staring at the ceiling, and then bam, suddenly I look at my screen and there's a 5,000 word blog in front of me.

I never really have to sit here thinking about what to write, it tends to just appear naturally, and that's when I have to write true stuff.

If I'm writing a fiction book, and I can literally write anything... fuck, it'll be easy.

If I type sixty words per minute, that's 3,600 words per hour, then I can write 80,000 words in 22.2 hours.

Fuck it, I can do it in a weekend.

I didn't expect it to be quite that easy, but I wasn't expecting it to be an especially long process either, hopefully not dragging-on beyond the holiday.

And it's amazing to think now, how flippantly I consider 80,000 words, when back at university being given two semesters to write a 5,000 word essay seemed strenuous.

It's very true that students don't realise how easy they have life, until they aren't students anymore.

And it started... probably how you'd expect, when a six year-old laptop hasn't been turned-on for over a week.

Due to the capability, or lack thereof, of my laptop, it got overloaded with various updates, scans and backups after being switched-off for so long. And so the first hour and a half of writing this book was sitting there... not writing anything.

In fact, with MalwareBytes running a scan, Dropbox syncing, my laptop backing-up to an external hard-drive (which I do weekly given the precarious nature of owning a six year-old laptop), Windows Defender doing something and Windows presumably updating (which is does regularly without telling me, the only clue being my laptop is too slow to be usable for a while), I gave up and was sat on my sofa thinking fuck... I need to buy a Mac.

It was a good start.

So it wasn't until after midday that I actually put pen to paper, so to speak. And people always say that the hardest thing is having a blank page.

Not for me, I'm excellent at filling-up empty spaces. I had the first 290 words written in a flash.

Then I ran out of things to say.

Fuck, I've still got 79,710 words to go.

I forced-out a few more words, so I was past the 500 marker, but by now I'd realised... alright, this is going to be harder than I thought.

Maybe I should actually sit down and plan it a bit. Maybe think about what direction I want this story to go in, before I actually write it.

So I did.

I already had an introduction written. I had the main character. I guess that's something. Now I need to figure-out what's actually going to happen in this book, and I made some notes.

Alright, this is the first two or three chapters. I still didn't have any idea what was really going to happen though, or how it would end.

It was already the afternoon by now, so fuck it, I'm going to have a shower and a shave and make lunch.

Then I went to the park as a way of getting out of my apartment on this exercise-free day, as I had done on so many days already this holiday. And so it wasn't until almost 8pm that I was actually sat in front of my computer again, where I churned-out the next chapter, all the while thinking... fuck, this was a bad idea.

Don't get me wrong, I was quite enjoying writing. I enjoyed the imagination of creating characters and scenarios. But I was also under no illusion that what I was writing was anything but garbage.

I don't read fiction books, but I know enough to know that they have to be far more descriptive, and far more eloquently written than I was doing. And as I finished this second chapter at 22:00, which oddly took my word count to exactly 2,222, I was more realistically thinking fuck... even writing a terrible book is going to be a lot of work. Maybe doing it before the end of the holiday was a little ambitious.

In fact at this pace of 2,222 words per day, it'd take me over a month to get to 80,000.

Who knew that writing a terrible book would take so long?

And I still didn't have any idea what was going to happen.

By this point I'd introduced a couple of characters, but what's this book about?

Dunno yet, I'm just kind of waiting for my brain to figure that out.

Sunday was also a recovery day, although I perhaps took that a little too literally, when waking up shortly after 9am, it wasn't until almost midday that I really got out of bed and made breakfast.

Then I had to go to a different supermarket, such is the plight of having my diet in Bangkok, where the ingredients I like to cook with can't all be found under one roof.

I was making a vegan macaroni and cheese dish for lunch today, which is quite a long meal to put together. So having made and eaten it, it was gone 5:30pm when I finally sat down at my laptop.

And I wrote the next chapter, which was about another thousand words, meaning that at this pace, my book's going to be eighty chapters long.

But on this day, I really had no fucking clue what to write. Evidenced by the talking sheep.

So if I do ever finish this book, and if I am able to get it onto iTunes/Amazon, which is really all this little experiment is to find out, and you do happen to read it, then you'll know that the bit with the talking sheep is really when I had nothing to say.

Luckily, I was almost 77,000 words away from that happening, so this project, if I see it to its conclusion, will likely take months, rather than days as I'd anticipated. But... ah, I was kind of enjoying the experiment. It was nice to have something to aim for.

I didn't get any further on this day though, because apart from anything else, UFC 219 had been in the morning, so I was downloading it from Pirate Bay, and my laptop was struggling to handle both that and writing on Microsoft Word at the same time, so my typing was interrupted by intermittent pauses of '(not responding)'.

The 'N' on my keyboard also didn't seem to want to cooperate today as well, only typing an 'N' if I really pressed the key hard. So if in the final copy of this book there are any 'N's' missing, then you'll know why.

Does J.K. Rowling have to deal with these problems?

This was New Year's Eve, and I broke with tradition by still being awake at the stroke of midnight.

It had taken a frustratingly long time to get the UFC downloaded; Internet piracy just isn't what it used to be. And so to watch it before bed, I had to stay up into 2018.

I had dinner at the same time, and was only alerted to midnight by firewords going off in the distance, as I was stood at the sink doing my washing up.

Don't ever let anyone tell you that I don't know how to party.

The good thing about not being hungover though, was the gym was really quiet on New Year's morning, and determined to get back to exercising twice everyday again, I did a weights workout, then walked across the street and went running in the park, before sitting in the steam room for a while.

Oh yeah, this is why I started exercising in the evenings last week. It's because when I do it in the morning, I feel brain-dead for the rest of the day. And no imagination means no progress on my book... so fuck it, I'm playing on my PS4.

As can happen on these long holidays that I get, my bedtime had gradually got later and later. So my wake-up time had got later and later to compensate. So where as during term-time, I get up between eight and nine o'clock everyday, now it was closer to eleven o'clock.

I'd earmarked a couple of late-afternoon classes at the gym for the next day (Tuesday), and I'd also planned the skeleton of the next chapter of my book. So before I go to the gym and tire myself out beyond the point of rational thought, I'll get that chapter written.

By this point I was already having serious doubts about what was only supposed to be a quick experiment. Writing 80,000 words isn't as easy as it sounds. And today it was like God was testing how much I really wanted to do it.

"You want to write a book, do you? Really? Well, here's a 90-minute long Windows 10 update."

Seriously Windows? Again?

You know how when I turned you off two days ago, I clicked 'Update and shut down'?

What I kind of meant by that was update, and then shut down. I didn't mean shut down, and then wait until I want to use my computer next, and then spend the next 90-minutes updating where I can't use my computer.

I mean, it's not like I don't appreciate you forcing me to have all these new features that I'll never use and don't care about but... you know... it'd be kind of nice if I could actually use my computer... you know... maybe sometime today?

So I eventually got to sit down and write a bit more, but I quickly had to look something up online.

'Firefox is updating and will start in a few moments.'

Are you fucking kidding me?

I'd learnt a couple of lessons so far from writing this book.

One was obviously that it takes a lot longer than you might imagine to write a bookful of garbage. And the other was that... well you may think that books have chapters inserted where the story comes to a natural break, but that's not true. Books actually have chapters where the author wanted to go to a body-pump class so just said fuck it, I'm going to stop here and I'll start the next chapter tomorrow.

And on the exercise docket today was this body-pump class, followed immediately by a spinning class, which is the one thing I'm going to miss the most once work starts again.

You don't get these two classes in the late morning/early afternoon, so they're not available to me on days that I'm working, and I've enjoyed them.

I said in a previous blog how I'd grown exhausted, not by the exercise I was doing, but by the monotony of the routine I had.

Well this holiday was perfect. I was exercising a lot, but I didn't know what exercise I was going to do until I woke up in the morning.

Once I woke up, I'd check the day's class schedule at my gym. Sometimes there'd be classes I'd want to go to. On others I'd lift weights or go running. But regardless of what I did, it was spontaneous, and that made it fun.

It was the same with the food I was eating. I wasn't planning my meals days in advance. It was just ok, here's what I've got in my kitchen, I'll make...

That's how I came up with the cumin-fried potato and hummus pizza.

By this point I was well into the third week of this three week holiday, but my God it didn't feel like it.

I more or less lost the first week by being ill, but since then I'd loved it.

Quite literally all I'd done was exercise, cook, write and PlayStation.

The furthest point I'd been from my apartment for the entire holiday was the supermarket.

In fact, apart from on the very first day, when I met a friend for dinner, the only place I'd been that wasn't a fifteen minute walk from my apartment, was the supermarket. And I went to that restaurant on the way back from the supermarket.

Yet not one moment of this holiday had I felt bored or wanting to do something more. I'd loved it.

I'm pretty sure that if I became a millionaire and never had to work again, then this is what I'd do for the rest of my life.

What a beautiful existence.

On Wednesday it was another morning exercise day.

I tried to go shopping afterwards but... fuck I hate shopping.

Apart from some black clothes after the king died, and some new socks/underwear that I bought at Primark when I was in England, I haven't bought any clothes that I wear in Bangkok for more than two years.

Same t-shirts, same camo shorts, same work shirts, same work trousers for more than two years now.

It's not that I haven't needed new clothes for a while; after all, everything's kind of worn and misshapen now, not to mention that I weigh about 72kg. I was more like 66kg when I bought all this stuff, so every term my work trousers get tighter.

It's not like I haven't needed new clothes for a while, I just hate shopping. And spending money unnecessarily.

So I tried to go shopping. I went to this shopping mall and looked around. I just couldn't bring myself to actually buy anything.

Why does every t-shirt have to have some kind of design? Why do they all say some kind of message? Why can't I just buy a plain t-shirt anymore?

Having worn myself out at the gym in the morning though, and spent most of my afternoon not buying new clothes, it wasn't until Thursday morning that I sat down at my laptop to write the next chapter of my book and... yeah, this is stupid.

I know that my whole plan was to write a terrible book, but as I read over some of the 4,000+ words that I'd written so far and... yeah, this is a terrible book.

It wasn't that it was a bad idea for a story. How could it be? There wasn't yet any story.

It was more that it was written with a real lack of depth or description. The 4,000 words that I had so far should probably be 10,000. I have no idea what's going to happen next or where I'm going with it all. Let's... shelve this idea until I've got a bit more motivation. I'm going to sort-through all my photos instead.

So of my three goals for this holiday...

Number 1, have I done enough exercise?

That was an emphatic yes.

Number 2, can I write and publish a low-quality book?

That was an emphatic not without putting in way more effort than I can be bothered to right now.

Number 3, do I want to learn about app development?

That was an emphatic I haven't got around to looking into it yet, so time to move onto number 3.

I'd left this one until last, because it was going to be by far the quickest one to do.

I already knew that it was more or less only possible to develop apps, and hence learn how to do so, on a Mac. So all I could hope to do now, was look at it from the outside and try to gage whether or not it was something that I wanted to do, and was something that I was mentally capable of doing, with the reasonable confidence to spend over £1,000 on an Apple laptop.

It's fine losing the motivation to write a book when the only investment you've made has been a little bit of time. But when you're investing hundreds of pounds as well... then yeah, you want to be a bit more confident. So I just wanted to read as much as I could, to find out if this was really something that I could do.

And that's where I am now.

Today is Saturday, so I've got two days left this holiday to try and figure it out.

I'm going to be pretty sad once work starts again and I have to break-up with this beautiful life that I've lived for the last two weeks because... well it's the all around healthiest and happiest I've felt for a while.

This time last week I was feeling physically broken, but this week?

On Thursday I did a body-pump class, then went straight into a spinning class as I'd done the week before. I felt so fresh afterwards that I went straight into another spinning class right after that to try and tire myself out, and it didn't really work.

Yesterday morning I did an hour or weights followed by an hour of hot yoga, meaning roughly five hours of exercise over a period of about twenty hours, and I still felt great.

Right now I'm feeling fitter and stronger than I have done for a while and... it's such a shame I have to ruin it by "going to work" again next week.

Although as I say that, it's now early afternoon on Saturday, and I've heard not a peep from my mysterious new manager.

Normally the schedule would come on Thursday or Friday, so he's either really behind and stressing with his new job, he doesn't exist, or he's completely forgotten about me. One of those three things has happened.

So where as normally by now, I'd have my weekday schedule so could start thinking about the upcoming term; how much will I have to plan? How much time will I have for exercise? etc., today... nothing.

I don't even know the name of my manager, let alone my schedule, so...

I guess I'll just wallow in the greatness of my current lifestyle and pretend that it doesn't have to come to an end.