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Changes In Bangkok Part 11

  • Written by Jurgen
  • May 17th, 2005
  • 7 min read


During our tutoring classes I was surprised that the few boys we had for study normally did not do too well. The girls really tried to learn as much as possible and dug into the study books. Whereas the boys treated all as boring and with a very few exceptions couldn’t care less. They apparently were forced by their parents to attend classes. This did not go down too well with me and I just told them not to come back, I was not prepared to waste my time on them. <You're so right about Thai boys' poor performance in the classroom. Man, I wish I could do this at schoolStick>

We had one young girl in our classes; she was rejected by AUA and another large English teaching outfit as completely unable to learn. After about 3 month studying with us she was able to make complete sentences in English and started to ask intelligent questions. She was so happy about it that she started to cry, the tears were running down like water. This was a also a happy moment for me as I could see that I was doing something useful for the community.

I also was doing a lot of voluntary work for the UNDCP. Together with an elderly US gentleman we arranged a coffee plantation and roasting factory for the hill tribe people at Doi Tung. This was a real success and their roasted coffee is now sold worldwide, a good export earner for Thailand.

A few years ago we tried to arrange making a proper unsealed highway between Mae Sai and the Chinese border. The UNDCP was prepared to fund the project, the commanders of the Chan free army wanted to supply the workforce needed etc. However one day before the arrival of the UN official we received a fax from the Myanmar government stating that the UN people would not be allowed under any circumstances to enter Burmese territory. Well this was the end of the project; but then the real troubles started. The Chan army got annoyed, attacked the Burmese and quite heavy fighting took place just to the north of the Thai border. A couple of artillery shells even landed at Mae Sai and flattened a few buildings. Needless to say the border was closed for quite a few months. Chiang Rai and the border areas looked like an army camp, plenty of tanks and even long range radar stations including missile batteries were set up in case the fighting would spill across the border. Fortunately it stopped after a few months and now all is back to normal.

Stan Mathews, the US gentleman, did not survive very long after this affair. He came to me on a Wednesday evening to discuss future projects. He was completely fit and had no problems to walk up to the 4th floor. He also indicated that he wanted to check the UN trust fund the next morning as it did not seem to be correct. This fund was run by three Thai people and Stan had no authority to withdraw funds. It needed the signatures of the other three trustees. The next day on Thursday evening he called me up that he was feeling very bad. On Friday afternoon he went to the local hospital and on Sunday he died. The death certificate stated “leukemia”, well I find it hard to believe that this disease can work within 3 days or so. The trustees decided that the body would be burned on Monday morning. I tried to contact the US consulate in Chiang Mai but on a Sunday I could only get an answering machine. Well the evidence was burned and I drove on Wednesday to the consulate to give them his social security card and the passport. The lady consul was very upset about it; she said they had no right to burn the body before the consulate makes necessary inquiries. Well it was too late. I dropped all connections with the trustees but could not help noticing that one of them had a new car, and another had built a new house. This is of course poor coincidence.

I did arrange a small fund from the German Embassy, it was sufficient to buy a truck for the hill tribe people and also some material so that they could do embroidery work and bring the products to Chiang Rai. They still sell them at the night market. It is not a big business for them but every small bit helps.

About one year ago my wife just came out of the bathroom and dressed in the bedroom. She suddenly started screaming her head off. I run inside and she told me that a small snake dropped on her head and then to the floor. We checked the room but could not find the critter. What to do? You can not have a snake in the house. I tried to buy cyanide bombs without success. Finally I bought 3 big cans of Raid and sprayed all of them through the keyhole into the bedroom. Success, the snake came out underneath the door and I dispatched her promptly. How the monster found its way into the bedroom is a complete mystery. We are in the middle of the city, the bedroom is on the fourth floor, and we have no trees or other objects close to the house. The snake was about 90 cm long, very thin and had a green color with yellow stripes. I don’t know if she was poisonous or not, but you can’t take any chances.

Shortly after this episode we decided to go for two weeks to OZ to visit some of my friends. Rachie “my wife” liked it and after we came back she said she would not mind living there. I promptly send her back alone to see if she could look after herself. Only for four weeks, but she should have an idea by then. Well she liked it ok. In November last year she went into early retirement from her class 8 government service. I arranged a migrant Visa for her and brought her to Perth. After arranging accommodation etc. for her I had to go back to Los, we still had commitments to our students. Nannie our more or less adopted daughter stayed to look after the students and the house. I came back in early December.

During early January we started to have problems with my wife’s older sister, she started to talk bad about us and said that if the girls study with us they will have problems in their high school. I did not know anything about it. I noticed that many times Nannie was crying but thought maybe she has problems at her uni or with a boyfriend. Finally a neighbor told me the full story. It was quite nasty, I questioned our live in students and they confirmed everything. They suggested that all of us go to my parents in law to clarify the issue. Now this was not initialized by Nannie or me, but by our students.

The parents in law had a private talk with the students and told me that I am not leaving the house “which I wanted to do to stop problems in the family” under any circumstances. The house is yours and that’s it.

The sister is an English teacher in the local high school and was running English classes from the second floor of our house. However after all the bad talks she lost all her students, they simply would not study privately with her. Our live in students stayed with us and my other students continued to study. Now I am not too happy about the whole affair. The sister in law lost big face and might plan some nasty surprises for Nannie and me.

Never mind that, I went to Perth at the end of March to visit my wife. She is very happy in OZ. Work’s very long hours and makes good money. Unfortunately I have to go back to Chiang Rai in the next week or so. I am forced by circumstances beyond my control. It has to do with the work I was doing many years ago.

Well this is the end of changes in Bkk. I hope that the readers enjoyed it. If there are any new developments I will start another series.

Regards to all readers especially to Stick for his patience.

Stickman's thoughts:

Nice series.