By Conundrum 4 U
Unknown to most people there is an almost secret place situated on the edge of Bangkok sandwiched between Changwattana road and Samakee road in Nonthaburi.
It is Bangkok's first planned international western residential community that houses some 2500 residents. Although made up mainly of American citizens the international school it houses on site boasts of some 40 different nationalities in attendance.
It has been designed and developed to provide the very ultimate in modern luxury in an environment that extrudes natural exotic splendor. It is engineered to help ensure that each and every one of its residents enjoy the highest quality lifestyle.
Starting price for a house in the community will set you back a minimum of 100,000 baht a month with many commanding over 220,000 baht. As you can imagine the security of the compound is paramount with heavy security and identification checks on each of its only 2 entrances, with many addition security posts scattered throughout the community. You only have to look at the cars parked in many drive ways to understand the wealth that this community has attracted.
The international school it houses is the main reason for the community built up around it. Many of the residents of the community revolve their social life around many of the after school activities on offer.
At the beginning of this year there were 1,874 students enrolled at the school. Initial registration fee for the school will cost 220,000 baht per child and cost around 550,000 per year, per child. All teachers working at the school are certified, and
approximately 72% hold advanced degrees. The education the school gives is reliably said to be the best available in Asia and even gives random drugs screening to its pupils.
The centerpiece of the community is a tranquil 125 rai (50 acre) lake. Running along its 2.7 km. circumference and winding throughout beautiful tree lined lakefront flowered gardens and groves are a protected bike trail and jogging track. Any day of the week regardless of time you will see people making use of the luxurious facilities on offer.
One the eastern side of the lake is the luxurious International Club with lavish clubhouse and Olympic sized swimming pool. Listed among its numerous facilities include a Starbucks, a state of the art Gym a renowned beauty saloon and an international supermarket where you can obtain almost every cuisine imaginable and desirable from blueberries to wine at 2,500 baht a bottle. Bumrungrad hospital has a surgery on site for minor complaints so that residents don’t have the inconvenience of having to track down town.
Some people call this place an Oasis of living pleasure and luxury its true name is Nichada Thani…. I like to call it Stepford for a perverse reasoning you will understand later.
If you find yourself being posted to Bangkok and the company you are working for put you and your family into Stepford, with good reasoning you may think that you have made it in Bangkok and landed with style and would be blissfully happy in this exotic paradise.
How very very wrong you could be…..
John Doe worked as sales manager for American Textile, Woven Apparel Trading and had been chosen to expand the company's base in Asia. He was a long shot choice for the company, as this was his first posting abroad.
His recent effort and sales figures gave the board good feeling that their expansion plans in Asia were in safe hands. The Bangkok office although small had been chosen for his base due mainly to his children’s education needs.
Long discussion late into the nights between John and his wife Janet took place with much soul searching. Janet who came from a very close knit family went over the benefits and drawbacks of making such a move, but both John and Janet agreed it was a golden opportunity to be grasped with both hands and would give the children, Joe, 15, and Jane 9, a broader outlook on life. The family could always come visit them and their contract included flights back to the US twice a year.
Jane spent many hours looking on the internet at schools and good areas to live in Bangkok. The International school had not been a hard choice to choose. The website was very informative and the HR department at A.T.W.A.T did all the rest for the family and hired a local estate agency to secure a 4 bedroomed home for the family on the estate the school is housed in.
Hurried work had been needed to secure visas for the family to travel as school term was about to start. John had travelled out to Bangkok some 10 days earlier to ensure all was in place for his family’s arrival; he was pleased with the area they
had chosen and was looking forward to show his family their new home.
“Wow dad look at that dad they got a Starbucks says an exited Jane as the new company chauffeured Mercedes turns the winding road, I can’t wait until I see the house dad. I hope that it’s as nice as the picture you sent. Ohh dad look at that lovely dog that lady is walking. Can we have one like you promised”.
The next 2 weeks are spent discovering the wonders of the community and school combined with odd ventures out into Bangkok to look at the amazing sites and culture it beheld. Janet can’t help but notice how doll like and beautiful the Thai women are and starts to watch her husband’s reactions to them.
A maid is secured to look after every job Janet used to do back home.
Her only role now is to give orders but slowly as the weeks role into months the long days start to take there toll. John away working longer and longer hours and the kids getting up for school at 7.20 and finishing at 2.05 combined with them being away
much of the time after school for extra activities hit Janet hard. Janet begins to wonder if this is really what she wanted in life.
Janet has found a new social circle of friends. During the long days away from the kids Janet joins the Stepford ladies meetings. Organized in the community, these cover everything from Yoga to how to make the perfect blueberry muffins, but hidden away in all the meetings Janet detects that all the women do is bitch about how hard a life they have in the LOS and how lazy and stupid the Thai home help are. Within 4 months Janet has a new secret to help her through the long days ….. Gin……
Janet’s inward seclusion starts to put a little strain on the perfect world John thought he had made. John also has found a new social circle of friends amongst the people he was required to deal with. Many having been in the LOS for quite some time he is quickly initiated into the Bangkok bar scene and it is not long before he had discovered the charms and delights of the Bangkok bargirls. Bangkok is not the best place to discover you're having a mid life crisis with your wife.
Within 9 more months John has taken a Thai wife, Noi and moved her into an apartment within 10 minutes driving distance of the community. John had long spun the guise to his family that he had a new found passion for golf and had even purchased all the latest equipment. With the effort he was putting in he should have been a match for Tiger Woods any day, but if truth be known he could not even hit a ball straight.
The family is now on their 3rd maid, the last one dismissed for not looking after the Jane’s new Yorkshire terrier puppy called Muffy which was bought for 24,000 baht at the Stepford pet shop.
Unknown to John, the new maid Dang that Janet has set on is Noi's sister. Both Janet and Jane are happy with this one as she shows great love for the puppy during her interview. Noi gave her sister the tip off about the upcoming maid’s job in the Doe family as John stupidly mentioned it in bed one afternoon the previous weekend.
Young Joe had made many friends in the Stepford community and finds that his weekly allowance of 2,000 baht goes a long way in Bangkok. He started smoking and drinking some months ago to be in with the in crowd at school. A security guard on the compound gave him and his friend Sam their first joint some weeks ago and now the guard enjoys a regular healthy increase to his 300 baht a day pay through Joe’s increasing habit.
After only 2 weeks Dang was slowly getting fed up of Janet and Jane constantly giving her orders do this, do that, fetch this, fetch that. And as for that dog always barking at her as if it knew something. Walk it, wash it, feed it that dog ate better than she did. Tins of dog meet at 90 baht a day from the international food store. Who feeds a dog food like that? It was unreal! It was a dog for God's sake, it should be out roaming the streets with the rest of them, not pampered morning, noon and night.
Dang finally snapped with Muffy the day the family went out and it pissed all over the kitchen floor and she stood in it.
Dinner that night for the family was Moo pat kratiam prik thai which was thoroughly enjoyed by the whole family. All be it expensive at 24,000 baht a portion.
Jane never knew why Muffy would choose to run away, and despite a desperate search that night and posters in the shops windows of the community Muffy was never found. Jane cried each night for the next 3 weeks.
Dang had already searched many draws in the house and had given Noi much information. During her brief time as resident maid in the Doe household she already knew that Janet’s drinking was getting out of control and she knew that John often slept in the spare bedroom. Noi was happy with this information. Dang finally found John's supply of condoms he always used for his visits to Noi hidden in his golf bag, kept in the garage and took happy delight on her sisters behalf to carefully prick a few of the packets with a needle.
Her sister deserved to be looked after. A child would secure all the leverage Noi needed to extract as much money as she could from John, maybe even force the issue of him leaving his wife.
Joe is now worried senseless as the school has made one of there random testing for drugs by sampling his hair. Joe knows from the other students that this will be sent off the an independent testing centre in the USA and when the results come back in 10 days time his parents will be called into the school and he will have to undergo counseling.
Days for Janet are taken up with her ladies meetings listening to them bitch about something or other trivial, and going to the Beauty salon.
The thought struck her while she was sitting in the beauty saloon having highlights put into her hair, 2 of the ladies she knew well from her meetings in the community came in to the salon and asked for a pedicure and bikini wax. Now these woman were the best part of 270 lb each trying to tart themselves up for their men.
This is Stepford gone wrong Janet almost says out loud and breaks out in laughter. These women may have their husband's money but they got no chance against the dark exotic local girls. I got to get out us of here while we still have a chance.
She confronts John that evening as he comes home
I want us to go back home says a calm Janet.
John simply and without thought exclaims… Why!!!
Nichada Thani is an interesting part of Bangkok.