Readers' Submissions

Setting The Record Straight

  • Written by Sawadee2000
  • September 6th, 2011
  • 34 min read


I briefly thought about using a clever title for this piece, such as The Oracle Will Now Reveal All!!! Fortunately better sense prevailed, and you are spared from something “too cute”. The tone for this piece is going to be much different from At the Bottom of the Totem Pole. For one thing I am not feeling particularly hostile towards Airmail…despite the fact that he is now referring to what I write as “scribblings”. How can I possibly feel that about someone who contributed to my children’s book project? Let me start then by publicly thanking him for his generous donation. Thai children today continue to enjoy those books.

Airmail raises some valid questions, and I intend to answer them in detail. I must say though that everything I intend to say now has been said in quite some detail in submissions that I have written over the years. Those who have made it clear that they do not enjoy my style of writing…and I hope that they are in the minority, might say that I have blathered on in nauseating detail about my life here in The Land of Smiles. Oh well, you can’t please everybody, and as I have stated in the past, I don’t consider myself much of a writer. I leave the “real writing” to folks like Korski.

So without further ado, let me lay out the two main questions that Airmail has posed: Why did I come here? Why am I still here? As Stick pointed out, the answer to the first question can be found in the very first piece I submitted, How it All Began…if you are willing to plow through all ten installments. I will be the first to admit that my writing style wasn’t what it is today, so you might justifiably call it long-winded. Hey, we’ve all got to begin somewhere don’t we?

Let me briefly summarize the circumstances that brought me to Thailand. In 1998 while separated from my first wife, I traveled here ostensibly to take a course in Thai cooking. Among the degrees I hold is one in culinary arts, hence the interest in Thai food. While here I met the lovely Thai woman who would later become my wife. After getting married, my wife and I lived in America for five years. During that time we made yearly visits to Thailand, where I became much more familiar with Thai culture. Staying with her family in rural Buriram, I saw a side of Thailand that most casual visitors never see. I think the Thai Tourist Association is just as happy that tourists don’t witness the grinding poverty that is the norm for many Thais. It ain’t a pretty sight by any means! When my wife first started suggesting that we move to Thailand, it wasn’t as though I had no idea of what existed off the tourist radar. I knew that life could indeed be very hard here. This only served for me to better appreciate how extraordinary my wife was to have pulled herself up by her own bootstraps and put herself through university and get a degree in computer science.

Okay, let me start setting the record straight. At the time I decided to move here, my wife and I were doing pretty damned well. We both had good well paying jobs. We had only a few years before built a brand new $300,000 home…paid for in full!!! I was driving a brand new Toyota Rav 4 and my wife a brand new Plymouth PT Cruiser. Both were paid in full!! In addition to coming to Thailand every year, we were taking vacations to places like Disney World. There was no balance left at the end of the month on our credit cards bills…and we were continually getting new unsolicited cards in the mail, including Platinum ones from American Express!

So…why would I give up all of that to move to Thailand? Well, my wife missed being here for one thing. She had given up everything and everyone she knew to come to America. She had adapted to a new life here. She had eventually become a U.S. citizen. Still she missed her family. She missed familiar food. She missed Thai music and culture.

As for me, well, I was simply ready for a change of life. The idea of living in Thailand sounded like an exciting experience. That’s the one and only reason we set off on what is now a six year and counting adventure. In no way was I “running away from America”. In no way was it “impossible” for us to live there. I was not in trouble with friends, neighbors, “the law”, creditors (I had none) or anyone else for that matter. I had no scandals to hide from. I wasn’t going through a mid-life “crisis” or having an emotional breakdown. These, dear Airmail are the “Real Reasons” I came here, pure and simple! I didn’t hate America. I’m not “in exile”. There was no other “hidden” agenda. Oh I suppose in the interest of “full disclosure” I should confess that I spent two years at the CIA. Does that make me a spook? Oh right, I was at the other CIA…The Culinary Institute of America, and the only subversive activities you’ll find there are related to clogging up the arteries of America. So I am still eagerly waiting to learn precisely what it is that I am failing to “acknowledge”?

I will admit that being on the opposite side of the planet from my ex-wife sounded just about far enough away, but I think a lot of divorced men reading this might feel the same way! Did I sell my home, cars, and all kinds of other worldly possessions in order to finance my move? Absolutely! Did this constitute “burning my bridges”? I wouldn’t say so considering I had a very tidy sum stuffed away in the bank to finance this expedition.

Okay, it was time to see if such a move would be feasible. I certainly had no intention of living in Buriram! Aside from some interesting Khmer ruins at Phnom Rung, there isn’t much there to see except rice and sugar fields.

My wife and I had traveled through northern Thailand several times, and loved the area. Neither of us wanted to live in Chiang Mai. We both wanted to live near the countryside, without being in the middle of nowhere. For us Lampang was a Goldilocks choice…not too big…not too small, with nearby mountains and not more than an hour away from “the big city”.

I will not tell the story here of settling into Lampang, building our new home, or our misadventures with The Monkey. If you don’t have the slightest idea who said Monkey is, you’ll just have to slog your way through How it All Began! It is an interesting tale though, and serves as a good introduction to the reality of living in Thailand.

Were we fully prepared for what awaited us there? Absolutely not! In some ways my wife and I were complete Babes in the Woods. There was simply no way to learn about all the things we needed to know before we actually were here and in the thick of things. There were no other ex-pats to consult or books to read that told the unvarnished facts of life. Stick was up and running for many years then, but I only discovered him quite by accident a year after moving here, and most of the submissions back then were not going to shed much light on the things I needed to know anyway. So in the end it was for us the equivalent of diving into the deep end of the pool and hoping we could stay afloat. Was that “reckless” or “irresponsible”? I don’t think it was. By the way, many readers have written to tell me that the chronicles of my early days here were helpful to them in “learning the ropes” about a variety of practical things.

Believe it or not teaching English never entered my mind when I moved here. Hell, I never knew that foreigners were even teaching English in Thailand. It wasn’t until neighbors started knocking on my door, asking me if I would teach their children that I knew anyone wanted to learn English! Even then, a teaching career was not my goal back then. It had been my intention to open a 1950’s retro ice cream emporium; complete with a flashing Wurlitzer pumping out Elvis and The Four Seasons, and pretty waitresses in short pleated skirts and penny loafers. Hell. I still might open one someday, if only to make Dana happy!

The only reason this enterprise never got off the ground, was the “inconvenience” of a near fatal heart attack. It was while I was convalescing that I began my “illustrious” career in the delightful world of the Thai education system. Hmmm, I daresay that some might refer to my tenure as an English teacher “dubious”, or even “disastrous”…but, I’ll leave the final judgment on that score to my students…who undoubtedly will all become Nobel winners. Just joking! Even I’m not that conceited!

There is no need to talk in any detail about all I’ve gone through as a teacher here. I’ve written extensively on that topic. Suffice it to say that my perspective has changed dramatically since I first set foot into my first classroom. They say that what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. Reckoning things that way, my psychic physique must be on par with Bruce Lee’s physical prowess when he was at his prime. Oh yes, Old Sawadee has learned a thing or two about teaching in Thailand that my degree in Education never prepared me for!

Hell, very little I had learned in my entire life prepared me for any aspect of living here. Where was the ultimate guidebook, the master tome, the secret scroll that explained: What Every Farang Really Needs to Know Before Contemplating Moving to the Land of Smiles!

There are a whole lot of important things you aren’t likely to find covered in your Lonely Planet.

My first clue about what life would be like in Thailand occurred months before we packed up our worldly belongings in a shipping container and boarded our flight to Bangkok. I’ve related the following story before, but because not everyone has read all of my earlier submissions, and because it really does set the stage for my future life here, I think it’s worth retelling. Obviously before I could move to Thailand on what I hoped would be a permanent basis, I needed to know what the visa requirements were. I was unsuccessful in finding out much online, and so thought I would contact the Thai embassy in Washington. What a brainstorm, eh! Surely they must receive frequent requests all the time about what you need for every class of visa. Undoubtedly they will have prepared a pamphlet or paper explaining what documentation I would need. It should be a simple matter to call them and find out how I can receive this information. After getting the number from directory assistance, I proceeded to give the embassy a call. The phone rings. Someone at the other end picks up the receiver. Before I could open my mouth to utter a single word, someone says. “We are eating lunch now. Please call back later!” Click. This person never bothered to say, “Hello, this is the Royal Thai Embassy, how may I help you?” I could have been an important official from the U.S. State Department calling on urgent business.

This was the first lesson I learned about life in Thailand. Lunch has priority over anything else! This wasn’t the last time this would be pointed out to me over the coming years. Once while at the Lampang police station filing an accident report, I was left standing for a good hour without explanation while everyone trooped off for som tam. It was at moments like this that I would recall the expression my wife would use when we encountered something seemingly bizarre: Welcome to Thailand!

Oh, in case you were wondering, I eventually did reach someone at the Thai embassy, who brusquely told me that there was no visa information available, and that I would have to wait until I arrived here in Bangkok. After two exhausting days standing in lines in Bangkok, we were told that we shouldn’t have been here wasting everyone’s time, and that we needed to go to Chiang Mai immigration! I had a funny feeling that “interesting times” were awaiting us. That turned out to be true in spades!

I knew that things would be different here. I wasn’t expecting life to be what it was back in Massachusetts, otherwise why bother to come here at all? Still, there was no way to know that a lot of important things about life in Thailand might have affected our decision.

Take the dangers inherent in driving here. How could I imagine that in the minds of way too many Thais, stopping at a red light is optional? How could I imagine that someone would recklessly drive into me …in front of a dozen witnesses, flee the scene of the accident, but in the end I would be the one to have to pay a fine…while Somchai walked away with a big smirk on his face.

How could I possibly imagine that I would be extorted by a cop after being falsely accused for “speeding”, and forced to hand over a wad of cash?

You don’t get that information from guidebooks! You also won’t hear about what to do when a corrupt builder tries to cheat you. My wife and I found that out while building our house. Luckily we turned the tables on The Monkey and wound up with a beautiful home!

How could I ever imagine that simply going to a Thai government hospital could kill you? Bangkok Barry just related a tale of how that almost happened to him. I once barely escaped with my life after being refused treatment because they thought my heart attack was probably just a case of indigestion!

Short of having a crystal ball to gaze into, there was no way for me to know anything about the political situation here. I would only learn about Red Shirts and Yellow Shirts when events unfolded all around me. I also had no way of knowing about the three things which have held Thailand in its current lowly status. I am referring to the obsession with maintaining face, all pervasive corruption, and apathy. The reality of the B.S. that takes place in the Thai school system was beyond my comprehension until I was caught in the middle of it. I could theoretically have done as much “research” as you might dream of before I came here, and still not have known about any of this.

Scores of Farangs live here now without ever encountering any of the situations I have written about. If you are simply a retiree living in a condo, you would never know what is going on almost under your nose, because these things don’t affect your life. It’s not until you are being exploited by someone trying to cheat you, or are involved in an accident or receive questionable medical care that you become aware of them. If you are not working as a teacher, why in the world would you know anything about severance pay or having to knuckle under a bunch of ignorant school administrators?

Would I have reconsidered moving to Thailand if I had known everything that was eventually going to transpire? Perhaps, but that is mere idle speculation. If time travel was possible (it isn’t) and I had built a time machine, could I ever believed the outrageous stories my future self would regale me with? In any case once we were here, we had no choice but to adapt and grow as best we could. Gee, since I was too stupid to know any of this, I guess it was a bad idea to “burn my bridges”!

In other submissions I’ve talked about all kinds of “interesting” experiences that I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams until I actually living here. After the fact, some of these become written up as "amusing adventures". Hmm it seems to me that many adventures are simply harrowing events that I somehow managed to survive!

Amazingly enough, despite a problem or two along the way I’ve a managed to do a whole lot more than just survive. Despite all that I have “complained” about, life on the whole…believe it or not, has been pretty good for me. I enjoy getting up in the morning and going about my day. My life might seem extraordinarily boring to anyone craving excitement, but it suits me well enough. I am rarely bored, as the simple things like shopping at a local market continue to fascinate me. I still enjoy going to the many temples and enjoying their serenity. I have many good friends, both Thai and Farang. Over six years this place has become home. I have no plans to go anywhere else in the foreseeable future.

“So why are you constantly complaining?” Well the answer may be simpler than you can accept, but the fact is that because Thailand is now my home, I “complain” because it is my nature to be perturbed when things are being done poorly. Back when I lived in the USA I was as much of a gadfly as I am now! Oh yes indeed, Old Sawadee wrote more than a few Letters to the Editor over the years! Hey, what can I say, I have never been shy about expressing my opinion!

If I was now still living in America, and I was writing submissions for a website about America, I would have plenty of things to complain about, believe you me! In a while I will briefly share a few of these with you, but Stickman is about Thailand. It shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that I would comment on the good, the bad and the ugly that I see in Thailand, and not about Zimbabwe or Bolivia. I have never done a scientific tally, but I think most readers who have read the body of my writing would agree that I have plenty of good things to say about Thailand.

You might not care for my style. A few folks don’t. Steve Rosse thinks it's boring, amateurish, crap, and I must produce what I do either as some sort self catharsis or to inflate my own ego. Gee sorry, Steve. I feel so unworthy that I am not a published author like you. I’m sure that if I sought out a publisher, I could also produce a few pamphlets such as those you’ve written.

Airmail seems to think I’m shoving all of my stories down the public’s throat.

Nobody asked S2000 to regale us with his personal and detailed recounting of his life in downtown Lampang.” Actually hundreds of people from all around the world write all the time to see when another Lampang story might be on the way. Gee they must all be pretty undiscriminating in what they find amusing.

I have never made any pretense at being a “serious” writer. My hat is off to someone like Dana who can not only write fiction, but create extraordinary worlds with seeming effortlessness. What would we do without him?

All of my meager submissions are just a little hobby that I’ve come to enjoy. I’ve always made it clear that they are just one person’s opinion based on my personal experiences. Amazingly a whole lot of you seem to enjoy my mundane tales about buying a new washing machine. Like them or loath them, these are authentic bits and pieces of my life here. To those who correctly point out my occasional error in spelling, grammar and usage, and say I should be setting a better example, I apologize for not taking more time to proofread. The truth is that I usually dash these submissions off in a single go, with only a cursory check for errors. I promise to do better…some day when feeling properly motivated!

Moving on to another of Airmail's burning questions; If Thailand is as flawed as you keep pointing out, why in the world are you raising a child there? I have discussed this in the past, but to refresh your memory let me tell you once again. Before my wife I were married almost twelve years ago we, as most couples do who are planning a life together, discussed having children. At that time, my wife said she did not want any children, which was fine with me, since I already had two grown children.

Fast forward to just after my first close encounter with the Grim Reaper here in Lampang. My wife realized that it was not inconceivable that I could suddenly die while still relatively young, and she did not care much for the prospect of being left alone. She wanted at least one child. I found it impossible to refuse her. Not long after, little Sam came along to change our lives forever. The personal details of why I agreed to have another child is not any of Airmail’s business.

I will say that I knew I was going to work especially hard as a father to raise a son here. Among the many tasks I had on my “to do” list were to not only give him a good education academically, but to instill him with a western set of moral principles, a sound work ethic, and worthy philosophical outlook on life. Five years down the line, I think I can humbly say with a doting father’s sense of pride, that Project Samuel is coming along very nicely, thank you very much!

On the academic side, Sam’s English is just as good is as if he had lived in the U.S. Obviously I am constantly conversing with him in English, but my wife speaks both Thai and English with him. From early on in his infancy we were both reading to him daily. Because of this, not only does he have a large vocabulary, but has inherited my love of books. Unlike most Thai children, he is surrounded with books. When he entered K-1 (Kindergarten is a three-year program here) he already knew both his capital and lowercase letters in English and most of his Thai alphabet as well! The Thai language is not easy even for Thais to master!

Just as important in developing his cognitive skill, was to encourage his curiosity. Every parent out there has heard his children ask “why?” a few zillion times. Both my wife and I are only too happy to do our best to answer his inquiries…at least most of the time! Sometimes you are just too tired or too rushed to answer a never ending stream of questions! Simple curiosity, combined with a love of reading and a good set of learning skills will hopefully serve Sam well throughout the rest of this life.

In a few weeks he will turn five, and already he knows how to turn on the computer, get on to the internet and go to websites. He loves to go to YouTube and listen to every variation of a song. Only a parent can appreciate how many dozen versions there are of say, The Wheels on the Bus! He also loves a site called starfall.com where he practices phonics. It’s one a heartily recommend.

Just as important to me as Sam’s academic education, is his moral and ethical education. I work just as hard, if not harder to instill in him simple principles that many Thai children never learn.

Example # 1: Don’t throw your garbage on the ground. It makes everything dirty and ugly. Trash must go in the rubbish bin…always…even if you have to hold on to that snack wrapper for a few minutes!!! It doesn’t matter what your friends do. You must do what you know to be the right thing! (Too many Thais grow up thinking the world is their trash can.)

Example # 2: You must always stop for a red light or a stop sign. There are no exceptions! Not doing this may cause an accident. (Sam knows this one well and always notifies me when a traffic light turns red…and I always thank him for letting me know.)

Example # 3: When you are in Big C, you must be careful when you are pushing your shopping cart so that you won’t block anyone, or hit them. You must also wait patiently in line. You may not cut in front of anyone! You may not take anything that you have not paid for…ever! You may not always have everything you would like to have. Everything costs money, and we have to work hard to earn that money…so be careful what you spend so that you will always have money for the important things you need! Does anyone have a Thai tee-rak who never mastered this little life skill?)

Example # 4: You must wash your hands with soap and water every time you use the toilet…and just because boys can pee quickly by pulling down their pants, you should always try to pee in a toilet, except in “an emergency” (children do have emergencies!) You must brush your teeth at least twice a day…or “the bad germs” will eat your teeth”…and your breath will be really stinky!

Example # 5: (This is a BIG one!) If you want to become good at something, you need to practice…a lot!

Okay, you get the idea. I hope I don’t sound like Polonius in Hamlet, spouting meaningless aphorisms. These things, and a thousand other similar homilies, are what every parent, whether Thai or Farang should be imparting to their children.

Sam likes to watch me cook…and ask me a few questions about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. He sees me read a recipe, get out all the ingredients I need and all the implements I will use. He sees me line up everything I need in the order I will use it. No, I am not anal-retentive. This is a methodology I learned at Spy School called Mise en Place…which is simply a French culinary term for “getting your act together”. This is what a surgeon does before he gets ready to start operating…or at least you hope he does. The last thing you want him to be muttering while he’s working away is, “Now where did I put those forceps”?

It’s not that I’m trying to teach a five year old how to prepare a loaf of Sourdough bread…although he seems to know all the steps after watching me do it so many times. The real lesson is this is the way to prepare to do just about anything.

“Okay Sawadee, you’ve taught your kid how to bake a stupid loaf of bread and to always clean his hands after wiping his butt. Big Deal! You are still choosing to raise him in a country where you’ve said democracy is a joke and there is no such thing as free speech! What about all the corruption and other problems you continue to blather about?

Good question my fellow! Well to start with, although I am happy for my son to spend these early years here. I don’t intend him to stay here forever. Hell, the first thing I did after he was born was to go to the U.S. Consulate in Chiang Mai and get him a U.S passport. At some point yet to be determined, Sam will have to get a proper western education. I intend to see that he receives one.

There is no great rush though. He is only in the second year of Anuban. For now I am actually quite pleased with his education. There are only seventeen children in this class. He has two full time Thai teachers, a full time Chinese teacher and a full time English teacher. (Not me by the way. He is in K-2. I teach K-1 He does have a very nice and talented British teacher.) When not in school he has fun playing with his Thai friends. He enjoys going down to Buriram and seeing his grandparents and all his many aunts, uncles “down on the farm”. He does all the typical things every other Thai kid does. He goes to different temples and tamboons, strolls through the local markets, plays with sticks in the mud and rides his bicycle around the neighborhood. He is having a wonderful childhood that would not be made better by suddenly relocating to another country. There will be plenty of time when he is a few years older to think about going to the U.S. In the meantime I want him to store away lots of happy memories of his life in Thailand.

I am not entirely naïve as some of my critics would like to portray me. There is no way that I can provide every element here in Thailand that will enable Sam to realize his full potential. I also do not want this little head filled up with a lot of the bullshit attitudes that Thais are taught from infancy to accept. There will be no blind obsession with being afraid to lose face for my kid! I never want him to be afraid to speak his mind.

Unfortunately, merely going to live in America doesn’t guarantee Sam will have the kind of life I had when growing up there. Airmail keeps bringing up the fact that I am an American, as if every single one of us shares a fixed set of beliefs. Nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, Americans seem more divided in their fundamental beliefs than any other time I can remember. Sometimes the political and vitriolic social rancor I see on the news makes Thailand seem fairly benign in comparison. Despite the myriad of serious problems facing Thailand…and the list is long indeed, I don’t see your average Thai exhibiting the kind of foaming at the mouth, irrational hatred towards his neighbors that I see back in the USA.

This is not the place for a discussion of American politics, but please allow me to make a few brief comments to make an important point in what I’m writing about today.

I consider myself a political and social moderate. I don’t subscribe to a pre-packaged and inflexible set of ideas. I like to consider every issue in life based on its own merits. A few like Caveman would vehemently disagree and call me a LIBERAL since I believe that every gun owner who has children has the moral responsibility to secure his weapons so that his kids can’t get a hold of one and blow their brains out. The brother of one of my young students did just that. I neither sing hosannas and worship at the alter of Obama, nor do I on the other hand suffer from an Obama Derangement Syndrome. I don’t believe in political posturing for the merely sake of obstruction. Some see compromise as weakness. I see it as the only way to stop dicking around and try to find solutions. Yes, Old Sawadee is sooooo old fashioned! Don’t you know you are supposed to go for the other party’s jugular and never let go until his mangle corpse is beneath your hob-nailed boots!

One reason life here in Thailand, which is a third world Kleptoctracy, doesn’t look all that bad is that my former homeland seems poised to elect a certified idiot as the next President of the United States. The only question is specifically which idiot. Even if you aren’t an American, the mere thought of a President Rick Perry or Michelle Bachman should nonetheless scare the living shit out of you! Anyone who seriously believes that the Earth is 6000 years old, and that men once walked with dinosaurs until “The Flood” wiped them out is a wacko. Anyone who thinks Jesus is whispering in their ear guiding their destiny, and that the foreign policy of America should be based on fulfilling the biblical prophesy of “The End Days” should under no circumstances have his finger near the “button” which could initiate a f***king nuclear war! As much as I don’t want my son worshipping someone I can’t talk about here, the idea of growing up in an American Theocracy is even scarier. Okay done with politics!

Now let me wrap things up by answering one more of Airmail’s burning questions. You keep saying that despite all the nasty things you’ve gone through, you actually enjoy living here! WTF is that all about? Get ready. The Oracle Speaks one final time today! Once again, my answers are so simple that you might think I’m pulling your leg.

A small handful of people here have indeed done their very best to make my life miserable, but the vast majority of people I’ve interacted with over the past six years have treated your humble scribe with friendship Really! If I were to make a list of the Thais who have made me feel welcome on a daily basis, it would be a very long list. The lady I get my daily coffee from always has a sincere smile for me, as do all the other people I meet in Lampang. (Well maybe a few songtaw drivers still try to rip me off)! I wouldn’t say that I’m intimate friends with them, since my ability to speak Thai will never be that great, but I think I do get a fair amount of respect.

Aside from the occasional mortar shell that has been lobbed at my way, my daily life has been pretty smooth sailing. Really!

The second reason I am happy as a clam most of the time is that I enjoy my work as a teacher. If you aren’t a teacher, whether in Thailand or in any other corner of the globe, you have no idea how profoundly satisfying it is when you “connect” with a student. Mr. Airmail, I have that privilege each and every day! Let me give you just one small example from my current classroom.

At the beginning of the term one four-year old girl was too shy and petrified to even look at me, let alone speak. If you had met her back then, many of you might not even take a second glance at this girl, since she is not vivacious or pretty. It would have been easy to categorize her as a dim prospect for learning English. What I did was not anything you couldn’t have done. I simply smiled at her, and did what I could to make her feel comfortable. I patiently encouraged her day by day to let her guard down and participate in every class activity. I made a special point to make her feel that she was just as smart as all the other children. One small step at a time she became increasingly interested in what was being taught. Today this “ugly duckling” is one of the top students in the class! She runs to great me each and every morning. She is usually the first to raise her hand to answer a question. She now speaks confidently…and with an enormous smile on her face! Did I say she wasn’t pretty or vivacious? Ha! Now you would immediately pick her out as a girl with a bright and happy future.

Now I know that Airmail and Going Postal and a few others are snickering away. “Oh that Sawadee thinks he is just sooooo precious!” Well all I can say is the fact that they don’t know what I’m talking about is a sad commentary on their lives. Let me again set the record straight. I do not think I am some special knight in white armor. Any dedicated teacher worth his or her salt could do just as well if not better than I do. I am not trying to puff my ego up with my writings, nor am I trying to elicit pity. I am sorry that a small minority is put off by my sharing of so many personal details. Like it or not, that’s just the way I am.

Actually now that I come to think about it, a whole lot of readers out there do seem to enjoy what I write. I’ve been corresponding with many of them for I long time now, which for me is the best part of writing these submissions. That is why from the very beginning I have had my e-mail address listed. This is my one and only address I might add. I’m not hiding away in a bunker somewhere…unlike some people I won’t mention who don’t want to be contacted.

I’ve tried to be honest and straight forward in answering Airmail. Will he be satisfied that I am indeed “telling” all. I suppose I’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, I do encourage anyone who is interesting in weighing in on any of this to contact me at [email protected]. In the entire time I have been writing these, I have received only a small handful of negative letters, and that is truly setting the record straight!



Stickman's thoughts:

I think one of the great things about your writing is that you talk openly and candidly about what is going on in your life. That makes for engaging reading and the reader feels like they know the real you. This does, however, have the unfortunate effect of opening you up to not just the odd comment, but full commentary from others, something which is not always done in a "neighbourly way" on Thailand-centric sites.

For me personally, I changed the way I put my weekly together some time ago and don't say a great deal about my real life these days. Where Stickman and the real me were once almost one and the same, now there are some real differences. I have even gone so far as to infer certain things to keep the wolves at bay. The way some people home in on the smallest detail and comment about the writer in a mean way is a sad aspect of many Thailand-centric sites.

Your subs are great and you're amongst the most popular of all submission writers. I have no doubt that those who criticise are, for the most part, just plain jealous!