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Monday, March 04, 2013

The Crazy Australian

One day while on this tropical island in Thailand and during this high time of getting roped into this random sort of land expedition with this Thai lady named Nina and her friend, a Danish engineer, Jeorgen, we were wandering near the borders of her land. This particular plot of land of hers was near the National Park with the waterfalls fell and near the Thai family's house where we were staying. 

We had forded a thick stream that only a pickup truck dare cross, but we did our crossing by wading in our barefeet through the slightly abrupt current as it rushed over smooth rocks towards the ocean, and we came out on this type of gravelly, dirt road that winded up into the jungle. But even though the paved road wasn't too far away and a restaurant was within shouting distance, all indication was that we were seeking further out into the vast stretches of wilderness that was a rainforest, when off in the distance, rising above the whistling songs of the tropic birds, there arose the sound of a buzz or a whirr. Any boy from the suburbs adverse to yard work could tell you what that sound was...it was a weed-eater. Yep, make no bets against it, it was the annoying and mundane tune of lawn maintenance being sung out into the sweet innocence of unravished nature.

Before the path, as we trudged on and the terrorizing sound got closer and closer, I saw the trees open up into a little clearing and I could see the reflection of the sun off a tinroof house and then my eyes spotted the assailant of silence holding the weed eater and he was a large mountain of a white man. He had this type of tank top on that only an Australian would be wearing, so I immediately guessed his nationality. As we approached closer he could not hear us due to the whirring and running of his yard machine and his back was turned to us and I noticed that he had what no normal Australian bloke would ever wear, this type of sarong or skirt. A member of his integrated family, called out that there were “farangs” (foreigners) and at this mention, he didn't stand on ceremony, but lifted the back part of his sarong up to moon us, where all of us saw his bare buttocks before we even saw his face. This was his greeting to us. But this was before he knew that we weren't just random tourist stragglers on his land but on some important business. In fact, Nina was technically his neighbor, though unbeknownst to him at the time.
Then he turned around surprised and embarrassed and yelled out very loudly over the weed eater, “Bloody HELL!! MATE!” which proved my suspicions correctly. He was most certainly an Aussie. He threw down the weed whacker and then the awkward greeting commenced and he apologized saying that he didn't know that his son was for real and muttered something about not caring for stragglers on his land.

He was a big man by white men standards. No doubt he was a giant among the Thai people. But he ambled up to me and gave me his big-fisted hand for a crushing handshake. He was the spitting image of Donk from Crocodile Dundee. Same jaw and same bustling sort of brutality.

After I told him I was from America, he imitated the best George Dubya Bush accent he could muster. I don't know which sounded more redneck that country drawl impersonation or his natural bushwhacker Aussie dialect. Anyways, he proved a gregarious sort of jolly person, fast with a joke, though I refrained from making any quips about all the bug bites or pimples that were apparent on his backside when he first greeted us. I decided that that was a little too flippant for a first time acquaintance with a man who looks like he skins crocodiles in his spare time.

He had married a Thai local beauty, probably a girl way out of his league, and he had settled down on this island in a sort of semi-solitude. Here, he had built this tin house and raised a family. He had a pitbull that he told us to be thankful was chained up. The type of taunts that backwoods, anti-government types make back home in Alabama. And he also had hogs. And I would guess that he prided himself in building his current castle across a broad moat that had to be forded by only a beastly pick up truck that he himself drove. I liked the guy; he reminded me of people back home. And he probably didn't want to be hassled by anybody.

Our greeting with him was short and we made our way further into the jungles onto Nina's land. We were finding a back way onto her property and this proved a good way other than the first time we arrived at this area near a national park entrance. Though, I don't know if this bloke was too keen on an actual neighborhood forming around him. But after all, what would you expect? Its a tropical island, not a vast, limitless outback.

On our way, back Jeorgen really had to go the bathroom so he crossed the stream where it was nearest a facility. I wanted to go that way and get something to drink at a nearby vendor, but Nina insisted that I come with her back the way we came and pay the Aussie a second visit. So I followed with my throat parched.

This 2nd visit made me realize, and I can't belief that I really didn't see it before, that the Aussie was pretty tipsy. At least getting there and this explained his rather revealing and gregarious nature earlier. I mean, it was as though he had been drinking the whole afternoon and was at the feel good stage where his eyes were blood shot and his speech, while not exactly converted to slurs was very relaxed. I suspect that this is the state that he would have liked to remain. He was finished for the time being with his yard work and was chilling out in this makeshift bar that he had adjoined to the house. It was like a barn or shed, though more like a side porch with a bar and stools if I recall. He had these emblems hanging up on the wall. A boomerang, of course. And I could tell that he considered this his sort of man-cave where beer bottles and stress were emptied.
I noticed the belt laying on the table with the magnificent Ned Kelly emblem on it. And then I recalled on his shoulder as a tattoo the same image. It was Ned Kelly with the iron helmet and suit on and guns blazing. Yes, this guy is one serious Ozzie. He offered me a glass of water that was already sitting there. Not the best hospitality, for I was greedily eying the cold beer he had clutched in his massive, knobby hands. But I guess, I was a sort of trespasser and should go begging for one of his precious brews.

Nina was talking with him about the land. He spoke a bit of Thai but his nasally Australian lingo bled through and his speech was very slow. I thought that it would be easy to learn Thai from him. They would shift back and forth from English back to Thai. Nina, I think, was seeing if he would be a good neighbor and use the aid of his truck to help her move things across the stream that only he could ford. He only looked blurry eyed and said, “cha cha”. Which was actually sort of the Thai version of “No worries” but in the negative sense. Meaning, “No rush. Slow down with your requests.”

She, like I said before, could sense the health problems in people. And this she picked up on with the Aussie. It wasn't very long before she was at his elbow pinching the muscles and tendons underneath his arms. At which his shoulders would drop and he would exclaim in exhausted bewilderment. I would even hear pops as she pinches and pulled these muscles. And when she finished, he moved about like he had just breathed in a fresh wind of air, and shook about like a big Papa bear and said that he felt 20 years younger. He admitted to us that when he was much younger he was carrying a huge slab of meat, if my memory is correct he was a butcher before moving out here, and that he slipped and fell and the massive slab of meat crushed his shoulder and he's never felt the same since. And now, he exclaimed, he felt like a new man.

Now, at this time, I had witnessed Nina do her acupressure treatment on various people with different problems. But this was the first time that I was able to hear someone in English express firsthand the difference Nina's brand of severe tweaking had made. So I was more impressed by this outcome than any of the other cases prior to this.

As we left his place, Nina and I talked and it was a common insight that we both shared, that this Aussie had moved out here to keep from going crazy. And that it probably was already too late.

A few days later, I was walking early one morning up the paved road scooping out where any coffee could possibly be sold, when I saw him and Mama, the lady whose house we were staying at. They looked to be arguing about something. His pickup truck was loaded with items, like scooters and furniture, a beer cooler and the cage to his pet bull. And as I walked up, I thought to greet him...but I think I heard a faint. “Bug off.” a few times when he first saw me before I reached him. And perhaps the more offensive version of that. But he ended up saying rather hurriedly that he didn't have time and it was not the morning to chat and that he couldn't chat, and he sort of shooed me away. And then I heard, at some considerable distance, he yell at his wife in a very barbaric way to get in the truck now. He and his family were going away for a short trip as they were known to do from time to time, and he wasn't in a good mood. However, now some knowledge about this supposed Mama has come to light, so he might have been justified in the argument. But that was the last I saw him, and probably the last I'll ever see of this interesting stereotype. More to follow.... 


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