page 4 'My next ethnological success follows: on the wall there hung a fantastic long photograph of 3000 monks, all bald-headed. Although it is already hard to tell two Siamese men apart, if I do, I recognize them by their hair. But when the husband laughingly invited me to pick him out, I managed to do so, secretly aided by Mom who played "hot" and "cold" with his fingers.
When we next discussed ages, Mulek appeared to be exactly my age, but because they did not believe that, I had to produce my driving license. She had a very cute two-months old baby, which practically didn't make a single sound and which they both adored.
Time to go to bed: we were urged to sleep in the single bedroom on top of a wooden frame raised above the floor. They slept on the backside of a turned-over cupboard. With a mosquito net above and chickens in the mud below us, Mom and I slept very well. Unfortunately, Mom had to go outside to relief himself, getting muddy feet in the process. But the services had not ended yet: they provided him with a lamp and a large bowl of water so he could wash his feet.
In the meantime, I donned my neat pyamas and woke up at 6:00. We took a few more photographs, and exchanged addresses. More joy when they found out that Mom was a Prince. Then we took off, pressing a 25 tical banknote into the baby's tiny hands - he was the only one who could not refuse - and expressing many promises.
It was a wonderful cool morning with excellent visibility and beautiful cloud formations. The potholes in the road and the huge ponds of water did not bother us, and soon we reached the spot where a few months ago I had visited that temple in a mountain cave, together with two boys (see photographs of bathing buffaloes and gazing cows).
Next came Kanchanaburi, scenically situated on the river, but a rather dirty village. From here they float lumber rafts down the river. If you go down the steep banks to get to the "uiterwaarden" (riverbanks covered by water during flood season only), you find an entire village of small huts and people who sift sands and dig gravel, which they manage to get up the banks in mysterious ways using large Japanese trucks.
We roamed around a bit, looking back at the crowds which had gathered about my scooter in the mean time, using the fieldglasses which Phailbul had loaned us. We also visited the Police Post where Mom expected to find a friend. No such luck, however, but following General Phao's decree we had to take along a police escort. BODY BACKGROUND="" BGCOLOR="#80ffff" TEXT="#000000" LINK="#0000ff" VLINK="#800040" ALINK="#8080ff">

Ben Oostdam's letter of May 23, 1955 (in Dutch)


from Bangkok to his fiancee and parents in Holland


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