Wednesday, March 11, 2015



           Things have gone downhill over the last year or so, 2 main reasons, one i have no control over, the other limited options.
My father in law, who lives with us, but on his land, has never been a problem, never tried to take more then he was given, he was a happy man overall.
He was a life time elected boss of 8 villages, lived in the biggest house in the village, drove our SUV, the only one in the area and we had the pickup.
Pickup plus SUV are the signs that you have made it in life, as he once said, I would gladly live an extra life [Buddhism] for a SUV in this life.

           Things changed fast, rubber prices started a non stop collapse, they fell and fell, there was no bottom, where once we were getting $5 US a kilo, it dropped to as low as 50 cents a kilo.
We could live, but money was tight and there was really no end insight to a global downturn..
Then the Siamese rose wood logging started, these trees sometimes referred to as blood trees, because not only the wood is a red color, but because people kill for it. Over 100 forest patrol officers have been killed, unknown numbers of illegal loggers, it's a guerrilla war in the jungle, not only between the army and loggers, but between Thais, Cambodians and Laos.

My village took up logging in mass, one tree felled and brought down from the mountains for pick up, was worth 1 mil. Baht for a family. New cars, new homes, widescreen TVs in homes without power, everyday was Christmas.
We were no longer the rich of the village, new Toyota 4x4s were arriving daily, then the next stage of showing wealth and big face came. A pickup and an SUV was not enough, a small 4 door had to be added.
The first was the Father in-laws best friend, he had once been the sub district governor and was a powerful man in the area. This was too much for the FIL, he was losing face.
Not only to his equals, but poor families that had never had anything were spending big, flashing gold,and new cars.

Answer was to lie to my wife, he was getting old, could he help his son tap, the money he got, he would pay the repayments on the SUV and keep what was left. I ended up giving in, for marital harmony, after all money stayed in the house and the car would be covered by him.
Should have known better, he said he would help pay for the SUV out of his government salary when we bought it, I wanted a Honda civic, but face would be lost having the smallest car in the village.
Shortly after the deal, a brand new Mazda 2 sport arrives, all the money from that land is his, after all he's the family head and everything is his.

Family relationships turned less then friendly, I literally wanted to kill him, we were just keeping our heads above water, but to keep his big local status, we had a new car and out of pocket 20,000 Baht a month.
One day I lost the plot and dragged him out of the car, threatening to beat the crap out of him, end result, I moved into the factory.


            After a week or so, divorce is in the air, FIL is a happy man, I'll pack my bags, head back to Australia, all the rubber is his, family in the the Thai way is on to the wife, family is number one, forget the farang, we can have it all.
Reality hits home when I explained the divorce options, 2 types, agreed and contested, wife doesn't want a divorce, she wants to pack up and go back to Australia. We have no money to start again and I'd rather kill the FIL then let him win.
So I tell her, here's the deal, agreed divorce, I take 50% of the income, all land etc goes into the kids names, contested, court sells everything and divides it up.
About an hour later see the Mazda heading to town, FIL off to the government offices, later hear he's gone to check out what his share of the divorce is.
Not happy I gather, as nothing to do with him, the old ways, of locals deciding have gone. The old ways were, village leaders decided, sub governors ruled, police and border troops were locals, they had to follow the local rules. If they didn't, transfers to the deep south or some not so nice area were arranged..
The arrival of a good road, electricity and those evil computers, changed how some decisions are made, big time.
When I first came you could kill someone, walk over to some family in Lao, pay to have the paper work lost and all was forgotten, or when needed the locals took a baddie for a one way walk into the jungle.
Father in law is old school, fearful of the other world outside  and a farang [westerner] is way outside.

Night after, I'm cooking dinner at the factory, hour or so before sun set, like all Thai cooking areas, it's outside, I'm sleeping in the office, shot rings out and a plastic bottle goes flying.
Had some adrenaline dumps in my life, but not this time for some reason, moved behind the toilet block and got very mad.
Strange how ones mind works, I may have known it was not an AK or something subconsciously, or I was just mad as hell. grabbed a big bush knife and ran zigzagging to where the shot came from..
Top of the factory there's a long ditch, dug for soil to raise the office etc. over grown with scrub, I'm running, zigzagging and get close, there I see a guy, big straw hat hurriedly reloading a muzzle loader.
Common weapon out here, from small nok rifle for birds, up to I guess 50 cal or shotgun type loads. Guy looks up, sees me coming, bush knife in hand and probably a look af murder in my eyes.
He's off at speed, I'm no runner, even less wearing flip flops/ thongs/jandles or what ever you call those sandals. I take the jump over the ditch, don't make it, scrub catches me and I slide into the hole.
Get out in seconds, but he's gone, not 50 meters away there's, a rice harvesters hut with mum,dad and 3 kids sitting.  Known them for years, like neighbors you say hello to, but never really know.
They saw noting, even though the shooter was in plain sight of their hut, I'm on the hunt, rice harvesting time, the fields are full of families living in open air huts, no one sees anything.

What to do now is the question, realizing I'm a sitting duck, I put up a hammock in the nearby scrub, leave all the factory lights on, I am in the shadows, anyone comes back for seconds, I'll see them before they see me, Rambo eat your heart out,. I am cold mad, it all seemed surreal.
Couple of hours later, our car drives up through the gate and parks in front of the office, I sneak up from the back, wife gets out, there I am, hand ax and bush knife.
She has come to take me home, story is the rice farmers came to our house, told the FIL they were scared the mad farang would come in the night, or go to the police.
FIL doesn't want police involvement, my bet he hired the shooter, not to kill me, but farangs are stupid an cowardly, I would run for it and never be back.

I'm back at home with the wife and kids, FIL has played his only real card, doubt any of the locals would have another go and FIL knows the police could tie it to him.
I have no money to take him to court or take any real action,  I'd be the one in jail. FIL has a lot of pull locally and one BIL is the county clerk type, he's in-charge of the local emergency services and responsible for the police wages.
Things are not good in the house, but an uneasy truce is in force.


The illegal logging continues, but the Siamese rose wood has mostly gone, now they are on to a black teak tree,  no big pay days, but told 10,000 Baht a day to work the illegal logging gangs.
Money is still flowing in, villagers are still spending, homes are extended and the first of the big glass sliding patio doors arrive.
Our house is open front and back, big roofed lounge area, no doors, this allows air flow, but comfort is secondary to big face, FIL wants these doors, not just wants, but needs them, his best friend put them in, then others.
When the family across the road got them, it was too much for him, my rubber money was not enough, but the doors had to be and they arrived, front and back, where did they money come from.
The answer came soon, FIL was charged for not only illegal lumber, but threatening the forest soldiers, he and his friend were too big to be touched, except the soldiers were not locals, what to do, buy your way out of course.
4 of them were charged, shyster lawyer says 400,000 Baht will make the problem go away, FIL is broke, where is the money coming from, he needs 100,000 Baht for his share.
Answer, the pick up truck, it was in his name, but I had made the payments, we were in Australia working on and off, needed the truck for the rubber plantations, so truck was put in his name.
Without a word to me he sold it and pocketed all the money, after all he is the boss and he is the most important person, the bribe money was gone. Come court day only 3 of the 4 are summoned, how stupid can these people be.
The police just forgot to call the forth guy, by mistake, all 3 were remanded in custody, a happy month was spent in Ubon prison. By some string pulling they got a bail hearing in a different area and were bailed until July this year.
Now the Thai thought process is, I'm out, that's it, all is forgotten, but it's not, been in law enforcement, different roles, but know the 4th guy has rolled, come July they will front the courts, as FIL was government, had to resign, part of his job was to help identify illegal loggers, that makes him an organizer, not just a dumb laborer.
Going to a different area, to a different judge, may not make the first judge happy.
Hopefully FIL will be gone, 2 or more years, that will be it as far as I'm concerned, hope never to see or hear of him again, sad in away, he was set for life, but couldn't just except being less then the big man in the village.


Trees are asleep, rubber prices continue to fall, may not have any workers next season, too much work for so little money, freezer is full, won't starve, but no cash for beer or going out.
Things look bleck, but Buddha may have come to the rescue again, while sitting around bored and broke, surfing the net I found a lost pension fund, I had paid into 25 years ago.

Not going to be retiring on a big fat pay out, but there is some money in it and I await the letter from the fund with a statement. A little can go along way, enough to tied us over for a few months will serfice.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


      Issan and rural Thailand always has something new to amaze me.
It was the wife's birthday recently, as the rubber tree dormant time was nearing and the flow of money would stop, we could not afford anything grand. Said to the wife, we could go to a resort on the Mun or Mekong river for the night, have a nice dinner and relax by the pool, for you birthday.
No she says, a Monk has died in a nearby village and I would rather go there. Seemed a strange way to celebrate your birthday, but it was her birthday, up to her.

      Next day, I thinking that this would be a kneeling and blessing job at the Wat { Buddha temple } get my kneeling pillow, told you won't need that, just get the big blue ice box in the car.
We pack the kids and mother in-law into the car and set off. Ask where am I going, she says to town { Bunthark } 27 km later we arrive at our nearest town and park in front of a bulk supply shop. Wife and mother in-law start buying, not snacks, but boxes of chips, biscuits, all manner of sweets, small bottles of water and drinks. The ice box was filled with ice, the car a 7 seat SUV is so full of junk foods and drinks we could hardy get the kids and mother in-law in.

      We set off to this nearby village, which is not nearby, tarmac road turns to concrete, then to dirt track, as we head off into the hinterlands and we arrive at a small village with a Wat just outside.

      Now our village is at the edge of the badlands, no police to speak of, border soldier country. Soldiers go armed when on patrol, first thing I notice here border soldiers carrying sidearms and not on patrol, we are in bandit country.

      At the Wat we are escorted to an area with lots of long tables, people are giving out free noodles, ice drinks etc to the crowd. There is a stage set up, blaring music and scantily clad dancing girls. Not what I had expected a funeral for a Buddha monk would be, it was a full on party.
We unloaded the junk food and drinks on to our table, the name of our village was written on a piece of paper and stapled to the table. A crowd gathered round, as we opened the boxes of goodies. At some unseen signal they pounced, grabbing arm fulls of food and drink, with in minutes 4,000 Bahts worth of food and drink had gone. Wife and mother in-law were smiling ear to ear, I on the other hand, stood stunned. Say to the wife, what the hell was that all about, she explains our village has out done all the other villages, we can go home now.

      Monks get burnt at night, people in the day, when the party was over and night fell, the crowds would go. Leaders, village heads and respected elders would attend the Wat, for a night of meditation, candle and monk burning.

      Just attended another one yesterday, much smaller affair and not for the death of a monk, but the blessing of a new building and a mass car blessing.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


      When I first came to the village the people had nothing, they planted rice, had chickens, caught fish and frogs. Western goods, cars, motorbikes, TVs were few and far between. Families lived in one room wooden stilt houses, that was life. Most had never left the area and knew no other way. Having seen no other life, they were happy, there was plenty to eat, no cares or worries. Each day was the same as the last, time was measured in the planting and harvesting of rice, but change was coming and it came fast.

      First came the paved road and electricity, then TV.  For the first time many could see another world outside of the village. Not the real world, but a Television depiction of the world. 
      Thai soap operas, showed a world of beautiful people in expensive cars, living in mansions. Commercials showed a never ending list of products that you needed to live the good life. To most of the village the one thing that said, I have made it, was the car. A little cheap car was no good, it had to be a big twin cab 4 by 4. People would sell their kidneys for one. Few would ever be able to afford one, until the coming of rubber.

      The Government had promoted rubber, giving free land and trees, many took up the offer and planted. Others laughed at them, for wasting their time, but rubber was planted and grow. When the time came to tap, the money flowed. Now to a westerner it may not seem big money, but to a people who seldom saw cash for much of the year, it was a fortune and unlike westerners this income was expendable. There are no mortgages, rent or taxes, no food bills or repayments to be make. It was money to be spent and the banks and car companies were happy to lend and sell.

       Over the last few years, I would say there are more big new cars in this and surrounding villages than one would see in the suburbs in Australia. First the cars came, then  the concrete brick houses began to appear. To make the homes look like the TV ones, washing machines, widescreen TVs and other good were bought, on credit, rubber would pay.

      As I sit here today the village has entered a sombre mood, people are, for the first time in their lives,  worrying about money.
      The rainy season has settled in and not much rubber can be tapped, but with the world commodities price fall, it has dropped to a point, where hired tappers are leaving for better paid jobs in BKK and those that tap their own can't make the repayments on all the cars and goods they have bought. New house building has stopped, throwing the builders out of work.
       A recession has hit the area, a thing that none had ever seen, things have always got better, never worse. Kids are used to drinking coke and eating ice cream, Men have taken up drinking beer at times, instead of cheap rice whiskey, driving cars and going to town to shop.
       Everyone blames the Government, little do they realize that when you enter the big world the rules change. What happens on the other side of the world dictates whether it's sticky rice and frogs or ice cream and coke.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


      We were back in the rubber business, the rains had been kind and rubber was flowing. A new Chinese chopper motorbike sat in the driveway. The Father in law had  knocked down the old stilt house, which was attached to the new house. He was to build 2 new bedrooms similar to our side of the house. With the old teak wood I started on a new stilt patio at the back of the house. All was good, the rubber price was not great. but we were producing more and we were in talks with a Vietnamese company who were interested in setting up a direct buy at the factory, to export to their company in Vietnam. It seemed that money worries were over, kids were at a invite only Government pre school, workers were buying new bikes and cars. Our new twin door fridge, plus slide out freezer was full of western foods, cheese, steak, lamb and all those goodies you miss.

      When you think all is well, you should expect to get a kick in the teeth and that kick soon came. First, 2 of my tappers, who had worked for me from day one planting the trees, sold some land and decided they were now rich and didn't need to work for someone else. We could live with that until replacements could be found and they were a few weeks later.
     The new tappers, husband and wife, were ex locals who had been working rubber in the south, but they were broke and needed help to move back. They seemed to know their business and I was happy to help. They started and I watched, they were good skillful tappers. Now when you start up tapping and making sheet rubber , there is a lag time between making and selling, 4 to 6 weeks. Told the wife to lend them money when needed, as they had car payments to make, as long as the rubber they had made covered the loan.

      Rubber began to fall in price, there seemed no bottom, down it came and tappers and us were going to get a lot less than expected. I was not happy, then I was told that a family of workers were seen selling rubber to a local buyer. This family had worked for us for a year, a husband, wife and wife's brother. We had even hired the wife's father as a care taker at the factory, which is where they all lived.
      The word pissed off would be an understatement, I have always helped my workers as well I could, gave them rice in the dry season, money if needed. I had even give the girls father a job and he was as lazy as you could be, he would do nothing unless he was told, but they were good tappers and paid their way.
      That night I spoke with the wife and family, made it clear that if I can not trust someone they are gone and in the morning they are gone. This is not the Issan way, things are done differently than in Australia, wife says, let us take care of it.
      Next day I ride to the factory, where my family has already arrived. Now I feel sorry for the family that is to be fired, it's not a good feeling to throw a husband, wife, 2 kids, a brother who was sleeping and eating in our house and their parents out into the street, but you can't let people steal from you. I want to get it over and call them over and tell them there's the road. Wife says go for a ride, we will take care of it.
      Gather no mention of the rubber stealing was mentioned, no face was lost. Everyone knew why, but they were allowed to leave without disgrace, still feel bad in some ways, their family hut is a one room affair no electricity or running water and the amount of rubber they stole was  very small, we are talking maybe a kilo a tap, around $3 US. In a good month they would earn, as a family somewhere round the $1,500 US, a lot of money here.

      Rubber prices keep dropping and the new tappers, just hired are hearing prices off 50 Baht a kilo for ribbed smoked sheet. wife has lent them 25,000 Baht over the last 5 weeks. One night they just pack up and leave, believing that their share of the rubber would not cover what they owed.

   Now I am really short of workers and am sitting trying to figure out whether we have enough money to make the car payments and pay the electricity bill, I hear some voices. Go out to look and ask the wife who are these people. Don't be mad she says. but they are here with our new car. Now our means family and the father in law has bought it. I have a look and start laughing, we live in the jungle, roads are few and far between and he has bought a Mazda 2 sport. How he will pay, I have no idea, but he better not look at me.

 Things may look grim, but a few days ago I posted in an Issan forum this.

    Advanced Members
    1,503 posts

Posted 2012-09-02 03:11:25

Power gone again, only the light of the laptop in the night. I buy rechargeable flash lights, which no one re charges and have hurricane lamps and no kerosene.

   Power goes, but no rain or wind, in the distance you can see the lightening and hear the dull roar of thunder. The village goes black and dogs bark, the dogs go silent, then the village dogs, which are dingos which can not bark, but howl. They go silent.
   All is silent, but without the lights of man the wild dogs come and maybe some of the bigger predictors.  All dogs, people, chickens, pigs and ducks stay quite. Who knows what lurks in the dark.
  The lack of sound drives the kids to bed and I sit upon my stilt porch, watching the coming storm.
It maybe the jungle. but for me it is a better place than I have ever been. Jim


        Here we are again, guess a year has passed since I stared this blog and the rains have come again. Much has passed and yet little has happened, like most the years roll by and all we get is older.

       Took the wife and kids back to Australia for the dry season, no rubber, so no money. Wife will spend like there is no tomorrow, Buddha will prove.  Not a western logic, but we have been married near on 10 years and Buddha has done his bit.

        Arrived back with $300. wife was going to get a job, which meant I was going to get a job. First problem, I couldn't see. My eyes were getting worse, I was unable to drive or read a book, off to the optician. Sit in the chair, girl looks into my eyes through the scope they use. You can't see because you have very bad cataracts, relief on my part as I was not going blind from some incurable eye disease. OK Australia has free medical care, can sign on the sick benefits and kill 2 birds with one stone. Get paid by welfare while I wait my turn to get the 10 minute operation.

      Next week off to see the specialist eye surgeon, bad news, waiting list for Government Medicare is 3 plus years. No way am I living here on welfare for 3 plus years. I will have to pay and pay big if I want it done privately, but I have no money and can't see to work. Time for Buddha to give a helping hand.
      I had turned 55 years old and had some superannuation, not much thanks to the system, it added up to less than I had paid in and was losing money each year. Enough though to pay for the eye operations, have a good holiday in Australia and a bit left over for me to buy my new chopper in Thailand. Done deal in my book, only draw back is when you take the money there is no more unemployment benifits and you are not allowed to work more than 10 hours a week, but as I was now classed as a non resident I was not entitled to benifts unless I return on a permenent bases.

      Three months later I was on the plane back home, the wife and kids had left a month earlier, so the kids could go back to school, plus they were bored and cold.


     Think it is hard to see change in yourself, but change is part of life, you adapt, grow and learn. There are things you can see when you look into the mirror, little hair that is grey, a fat belly and sore bones, but it's the things you don't see that are more important.

     In my old life violence was a daily occurrence, prison fights, stabbings, ODs and suicides, were to be expected. It is not the incidents that wear you down, but the waiting for the next one. Every time you check  a cell, will the occupant be swinging, or covered in blood. One day while sitting a my desk a prisoner walked over carrying a TV. I thought it must be broken and he wanted a replacement, but no, as he approached he raised the TV over head and throw it at me. He had had a bad day and I would have a bad moment from then on, every time I saw a prisoner carrying a TV.

      There is what we call the real world, which most of us live in and any form of denial of it's reality is escapism, but children see the world differently.
      My kids watch videos about fairies, Peter Pan etc. One night the littlest one calls, all excited, daddy, daddy fairies. I walk to the front of our house, where she is standing in awe. There is a star fruit tree and it is alight with fireflies, she does not see fireflies, but fairies with little lamps, Tinker Bell.
      I pick her up and we stand and watch, I know they are fireflies, but I have changed and I see fairies with little lamps, flying and dancing in the tree.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


      For many who come to the nether regions of  Thailand, it all starts as a dream come true. There is either a girlfriend or wife half their age, beer, sun and leisure time in abundance. It is what most of us dream of in our daily grind in the west. The dream and magic will soon wear off and the reality will settle in. To some it will become a nightmare,  they can not leave.
      Enter any western bar in Issan and you will hear non stop complaints from many of the expat community. Too hot, too many bugs, the Thais can't get anything right, life is hell with out this or that. These are men who are trapped, they have no life in their home countries to return to. Their children have grown up, ex wives don't care to see them again. All that awaits is a meager existence on a tiny pension or investments, a small flat or appartment. Living in a cold and friendless country. All will say they have lives back home, but they know their friends and their old lives have gone and there is nothing to return to. Many will turn to the bottle to fill in their days and to shorten the number they have left.
      We people of the west have spent our lives setting goals, working to achieve things and it has all come to nothing in the end. We can not just live in the moment, we live for tomorrow. The  waiting to die with no reason for existence is a nightmare to many. Some rural expats turn to small scale farming or businesses to fill the void in their daily lives. This keeps them occupied, but as it is not their main income, the need to succeed is not there. It is a hobbies, for some it is all they need, for others it will never be enough.
      Over the years I have met a few westerners that had made the switch from goal orientated to the Thai way of just living day by day. They seldom go to western bars or seek westerners out, they just live and are content with their lot These people are few and far between. Mores the petty I can not claim to have made the jump yet. I am always on the look out for something new to try. Losing our 9 to 5 mentality is a lot harder then most would think. When you wake each morning and there is nothing that needs done and no where you need to be, your day has little meaning.


      At the start of this year we had plans, we were going to be kicking goals. The money would finally be flowing in, at a rate that would allow us to expand, finish the house and live the good life all round. Holidays for the kids to the beach another car etc. Little did I know that the weather and the financial markets would conspire to throw a monkey wrench in.
      As I wrote in an earlier post, the rains came and did they come You can't tap rubber in the rain and it just didn't stop. By the end of the wet season a great part of Thailand was under water, even Bangkok. The wettest year in 40  or 50 years I believe. Our rubber out put was well down on what we had planned, then when the rains stopped the Greeks were found to be broke. This set off a chain of events, next we know not only are the Greeks broke, but most of the western world. As the rubber began to flow the commodity prices [ rubber ] began to fall. It dropped over $2 US dollars a kilo. Things were not good, my wife understood what was happening in the world, but her family just could not understand that the world outside was what governed our lives.
      Somethings would have to go and cut backs were needed to get us through the trees dorment season. The biggest single luxury expense is the car. We could trade down to a smaller sedan and cut the payments in half.  When I said this, the mother in-law began to cry, the father in-law wanted to know why I hated them. Here is what makes western thought different than that of rural Thais. To me better to lose the big car and have food, milk for the kids. To the in-laws it would be such a loss of face in the village, they would be disgraced in the eyes of all. Arguments began, the wife was caught in the middle. The Thai way is the father is head of the household and he should make the decisions.. His first try was that I gave him more trees and he would make the payments. A child's or perhaps an international bankers logic. I give him money from trees that will not be producing  and he will pay with the non existence money. After that it went down hill, mostly ideas of living on sticky rice, frogs and bugs. When I had had enough I said, you want to keep the car, it's yours. You would have thought he had won a million dollar lottery, smiles all round, he couldn't wait to tell all that the big black SUV was now his, not mine. To make the payment his Government salary and the sons Government salary will be used. Between them they earn just enough to cover the payments and will live on sticky rice and frogs. We still have use of the car, as it is really the household car. Nothing will change, I will still ride my motorbike and drive the pickup truck and we will use the car when we go away. Next year if the rubber prices go up we will buy a small sedan for taking the kids to school and shopping and the father in-law will live on the bread line to make the payments, I will of cause help out if we have the money. Think this just goes to show, what's important to some is not that important to others.
      I believe in the earlier post on buying the car. The father in-law had pledged to pay his salary toward the repayments, if I allowed him to tap 400 trees and keep the money. Never a penny was paid, when the arguments started over the car, I of course said if the father in-law had paid what he was meant to, there would not have been a problem. Again we see the child like way of seeing things, he honestly believes he is head of the household and not only should the car have been put in his name, but all the rubber money should go to him to, dispense as he sees fit. Some may think this is a western rip off, but it is the way it is done here. The brother in-law, who works as our head tapper was living with his wife's family before. They are a big time rubber and palm oil family in Krabi. Now he had to work 6 days a week and received no wages. His father in-law would feed them and give him a few dollars [ Baht] every now and then.
      It is often said if you marry a Thai girl the closest you want to live to her family is in another country. It maybe true for many and it may explain why so many Thai husbands pack up and leave their wives and kids. It is an extended  family system and the father is head of the family. Times are changing, but in the small rural areas the ways of the rest of the world are still a long way away.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Panic and the earthquake that never was

      I said in the previous post, this has been the wettest wet season in 30 years and it is still raining

      About 2 weeks ago during torrential rains from the tale end of a typhoon, the village was in panic, everyone was preparing to evacuate, we were all going to be swollowed in into the ground. The wife comes to me to say that we have to pack the car to get out fast, if the warning sirens go off. Now I am confused, first I ask what warning sirens and a warning for what. Seems the sub district Governor has swished on or put in sirens in the local public announcement system. For those who don't know, Thailand has a PA system in each village. This is mostly used by the local headman to address the village on local issues, normally at about 6 in the morning.

     The father in-law and brother in-law,  both work for the Government. they are now dressed in their best uniforms and are off to an emergency meeting with the Sub District Governor and village heads.  Many of the villagers have moved their cars to what they perceive to be safer places and the rest have packed up to go. I am more confused than ever. The wife, who by now is in full panic mode, keeps saying we should get the kids and go, I keep asking where are we supposed to evacuate to and from what. The only answer I get, is everyone knows that there is a thing in the ground that causes earthquakes.

       Now it begins to dawn on me what it is all about. There is a small fault, that runs through the 3 villages on our road. It is no  pacific ring of fire, just some type of geological fault where the mountains meet the flat lands, or something like that.
The locals have know about it for years and never cared.. We do not have earth tremors and such, but with the coming of electricity and television, the village has seen news of earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan, New Zealand and China. So we are doomed to a major earthquake. I ask the wife, who has predicted the earthquake. as I know that the science is far from exact, on earthquake predictions. She tells me it is on the radio and the Government is telling people to prepare to evacuate the area. We have only 2 radio stations and they are single man operations, not BBC or CNN affiliates.

      The brother in-law returns, he  not only has a nice uniform, but is also the emergency first response fireman and rescue chief. His news is bleak, the bridges  are under water or damaged by the floods. There is no way out. Word spreads fast and the villagers are now out in the street waiting for the father in-law to return from the emergency meeting, as he will tell them what to do. The other brother in-law and many of the villagers with cars have already fled to places unknown in the jungle. The wife, kids and mother in-law are in the car ready to go on the old mans return. Our pick up truck is ready to take the neighbors. She is telling me to get in, I say I am not going anywhere, you are all off your heads, there is no earthquake coming, As is normal she says I don't understand, but the army will come and get me and anyone who is left here later. I look at her and say how is the army going to get here when there is no bridges.

      Father in-law returns, everyone is waiting, word has spread that the evacuation siren has gone of in the last village and the army is on the way. The father in-law asks me if I can check on the inter-net to get the latest reports. There are no latest reports, there are no warnings at all, either on the net or the TV. The father in-law is waiting for the sub Governor to tell him what to do, the Sub Governor is waiting for someone up the chain to tell him. That someone is probably running around trying to find out what the hell is happening.

      The rain has stopped and night has fallen, the village is still standing. The panic has subsided. With the wife translating for the father in-law the story of the days events unfolds. Just as in the Orson Welles radio broadcast war of the worlds, a radio broadcast started it all.
       The forestry department issued a warning about landslides in the mountains and flash floods.
      The 2 local radio stations broadcast the warnings, but mudslides became sink holes and underground rivers were going to collapse the upper soils.
      The Sub district Governor hearing the radio warnings put 2 and 2 together and came up with 5. All the rain was going to fill the fault and cause an earthquake. So he sets up the emergency siren system.    
      The radio stations are told about the sirens and begin to broadcast that the Government has set them up, for the impending earthquake, that will occur from the heavy rains and everyone should prepare to evacuate the area.
      The border and forestry soldiers have left there river side camps, which are subject to flash floods and moved into the safer bases near the 3 villages. The army is coming.
      Now we have  the radio telling everyone that not only is there going to be flooding and some landslides in the mountains, but the Government has put out earthquake warnings and the army is on the move to help out in the evacuation.

       Outside of the 3 villages on this dead end road into the jungle no one knew what was happening. A simple phone call in the beginning would have put it all to rest, but asking questions is not the Thai way.