Readers' Submissions

Krungthep Antarai



This article is an edited version of a submission I posted to Mr. Stickman from Australia on New Year's Day. Reading the Bangkok Post over the Internet these last ten days, and wishing I'd taken more time to properly edit my work before rushing to get it in, I wrote him last night to request that it not be published.

I gathered from comparing the BKK Post reports with the themes of the submissions since January 8th, that it would take more than a couple of stupid bombs to ruffle the feathers of my compatriots in Thailand, and I didn't want my work to reopen old wounds, particularly now that The Philippines seems to have recently become a more popular holiday destination for terrorists.

Of course, Mr. Stickman agreed to my wishes, but on reading his comment at the end of Readers' Submissions Volume 12 on Thursday, January 11th (today), I've decided to smooth over the rough edges and shoddy spelling, and resubmit the result in response to his request. I wish I always knew what to do.

My intent remains to restore a little optimism among friends and compatriots in Thailand, and rehash that old axiom of the Australian Government from late 2001: Be alert, but not alarmed. Please be sure to add a few grains of salt before digesting my opinions. Thanks everyone, and good luck with your smiling practice. Here goes:

…..

It's New Year's Day, 2007 at just after 11:30 in the morning, Western Australian Daylight-Saving Time. It would be around 09:30 in Bangkok, but thinking back over that last year, I'm not entirely certain that the time would be the most pressing issue on many people's minds in Bangkok this morning.

Long-term tourists, foreign teachers, schools, agencies, imported-tobacco smokers, and anybody, Thai or foreign, who is unimpressed with explosive detonations in public places, maybe all thankful for the end of a difficult year in the western world, and to've survived last night, yet still concerned that the Thai year has months to go; and about what possibilities the future holds for the Land of Smiles and those domiciled therein.

Do not fear!

Having procrastinated in writing my second submission since the first one back on February 24th, 2006, (Mo-sai antarai; reader subs vol 10), and being pleased to read Scott's submission on October 18th, (Scott survives the moto-sai accident; reader subs vol

12) , it was one of my New Year's Resolutions before retiring at around 23:00 BKK time last night to put thumb to keyboard today and finish the article I began writing at the Biz-Place Internet Cafe at Prime Place Plaza in Pak Kret, Nonthaburi in July 2006.

Hearing the news this morning, I can't quite arrive at an angle to begin from, for so many things have changed in Thailand since I wrote that article about my experiences in Rayong, Chanthaburi, Korat, Loei, Ban Chang, and Bumrungrad Hospital, Bangkok.

Thinking in non-fictional terms, what can I write about, that you'd want to read today ? With respect to Dana, Frank, Marc, AKA. Foster, and of course, Dr Earnshawe, et al., would this be a good time for me to alight on some fictional sojourn, at all? Nah mate, I'm just not smart enough to write fiction anymore. As the legendary Mark Twain once stated, fiction has to make sense. I cannot guarantee to always do so these days.

Glancing over Draft XII of what I was hoping to send in for publication, yet last updated on August 25th, 2006, back then I was primarily concerned about traffic safety, teaching English, and reporting on my reunition with old friends from 2005, yet this morning, it seems to lack poignancy to some extent, or does it? Is not King Bhumiphol the Great still holding the reins of the nation? I believe so, unanimously.

Since August, my first and only police bribe somewhere on the road between Chachoengsao and Sattahip, a lovely rainy night in Ratchaburi, a ride through Chumphon to do two weeks of mattayom in Nakhon Si Thammarat have all contributed to my yearning to write.

In Hat Yai, I heard about the visa regulation changes. I do thank the Immigration Department for providing the reason for my return to BKK from Hat Yai, 54 hours before the Odeon Shopping Mall was bombed. I'd probably have been there at the ATM if not for them. Having left Sukvarnabhumi Airport on October 7th, who should I thank for not being near the Victory Monument last night? I suppose I should give myself a week to 'final-draft' something that might hold some readers' interest for twenty minutes or so. Even being in Australia now, I was in fact, shaken last night. Still, nothing will stir my love for Thailand.

(Occasionally, people in Australia ask me what the hieroglyphics on my wrist band imply. After parroting the old Metropolis 107 blurb about accession to the throne and all, I usually try to point out that I'll gladly do the same for Queen Elizabeth II in six years time, although I presume she'd opt for a royal blue one. Is it unpatriotic to love two nations? My ancestry sort of disallows exactly equal portions of patriotism, for I'm the eldest seventh generation descendant of the first white child born in the Swan River Colony in Western Australia back in 1829, but I still call Thailand home, even from Australia. Apart from Peter Allen's song lyrics, am I breaking any rules? I hope not. (bracketed paragraph added on 11/01/2007))

From here in Australia, it's easy to relate the concept that the bombs are no more fatal than the Mercedes that would run us down on a cross-walk, but that is quite a bold opinion to post, and I don't wish to bad-mouth that prestige marque. I'm sure they usually tighten the nuts behind the wheel before their buffalo-less carriages arrive at the dealership, but I digress. I feel a night's sleep to think is in order, before taking that, or a lighter literary road tomorrow morning.

My apologies, and I do hope to have something reasonable, if not all that fictionally sensible posted before February 24th, 2007.

Good night, good reader. Norn laab faan dee, khrup! And do not fear.

——————–

Monday, January 1st, 2007. (couldn't stop writing – 11/01/2007)

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Let me thank both of the correspondents who responded to my inaugural article last year. Those kind and inspiring men in Syracuse, USA, and in Mabkha, Rayong. I did make it back to Natnum, mate. Sorry I was rushing back to Nonthaburi for work commitments.

Mr. Stickman's comment was also a large inspiration during my efforts to make my return in time for the new semester last year. These were his words:

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

Sir, I did and I was. I am sure that some famous boxers would agree that one never perfectly recovers from an head injury, but if we make the best of what is left of the cortices, we can get on and thrive within the range of human factors, with minimal pain, if we ask the occipital lobe to put a little effort in.

One final issue to discuss is the term "farang", for Statler et al. Were inclined to put forth a rebuttal that I feel in some ways, on re-reading my submission, responsible. I shall try to intersperse "foreigner", "westerner", and "tourist" with the term, "farang", for I believe I used the farang word too often last time. Still, the term "infidel" causes me more angst than being called a farang. Khor tut, khrap, Statler.

I DID RETURN

I saved and I saved my Australian sickness benefit for six months but on March 31st, realised that my total of $750 AUD would not pay my way back to Thailand on the $900 fares I'd gleaned from the Internet in January last year. My previous employer being a good Christian lady of Thai extraction, with experience in Australia, I felt it important to admit defeat to her before April Fool's Day.

Then, having the guts to look upon the Internet again, I did note that prices had fallen, and was soon paying $747 (ironically enough) for a return ticket via Brunei, leaving me three dollars for train fare home.

After a long and unenjoyable twelve hours tucked up in the smoking room of the Brunei Airport, I made it through customs at Don Muang and returned to the TUB Mansion in Pak Kret by a smooth 150 baht taxi at 23:50 on April 28th. 50 baht tip … I jolly well made it.

It is now 15:25 (01/01/2007) in Perth, WA, and I'm inclined to hook my little 33.6K modem back online and submit what I've done, saving the rest for a third submission. It may exceed 2000 words – there's much to relate to those who wish to explore the real, true Thailand. I dunno.

I have not had a night to sleep on it, but my heartfelt feelings, after my own experiences in Hat Yai etc., are that a wise man would not be too worried about last night.

Do not fear.

I'll get the rest of this submission finished tomorrow and we're all bound to survive and succeed. We'll all win if we maintain our faculties, in the end.

Long Live the King, and long live us all!

Chook Dee Khrap!

Nonthaburi Sean AKA Rayongo Drongo. ______________________________________________________________

Well, that was essentially what I sent on New Year's day. The time is now just passed 19:30 in Perth, on Thursday, January 11th, which would be about haa mong krung (17:30) in Thailand. I'm still stuck here in Australia with bird-flu or something. The quacks haven't worked that part out yet. Blood tests taken on January 2nd came back negative for everything, including HIV, hepatitis, malaria and Japanese encephalitis, among other things. Tomorrow morning, more tests – a chest x-ray and gut ultrasound are on the agenda to see if something hasn't mistaken my liver for a uterus.

When I got back here to Perth, the plan was to allow a week to integrate back into Aussie culture, (not too hard, just replace "khrup" with "mate"). I thought I might find a job here, and take advantage of the economic boom transpiring in Australia, to make some money and get back to LOS to practice speaking Thai and smiling more frequently. Four days later, on October 11th, the headaches began, and since then I'm back to sitting around reading the Internet, biding my time, and wishing I could be home to share in the 'amazement'.


The article above was, in some ways, an attempt to ensure that when I do finally recover from this new malady and make it back for the third time, that I'm not the only long-nosed farang wandering the streets of Bangkok.

I hope you guys are all still there when I get back. Thank you for reading and remember to add some salt to the meat of this article. I hope to have another story posted next week.

Stickman's thoughts:

No comments as this submission changed a couple of times and I just glanced over the final version of it.