Stickman Readers' Submissions February 24th, 2006

Mo-Sai Antarai

By Rayongo Drongo


INTRODUCTION

mens clinic bangkok

On reading the submission from MUD posted on February 7th, I was in the process of typing my own submission pertaining to farang conduct, based on observations of farang on Ko Samet, off Rayong, and readings of these submissions from the
very first entry. I noticed the onset of various emotions upon reading MUD's words of tribute to a friend and just as he wrote, I also felt like it was ME in that ICU, and I abandoned all thought of attack on fellow farang importing homegrown
behaviour to unique foreign nations such as fair Thailand.

On first reading, I presumed collision between riders to have recently taken place, although a reference to 2/5 may indicate that poor Scott was indeed in ICU in May 2005, or by American standards February 2005, and may have since recovered
from injuries or moved on to a new life. With respect I hope the subject of the essay now keeps the very best of health or is at least recovering well and looking toward all those good things in life that define possible futures that we all dream
as young children. Chook dee, krap!

One reason for feeling that the author was describing me was that I am also human. I am farang of 38 years and believe the author and subject, while seemingly marginally younger, may have all enjoyed a couple of beers as mates after a good
jog around the hills of Loei Province on any Sunday. Antipodean origins are usually well-accepted by our northern hemisphere new-world cousins as near-to compatriots, but with kangaroos.

When in Thailand, all farang can benefit from similar company at times, if we remain aware that we share time in a sovereign nation not of our own culture, to which we must accustom ourselves if we wish to prolong our tenure. Still it is
a privilege to enjoy a few western moments amid the often tumultuous challenges of daily life in the LOS.

I feel it may be appropriate to mention the names of both farang I met in Thailand, for they were gentlemen of high calibre, and their manners were impeccable. I met one farang on a baht-bus from the Nikhom Pattana market in Rayong Province
at around 18:30 on a Thursday night. Emmet has resided in Thailand for many years, including a year at the Natnum Services Apartments, where I was a guest at the time. I recall seeing him one more time on the back seat of that baht bus as I rode
past on a Thursday afternoon, and do wish him the best of luck for the future.

The second farang I was able to acquaint myself with was good Dr Morley at Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok. Dr Morley bought me my first packet of Marlboro for the month of October last year, and gave me a nice white cap to wear on my flight
back to Australia. The logo on the cap was 'Volvo' in blue and I wish I had been driving one last September! Dr Morley has apparently asked me whether I knew why I was in hospital, to which I replied that I believed that I was addicted
to Birdy iced coffee.

MOTOSAI ADVENTURES

wonderland clinic

After hanging off the back of crowded baht buses on the 20 km journey from Amphur Rayong to my apartment on Thanon 3191 in May and June last year, the fingers on my right arm were becoming fatigued, and in July, my friend Dtee and I visited
a small shop in Maptaphut where I bought a nice little '93 Suzuki for 6,500 baht plus 100 for a matching red helmet. My Father owned motorcycle shops in Perth, Western Australia since 1973, and I remember his words to me as a child, "If
you've got a ten dollar head, buy a ten dollar helmet". Luckily the price of this helmet amounted to $3.30 AUD so I felt reassured in the knowledge that I had a 100 baht head!

I never checked the helmet and I usually strapped it to the seat of the bike after 18:00 when the local police were less likely to be on-shift, but checked the Suzuki quite thoroughly for oil levels, two-stroke seizure tendencies and any
consequent chances of faltering before heavy vehicles. A manual clutch was a reassuring asset for suspected engine failure, and a new chain and sprockets were the first addition, even before topping up the auto-loob.

Naturally I began riding the seven km from my apartment to the Nikhom Pattana market for the usual khow padt breakfast before purchasing the Bangkok Post to place under the seat. Then it was a ride to a little Internet cafe to read
Stickman and check for work on ajarn.com. What was once a good walk to my friend's sister's raan-ahaan for dinner now became a nice quiet cruise up the right side of the road in third gear with
eyes wide open to meet my good mate, Dtey, who lived next door to Dtee, and eat dinner prepared by his sister with gradually increasing degrees of farang-friendly spice. I rarely requested any particular dish but believe she managed to read my
mind to provide appropriate fare for farang consumption in Thailand.

On the first visit to Dtey's restaurant, on my second night in Thailand, I mistook a 1,000 baht note for a 100 when I paid for my meal, and trundled off home via the minimart for a take-away beer Singha before realising my error and
hot-footing it back to Dtey's restaurant. It was late and I recall three or four other big fellows staring me down as I fronted-up with my problems. Dtey quickly disappeared to the back of the place and returned around 30 seconds later with
nine crisp 100 baht notes, mai pen rai.

KARAOKE MAI SANUK
The other venue I visited nightly was originally termed by Dtey as "Karaoke Mai Sanuk" (KMS) however it was the closest equivalent to an Aussie pub that I found for a quiet Bia Chang before heading home for
the UBC movie or an occasional legitimate Thai massage courtesy of a wonderful lady who I referred to as "Doctor Kom", which caught-on around the apartment building to everyone's amusement. The staff enjoyed the fact that Meesta
Kungaloow (Mr Kangaroo) thought that Kom was a doctor and I am yet to experience better technique in remedial massage after a hard jog. She was bold enough to come to my room to perform her magical work, and I would often have pay 300 baht at
reception the next day as the client had fallen asleep amid the two-hour massage.

Motorcycling didn't alter nightly habits other than hastening travel over the 1,000 odd metres between home and KMS and permit a few solo ventures down to Maptaphut for some live music. Dtey mentioned to me that on our first visit to
KMS, he'd quietly spoken to Miss Na, the manageress, about not ripping off the farang, and my price for a large Bia Chang was 60 baht. Dtey also explained to me that 80 baht for the lady who patiently sat at my table and added ice and beer
to my glass was sufficient, although I thought 100 baht a more appropriately round figure. I was informed that lady-drinks and tipping were exclusive to each other, with tips being the preference as the girls already had plenty of drinks out back
to quench thirst over the evening. I was usually there at 20:00 and on my way home by 21:00 anyway. These were during my pre-Stickman days, however, and sometimes a couple of lady-drinks eased conscience a little when it came to drinking beer
in feminine company.

Often, three or four staff would all sit around the table perusing the "Poomsan-Becker" dictionary Miss Na insisted I bring with me every night, but between all the ladies, they managed to roster the shifts for farang drink-pouring
quite evenly to share the 100 baht tips fairly over the course of each week. One night a young lady was noticeably ill, with a head cold I suspect, so I suggested she take a few days off and discreetly passed her 500 baht to cover lost wages for
a few days. A trend then developed with many staff having headaches at work over the next week, but after I returned from the mini-mart with Paracetamol tablets for the princely sum of 10 baht, this ill-health seemed to dissipate somewhat.

Apart from a single page of western tunes, which were not much to my liking, all karaoke songs were in pasa Thai, and Miss Na learned that I appreciated Lydia's hit of the moment, always performing a rendition of the current
Lydia tune during my attendance which also became a bit of a joke between us all, as did my effort to bring my own ashtray to avoid ashing on the floor of the establishment.

I am most sorry to say that the young lady from Buriram who I bought the Tylenol for moved to Pattaya with her boyfriend, and I was told that he murdered her and shot himself. I wish I could die and break her heart instead. I don't think
that she ever had the chance to celebrate her 18th birthday. No more to say on this…
_______________________________________________________

CHANTHABURI, KORAT & PAK KRET
In late August, my 30 days were approaching and having been four months at the serviced apartment in Mabkah, I decided to choof off to Chanthaburi on the bike to renew my visa at Pong Nam Ron and escape
the wind blowing off the Maptaphut refineries. At around 19:00 one hot August night, Dtey rode off on my little Suzi and returned 30 minutes later with two new Camel tyres fitted. The total cost to me for both 'lubbah' was fairly local
at 300 baht. Can't buy a bicycle inner tube in Australia for $10, let alone two new tyres.

Chanthaburi was very fresh as far as air is concerned, and after having the kick-start on the Suzuki replaced by a diligent young chap at around 09:00 one Saturday morning, I remember my own name being listed as first on the Immigration Department's
whiteboard as I returned to Thailand from Cambodia. Riding back to Pong Nam Ron from the border point, I saw a fair few blue mini-buses ferrying farang on visa-runs, and felt pleased to have been there at mid-morning, before the rush. The kind
chaps at Immigration even let me park the bike under the verandah beside the office for the 20 minutes I was out of the country. A very well-spent 1,300 baht in Cambodia that day, and the rain on jeans and shoes dried out before I'd ridden
the 50km back to town.

After a few days in Chanthaburi, I listed a resume on ajarn.com and a web-site on Geocities on September 4th, and the offers started rolling in. Applying for a position in Korat, I was soon on the road there
via Sa Kaeo with no comprehension of what "anuban" <kindergartenStick> actually meant. Staff at the Korat Hotel (formerly the K-Stars) were very understanding, because the diesel fumes and
bugs I believe I consumed up the big hill from Kabinburi caused such redness to both my eyes that I am sure all 7 Eleven store and hotel staff I met that afternoon must have thought I was high. Only after taking a look in the mirror of my suite
did I notice my dirty black face and reddest eyes in my own history.

After explaining to the good people at Anuban Korat that I had only taught adults in the past and was probably not a perfect candidate for teaching anuban students pasa angkrit without some formal training, I purchased a
pair of wrap-around sunglasses from a local service-station on Thanon 2 for the same price as my helmet to prevent the red-eye syndrome I had noticed in Korat, and departed for a second job interview in Pak Kret, Nonthaburi Province.

Stopped by police in Saraburi, I provided my papers and we enjoyed a few laughs. The officer presented me with a bottle of water to take with me, and I advise anybody in similar situations to stop your mo-sai, take off your helmet, raise
your sunglasses or goggles to allow eye contact, smile, and make sure you have your papers. Make kind gestures, and make them first, and you may receive some kindness back, and maybe a bottle of water. I think they may also have been mildly amused
to meet a farang on an old Suzuki with two ruck-sacks and maroon brief-case strapped aboard. Every picture tells a story.

Pulling up on the west side of the Chao Praya River at a local police booth, the guys spent around 20 minutes discussing my dilemma with finding Pak Kret, but finally told me how to me make the final 10km to check in at another serviced apartment
on Chaengwattana Road near the Carrefour, where I spent three days before my next interview, just in case of red-eye syndrome. Two appointments later, I was finally offered a position teaching Prathom Song (Grade 2) to begin on November
1st at the start of semester, along with a four day training session in Bangkok to gain some understanding of teaching practices suitable for younger students than I had ever taught before, the age difference being approximately a decade.

BAN CHANG & MODERN TRAVEL
Being mid-September, I had over a month before needing to attend training somewhere nearby the Victory Monument. It seemed sensible to head back to Rayong for some jogging and swimming, to catch up with Dtey,
Na, Dtee and Jai, Ning, Daa, and Gaan, and to shorten the next Cambodia trip by a couple of hundred kays. Riding through Bang Kapi was straight-forward, but it seemed I didn't have enough wheels at the south-bound Expressway Number 7 toll-booth,
although we were all quietly amused as I was kindly instructed by the policeman to turn around down the exit, take a left and head south, where I finally made it back to Ban Chang via Sukhumvit and Thanon 36, and booked into the Jor-Koo Hotel
on Sukhumvit after seven hours aboard the bike, riding in circles in Bangkok trying to find an escape route.

Ban Chang is a lovely location to live, far enough west of Maptaphut to avoid the industrial southerly breezes, yet only 20 odd kilometres down Sukhumvit to Thanon 3191, where I was very happy to visit my old friend Dtey after being away
for three weeks. After dinner, it was customary to ride down to the break in the median strip outside Natnum Apartments for a u-turn, and pass by again before stopping around 100m south at 'Karaoke Mai Sanuk' for Miss Na's rendition
of Lydia and a cold Chang. Now living around 20km away from Mabkah, I felt it wise to explore the Ban Chang restaurants and pubs a little, but make an effort to return to the places I knew for dinner and a nightcap every few days over that month
before moving up to Nonthaburi. Dtey and Na had become friends of mine, and Mr Dtee was teaching me to play snooker on Wednesday nights, for my Australian upbringing had only included the derivative of billiards known as pool or eight-ball. It
was apparent that I was beginning to suffer from an over-abundance of friends. Real friends. This may not be the appropriate article to mention Mr Dtee's wife, Jai, Ms Ning, Ms Daa nor Mr Gaan the muay-thai proponent with movie-star looks
and a penchant for good Heineken at midnight. All top folk to me.

One Sunday afternoon, Miss Na and some friends invited me to Kilosip Beach a few kays south-west of Ban Chang and we enjoyed a swim among crowds of Thais and a few farang who had all been allowed past the military check point to this palm-shaded
beach south of the airport.

On Monday 26th of September, I remember riding back late at night on the main road and seeing an air-conditioned bus lying on its side in the median strip with most of its front ripped out after presumably having left the road on the way
from Ban Chang to Amphur Rayong.

The next day I had the front brake-pads on the Suzuki replaced by the Suzuki shop in Ban Chang who had already replaced the kick-start with OEM Suzuki parts and the chain with a Japanese D.I.D version earlier that week. After perusing the
Internet and retrieving the bike, I bought some emery-paper and a spray-can of high temperature silver paint from the local hardware shop, which seemed to be out of stock of satin black, and spent the afternoon back at the tree-lined car park
of the hotel sanding back and repainting the rather rusty looking exhaust pipe of the bike. After two hours work in the Newtonian sense, at around 18:00, I returned to my room to shower before heading off to Mabkah to visit Dtey at his Sister's
raan-ahaan and then stop by the Karaoke Mai Sanuk to thank Miss Na for having thought it worthwhile to invite me to Kilosip Beach on that last Sunday.

MOTORCYCLES AND HOSPITALS
When I awoke, the fluorescent lights seemed rather bright to be left on in the middle of the day. My room at the Jor-Koo Hotel had a single incandescent bulb in the ceiling, and it seemed a little disconcerting
turning to my left to see my Mother's face. Apparently somebody at the Rayong Public Hospital had worked through the numbers on my mobile phone before finding my Mother's number and called her in Australia, explaining that my survival
was not considered an absolute certainty. My Mother immediately flew to Thailand, arriving the following day.

Warning, these pictures are really graphic and may disturb some readers!

I have posted photographs of my head and abdominal injuries online at

http://www.geocities.comsm_public/

if you click on the Health, and then Injuries links on the menu.

Word has it that after attending both of the usual places I frequented in Mabkah, I was riding at high speed at around 21:30 but jumped off the bike whilst it was in motion and fell upon the bonnet of an oncoming dark-blue Toyota Corolla,
bruising my right arm, splitting my spleen, and copping a fairly good whack on the right side of my face and head. The bike was not damaged and after coughing up 2,000 baht to get it out of the police holding yard, Dtey has told me over the phone
that he ride everyday.

During the first few days I was really doped up on drugs and drip-fed. My Mother moved me to the local Bangkok-Rayong Private Hospital where the amnesia began to vacate, but I am told that like Scott in MUD's submission, I frequently
removed the drip and often had to be restrained by up to six gentle nurses working in unison for my own benefit. Finally, it was off to Bumrungrad for a few days before the flight back to Australia on October 15th.

I hope that MUD, Scott and any others injured in accidents on motorcycles take heart from this long-winded reprisal of my experiences in Thailand. Sometimes even now I sit back here in my small Australian apartment and wonder if I have become
pee, a ghost. I suppose that reading of my own work as a rather long-winded reader's submission may help me to overcome these ghostly wonderings, but the imagination can play tricks on all of us.

Frankly, people do recover from head injuries, although not always. It takes time and sometimes seems a little like being reborn in a new brain with the same old body, but it does get better, with time.

It can be very entertaining recovering back in Farangland because the health system of another country may not always quite know what to do with you, and if you can remain in Thailand to recover from injuries, do it. Do not worry about language
barriers or Thai culture, because if you can afford it, hospitals in Thailand are probably the best option before finding a nice, quiet, serviced apartment from within which to lick your wounds and recover completely.

The most important thing to remember is not to attempt to cast any blame on Thailand in Thailand. Remember the old rule that if you had never come to Thailand, the accident would not have happened. The vehicle I assaulted had only been out
of the panel-beaters for three days after having been damaged in a tsunami back in December 2004. Were the headlights working? It does not matter. I still hit it. Do water buffalo have headlights? I do not remember seeing any in Loei. I guess
most water-buffalo must have faulty headlights, but they are still citizens of Thailand, whereas I was just an invited guest in a foreign country.

I believe that it is true that farang-style riding at good speed can minimise the chances of accidents during the day because the truck driver catching up with you at 120km/h has more time to pass you on the right. The slower you ride your
bike, the less time passing drivers have to veer out of the path you choose. My mistake was to follow the same day-time riding style on a dark night, and although there were many times I rode nightly at good speed, with Thai friends and often
alone, what I was, was an accident waiting to happen.

Don't ride too fast at night, and if you do end up in an hospital, have a little faith that you will get better in good time. Think about Newtonian physics before you leave the car park and consider the slightly more dangerous means
of transportation that you may be utilising, than you are used to back in Farangland. Thank you for reading my submission. Always pick up any coins you may drop on the ground, learn how to say Hello, Thank you and (if you're a man like me),
Sorry, in Thai, and remember these Thai words:

MO-SAI ANTARAI!


Stickman's
thoughts:

NASTY accident but GREAT to hear you're recovering. Hopefully you will be back in Thailand before too long.


nana plaza