We went to a city in Northern Thailand called Chang Mai. It was the capitol of the Northern Thai Kingdom. I remember that trip for a several reasons. The first was our family touring a hill tribes village. While we were walking through the tribesman offered to sell my father everything. He kept saying no. He wasn’t there to buy souvenirs. Knowing my father he was probably upset at the horrible conditions the people lived in. But we (my sisters and I) needed to see things like that otherwise our little wool world would always keep us safe in the belief that everyone lived like we did. Finally they led dad and us into a dark building. There was a man he seemed to me to be older than the very ground we were on. He was smoking a pipe. My dad smoked a pipe when I was little but dad looked at our guide and said no.
Afterwards mom and dad told us the person was selling opium. I guess when there is nothing else to sell you try what’s left. As we drove back to Chang Mai we saw the King’s apple orchards. We should have realized then and there that dad was an intense apple lover. Every house we ever owned had at least one if not many more than that apple trees.
One evening while we were in Chang Mai we were offered an opportunity to go on a boat ride. I was given the opportunity to ride in a traditional Thai canoe with one of dad’s students. The rest of them rode in a large boat with a motor. The canoe sank over and over. Literally the slightest wave would swamp it. So we would empty it, get back in and paddle a little further. Once we got out of the canoe and the river my father said to me “weren’t you scared of the crocodiles?” First off the water was too cold for Crocodiles or Alligators for that matter. Second it would have been nice of him to tell me that was a potential before I got into the river. Typical dad.
I never saw mom’s face that day as we entered the opium den. I did see her face when dad mentioned the crocodiles. Sometimes dad would say things like that just to get mom to look horrified. For a second she was horrified then she realized dad was pulling all of our legs.
Chang Mai was a magical city the northern heart of the empire of Siam. I remember going silk shopping with my mother. I was never sure why she took me fabric shopping she spent most of the time reminding me how to behave. But I do recall her wanting some northern Thai silk. My mother is the most amazing person with a sewing machine. She is an amazing person anyway but give her a sewing machine and miracles happen.
.Your loving son