Chapter the First
Being the full and true Description of a voyage to the strange planet of Chaostika in the Outer Region of Llihelom, and with the beings who reside in a Kingdom known as Thailand, including a Full Account of the Customs, Habits, Beliefs and Quaint Behavior of the Inhabitants. In One Volume.
As all good citizens of Candidata are now aware, accompanied by my younger sister Silaic and my older brother Artivel, I was attempting to explore the exotic but dangerous space streams known as the Pulsarian Path first reported by that intrepid explorer Lady Ecila of the planet Dnalrednow. When our spaceship was approaching the Outer Orbital Flow Galaxy it was hit by space debris from various crude space satellites which had been launched from a small, insignificant, uncharted planet, and despite our best efforts to reach the safety of the Frodorian Pulsars of Dune, we were forced to land on the planet, the planet now known to us as Chaostika, but known to the inhabitants of the planet as “Earth”. As it turned out, we landed safely in the middle of a muddy, snake-filled rice field not far from an area of civilization the people of that region call Khon Kaen.
I cannot say often enough how grateful I am to the good people of this northeast region for their graceful welcome and wonderful accommodation. And to those in charge of the Kingdom ruling from a center capital known as Krungthep who gave my brother and sister and myself many extensive tours of their area of the planet known to them as the Kingdom of Thailand.
I would be less than honest if I were not to admit that there were times when I felt I was a stranger in a strange land, but it must be made clear that I have great admiration for the inhabitants of the Kingdom. It should also be understood that this text is designed mainly for edification and as an instructional tome for the children of Candidata, and any reader who construes its contents as an attempt on the part of the author to deprecate the habits, customs, beliefs and practices of this amazing Kingdom – however backward or bizarre they may appear to those of us on our more advanced planet of Candidata – is gravely misjudging my motives.
The Author Describes the varied and exotic Flora and Fauna of the Kingdom
When I visited the wonderful capital of this Kingdom, I was informed by several officials that many inhabitants from other kingdoms love to visit Thailand for recreation and relaxation. Unfortunately, it seems many of these visitors overlook the amazing and (in some cases) unique flora and fauna to be seen in this Kingdom, such as the many-banded Taipan snake, the Open-mouthed Scalawag (common name: Journalist Fish) and the bird known as the Redpacket Kickbacker. The Taipan snake and Journalist Fish and others I shall leave for another chapter but I shall write now of the Redpacket Kickbacker whose common name is “Bloated-belly Hoarder Bird”.
Although one of the most common birds found in the Kingdom, the Kickbacker seldom perches out in the open. Indeed, during my many tours of government offices, I often found the bird nesting in drawers and under tables. It seems that very few people involved in official life in the Kingdom are without great affection for this bird. My Interpreter informed me that in many cases only because of their great love for the Kickbacker do many officials join the government. Indeed, I soon realized that the more opulent the residence of officials and those engaged in business, the more Redpacket Kickbackers were nesting on their premises.
The bird often meets in secret with others of its own kind and greatly resents any intrusion into its affairs or living premises. Its nest is usually very luxurious and, strange to relate, it seems that the more luxurious its nest, the more respect the inhabitants accord this bird. This seems to hold true no matter what unsavory and predatory methods the Kickbacker employs to build its nest. The bird’s unique pig-like belly is so large from overeating that it has acquired its common name.
Although the Kickbacker ostensibly spends very little time and effort gathering food and other material with which to feather its next, these strange birds always seem to have a hoard far out of proportion to their known methods of gathering. In an attempt to solve this mystery, the government of the Kingdom appointed an official body to observe the habits of these remarkable birds. On several occasions I was with these good people at the time they were observing and (on rare occasions) netting a few of them. After a while, I began to notice that they seemed to overlook the birds perched at the utmost boughs of the tree. It seemed to me that these birds high up in the tree were also the ones gathering the most seed. Nevertheless, no matter how carefully I pointed out these birds to this observing body, its members seemed only able to discern those birds perched on the middle or lower boughs of the tree. I could only conclude from this that members of these observing bodies were myopically impaired.
Additional Information: The Kickbacker has large curved claws and a wide mouth. Its toes have been modified for climbing, scratching, grasping and tearing. On occasion, if the Kickbacker feels it is in any danger of being netted, the female of the species will gather up a great amount of seed and migrate with it, after which the male will follow. While it is difficult to understand the affection the inhabitants accord this bird, I must remind the good reader that habits and customs differ greatly from galaxy to galaxy and even as we on Candidata might regard these birds with far less affection than I have described, it is not my intention to pass judgment on the good people of this wonderful Kingdom.
To Be Continued with a new chapter every month.
Argaiv’s Diary has been translated from the Candidatan script by Dean Barrett.
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