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Koh Samui and Thailand Stories




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Other stories: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10


A Letter Home - Becoming a Buddhist



Text by an Englishman writing home


Please note! This very outspoken and unembellished text is written by an Englishman as a letter back home from Thailand. For respect of individuals etc, Kohsamui.org has removed some of the details and also the names in the story.


I do believe this is the first time since I left England that I have contacted most of you. I must apologize. It doesn't mean I don't love you; it's just that I didn't particularly love myself and didn't have anything remotely positive to share with you. To all of you who were lucky enough to come to visit in Thailand I hope that you loved the country. I now appreciate how lucky I am to live here. Strangely enough my appreciation of Thailand has grown immeasurably since I left the beaches of Koh Samui (Fantasy Island) and went inland to mix with real Thais. Just a quick synopsis of what I've done since my friend and father and I arrived last century, on 4th September 1999.


The first thing we became involved in was a bar. It was one of the ones that cater for a man traveling without his wife or girlfriend, if you get my drift. When we arrived in Samui all the girls that we had been promised would stay had already buggered off to pastures new. Ironically this was a blessing in disguise since we attracted couples rather than singles. It gave us a chance to play real music and have conversations rather than play Boom Boom crap and shout, as happened in all the surrounding bars. Oh! I should mention that 5 days before we arrived there was a baby born on Samui who was nicknamed Sam Song (in English, Sam II). I guess you can guess who the father is. He is the most enchanting child, as anyone who has met him will confirm. I spent the first 18 months of his life with him and grew to love him more than I could have ever imagined. Sadly, although my love for Sam grew, my love for his mother, who had been a holiday fling, remained friendly or sisterly and was not strong enough to maintain the relationship. She ended up going to Norway and marrying another holiday romance. I'm not sure where Sam is at present, but when my life is more stable I intend to trace him. Around the beginning of October we heard rumors that a other business was going to be sited no more than 100 meters from our bar.


My father and I became partners with people from Phuket who had been running Bungys worldwide for years. It wasn't a jump but a Catapult that shot you up 50 meters in about 1.5 seconds and then you bounced up and down on the Bungy Cord for a few minutes. Scary enough, but more fun than a Jump. I was the demonstrator and did it about 1,000 times. We had a Grand Opening on December 1st and then got on with life. Upon reflection, I'm not sure that working from 4pm – 2am, at least, every day can really be called life but it seemed okay at the time. That continued until April 2001, at which time I decided to go to Taiwan to teach English. So off I went to Taiwan. I spent 2 weeks there and returned to Thailand, having decided that firstly the culture was too different and secondly, without training I wouldn't do an acceptable job as a teacher.


So back to Bangkok, where I got involved with a telemarketing outfit, which I thought was genuine, but turned out to be one of the infamous “Boiler Rooms” as in the movie. So back to Samui to sell my share of the Bungy, as my father had gone to live in the jungle (as he described it) in North East Thailand (Isaan). I got enough money from the sale to go back to Bangkok and spend two months at school training to be a proper teacher. Ironically I've yet to use the qualification I worked so hard to get. Anyway, back to Samui again, with a bit of money in my pocket and no job. This is when I met a lovely lady, who had known an English friend of mine for as long as 19 years. Sadly her husband had died of cancer at the age of 40 two or three years before and she was working in my friends restaurant to make ends meet. If you're not from the right “class” in Thailand it can be a very hard country.


I was lucky enough to get a position with one of the free magazines on the island. My job was to persuade various businesses to advertise, since that was the only source of income for the magazine. I did this from January to May 2002. In February of that year I was talking to one of our advertisers about an English Pub Quiz that I was taking part in at my friends restaurant, near my home in Lamai. It was educational and fun. Strangely I won every week. In fact, as my friend will tell you, I'm a mine of useless information and have always been good at Trivial Pursuit. Shortly after that I started my own International Pub Quiz at another restaurant. I did it with style. Seven categories with 10 questions in each, a stage with a microphone to really make people pay attention and a dry whit that was not always appreciated. However, it was so successful and I got on so well with the customers that in March I ended up being offered the job of manager, by the owners. I leapt at the chance and within a month I had my girlfriend working in the kitchen so we could spend more time together. I worked there until January 2003 by which time I was sick of working nights. The number of hours was okay, (12 hours a day, 4 days a week) but I missed the sun.


So, it was time to go back to the Bungy, but this time as an employee. It had by now been relocated and turned into a proper jump over a circular swimming pool with a 15 meter diameter and 5 meters deep. In fact the pool was also used for dive training. I worked daylight hours again and it was outside. Just what Samui is all about. I did this for three months and then ended up running another restaurant. This restaurant was owned by an Englishman, obviously, whom I'd known for a long time. Potentially it was a good job, with real prospects, as I was also managing his resort for him, where my girlfriend ended up working. Sadly, in June 2003 I had a "bad experience" there. Enough is enough I thought and didn't return the following day.


By this stage, one of our customers, an Irishman, had been talking to me about selling pharmaceuticals on the Internet. Anyway I agreed to go to India to find a supplier for everything. All expenses paid. It arrived in Bombay to find that it was called Mumbai. It didn't take long to find a supplier for all that we required. However, I did end up staying there for two months. The monsoon had started on the day I arrived and I cant imagine a more unpleasant city. It has an official population of about 9 million but apparently it's closer to 30 million. You should see how they live. Once again, I returned to Samui, in August. I soon discovered that the share that was supposed to be mine was actually for him as well. Sometimes I wonder at my naivety. Well by now it was September 2003. My girlfriend had been remarkably patient with me, as I still had virtually nothing and had promised her more than nothing.


By this stage we had five cats, a mother and her four kittens. At least they always kept a smile on our faces. So, back to the Bungy again. I worked there from September 2003 to January 2004. In February 2004 I got to know a Thai lawyer who was just starting an office on Samui. His English was good but not good enough to write legal documents, so that was my job. I also had to liaise with European clients to give them a feeling of confidence that they were being taken care of by someone trustworthy. This was true, but the business didn't grow at all.


Now we're heading towards July 2004. By this time my relationship was stagnating. I now understand completely why she was more interested, than before, in the interest that customers at the resort, were showing in her. I wasn't much of a catch from any point of view. In fact it turned out that one of them had been keeping in contact with her somehow, since February. She then informed me that our weddings plans would have to be put on hold while she took some time out to let me think about how I really felt. Around the 22nd July I discovered the truth, she was off with this young Frenchman. On July 28th I did the quiz as usual but to help my breaking heart had a few more drinks than usual before I got on my motorbike to go home at about midnight. The next day, apparently, I woke up in hospital with three broken toes, a hole in my head and a seriously broken wrist. I had fluid drained from my skull and what looked like two chopsticks inserted in my wrist.


After a few days my father came down from Nong Khai with his wife. They flew me up to Nong Khai to recuperate. I was still suffering from concussion and was for another week or ten days. I went to the private hospital in Nong Khai to have my wrist checked out. The surgeon was a little distressed by what they'd done and soon after I was in surgery having a proper titanium plate inserted in my wrist instead of the steel chopsticks. That's enough about my body for now.


My surgeon, in his late thirties, was Thai and Buddhist. He had been studying Buddhism seriously for about 10 years. His concern for his patients extended far beyond the operating theater and even beyond the hospital. In some ways aftercare was more important to him than the operation itself. That's not to say he wasn't a good surgeon. I don't think I could've expected more anywhere in the world. It was he who introduced me to Buddhism. This was Buddhism in its purest form. The first book he gave me was about the Dalai Lama who follows a different form than Thais but is probably the most respected Buddhist in the world. I'm not about to preach. If you really want to improve yourself you will have to study for yourself. All I have to say is that my introduction to Buddhism is probably the most important thing to have happened to me, in my entire life, with the exception of my adoption at about six weeks of age.


Now it's 12th December 2004 and I'm sitting in my home, which is also my office in Bangkok. I have started a business with a gentleman, of 50 years, (I mean the gentle bit) importing and particularly exporting goods to and from Thailand. I live with him and his delightful wife. It feels like family, which is very comforting considering that my real family is so far away. Even Derrick is twelve hours on a train. Well that's the last 5 years, 3 months and 8 days in a nutshell.


* * * Now here's the update. The man I mentioned at the end of my life story turned out to be lying. I don't think he'd traded in anything in his life, except exaggerations and distortions of the truth. In the office next door to my house was another man who was more genuine, and now I'm working for him as Marketing and Client Services Manager for a sawmill that sells hardwood worldwide. There's one small problem at the moment and that is getting the wood out of Lao so we can sell it. He has other ideas on the go so I am starting to see a future here. At least I have a work permit again. I now consider Thailand home and will only return to old Blighty for a holiday or briefly on business. There may be more potential to become earn lots of money in England but the lifestyle is one that no longer appeals. My conversion to Buddhism has changed me quite a lot. The more I look at it here the more I see the potential to export many things from Thailand that can possibly generate a substantial income. I mean substantial by international standards not Thai.




Other stories: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10




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