The Mongering Philanthropist Part 5
In the last episode our hero gets his introduction to the Issan. In attempting to solve the plumbing problems of two old pals he had gained some new valuable friends.
Part 5. The land of unexpected opportunity
The Issan or North eastern part of Thailand covers an area as large as England and Wales combined. I am told the distances involved in travelling between towns can be quite daunting. I had told my friends Kul and Kwan whilst I was in the Issan I wanted to see an old friend who was exiled with his wife in a village near Korat. So on Boxing Day I asked them to drop me off at the bus station in Udon Thani.
It was only a small lie but I did not tell them I was meeting Phai who lived probably only an hour away the other side of the city. After corresponding for a few years we had finally met when she came down from the Issan for our assignation in Bangkok a couple of weeks ago.
Once they had dropped me off I phoned Phai to say I had arrived at the bus station. Within the hour she collected me in her car, a well cared for Toyota Yaris and drives me to her house in a village about 30 minutes east of the city. Expecting to see a traditional teak house on stilts I was surprised to see a well appointed modern bungalow on a small well tended housing estate. Inside the Bungalow were three bedrooms, a nice open plan lounge and a kitchen with an extremely efficient air conditioning unit.
Phai quickly prepared a Pad Thai meal and danced attendance on me as I ate it. She told me she had lived happily in this house with her late husband for many years. Her husband had been a senior police officer and highly respected (or feared?) in the district.
Phai was a schoolteacher and apparently held in high regard in her community. Knowing a little about Thai culture I offered to book into a hotel to save her the embarrassment of me staying there with her but she wouldn’t hear of it. With a wicked grin she led me by the hand to the bathroom and carefully began to strip me and pushed me into the shower. She then removed her own clothes and once naked joined me in the cubicle. I was enchanted by her delicate beauty as she carefully soaped me down. I must confess her small breasts and large tubular nipples mesmerised me and her tender caresses soon had me erect and chomping at the bit
As we later lay together she asked me to help her shave her little mudgeon again which was now quite bristly. I knew this was for the employment of Mr Tongue, a pleasure it seemed she had now quite gotten used to.
Phai had booked a table at a local restaurant and had invited a few friends she wanted to show me off to. I was surprised and amused that she clearly took a great pleasure in introducing me to her friends. At the head of the table there was her headmaster, a gawky fellow in his early 50s who sat silent and smiling all evening. Next to him sat his wife, a strange creature with a severe beehive haircut who never spoke a word in fear that it would prevent her shovelling food into her mouth.
Another guest was her brother in law Jow who ran a travel business in the city. His rather attractive wife Acheron seemed very interested in knowing how we had met and seemed unusually eager to hear of what we had done when we were in Bangkok together.
Keeping a straight face I stated we had spent all our time sightseeing and making merit in temples. To my astonishment Phai declared “Actually we spent all weekend having wild and passionate sex” I actually blushed at this disclosure but Acheron unfazed by Phai’s uncharacteristic admission merely replied “Well good for you girl it is about time”. I was a little confused by the interchange but quickly realised I had misinterpreted the whole conservative Thai lady issue and Phai was thoroughly enjoying being perceived as risqué having a wicked farang boyfriend after so many years of quiet respectability.
Phai was especially keen to introduce me to one of her oldest friends, a sculptor named Chanarong who apparently owned a studio on the edge of the town. He was by all accounts a highly skilled artisan. His unique sculptures in clay were highly acclaimed but it appeared he owed his growing reputation from the bronze statues he created from his own original works and for other artists.
I estimated he was in his early 50s and I took to Chanarong immediately. He had a good level of English which he explained was due to his dealings with one of his westernised Chinese customers who insisted on conducting all their business in English. He asked I call him Chan. His wife Pan was an eye-catching and intelligent lady who taught at the same school as Phai. She also had a good command of English and kept the conversation going with great skill. In fact she was a second cousin of Phai and they had grown up and attended teachers college together. I was fascinated with the description of Chan’s studio and his artistic output. Chan seemed a quiet and modest man but his wife was clearly very proud of her talented husband so compensated for his modesty.
I explained my own casting background I asked if I could come and see his studio sometime. They seemed delighted with my interest and arrangements were immediately made. Pan would collect me from Phai’s the next morning. I had already conceded defeat in trying to understand about Thai face and respectability and decided to just go with the flow. Khun kidt maak….farang think too much. It however came as no great surprise that I picked up the bill for the evening’s festivities.
Pan collected me the next morning and on the drive she told me a little about her cousin. Phai had come from a very well to do family, her grandmother was reputed to be a Lao princess but like the Saudis the Lao royal family were numbered in their thousands. Nevertheless her father had some wealth and gave her a big dowry on her wedding which helped them buy their house. Phai’s husband was a handsome fellow who became a Chief of Police in the district. He was regrettably killed in a shootout with gangsters allegedly from Bangkok some five years ago. Pan told me she believed he had upset the local mafia. I thought this disclosure unusually indiscreet and quite refreshing. I was beginning to like Pan.
She told me since then Phai had not been with a man. She explained the difficulties older Thai women, particularly widows or divorcees face in their culture. Thai men of their own age are only interested in young women. Younger men are only interested in older women for their money to fund their motorbikes and drinking. She was at pains to describe the difference from the west were she had heard women are more independent and empowered. I thought it prudent not to give her my opinions of western women so kept my mouth shut.
Pan was also keen to tell me that Phai had become rather smitten with me since meeting me in Bangkok. She also threatened to “feed the ducks” if I broke her cousins heart. I understood she was referring to the inclination of Thai women when aggrieved to chop off a man’s three penny bit and feed it to the ducks. I assured my new friend I was becoming quite taken with Phai so the ducks could go hungry.
Chan’s workshop was a steel frame building about 50 ‘x 30’and sat in the middle of a substantial plot of open land. Pan told me the workshop previously belonged to Chan’s father which he inherited some ten years ago. But the land it sat on was owned by Pan’s late father. I got the impression there was a long complicated story to be told of the interconnection of their families. I suspected Pan was the real owner of the business.
One half of the building was occupied by the artist studio. There was a large bench with clays and all the paraphernalia associated with creative endeavour. The other half housed the casting facility. At one end of the building there was a large hearth and a tall brick chimney which provided a natural draught which ventilated the building. Beneath the hearth were two charcoal fired pit furnaces each about 200 lb capacity. They were of a design I had not seen in the west for 30 years but suspected still did the job. The whole building was in good condition but clearly overcrowded with equipment and materials.
I spotted Chan with two younger men carefully loading ingot into the pit furnace. He acknowledged me with a wave indicating he would be with me shortly. On seeing this Pan departed saying that either Phai or herself would later collect me.
Anyone acquainted with art castings will know the huge skill that goes into creating bronze statues. I could see Chan utilised the age old lost wax process to produce his bronzes. I should explain the process. Once the artist has created his sculpture in clay or wood it is covered with several coats of latex until it is encased in a latex rubber mould. When set the rubber skin is carefully removed to create a negative of the object. This rubber mould is reassembled and molten wax poured into it. When the wax has set it is cautiously removed giving a wax replica of the original artefact.
This wax replica is trimmed and has a wax running system or sprue added to form a tree. This will provide the channel for the metal to flow into in the mould cavity. The wax tree is dipped in ceramic slurry which is then coated in ceramic dust and allowed to dry. The process is repeated several times until a self supporting shell is achieved. It can sometimes take a week to build the shell to the required thickness.
The ceramic shell is then placed in an oven to melt out the wax leaving a cavity in the ceramic mould corresponding to the original item. The ceramic mould is then usually placed into steel tray full of sand to support it during the pouring of molten metal into it. It is a complex slow and expensive process. The size of casting that can be produced is limited but the results are most impressive.
The modern variant of the lost wax process is known as Investment casting and is the process of choice for medical implants and the aerospace industry where most of the castings intended for aircraft application are produced by this technique.
With full size statues the process becomes even more complicated and skilled. They require the construction of a model around a substantial frame or armature that is scaled up from the original 1/3 size art work in clay. This requires detailed measurements and imaginative construction practices.
These days’ full sized statues are rarely cast as one piece. The advances in welding techniques allow the sculpture to be divided down into smaller castings that are carefully assembled and welded together. As many as 150 individual castings are often involved. Joints are removed and hidden by a process called chasing. This involves using hand tools to clean and polish it. This is also a long procedure and again requires a high level of skill.
Chan joined us and introduced his assistants as Pravat his eldest son and Nok as his nephew. He explained in addition to his art casting he also utilised his bronze casting facility to produce statuettes of Buddha’s and Elephants etc for the tourist market.
He informed me “I thought it would be a good idea to have some running lines to fund and support my art work”.
“However” he continued “it has turned out taking up all our time and our resources”.
He explained most of this non art output went to a company based in Chaing Mai owned by the Chinaman he mentioned the previous evening. He then exported them all around Asia. The business was good but as is the norm when dealing with Chinese businessmen he was extremely demanding both in terms of price and delivery. This put considerable pressures on them and Chan was finding he needed to work seven days a week to meet this customer’s demands.
I spent the afternoon with them and helped them with the pouring of a large bronze bust of a local dignitary. I observed them working with great interest Pravat was a big fellow in his mid twenties Nok was a small wiry boy perhaps a couple of years younger. Both were hard working industrious lads. Pravat organised the complex model mould process whilst Nok welded the structures or tended the melting of the bronze under the watchful eye of Chan. There was a great synergy of skills and they worked together with the precision of a military operation.
Whilst I could appreciate and admire their skills I felt they were missing an opportunity. The consultant in me could see many areas to improve their endeavours. By the end of the afternoon I had established a substantial list of ideas but kept my counsel for the present. At around 4.30 Phai came to collect me to return us home for dinner. She seemed very happy that I had taken an interest in her friends operation.
Of all the women I have known in my life there was something about Phai that enchanted me. She appeared to be genuinely fond of me which must always be a good start. I acknowledge being starved of affection when back in the UK I was amenable to a little romantic attention.
There are numerous horror stories of the mercenary nature of Thai women but they can also be the most gentle and caring women on the planet.
After a few days I must admit beginning to enjoy Phai’s tender ministrations and was happy to slip into a pleasant domestic familiarity. In the short time I spent with Phai I took pleasure in shopping around the local food markets with her and even peeling vegetables in her kitchen. She liked to talk but was equally comfortable with the occasional silence. At 45 she was the oldest Thai woman I had ever been with but I could not imagine replacing her with a young dancer from a Go-go bar.
I knew I would return here again so decided to make a commitment. I opened a joint bank account with Phai and deposited 300,000 baht from my everyday saver account. This account was for my living expenses back home but as I envisaged spending time with Phai I should pay for my keep. I knew Phai was not destitute and did not need my money but I felt some gesture of commitment was required. She was most surprised and pleased she could not help mentioning the subject to her cousin Pan. I was happy as it kept the ducks from their dinner.
Phai hosted a New Years Eve party at her house. It was a wonderful night with beer flowing and fireworks being let off into the early hours Chan presented me with a bronze elephant as a going away present. It was a substantial item about 8”x 6” x4” which would take up most of my baggage allowance but gave me an excuse to leave most of my clothes in the wardrobe in Phai’s bedroom.
The next day Phai and Pan drove me to the airport with tearful farewells as I left the Issan. I spent a day making my goodbyes to my pals in Bangkok. I took the direct afternoon flight to Heathrow with some pleasant memories to keep me warm in the British winter.
I was back in the UK in the first week in January. I contacted my two sons to tell them of my return. I felt a little guilty about not sharing my windfall with them and keeping it secret from them but felt my reasons remained valid. I was however resolved to help them a little.
On the Saturday I went for a drink with Matt my eldest lad. He had recently turned 26 and had been in the roofing industry since leaving school at 16. He was excited with his plans to form his own felt roofing business. He had come across a new German system for flat roofs that dispensed with the tar pot and blow torch. The big roofing companies were reluctant to adopt it so he saw an opportunity. He had the promise of some work but needed to buy a van and procure some equipment.
As usual the Banks were not very helpful and they had dismissed his business plan. I do wonder what purpose the Banks serve if they can not support enterprise but that is a discussion for another time. I loaned him £10k telling him I had made a few bob on the contract in China and would be returning there next month.
The next day I drove my youngest son back to University. I realised buying the MR2 was not such a good idea as the journey was fast but a bit shaky. He suggested I sell it and buy a more comfortable vehicle. I asked if he meant a car more appropriate for an old geezer like me. He laughed but did not contradict me. I give him a “loan” of £10k telling him to sort out the debts all students accrue. I promised to take him to Thailand later in the year if he made a real effort in his exams.
The next day I went to see my solicitor pal Devin. He told me he had registered our company as the Wocker trust in deference to one of our pals who had recently passed away. He informed me he had bought a plot of wasteland not far from the new hospital and intended making a bit of money running car boot sales and open markets in the summer months. It seemed a strange idea but I trusted his judgement and kept my counsel.
He also told me about his idea for a “Grey Power” employment agency. He described how in the course of his profession as a solicitor he came across numerous men of mature years with years of experience who were being underutilised or thrown on the scrap heap. He felt these hundreds of years of knowledge represented a waste and an opportunity that he had ideas to exploit. It was again an unusual idea but as before I trusted his judgement.
I told him about Chan’s studio in Thailand and of my half formed plans to develop it. He expressed reservations of me investing in a country he perceived as undeveloped as any friend would. But as a friend he would obviously help me. I asked him to search his contacts and find me a solicitor in Thailand who was trustworthy and would protect my back.
That January was unseasonably mild for the UK. I spent a few weeks researching the ideas I was germinating. I went to see a Patternmaker pal armed with Chan’s bronze elephant and got them to make a small split wooden pattern from it. I also made a few calls to various foundry supply companies for some advice on the availability of materials in SE Asia. I made sure I phoned Phai every few days to keep her warm and interested for my return
Devin invited me to a dinner dance at a prestigious local hotel which was the annual Banquet for the Cricket club. There would be many influential people from the business community there so he thought it would be good for networking. I could see the attraction for him but it had little interest to me. However he persuaded me that there would be many old colleagues and people I knew there. My problem was finding a female companion for the evening. There is nothing as sad as being a single man at these social events. You are the proverbial spare dick at a wedding.
In the Casino club I occasionally frequent there are many exceptionally beautiful women of Eastern European origin working there but they do tend to stick to the men of their own culture. The bar supervisor Sindi is a very attractive Indian lady in her late 30s. She is slim elegant and always dresses immaculately. She is considered aloof by most of her colleagues and customers. We have however always got on very well. I believe because I believe I have no chance with her and although I gently flirt with her I always maintain a degree of decorum. This is not the case with many of the other customers who can be quite unsavoury and offensive in their advances. I have always appreciated the sensitivities involved with her status as an unmarried mother and her constant struggle maintaining an image of respectability.
Sindi oozes class and I have often joked with her that if I ever invested in a High Class BDSM parlour or “House of correction” I would immediately offer her the job as the Madame. I tease her that I thought she would be the perfect “Stern Mistress” which had always amused her.
Needing a partner for the banquet I tentatively approached her with my predicament. I sold it to her on the premise it was a prestigious event at an eminent hotel, the food and entertainment was sure to be outstanding. I stressed I would book separate rooms and I would treat her like the lady I knew she was. I could see I had piqued her interest but when I offered to give her £500 to buy a new dress and get her hair done for the occasion she agreed with a swiftness and enthusiasm that took me completely by surprise.
The evening of the banquet was a great success Sindi looked incredible in a simple black cocktail dress with her hair pinned back in an elaborate style. I had bought a new tuxedo and we definitely turned heads when we walked in together. We knew each other well enough for comfortable conversation over dinner and I entertained Devin’s guests with some of my less salacious Asian anecdotes.
The food was first-rate and the music was provided by an excellent twelve piece show band. As I led Sindi on to dance floor I could not fail to notice the envious looks from most of the middle aged men in the room. I could sense their resentful glances as they considered the elderly and frumpy wives they were stuck with.
When we retired for the evening I walked Sindi to her room. At the door she gave me affectionate kiss on the cheek and thanked me for a wonderful evening. I reminded her to lock the connecting door to our adjoining rooms as I had been known to sleepwalk. She laughed and wished me good night.
I had just hung my clothes up and was in my new silk underpants brushing my teeth when I hear the adjoining door being unlocked. In the doorway stood Sindi clad only in a silk baby doll negligee. As she sashayed towards the bed the cream colour of the material looked wonderful against her dark skin. The hem came half way up her thighs showcasing her slender legs and barely covered her neatly trimmed pussy. Seeing my amazement she said “I bought this night dress and thought it would be a shame to waste it sleeping alone with no one to see it”. I was very happy that her thoughtful actions had ensured the rift in the space time continuum was safe that evening.
As she sat on the bed the bottom of her negligee rose revealing her mudgeon was already as damp as a mermaid’s facecloth. As I began to lift the hem her hand went to stop me “please don’t look at my belly”. I had glimpsed her stomach and saw it was very badly scarred I suspect some incident during childbirth had left it like a patch work quilt. Appreciative that she was self conscious of her disfigurement I complied with her request.
I still had access to her open legs and entered her with as much gentleness as my mounting excitement would allow. Our lovemaking was surprisingly affectionate rather than passionate. I also established that Sindi was not as sexually experienced as her exotic appearance would have suggested.
Next morning we went down to breakfast Sindi was dressed in designer jeans and a pink cashmere cardigan, looking every inch the expensive trophy wife of a successful executive. The resentful looks I again received from the men taking breakfast were beyond price. I felt like a dog with two dicks in a street full of lampposts.
After breakfast we take a walk around the pleasant grounds of the hotel so it was almost lunchtime before I drove her home. I assumed this episode was a one off and doubted the delectable Sindi would repeat it but there was no doubt she now saw me in a new light.
The next week I went out a few times meeting up with pals watching football and listening to bands. I also visited a few local pubs. I have been told on numerous occasions that pubs are not the places to find women but I point out the shopping malls, libraries and animal rescue centres are closed in the evenings. Although I still couldn’t report any specific success I was experiencing a slight change in the reception of English women to my sociable advances. I was no longer getting the mean spirited rejections or the threats to summon a constable for having the temerity to approach them. I was even getting an occasional friendly smile.
I attributed this to my own demeanour and improved self-assurance. The confidence from having a few quid in my pocket and being relaxed after having my tubes cleaned in Thailand was noticeable. I was no longer radiating the signals of desperation that women pick up on and find so off putting. I suspected that there were probably a few very pleasant natured English women looking for a bloke like me ….if I could actually meet them. But they remained elusive. If they stayed in at night watching soap operas and inane reality shows on TV they were never going to meet me.
I had a mild epiphany, the very last thing I actually needed was a serious relationship with an English woman. That would seriously impede my freedom. I now had money if I needed a female to assuage my base carnal desires I could do it on a commercial basis. Likewise if I needed a companion for a social occasion I could hire one for the purpose. I also resolved that when in back in England I should relax, enjoy my freedom and seek my women elsewhere, preferably in Asia. This decision was extremely liberating.
I had only been back a few weeks but was already beginning to miss the kingdom. I had not spent as much money as I anticipated and still had over £60k of the money left I had allocated for frivolous wasting. It was burning a hole in my ass pocket.
In February the weather was taking a turn for the worse with heavy snow predicted, so I decided a return to Thailand was in order. This time I would fly first class as I could now afford it.
To be continued.