A big farewell to a fine Thai journalist
It was sad to learn of the passing of former Bangkok Post colleague Anussorn Thavisin earlier this week at the age of 79. I had known Anussorn for 50 years and apart from him being a really nice chap with a lovely sense of humour, he was also an accomplished journalist widely admired by everyone in the profession.
Anussorn joined the Post back in 1971, less than two years after me, so as regards to news events we experienced much the same things over the subsequent five decades including assorted coups, floods and dramas unique to Thailand. He was always so cheerful and positive and certainly raised my spirits on occasions when I was down in the dumps.
A softly spoken man, Anussorn was the first person I would turn to on matters of Thai culture as he could always explain complicated things so well. There was a period when we shared duties on the newsdesk at the Post as chief sub-editor and we would console one another with tales of how demanding the job could be at times.
Someone who knew Anussorn from those early days was former Post Deputy Editor Peter Finucane who recalled this week that Anussorn's "sense of humour and wit brightened up many a dull news day".
Peter noted that "as a journalist Anussorn was extremely versatile serving as a reporter, news editor, chief sub-editor, editor of the Bangkok World… and then Student Weekly until he retired in 2000."
It was a little while before I discovered that Anussorn had experienced a remarkable overland trip from London to Bangkok in 1970. By coincidence only a year before I had made a similar journey with virtually the same route through Asia, Istanbul, Mashhad, Herat, Kandahar, Kabul, Peshawar and New Delhi.
Anussorn had just graduated from Manchester University in Electrical Engineering & Electronics and wanted to get back home to Thailand. So he bought a second-hand Land Rover and persuaded three English college mates to join him on an expedition back to his homeland driving across Europe and Asia.
Anussorn was the only Thai I have ever met who had experienced that gruelling trip although there are possibly others around. He did not boast about it at all, that just wasn't in his nature. But he acknowledged it was one of the best times of his life and always encouraged young people to embark on similar trips if possible.
Fulfilling a dream
In a fascinating interview with Asaree Thaitrakulpanich on the Khaosod English website in Sept 2019, Anussorn explained: "It was my dream to do an overland journey. At the time, it seemed like everyone was driving from Europe to India because it was in fashion. But I hadn't heard of a Thai doing it."
The interview includes a host of entertaining anecdotes from Anussorn and he admits he slept during the entire journey through the Khyber Pass.
After Delhi, Anussorn drove down to what was then Ceylon before flying to Singapore and waiting for the Land Rover to arrive on the ferry. After that they drove up the peninsular through Malaysia into Thailand, finally reaching Bangkok six months after they had set off.
It was a case of a dream fulfilled.
Evening with Cash
When I was on a brief trip to England in the 1980s, by chance Anussorn and I bumped into one another on a London street and he took me to a flat somewhere in West London to see one of his old college chums. Anussorn's friend was a huge Johnny Cash fan and we spent the evening listening to vinyl Cash albums and eating fish and chips. To round off the evening we nipped down the pub for a pint.
Whenever I hear a Cash song it always sparks memories of that unscheduled evening in London which was so simple yet such fun.
The closing down of the Bangkok World in 1987 must have been a difficult time for Anussorn. In his capacity as editor he had put so much effort into making it a lively publication and had certainly achieved that. But the economic situation around the world was such that afternoon newspapers could not survive. He was rightly proud of the relatively small team that put out the World and it was clear they all respected him hugely.
Among them was Tony Waltham who worked closely with Anussorn for many years. This week Tony recalled: "When I was Deputy Editor of the Bangkok World in the late 1980s and Anussorn was the Editor, I made the following observation: 'Khun Anussorn is the best boss I could imagine, a wonderful guy.' He continued to have my highest respect over the following 30-plus years until his passing and we had remained close, sharing many upcountry trips and making frequent visits to restaurants together. May I offer my deepest condolences."
In the last issue of the World on Aug 29, 1987 Anussorn wrote an eloquent farewell article. The front page carried a large photo of the understandably melancholy-looking staff under the simple but effective headline "Goodbye and Thank You".
Anussorn cared about his staff and you can be sure he took them to a restaurant to give the paper a decent final send-off. Now it's time to say "Goodbye and Thank You" to Anussorn. RIP
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Bangkok Post columnist
A long time popular Bangkok Post columnist. In 1994 he won the Ayumongkol Literary Award. For many years he was Sports Editor at the Bangkok Post.
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