Arriving in Thailand
It's been a little more than six years since my last visit to Thailand. I gaze out of the airplane window at Bangkok. The first thing that catches my attention is the traffic. It's moving. It used to be the only reasons for taking a taxi or bus during the day was if you had heavy things to carry or you wanted to sit in the air conditioning. Walking was generally faster. But I can see the elevated roadway that had been under construction during my last visit is operating now and the monorail has been completed too.
I'm used to seeing unexpected things in foreign countries but even this takes me by surprise. It's a golf course. Between the runways! One bad slice would smack a plane trying to land or take off. It's shocking to the visitor but, as the ex-pats will explain with a tired shrug, "T.I.T." This Is Thailand.
I go through immigration and change to a domestic flight. Two hours later Botter Reeves and his wife, Toi, pick me up in Chiang Mai.
Botter came to Thailand in the 60s as a computer programmer and fell in love with the country. In as radical a career and lifestyle change as you can imagine he bought a boat and refitted it as a floating restaurant. At the time no one thought the business would work but he proved them wrong and now there must be dozens of floating restaurants in Bangkok. Botter divided his time between Bangkok and Denton, Texas where he raised his half-Thai daughter. I met him there, about twenty years ago, and among other things he taught me to play Go (a game of strategy popular in Asia.) We spent many happy hours huddled over a Go board plotting each others' demise. Botter was a patient teacher and tolerated me well. He was, in many ways, much like a father to me and I am grateful for the time we spent together.
Botter sold his business a few years ago and built a house in a small village called Ban Hangdong about 30 miles from Chiang Mai. He lives a quiet retired life as a something of a gentleman farmer.
All I really want to do is take a shower and sleep off the jet-lag but Botter doesn't get into Chiang Mai often and there are a few errands to run. The photos are from Noy's machine shop where Noy is building a metal gate for Botter's fence. Noy is a resourceful machinist and built many of his tools himself including a clever spot-welder that started life as a battery charger. The photo shows it being operated by his son.