After reading the post title you may be wondering if lately I have been suffering with intellectual deterioration, social isolation and disorganized speech. Not at all, my life has always been like that. The pharmaceutical company that I work for produces over a billion tablets each year and the largest market is for a pill that controls schizophrenia, over the last few days I’ve been wondering if I should start taking some.
Today is my 50th birthday and tomorrow the birthday bash of Beyond The Mango Juice as it celebrates one year of riding the high waves of the Thai blogosphere. With a busy day ahead of me opening birthday cards, eating cake and downing many celebratory drinks I started it off by first sitting down and having a long talk to myself. Two cakes and one schizophrenic.
The Birthday Interview
proudly sponsored by Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
Martyn:Congratulations Hoo Don on making it to your first birthday. How has the past year been for you.
Hoo Don: Let me just say happy 50th to you, that’s a lot of years. Were newspapers around when you were born.
Martyn:HD. Cut the crap, have a piece of cake and get on with it.
Hoo Don: BTMJ was actually launched in October last year but previous to its conception I had another rather cheap and tacky blog site that I started on August 12th that year. I uploaded some of the posts from that site and BTMJ was born. The past year has been an exciting and educational one for me in that I have had to learn the tricks and guile to establish myself on the blogosphere. Over the 12 months I have had a mammoth amount of help from fellow bloggers and I appreciate that without them BTMJ would probably not be around now. The year has been a tough learning curve with the home straight never in sight but at every pit stop I’ve had the most amazing crew to advise and encourage me. I won’t ever forget that.
Martyn: During the first year were you ever near to giving up on Beyond The Mango Juice.
Hoo Don: It has never entered my mind as I always had the intention of making the first year one to merely try and get BTMJ accepted on the Thai blog scene as an okay read with possible future potential. I think I have now achieved that.
Martyn: What is behind the Beyond The Mango Juice title. What does it mean.
Hoo Don: Simple. The blog is meant to be mainly centred around village life in Udon Thani but as I don’t live there then I have to more often than not recall previous tales from elsewhere and also some topical debate. However I rarely mention Bangkok (big mango) and its rich culture and vibrant nightlife (juice), making Beyond The Mango Juice.
Martyn: Staying with names. Where the hell did you get yours from.
Hoo Don: It’s a breakdown of a phonetic way of spelling Udon as in Udon Thani. Udon becomes Hood on, so I split it down the middle to make Hoo Don. I could lie and say my real name is Donald and I’m hung like a horse.
Martyn: Your first year produced over 100 posts, what is your favourite so far.
Hoo Don: That’s easy to answer. The Beginning Part Two is all about my first day in the Land of Smiles back in 1999 and is a story that I feel says the most about my writing. The post has a fairly fast punchy rhythm with the odd splattering of humour and I think it is probably the best script that I have put out to date. Unfortunately my writing has rarely hit those heights since. To stretch your question a little further I would add Crossed Wires and Being Frank, Regrets I’ve Had A Few as my funniest and most novel posts and Living A Dream as the one I most enjoyed writing although the script is rather poor.
I wrote Living A Dream at our village home in Udon Thani and the post was a chance to live my boyhood dream of being a sports journalist. There was a muay kai (cock fighting) bout taking place in the village and I went along to write a report on it for a post in BTMJ. I watched the fight, took loads of photos, had plenty to drink and then went home well pleased with myself. Feeling rather drunk I decided to sleep things off on the living room sofa and when I woke up hours later I couldn’t remember either of the fighting cocks names or even who’d won it. So I made up a story. With pen and paper and Wonderful Wi sleeping on the sofa I knocked back the Jack Daniels, smoked loads of cigarettes and nailed my story. Happy days and fond memories.
Martyn: And your favourite photo.
Hoo Don: The very simple one below. Me walking our two dogs Cola and Gaan up the tree lined stretch of road leading to Ban Norn Chad. The stick I am carrying is not because of any disability it was just to whack anything nasty that might come along.
Martyn: Any change of direction planned for Beyond The Mango Juice over the next 12 months.
Hoo Don: Not really just the ever hopeful desire to write a few more serious and well written posts. I also need to make more of my time in Thailand by being more aware of everything going on around me by clocking and stocking some of the everyday simple things that make interesting posts. I need a lot more Udon Thani / rural themed posts, get out into the rice fields and give it a go type of post. The problem is there’s no beer or ashtrays in the fields and that creates an embarrassingly difficult choice for me.
Martyn: Regrets you’ve had a few so spit a couple out.
Hoo Don: Time is the one thing I regret if that’s the right word, I just don’t have enough of it. I do appreciate the well paid employment I have but it leaves me with so little time to attend to my blog and I really would like some excessive free time to write, write, write. That’s only one regret because I haven’t got two.
Martyn: What are your goals over the next 12 months.
Hoo Don: I recently hit 3000 visitors in one month which I’m pretty pleased about and this time next year I would like that figure to be over the 4000 mark. The 3000 figure is good until you analyse it. I have a 77% bounce rate which I consider to be way too high and 54% of my visitors arrive from search engines (keyword search), again a little too high. I once read that if your subscribed readers figure is below 20 then don’t display it with a widget on your site. My reader count is around 12 and it’s there for everyone to see, I need to address that by getting it higher. Only quality and interesting articles will do that.
Martyn: Finally a few words of your own.
Hoo Don: I would like to say a big thank you to my readers and an even bigger one to the wonderful authors of the blogs in my sidebar and also to the many other blog writers whose wonderful scripts I regularly read but have no space to link. Thanks for making it a marvelous first year for Beyond The Mango Juice.
Martyn: I think it best I get hold of one of those tablets and we split it down the middle.
Hoo Don: We could wash it down with your Jack Daniel’s.
Martyn: No chance. You’re too young to drink.
Hoo Don: Bastard.
Best wishes and stay your way
Photograph Health Showcase by Juhansonin
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