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Bruce Stanley

This month we hitch a ride with long-time Phuket resident Bruce Stanley to find out more about his adventures in travel and writing.

January 2016

Where are you from?
I was born in Las Vegas, Nevada, and lived with my grandparents who owned and operated a resort catering to women. In the 1950s, Nevada was the only state that granted a quick divorce requiring just a six-week residency. So at our resort we had about 20 women in residence each for six weeks. They spent their time gambling, giving each other manicures and talking to me.

What did you do before you came to Phuket?
I’ve always been a writer. As a child, I recognised that putting words together created energy and interest. Since the mid-1960s I’ve made a living by writing. Sometimes as a war or conflict journalist and other times writing about lifestyles and occasionally some poetry and fiction.

When did you move to Phuket?
I had been living in Canada for many years and wanted to return to the vitality of the tropics. After travelling around Southeast Asia for six months I was offered a job in Bangkok as curator at an art gallery. But I felt suffocated by such a big urban environment and was then invited to join the opening faculty at the local campus of Prince of Songkla University in 1992. It was impossible to say no.

We understand you’ve done a lot of travelling in your lifetime. Could you tell us more about it?
I don’t know why I’ve had a lifelong obsession with exploring this planet. It’s almost an instinct.

As a child in Las Vegas, I was influenced heavily by the Middle East as the casinos and night clubs had names like the Sahara and the Dunes. The terrain of Nevada is like the Middle East, so I wanted to go to that part of the world. Mesopotamia and Babylon conjured up romantic images.

When I got there some years later, I had quite a different response, but I travelled on and lived in Afghanistan before spending a lot of time in India. The next years found me wandering around Africa, which was very exciting in the years after independence from the colonial powers − and before the devastation of Aids.

Whereabouts do you live in Phuket?
I’ve lived in the same house in Chalong for 20 years. I wouldn’t call it home but more a storage house for textiles and art from almost 50 years of travels. I plan to have it all cremated with me when I die.

Whereabouts do you live in Phuket?
I’ve lived in the same house in Chalong for 20 years. I wouldn’t call it home but more a storage house for textiles and art from almost 50 years of travels. I plan to have it all cremated with me when I die.

Could you tell us more about your children?
My four children all live on the west coast of Canada where their idea of a good time is to go camping. They have little interest in the bigger world. I don’t know how I could have inspired such contented souls. And now they’ve presented me with grandchildren, a new happiness about which I’m very enthusiastic.

Where do you plan to travel next?
I have travel buddies. Adventure guys. Next month we are heading to the southern tribal regions of Ethiopia. You have to catch a tribal culture before they vanish like they have in Northern Thailand.

What do you think the future holds for you?
I hope to finish the two books I am starting and I also hope to organize my boxes of travel and art documents. As I’m facing the last quarter of life, I’m intrigued about exploring the inner person rather than rushing around the planet.

What do you do with your free time here?
I really enjoy riding my motorcycle around Phuket and feeling the wind wrap around my body. I also spend a lot of time alone and value what used to be called contemplation. Pondering the past and how I could have responded to events differently. Re-evaluating relationships and pondering if I’ve done enough to justify this gift of Life.

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