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Fifty Years of My Life (1939 - 1990)
A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer

Chinese New Year in Thailand

In a few days it would be Chinese New Year and many people of the neighborhood were cooking their geese outside. I saw many self-made cooking stoves outside the house. On top of the cooking stove was a large pot with a complete goose. Most of the pots had no lids because the goose neck was too long. I understood why I didn't hear any noises for a few days already after I saw all those geese being cooked.

After my morning walk through the neighborhood I went back to the motel, because we made an appointment with one of our Burmese friends who lived in Bangkok for several years and she was going to pick us up with her car for some sightseeing. It's another sunny day and our friend is going to take us to "Wat Pho" to see the reclining Buddha or resting Buddha, and from there to "The Marble Temple". I couldn't believe the size of this resting Buddha statue. It was so large that I couldn't take a complete picture of it. The marble temple had all kinds of marble Buddha statues. The art work on those statues is just priceless.


Wat Pho Reclining Buddha 

For lunch our friend took us to a very nice restaurant called "Chit Pochana". This restaurant was well known for their 104 different food entrees. It opens at noon and we arrived a little too early, so I walked around and looked around the restaurant. It was a very large place with beautiful outside gardens where you could eat. By the time they started to serve food, the place was filled with people. The interior decoration was very elegant. I enjoyed that a lot more than I did the food. There were so many Japanese tourists inside. After our interesting lunch we drove around the city for a little while and went back to our motel again. We wrote some postcards — it seems there is no end to it with all the friends we have. At night Zep came to visit us and brought some hot soup along. We talked for a little while and before we knew another day had passed again.

It's January the 25th and Chinese New Year. Most of the shops are closed. The people have prepared for many days to celebrate. They cleaned and painted their houses and many of their favorite foods were prepared. Family life is a very close bondage. Most of the daily New Year's festivities are more in the city's Chinese neighborhood. We took a taxi to China town. The streets were packed with people and with the noise of all the fire-crackers you could tell they were celebrating the New Year. Because it was New Year, all the Chinese shops in China town were closed. Lu Lu wanted to do some of her favorite gold shopping but she had to wait until the New Year's celebrations were over. We spent the afternoon at Ada's apartment and I greatly enjoyed listening to her about her business ventures with Dupont Company in Bangkok. She was an interesting lady to talk to.

After the New Year celebrations were over, Zep's son took us to China town again. Zep's son was very friendly with one of the Chinese jewelry store owners and took us to his store. Lu Lu wanted to buy some 24 carat gold necklaces. The store was located in the heart of the Chinese business street. It was a very busy neighborhood with masses of people and all kinds of street vendors all over the side-walks. There were many monks in orange robes walking among the people. Some asked for some financial support. Zep's son told us that some of the monks came from far away villages just to meditate in one of the well known temples in the city. They come with very little money, and they need money to travel back to their villages again. A very tall, bony looking old monk asked Lu Lu for some money. The way he looked I felt very sorry for him. He looked like he had missed many lunches of the day. I told Lu Lu to give him a little pocket money. He was very happy when we gave him the money and thanked us many times. I told him just to remember us in his next meditation whenever he was going to the temple.

Inside the jewelry store Lu Lu was trying to buy her gold necklaces. All of the gold inside the store was only 24 carat. I couldn't get over this unprotective atmosphere in the store with all that gold around. They even had the front door wide open. With all those masses of people outside it would be very easy for a robber to escape. I know a store that size with all that gold inside would have been robbed in the Washington D.C. area many times over. I don't know anything about the Thai criminal laws, but what I saw they must be a lot better than what we have. Lu Lu bought about $1,500 in gold and she was very happy when we left the store. She found what she always wanted. At night I made another phone call to Burma about Lu Lu's visa. I was told to stay a few extra days in Bangkok as her visa was in process of being mailed to the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok. Jimmy, an old friend of ours who had studied during the 1950's at Georgetown University for his master's degree in international relations and at that time was very close to us, was trying his utmost to get a visa for Lu Lu. He wanted to see her so bad after so many years. Jimmy's friend was the deputy Minister of Home Affairs where all the visas were issued, and he kept pressing him to send Lu Lu's visa ahead. Somehow all the phone calls I made to Burma didn't help much in getting Lu Lu's visa. Every time I had to make a long distance phone call I had to take a taxi to downtown Bangkok to the central telephone station. There was no way that I could make a long distance call from our motel. I remember that the central telephone station was next to the main post office building. In the central telephone station you had to fill out a slip of paper telling them what country you were going to call and who you wanted to talk to, then you had to wait for a long time before your call came through. Once your call came through you were called to go to a certain numbered phone booth. Just sitting there and waiting for your call to come through you could overhear all the other English speaking conversations. The phone booths were not very sound proof. I overheard some of the Thai girls who were calling their boyfriends in the U.S.A. It sounded so romantic, but I am sure that a lot of those girls were just taken for a good time.


CONTINUED: Traveling by River In Thailand
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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora



  Contents:
- Foreword
- Old Rotterdam
- World War II
- After the War
- Coming to America
- Washington, D.C.
- Southeast Asia
- Philosophy of Life

- Book Index