Reed in Asia
This is what I am paid for
The alarm call woke me the next day and I was feeling quite fresh after my long sleep. Looking at my watch, I had plenty of time so I just got ready at a comfortable pace, checked the contents of my briefcase and then went down to the dining room for breakfast. Dumrong turned up a few minutes later and we had breakfast together. I asked him how far it was to Sattahib and he said that it was just a comfortable thirty minute drive. I was interested looking out of the window going to Sattahib because the countryside was a bit more pleasant there and there was a large hill in the distance where we were heading. After a while I saw the sign for Sattahib at the side of the road, so we were already in the area. Dumrong then pulled over to the right hand side of the dual carriageway and we took a right hand turn off the main road onto a private piece of land and drove up to the house there. Dumrong asked me to get out of the car and then he rang the doorbell of the house. The door was opened by someone who looked like a maid and Dumrong said a few words in Thai and a little while later a tall man in Thai Navy uniform came out, spoke a little with Dumrong, then shook my hand and in English he introduced himself as Commander Ampai, he then led us to a table in the garden and we all sat down there. The maid then brought a large pot and some cups and placed them on the table, Commander Ampai, apologised and said that he only had tea, no coffee, so I quickly replied that I only drank tea and that I was allergic to coffee anyway, everyone then smiled, the Commander poured the drinks and we started talking in English.
It turned out that Ampai was the Commander of the Sattahib Naval base and he was pleased to see me, because he needed the range repairing quite urgently, I said that I would try to fix it as quickly as I could and that unless it was a major problem, then it should be operational again by the following day. We finished our tea and then we all went to the Naval base in separate vehicles. I went through the usual registration procedures at the guardroom and then Dumrong drove me to the range. Inside the range I looked at the system and it was an older version that I had not worked on before. it was a Mk. 5A range, whereas I was used to working on the new Mk.6 system. I knew that the operation was basically the same, the Mk. 5A was designed using discrete electronic components rather than IC's as in current the Mk. 6 range system. I ran the system and there was a very obvious fault with it, it would not respond to some of the dials on the control panel. I asked Dumrong if he could get me the technical manuals for the system and when I got them, I started working my way through the circuit diagrams for the electronic boards. I could find the probable cause of the problem from the diagrams and I asked Dumrong if they had any spare parts for the system there. He went to talk with some of the Navy guys and then he told me that they didn't have any spares at all. So then I got my multimeter out of my briefcase and started checking around on the boards for obvious problems and I found the problem quite quickly, just a bad transistor on there. I switched everything off, removed the board with the problem, took out my soldering iron and removed the faulty transistor, I then gave it to Dumrong and asked him where we could get one nearby, it was a fairly standard NPN transistor and it should be easy to get one at any electronics outlet. Then Dumrong told me that the nearest electronics shop to Sattahib was in Chonburi 80 kms away.
So we set off for Chonburi in Dumrong's car as soon as we could. On the way to Chonburi, again I was just looking outside interested in the Tha i countryside and the small villages/towns that we passed through, we passed Pattaya and just kept going and after about a one hours drive we reached Chonburi. Dumrong seemed to know where he was going and we were driving down small back streets in the city, eventually Dumrong pulled the car over and we got out. There were a lot of small shops around that area and they seemed to sell just about anything at all. We eventually went inside a small shop there, I showed the shopkeeper the transistor and he quickly went to the back of the shop and came back with a small box in his hand, the small box was full of these transisitors, so I bought three of them, two to keep as spares at the range. Driving back to Sattahib, the car seemed to have a problem it wouldn't accelerate properly and when we were almost at sattahib it started making strange noises from the engine and we just about crawled back onto the base with it. Dumrong said that he was going to see some navy friends to see if they could help with his car and he said that he would see me back at the range later. I then went into the range, got the board with the problem and soldered a new transistor onto it. I fitted the board back into the control console, switched the system on and it was working well again. Just to be sure, I ran about six of the target profile films on the system and everything was fine, so I was finished. I filled out all of the paperwork for the repair and then just sat down and waited for Dumrong to return.
Dumrong returned a very long time later and he told me that his car had a serious problem and that some of the navy guys were working on it at the navy vehicle repair section, I told him that I had to get my paperwork signed, so we went to Commander Ampai's office, he signed them for me and thanked me for the repair. I then walked with Dumrong over to the navy vehicle section and his car was up on a ramp there and the engine seemed to be in pieces. He talked with some of the guys working on it for a while and then came back to me and told me that it would not be fixed that day, but he had arranged for a lift for us back to the hotel. Later a car came to pick us up and take us to Pattaya, on the way back to Pattaya, Dumrong asked me if I would like a beer and I obviously agreed, so we turned left off the main road, drove down a small road for a while, we came to the sea and turned right and stopped at a roadside stall on the small beach road there. When I got out of the car, I had a good look around and I thought it was lovely there, the sun was just beginning to set over the sea, there wasn't another building for about 300 yards, only this small wooden shack that we stopped at, the road didn't have any tarmac on it, it was just a reddish coloured dirt road. We sat on small wooden benches around a wooden table outside and just had a beer and watched the sun go down over the sea. Dumrong told me that the place where we stopped was called Jomtien and this was one of his favourite stopping off places after work, I could see why, I really liked it too, it was lovely there at that time in the evening.
After a couple of beers, we carried on driving along this beach road, then the road turned to the right we went up a small hill, at the top we turned left onto another road, we went along that road for a couple of hundred yards, then we turned left again and we were on the lane were the Asia hotel was. At the hotel I thanked Dumrong's navy friend for the lift and then went into the hotel lounge and ordered a beer, Dumrong came in and sat down a couple of minutes later. He said that we should go out to eat that evening and he knew of a very good restaurant in Pattaya, he went on to say that he would phone his friends and they would come to pick us up in their car. So after a beer, I went upstairs had a shower and a change of clothes and then went to the hotel lounge again, Dumrong was there with two other people, a man and a girl and he introduced them to me. We then went to their car and Dumrong said to me that he had asked them to drive down the beach road in Pattaya on the way, so that I could take a look at it. Driving down the beach road I could see lots of foreign tourists and lots of scantily dressed Thai girls, there were many go-go bars and a lot of noise, one thing that did interest me though, were a few outside, circular, wooden bars that seemed fairly quiet and not many people sitting there, that was more like my style of bar. We turned off the beach road and fairly soon we were at the restaurant.
The restaurant was very nice, it was like a Thai style house and we went up the outside stairs to the large dining room upstairs. It was all Thai people in there and I was the only foreigner, we sat at a large circular table and the waiter came over, Dumrong asked my what I would like to eat and I just said, "You order something good for me". Everyone ordered drinks, I had a beer and Dumrong and his friends ordered a bottle of whisky and some soda water with a bucket of ice. When the food arrived I was given a bowl of rice a plate with cooked fish and vegetables on it and a bowl with what looked like some dark brown paste in it. Dumrong told me that it was called Nam Prik Kapi and he said just cut the fish and vegetables and dip them in the paste before eating it. The food tasted wonderful to me, it was very spicy, but that is how I like my food and fairly quickly all the fish and vegetables and a lot of the rice on my plate were gone and I had to order some more. The other three at the table were watching me eat and talking loudly to each other in Thai, I thought that maybe I was eating too fast and it wasn't polite, so I slowed down a little then. Later I was told by Dumrong that they were fascinated that I could eat hot spicy food easily that normally other foreigners could not eat, so I told him that I had always eaten spicy food and it was just normal for me, but I went on to say that I did really like the Nam Prik Kapi in there it was very good.
We sat there for a long time after the meal, I had some more beers and the others ordered another bottle of whisky. After a while, the couple that had brought us to the restaurant stood up and said something in Thai, took the bottle of whisky and left the restaurant. Dumrong said that his friends had said thank you for the meal and that they had to leave then. So I asked Dumrong how we were going to get back to the hotel and he said that they have small pickup trucks with seats in the back called songtaus and we can get on one of those. The waiter then brought the bill to the table and automatically handed it to me, the meal was very expensive, but the two bottles of whisky were the most expensive items on the bill. Dumrong never offered to pay anything, so I just paid the bill and we left. We got a songtau to the road near the Asia hotel and then walked down the lane to the hotel itself. At reception, Dumrong told me that he had arranged transport to pick us up and take us to Sattahib the next morning at 07:30 and then he said goodight and went to his room. I went into the lounge, ordered a beer and started thinking about that day and what I was going to do the next day. Thinking about the meal that we had just had and the bill, Adrian's words came back into my head "Be very careful with him" meaning Dumrong, so I thought about this and came to a decision about the next day. I was feeling very tired by then, so I finished my beer, went up to my room and I was asleep as soon as I lay down on the bed.
I shall be adding to this site over time, so if anyone is interested then please have a little patience and call back here from time to time. One of my very few pleasures in life these days is beer so I shall be occasionally referring to beer, I just wish that beer was the only reason that I am legless all the time
Thanks for viewing my site, cheers for now, Legless
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