An Update...Now and Then...

Much has been happening lately and the house site is a flurry of activity. Along with all the work, we have been making final selection on things like, bathroom and kitchen counter tops, floors, walls, sinks, tubs, toilets, faucets and shower heads. Even in a small town like Chiang Rai the choices are mind boggling and trying to sort out too many rooms at the same time can get quite confusing. Fortunately the wife and I make a good team and conflict is not a part of the decision making process.

Aside from the house activity we finally took delivery of our new Big Black Truck and had our puppy neutered, as if you needed to know that. I fully intended to delve further into my feelings on these events in todays posting but have recently found myself waxing nostalgic. Thinking back on where I have trod, what I have done and who I have known in my years in Thailand. I know I said I didn’t want to put pen to my previous incarnations but that was then and this is today. Who knows about tomorrow?

To begin with let me say that from the very first day in Thailand I was helped by others. Chance encounters with interesting people lead to open doors and opportunities than I would never have dreamed possible when I first set foot in this place I now call home, just days short of my 21st birthday. A full list would be too long and pretentious and name dropping is best avoided. I have know Moms and Khunyings, monks, military and police generals, politicians, business titans, celebrities, actors, models, Miss Thailands, godfathers, hit-men, gamblers, prostitutes, vendors and little street urchins. I even visited the jail once to see a young guy I had watch grow up on the streets. An unfortunate punch had led to a death and he was paying the price, as he didn’t have the money needed to make things go away.

Living here one not only meets Thais but people from all over the world. Working in a 5 star hotel and hanging out in hotel lobbies and health clubs I was privileged to meet many movers and shakers who I would have never had access to in my home country. World leaders and diplomats, usually only briefly, more time spent with their security entourage, arms dealers, major Fund administrators, Hollywood movie-stars, directors and producers, and sports celebrities.

I remember being very irritated with guy I was sharing the sauna with one quiet afternoon at my health club. In his vain attempt to make it hotter he kept turning the dials all the way to the right. That in essence turned things off as one dial was a delay timer. I was thinking what a twit this guy was and I was about to insult him with some wisecrack about his incompetence when he left for the Jacuzzi.

It was then that I realized that this relatively short, very muscular and completely naked guy was a famous Hollywood action star. (Jean-Claude Van Damme) I guess his short hair and the close proximity in the sauna, which does not lend to staring at another guy, let his true identity go unnoticed for a while.

Another time a film crew was making too much noise at the pool, winding down after a night shoot. I asked them to keep it down and the star went down on one knee and mockingly kissed my right hand, begging me not to take away their pool. (Try to picture Gregory Hines in a G-string for a moment.) After much laughter and more conversation he obviously got his wish. I did however remind him that there would be life after FOX at the hotel and I needed to consider our regular customers and their need for uninterrupted sleep.

A somewhat more humbling experience was when I went to visit a sexy young model I was sleeping with. My knock on the door was answered by a familiar face but not hers. It was a young man I had known since his days as a street urchin, sneaking around under tables in restaurants shining shoes for a few baht. His street-smarts, survival instinct and good looks had allowed him to grow and prosper. He had become a popular DJ in one of the night spots I frequented.

I could see the wave of emotions wash across his face as he opened the door to find me standing there. In his state of shock he still managed a polite wai and apology. Strangely, instead of anger or jealousy, I felt an oddly perverse sense of pride. I calmed his fears with assurances that we were OK as friends and asked him to wish the young lady a pleasant day as I turned and walked away.

My contacts and experiences were so vast and varied that I was accused on numerous occasions of being a spy or worse, usually by friends of friends. I laughed at their stupidity in thinking anyone with my lifestyle could get away with anything like that. I was hardly low-key, I had spent a fair amount of time on Thai TV, doing debate programs, game-shows, sitcoms and even a little modeling for print media.

With 30 years in Thailand this walk down memory lane could go on forever and end up boring you to death and pumping up my ego far too much, with memories of my misspent youth. Lets move on to a more timely and relevant question. Why is a guy like me building a house in a small Northern Thai Village? The answer is that, the guy like me now, is not like the guy like me then. It is almost like that guy was a completely different person even though I know I am who I am because of that guy.

I don’t know if it was age, phase of life, finding true love and companionship or a growing awareness of my own mortality but my goals and priorities have changed. City life no longer holds the same appeal. We do still have the condo in Bangkok but have less and less interest in spending time there. We find our country life much more active and fulfilling on a deep primal level.

I guess there is also a sense of giving back. After being afforded such a rich and varied life, I finally feel like giving back by living among those who are less advantaged. Hopefully by living together we will enrich each-others lives and be better people for it.