Love And Assault In Chiang Mai
Kicking back in Australia now and reviewing this story from the perspective of hindsight – I can look at it more objectively – at the time it was a nightmare.
I took two years off from life in Sydney in 05 and bought a one-way ticket to Bangkok. I visited Cambodia four times during my two years and also had many wonderful experiences in Laos, Burma and Vietnam.
I read often about foreigners who came to grief in Thailand and I always thought it must have been their own fault – being abusive, loud or drunk – just attracting attention to themselves.
After reading this story you will – like me – realize that you can be totally innocent and still get into a lot of strife.
In Feb 05 – when I first arrived in Thailand I spent four nights at the SP Hotel in Chiang Mai. I met a lovely young lady who was doing work experience for the hotel – she was a major in business and was in her last year at University. She may not wish for me to give her name so we will call her Princess. <Oh cripes, our old mate and long-time contributor Chiang Mai Kelly has already told us about her! – Stick>
She could barely speak English but we soon came to realize that we were both Christians and we had something in common. She was the first Christian Thai I had met – as you know they are nearly all Buddhists.
We always kept in touch as I traveled to various countries and I eventually ended up staying in Chiang Mai as my base. She graduated and got a very good job at one of the large banks in Chiang Mai.
She lived with her mum in Mae Rim (spelling), and as she had never had a boyfriend before I was careful to always drive her to her mum's house as her mum did not wish us to be out late without a chaperone.
On one such occasion, after picking her up after work for a dinner date – I noticed a guy following me into the Top North car park near Tapie Gate. He sort of blocked the way with his car and would not move as I tried to back into the car park. I asked Princess who he was (as she was talking to him by this time) and she said he was a colleague from work. I had never even seen this bloke before.
To shorten a long story this guy started to hang around and some of the times I would go to her mum's house he would be there. He had befriended her brother and I thought nothing was out of the normal – other than that he never looked very pleased to see me and I thought he was very surly and unfriendly for a Thai.
Princess told me several times that he had asked her out and wanted to be her boyfriend but she told him that she loved me and they could only be friends. She did not see a lot of him at work as he was at another bank branch.
However I noticed more and more that she seemed very nervous and often seemed harrowed. I did not realize at the time but the work colleague had become close friends with the brother and was whispering in his ear that his beautiful sister could do a lot better than being with an older farang – namely him!! They were both putting pressure on her to leave me.
It all started to haat up one evening late last year when she said she had to see her brother and would be late coming to see me after work.
I nearly died when there was a knock at my door late that evening and it was the work colleague. He had his arm around Princess and he knew enough English to say 'my girlfriend'. She had been crying and I could see that she had been forced into this. It was a very harrowing situation and I did not know what to do. I could only speak a few words of Thai at that stage.
Her brother started pushing her hard and shoving her toward the car. I thought the work colleague was going to assault me – he looked very aggressive. I called out to the security guard in the hotel and pointed to the door (meaning for him to get this guy out). He was not much help and just stood there. <There's a lesson in this, seldom are they good when there is a major problem – Stick> He spoke no English, but I thought from the situation he could have assumed what was happening and at least done something.
The brother got very angry when I tried to get them evicted. Maybe I did the wrong thing but they were at my hotel late at night causing a real disturbance. I had no warning (other than Princess acting a bit strange of late) that this was coming. One minute I am watching TV – the next I have these two angry Thais on my door.
The bloke who liked Princess was very aggressive and was pushing himself in my face. I told them all to go and we would talk about it at some other time. With this her brother took a swing at me but luckily the old security guard had finally worked things out and he stepped in between us.
They consequently left and the last thing I saw was Princess getting shoved into the car by her brother.
Princess' dad was killed a few years ago and her mum is a widow – so I guess in the dad's absence the brother had taken on the self imposed duty of protector (some protector)?
She rang me at about one o'clock in the morning crying her eyes out and said she did not want the 'new boyfriend' and was coerced and frightened.
Fortunately when her mum found out she was very, very upset. I get on really well with her mum and she seemed to genuinely like me. A few nights later she called a meeting for all of us and we met at one of our favorite restaurants.
With Princess acting as interpreter – we chatted about the situation. Mum was angry that the brother had played dad and pushed his sister around. She said if he ever did that again she would remove his stipend for University. She made him apologize to me and that seemed to be the end of that.
I was in Chiang Mai for a few more months and was really enjoying it there and the opportunity to get to know the customs, the people and Princess a bit better.
One evening she came to my hotel after work – as was our routine by now – and as we walked out to my car I noticed old 'Happy Sunshine' standing there looking as happy as ever (not). I had not seen him for a couple of months – and Princess said she rarely saw him at work.
They chatted in Thai and she told me he asked where we were going and wanted to come to dinner with us. I asked what she thought about that and she said no. I told her to tell him that and we would be on our way.
He seemed very unhappy and tried to stop me getting into my car. I nudged past him and we drove off. That was my first big mistake.
Princess said to skip the dinner and drive her to her mum's – we certainly did not want any trouble. As we got closer she told me to drop her off at the yellow taxi that would take her to Mae Rim and I would go back to the hotel.
That is when all hell broke loose. I tried to drive away from the taxi stop onto the highway and he drove his car in front of mine – nearly causing an accident in the other lane. He jumped out of the car and started punching my window. I had locked the door so he grabbed my mirror and tore it clean off. This guy was a total psycho – I am sitting there thinking 'what have I done to deserve this'!?
Princess – bless her brave heart – stopped the taxi and jumped out. He grabbed her and tried to shove her into his car – she tore free and jumped into my car and I locked the doors again and drove off.
We discussed what would be the best thing to do – as Loony drove close to my bumper all the way. She said to take her to her mum's house and she would ring and tell her to get the police there as we were expecting trouble.
When we finally arrived (just as I thought) – hey presto, no cops. Just her poor old mum and the dog. At this stage I was wishing I had listened to my dad and learned boxing all those years ago when he tried to drag me off to the gym – I just knew there was going to be trouble.
Not wanting to be intimidated by him or to show him I was scared (I was) I got out of the car as normal and tried to walk to the door. He came up to me and I was telling Princess something to relay to him in Thai and he swung a huge kick at my groin. I have never been kicked so hard in all my life but fortunately it just missed my scrotum and hit the top of my leg. However with the shock from that and the momentum of the kick – I went down like a bag of spuds.
He then spun around and tried to kick me in the head, but Princess and her mum jumped on him like a couple of wounded terriers. It almost sounds comical now – but I can assure you I had never been more frightened in all of my life. If it had happened in Australia – from one of my own countrymen, it would have been bad enough. However multiply that be 5 – being in a strange country with no language and no rights.
The girls pulled him to the ground and he was really hurting Princess – he was squeezing her arm. The three of them were rolling around grappling in the dirt. I grabbed him in a head-lock to restrain him. Princess' mum shouted at me to let him go and get off the property (ok she has no English, but in times like this fear transcends language – I knew what she meant).
I stood out on the road and he jumped up and was shouting my name and pointing at my car. He was going to trash my car.
Just as he ascended on my car with the two girls clutching onto him – their neighbor was alerted by all of the shouting and noise.
He knew me well and I had waved to him and gesticulated many times. The sight of his beloved friends (Mamma and Princess) being roughed up by a loony was enough to fire him into action. He punched old loopy so hard in the face three times I thought that his head was going to come off his shoulders. I am not an angry or aggressive person by any means but I must admit it was sweet justice watching this guy getting sorted out.
That is what I wanted to do but in a strange country where you never know what the bottom-line is – I thought it was better to be cowardly and stand on the road. I had remembered what the Stickman wrote "never ever get into a fight with a Thai".
By this time the policeman arrived on a motorbike. Well they said he was a policeman but he did not have on a uniform. Apparently they said there are different sorts of cops but this one did not need a uniform (whatever that meant).
I was surprised to see Princess go over and punch the aggressor in the chest – I guess she was venting her fear and anger and felt safe to do so whilst the cop was there.
I would like to be able to report a happy ending to this scary saga. I wanted him arrested at least and taken away so I could drive back to my hotel (I did not want him following me for episode two). However this is Thailand and things never go according to the script. I had to stand on the road for about 40 minutes while they all gabbled away and gesticulated. The only words of English the cop knew were "don't wolly – I Policeman" – as he pointed to himself. The more often he said that the more concerned I became!!
I waited over at the neighbors' place while they continued to talk. Eventually the policeman rode off on his motorbike and the crazed work colleague drove away. Shortly after this the cop came back with a dozen beer and sat down and got drunk with the neighbor!#$%^&*!!!
I sat around talking to Princess and tried to regain my composure. I could not seem to get any answers as to what was going to happen to him, was he being charged and most importantly, what was going to stop him doing this to me again.
I eventually went back to my hotel and had a restless nights sleep. Fortunately I had to go out early the next morning and when I returned the manager of the hotel said that he had been back looking for me.
I had to take this threat seriously. I was in a strange country where I seemed to have incurred the wrath of a lunatic, who was not going to stop. I thought he may be coming back with a knife next time.
My two years' sojourn was coming to an end anyway and I was leaving to come back to Australia in about six weeks. I decided while I was still safe and well that I would bail out while the going was good. I got a one way ticket to Sydney and left for Bangkok that afternoon.
My car was in Princess' name anyway – and on the way to the airport we filled out the paperwork for her to sell it. She is a very good honest girl and has since sold my car and deposited all of the money into my account in Australia.
I relate this story to highlight a few points:
#1 – I was amazed that the kindly neighbor got involved. Whilst all of this was going on I raced down the road to try and get some other neighbors to help restrain him whilst Princess and her mum were wrestling with him on the ground. I got the typical Thai response – they did not want to know about it.
Thais generally never get involved if it means any risk to themselves. The neighbor had known Princess since she was a little kid and was like a brother to her. Fortunately he was very big for a Thai – even so he ended up with a broken hand. I paid for his hospital treatment and sent Princess money to buy gifts for the kids.
#2 – In Asia you never ever know the bottom-line. If that had happened in a Western country he would have been arrested and I could have taken out an AVO against him. In Thailand nobody could or would actually tell me what was going to happen to him or what I could do about it next time. I honestly think they didn't even know – if they were confused I certainly was.
#3 – This third point is more of a rhetorical question. Was I just unlucky or what could I have done to avoid this dreadful situation?
#4 – Don't think just because you are in the right that the cops will be sympathetic to you. I had witnesses to what had happened – Princess and her mum were victims as well – but still nothing was done. As I said – to rub salt into the proverbial wounds – the cop turned around and got drunk!!
I could tell that Princess did not like him and had done nothing to foster his advances. Princess' mum rang the guy's sister in Bangkok (she got the number from the bank) and the sister told mamma that he had had a girlfriend in Bangkok who he really loved. She had dropped him and started dating a farang. The poor hapless foreigner was assaulted by this loony, so I can imagine how he felt. The police in Bangkok made this character leave the area and that is how he ended up working at the bank in Chiang Mai.
I guess the end of the tale is not all bad news. I still love Asia and am looking forward to going back again. I brought Princess for a holiday to Sydney at Xmas time and she really loved it. I have a one-way ticket to Bangkok in December and plan on staying at least three or four months.
As the Thai Baht is not a good prospect up against the AUD at the moment and the USD is very strong against the Aussie, we will probably spend a lot of that time in Cambodia.
I want to see her mum again (who literally put her body on the line for me), so I will fly her down to Bangkok with Princess when I arrive. You can imagine I don't want to push my luck again and go back to Chiang Mai!!!
Her mum trusts me now and has given her permission for us to travel together – so that is cool.
Cheers and happy travelling –
This story really does demonstrate how helpless you can feel in certain situations in Thailand, even when you have not done anything wrong. This guy sounds like he was totally bonkers and you never quite know what he may have done next, so I think your decision to get out of Chiang Mai when you did was sensible.