Readers' Submissions

A Bit Of A Journal

  • Written by Graham
  • June 26th, 2004
  • 6 min read

– At home in the woodyard

I’m currently spending my time between Thailand and Melbourne. Early last year I decided to move to Thailand, so sent the wife and kids so they could start the new school year in May, while I stayed behind to sell the house and complete my contract. Then I was diagnosed with cancer so my move has been delayed a bit. Wife was back in Melbourne in November to look after me while I had surgery, and I am now undergoing hormone treatment and have returned to Melbourne for radiation therapy.

So my family are now living in a little temporary house beside the porta’s (father-in-law) woodyard in Nakhon Rachasima. Temporary because it’s built half on our land and half on the neighbors. It’s actually quite a cute little cottage. With my cancer screwing up all our plans we won’t bother building a larger house for a while, as I’ll likely be back and forth for the next 2-3 years.

I was in Thailand for April and May to catch up with the family, especially my kids who I hadn’t seen for nearly a year.

– The mechanical brothers

The family was travelling up to Uttaradit for Songkran. We were going in a little convoy, the old sedan and two pickups, all with the company name painted on the side. Porta had left his home village as a poor elephant boy many years ago. It gave him great face to return as a successful businessman, and it’s funny as to watch him swagger around when he’s back at his home village.

In preparation for the trip the brother-in-law and his brother checked out and adjusted the older vehicles. At one stage they were adjusting the timing screws in the distributor on the old sedan. Distributor cap off, adjust screw, try and start. Adjust screw, try and start. I watched fascinated for 5 minutes while they continued this pantomime, but in the end I couldn’t help myself and had to explain that the distributor cap had to be in place before the engine would fire.

It’s amazing to watch them working on the vehicles. They’ll adjust anything, and usually have the cars running fairly well. But it’s all on adjusting experience, with no understanding of the underlying principles.

– The mecho and the pond

The aunty who looks after my land at Uttaradit wanted me to hire a large excavator, or mecho as its known in Thai, to smooth out the land a bit so she could plant the whole lot. But after getting the main field ploughed I decided it would be better to stick a pond in the lower section. So the mecho was hired to dig out a pond.

When the brother-in-law heard we were actually paying for someone to dig a hole he was busy telling the wife how stupid she was, saying people will dig for free just for the soil. After the mecho had dug the pond and completed extensive earthworks to provide an elevated building site, his attitude changed completely. He was soon asking if he stopped working in the woodyard could he come and live there and farm the land.

At 15 metre by 70 metre and 4 metre deep it’s a fairly impressive hole in the ground. I won’t get to see it again until at least Christmas, or perhaps Songkran next year. But after the rains it should be able to provide fish and vegetables to feed a family, with plenty of water to produce market crops like onion and garlic.

– The cunt in the suit

We were to have a big party while in Uttaradit, and I was to give a short welcoming speech. My Thai language skills aren’t that hot so the wife and I sat down to write the words I’d need. Learning the words phonetically just for the party presented a few surprises.

I was to introduce myself as “Look Kheui por Boonsong” Son-in-law of Boonsong. But my unfortunate accent had everyone in gales of laughter as I was practising. I was pronouncing it as “Look Khoi”, or basically telling everyone that I was Boonsoongs’ little cock.

The phrase that had the English speakers laughing was totally innocuous in Thai. As I ticked off the reasons for the party I came to and most importantly which in Thai comes out as “Some Khun tee suit”. It’s so close to Some-cunt-in-the-suit that we had a good laugh before I was told I was not to refer to porta like that.

The speech:-
Sawatdee khrap tuk tarn, tuk khon
Phom chieu Graham, pen look kheui por Boonsong
Pom phuut Thai mai dee, khor arn ow loa gun
Phom khopkhan tuk tarn, tee ma wan nee
Raw ja chalong sam o’gard undee que
Tee ngerng – Chalong khern bahn mai, lung nee
Tee song – Phom pen mareng, ja riak kwan pom
Tee sam – Some khun tee suit porta Boonsong khrob hoksip pee
Happy birthday porta
Pom wahng wa, Tuk tarn ja sanuk sanan
Some rahn Bahnja
Ya luum moaw

Both the speech and the party went off really well, with the Thai opera being a big hit.

– Phu Soi Dao

We took a day trip up to Phu Soi Dao, which is a mountain on the Laotian border that is a popular tourist destination among the Thais. We were visiting family friends who live in the village, and at only 4km from the Loa border it’s fairly remote.

After a picnic at the mountain we were returning to the village and stopped to buy drinks. When we went to continue Porta’s car wouldn’t start, he sat there grinding the engine for ages but it wouldn’t fire. As this was the car that the boys had been adjusting the timing on earlier my immediate suspicion was distributor problem. But I soon determined that it was fuel related, and porta immediately attacked the carburetor with his screw-driver. After some adjustment it started like a charm. He had no idea how to trouble shoot the problem but once the cause was apparent he had no hesitation in getting in to adjust things. I now know who taught the boys their mechanical skills.

On the way home the girls wanted to sit in the back of the pickup, and it wasn’t until we got nearly home that I found out why – they had stolen a puppy from the folks we visited. Talk about angry, I was ropable. I was almost ready to make them take the bus to return the dog, something that would have taken them a full day. But I suspected that they’d probably just go to the next town and release the dog, and then hang around all day before returning in the evening. We had been going to drive back to Korat next day but I changed the plans and said we would be taking the puppy back to its home instead. Then about 8 o’clock a pickup pulls up and the dogs owner has come to get the puppy. Lots of tears and wais later and the puppy is on its way home.

– 100 day party

Cancer in Thailand is a very scary thing and the neighbour's daughter had died only 5 weeks after being diagnosed. So while we were up at Uttaradit the family asked if we could stay for a few extra days so we could be at the 100 days memorial party. She had been a quite well known recording artist so several Thai singers turned up, along with many people from the recording industry.

During the afternoon a huge stage was erected and that night a band played and many of the guests completed a set. One of the singers was a famous country singer and came up on stage wearing a really bright orange suit. The wife and I looked at each other, laughed, and spoke together “The cunt in the suit”.

Stickman’s thoughts:

Great stuff.