The challenges of relaxing from a 100mph professional role to a travelling dude should not be underestimated. One day I am under immense pressure – whether as a advocate in the High Court or a Judge – and the next my out of office tells people that I am largely uncontactable for 7 weeks as we stroll around South East Asia on our bikes.
It all caught up with me last night – with the result I did not sleep. Apologies to our readers who do not have a law degree (i.e. the sensible ones) but the only sanitised thing that came out of it was a strong feeling that Judges should not decide cases first and then work out the legal logic to follow their decision. I have recently been appointed a Judge and several much more experienced Judges have, more or less, advised me to do this. Can I gently beg to differ for 3 reasons. First, the oath that Judges take requires them to apply the law in a fearless way. That means following the logic of the legal process to the end, wherever it leads. Deciding the case by any other set of standards does not seem to me to be in accordance with the spirit of the oath.
Secondly, we know far too much about unconscious bias to think that any decision making method which is not ruthlessly analytical will not introduce a serious risk of unconscious bias – favouring those who are like us without realising it.
Thirdly, I have started writing too many legal advices over the years after reading the papers thinking that the result is X and, after ruthlessly looking at the issues from all angles, finding that “not-X” is the right answer. If it can happen – slow time – with lawyers who have the luxury of greater deliberation time than for many Judges, it can happen with court cases.
Not all Judges do this. I had a case before a High Court Judge who I will not name who was kind enough to say in his judgment that he had changed his mind after thinking through the case after the hearing (when he was totally foul to me and my client in court even though he ended up finding for the client).
But – at 4am when the world looked bleak – this struck me as something that I should avoid and felt I was entitled to be a little aggravated when I came across it in cases.
So – after not sleeping much as I ruminated the night away – I slept past the 6am wake up call and we did not get on the road until about 9. By then the heat of the day was beckoning and we knew it would be a shortish day.
We had plotted a “Kamoot route” to Phetchaburi. These are cycling routes which take one – as much as possible – on side roads. For more details see www.kamoot.com but we are fans.
Despite its aim of a route along minor roads, the route started by going down to the motorway. It had to do this to cross the estuary as there is only one bridge, and no other roads for 8 km. After playing “chicken” with the lorries we turned off and found ourselves on a scenic route, specially designed for bikes.
It was delightful – flat, a good surface and little traffic. We passed salt flats and pools where they breed prawns and shrimps. Next time I get an M & S prawn mayo sandwich, I will think of these extensive pools, egrits flying in flocks overhead and workmen and women toiling away in the heat.
We passed some coastal fishing villages with schooners tied up between trips. Thai fishermen are legendary and featured large (for good and bad) in the tales of fleeing Vietnamese Boat People (with whom my elder brother worked after university 35 years ago).
After passing through some lovely villages, we entered the town of Phetchaburi just before lunchtime. This is an ancient town with numerous Buddhist temples that date back hundreds of years. There are few hotels because, despite being a tourist “hot spot” it is treated as a day trip from either Bangkok or the beach resorts slightly south of here. But we found a little hotel and recovered from the 40+ degrees heat.
Later in the afternoon, as it began to cool, we ambled around 3 fascinating and hugely impressive “Wats” – Buddhist temple complexes.
The pictures tell the story so I will let you reach your own conclusions.
Dinner was at a tiny restaurant on the banks of the river in an old wooden house with wooden shutters opening directly onto the river. Bernie had the local speciality – sweet palm curry – a bit like a Korma but with much more punch (she ordered medium spice but suspect it was a ‘very mild’ for a Thai person). We met a solo traveller from Ruislip who was celebrating an early retirement package. What better way to do so.