Any year where you still have your health at the end of it is a year that has ended well.
If you have managed to increase your net worth, maintained your current relationships and made maybe a new friend or two, then you can also rightfully say the year has been a good one.
As no one wants to read about my health or net worth, I’ll simply say they are doing fine and move on. My relationship with my wife of almost 40 years continues not without its ups and downs but we are still with each other so that must mean something. My children are doing fine, making their own way in the world and enjoying their chosen professions. I have tremendous love and respect for them and will continue to do what I can to support them if needed.
My relationship with my mia noi is now in its 8th year and I continue to be madly in love with her, notwithstanding the cultural and age differences. Her health steadily improves since her near death experience almost 2 years ago. This past year her father had a stroke which caused a lot of worry for a while but with modern medicine and trips to private Bangkok hospitals (“stay away from provincial public hospitals” is something that should be tattooed on everyone’s shoulder here in Thailand) he is on his way to recovery. His drinking has been cut to almost nothing and the smoking has gone down considerably so the stroke has had some positive effect.
My girl is as strong willed as ever (I like strong women and this is something she shares with my wife) and never shy to speak her mind. When I asked her opinion on the current political situation she responded “I would like to take a machine gun and kill them all.” Although she comes from a bastion of red supporters, she is neither red nor yellow herself, believing them all to be crooks and not worth her time to think about. While others are leading protests in the streets she is figuring out ways to increase her family’s worth. Last year we bought a 24 rai sugar cane farm and she is there daily tending to the crops. Recently she has started to build a shop on the land where her house sits, to sell chips and soda to the villagers and perhaps set up an internet café.
I can’t help but wonder if Thailand would be in a better place if more people would follow her example.
I have developed a bit of a routine: as each day winds down, I fix myself a whisky and log on to Stickman where I enjoy the latest submissions. I always find Korski’s work to be intelligently written (although I don’t always agree with him) and I enjoy reading about his visits to foreign countries. I was pleased to receive an email from him on my piece about my trip to Mongolia “ Under Blue Skies” earlier this year.
Caveman’s series where he described setting up life in Chiang Mai was perhaps my favorite set of submissions this past year, as I lived vicariously through him. Again, I don’t always agree with his politics but I respect the hell out of him and wish his series would recommence.
Farang Dave and Pattaya Gary are always both worth a read. I thought Farang Dave’s recent column on the Thai Competitive Spirit was brilliant and while I would love to quote many a line from it, I will only give one “This ability for Thais to quickly and effortlessly move between self and group goals give Thai society a resilience and vigor that is well hidden behind the smiles, politeness, and easy-going nature that tourists encounter in Thailand”.
Phet’s multiple entry novella was interesting to read, and showed the optimism of the human spirit as the author managed to overcome his own actual difficult circumstances to imagine a more positive world.
Dana’s weekly columns always intrigued me, while at the same time I confess to usually not being able to understand what his point was. He hinted at one time about some medical issues and I hope his recent absence from the site doesn’t reflect a worsening condition. So a quick shout out to him…Dana, hope you are doing well and let us hear from you if you are able.
Thanks also to the many others who have written in and whose work has amused, entertained, educated and sometimes pissed me off.
As a general comment, I have never been enthralled by people who want to tear things down. Why cannot a person write about how much he likes Thai women (for example) without also having to slag off western women? I get very tired of submissions who only want to denigrate western women. As Shakespeare wrote “The fault…is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”
The same goes for submissions that denigrate Thai people, life in Thailand, or the Thai culture. I often think to myself while reading, if you feel that way, kindly go home and leave Thailand to those of us who appreciate and respect it. (I suppose it goes without saying that those of us who love Thailand are not blind to its faults. We recognize that all countries and all cultures have plusses and minuses.)
A major thanks should go to Stickman himself, for his tireless work in managing this website on a daily basis. His weekly columns are always newsworthy and informative to read and while one may or may not agree with his personal taste as shown by his “Girl of the Week” I don’t think anyone could do a better job than he does.
I want to close with a short anecdote which reminded me why I love the bar life in Thailand. In Phuket, on the major walking street, there is a place called Tiger Disco. In the ground floor there are maybe 30 – 40 bars, all of which are open and next to each other, so that sitting in one bar you can easily see the eight bars immediately surrounding you and even the bars that are a bit further. I have a few ladies that I see regularly that work at different bars and I try to arrange it so that one lady might never see me with another lady.
I was there a few days ago and went to see one regular who wasn’t there. A second regular I had just seen and wasn’t interested in seeing again, so I finally opted for a third girl. A good time was had.
A few nights later I went back. Passing a bar I didn’t know I heard my name called out and I saw a lady who I knew from several years ago but hadn’t seen in a while since she had left Phuket to stay in Bangkok. I bought her a drink and finally she and I agreed to take the conversation back to my place. After paying the bar fine I decided to go for a pee (as one does). The toilets in Tiger are at the back, and returning from them I bumped into the girl who I had been with just a few nights ago. Being a gentleman I bought her a drink and explained how I wanted to see the girl in the other bar who I hadn’t seen in a year. Continuing my walk to pick up the lady I had just bar fined, I bumped into the first regular that I had looked for several days before. She threw her arms around me and gave me a big kiss, and while I was in her embrace the second regular (who I had declined to visit) walked by and her eyes bugged out when she saw me hugging the first girl.
I hope you are following so far.
So, being a gentleman, I bought the first regular a drink, and explained how I had to see the other girl, then went to the second regular's bar and, being a gentlemen, bought her a drink and explained how I had to see another girl. So with the first regular, the second regular, and the new girl I had just taken a few nights ago all watching, I walked back to the bar where the girl I had known several years ago was waiting and left with her.
Not a tantrum was thrown and I expect to be welcomed by all four when I next return.
Here’s wishing each and every one of you a fine 2014 full of happiness, health and luck.