Book Review: Ange Takats
Twenty-two year old Ange Takats has no idea what is about to hit her when she arrives in Bangkok to take up a job as a foreign correspondent.
Her journalism degree proves handy when she's granted an interview with Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi. But textbooks won't help her when she is being chased by a tiger in a Buddhist monastery...or having her breasts massaged with Tiger Balm while filming a story about Thai boob jobs.
Ange dives into the bizarre side of Thai reporting life and finds herself saying a prayer at a funeral for a water buffalo.
As if her day job isn't colourful enough, Ange decides to pursue her passion for music - landing a gig in a folk rock band with a couple of whisky swigging Thai musicians.
Between the exotic assignments and late-night jam sessions, she falls in love with a Romanian Canadian in the jungles of Laos... Should she follow the man who just might be ‘the one' or keep living her life of adventure in the Land of Smiles?
It seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime when 22-year-old journalist Ange Takats left for Bangkok to work as a TV producer and correspondent for an Asian media company.
She spent two years on the job covering assignments that ranged from filming a drug bust in the hills of northern Thailand, being chased by a tiger in a Bhuddist monastery, to running from rockets at a Thai rainmaking festival.
By the time she returned to Australia in 2002, Takats had enough material for a book and songs.
However, it was only in recent years that Takats decided to fulfil her dreams of recording her own music and writing a book about her Asian adventures.
She released her debut album, Aniseed Tea, in 2009 and her book, The Buffalo Funeral: Soundbites From a Songbird in Siam last month.
"Once I had released Aniseed Tea and performed at some concerts and tours, people said they enjoyed the songs and really liked my stories behind the songs," she told The AJN.
Takats had kept diaries of her work in Thailand with the plan to write a book.
"Two years ago I thought that it was time to start on the book," she explains.
"I love writing lyrics, but there's only so much you can say in a four-minute song. This book is a way of paying tribute to the cameramen, musicians and beautiful souls who shared life with me during my time in Thailand."
Takats self-published her 300-page book this year, which is filled with stories of her adventures.
"Thailand is an extremely colourful and crazy country," she says. "To be 22 and live there on your own and work as a foreign correspondent was exciting and amazing, even though I was working for pathetic pay."
The book's title, The Buffalo Funeral, is taken from one of her assignments where she attended the funeral of the beast, named Boonlert, that had become one of Thailand's biggest movie stars.
The buffalo had exceptionally long horns and had been spotted in a rice paddy by the film's director, who promptly made it the star of his new movie, Bang Rajan.
A month after filming was completed, the buffalo dropped dead and the cast and crew decided to hold a special funeral ceremony attended by many of the villagers and the media.
Takats grew up in Sydney and attended the Charles Sturt University at Bathurst, completing a bachelor of arts in communication degree. She worked as a producer for the Nine Network's Today show for two years before working for the Thailand-based TV network.
While in Thailand, Takats pursued her passion for music and managed to score a regular singing gig at Bangkok's Timebottle Bar after meeting a local folk-rock band.
It meant being on stage for two hours playing her favourite Joni Mitchell songs, which she described as an "amazing experience".
After returning to Australia, Takats worked in corporate PR. A few years ago she moved to the Sunshine Coast, settling at Peregian, just south of Noosa, where she combines her work as a freelance communications consultant with songwriting - she is working on a new album titled Arva - and promoting her book.
"It is a beautiful spot and an amazing cultural base," she explains. "Since moving here, I have done some serious songwriting and met people who have encouraged me to record. I had lost my music for a few years after returning from Bangkok."
Takats is gearing up for a busy performance schedule.
"I hope my music will spur interest in the book," she says. "It's not every day that a folk singer rocks up to a festival with a CD and a book. In between gigs the fans can do some reading."