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

Last Day in Thailand

As we drove back to Bangkok again Lu Lu decided to shop in one of the department stores. We found some reasonable buys with our dollars, especially Lu Lu — she was very happy as she found many things for her friends to take home.

At night we went out with an old friend we last saw twenty years back. Just through a coincidence talking with our friend Zep one day, she told us that there was a Burmese diplomat with the UN in Bangkok. Of course, when she told Lu Lu his name she remembered him right away from the days when both of us were living in Syracuse and associating with so many different students. He was one of our friends then and received his Masters degree in economics. From there he went to Warsaw University in Poland where he finished his Ph.D. After so many years we had lost contact and who would ever have thought that we would meet each other again in Bangkok. Over some real hot smoked eel dishes we talked about the years which had passed and what kind of progress each of us had made. Meeting a friend after so many years made our day a delightful one.

This is going to be our last day in Thailand. As always, early in the morning Lu Lu went out to do her morning shopping in the neighborhood. When she came back she ate her favorite breakfast and then started to pack some of the suitcases. The atmosphere in our motel room is very somber. Lu Lu is crying, realizing how close she is to her son's home and not able to visit him. There is no way of getting a visa for Lu Lu and I must go on to Burma. In those eleven days we stayed in Thailand we made many friends, especially around our motel. The girl on the telephone switch board had become one of Lu Lu's friends; even the owner of the motel became our friend. Of course, the maid who cleaned our room hated to see us leave. We had treated them all very generously, and we were going to miss them very much. There is a saying, "you make friends and you lose friends", but life keeps going on. After we were done packing our suitcases Zep came over with the children to say goodbye. She was not able to send us to the airport, Zep and her children had been a great help in making our stay in Thailand very comfortable. She was a very nice lady, and I was very pleased that I met her.

The taxi took us to the airport. At the airport Lu Lu was very nervous as she had to fly back to Singapore without me. I felt very sad and had to control my tears seeing Lu Lu going back to Singapore after coming so far. Instead of me going to Burma it should have been Lu Lu. In 25 years she hadn't seen her son. She never had been involved in any political program against the Burmese Government, and yet they were so cruel on holding up her visa. God only knows why she wasn't able to see her son. When it was time to board the plane for Singapore, a friendly English man who had overheard our conversation said to me not to worry about Lu Lu as he would see to it that she safely would arrive in Singapore. I had called Pete to pick up Lu Lu at the Singapore airport. I needed to wait another two hours before Thai Airlines would take me to Rangoon, Burma.

I was glad to see an Indian business man whom I had met at the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok when I was inquiring about Lu Lu's visa. Coincidentally he was waiting for the same flight. So we went into the lounge and had a few drinks and talked about his business, and Lu Lu's case for not being able to visit Burma. Before we knew it, our time was up and we had to board our plane for Rangoon.

The flight from Bangkok to Rangoon was less than one hour, but I was so busy filling out all kinds of papers for the Burmese Government that I didn't even notice when we arrived at Rangoon airport. It wasn't at all a smooth landing. The way the pilot put the plane down I thought it was going to break in pieces. As I came out of the plane I saw U San Lin and his wife Sally, Jimmy my old friend the navy commander, and some more friends, all waiting at the V.I.P. section to greet me. It was very hard for me to control my emotions, after so many years of dreaming to see Burma one day. I finally was here, but alone and not with Lu Lu. It was heart-breaking just thinking about her and to know that she wasn't there. With the influence of the U San Lins I passed by the customs very easily. My luggage wasn't even checked. The driver was waiting with his car just outside the airport. I noticed that the name U San Lin was very well known and highly respected. Before the military government came into power, U San Lin was the Central Bank Manager of Burma.

CONTINUED: Manual cultivation methods
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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora

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

- Book Index