Jomtien, 4th January, 2010

Today I have been sober for 127 days.



“The aftermath of Mei”

I omitted to report in my blog of January 1st that during my argument with Mei, just before she stormed out of the house, she told me the disturbing news that she had purchased the house in her own name rather than my company name. This was ostensibly because she claimed that the lawyer was too slow in getting my company registered and if the house sale wasn’t completed by the agreed contract date, I would lose my deposit. I was furious with her for not telling me about this  before, especially as we had been talking regularly on the phone. She offered no rational explanation, and I started to wonder what the truth of the matter really was.

I drove into Bangkok that night and went straight to the bar where Mei used to work on Soi 33. I have no idea why I went there, but at the time it seemed like the logical place to go and drown my sorrows, and also maybe to see if I could learn anything new about Mei from her old workmates.

I had this terrible feeling deep down that she had been playing games with me from the very start and that the ‘cousin’ was almost certainly her boyfriend, or even her husband. He was a good looking guy; I could see the chemistry; the  interaction between them when they were together; I saw the pain in his eyes when he had to leave us together that first night and she had also let it drop that he had accompanied her to her home in Loei. She mentioned  that he had driven my car, and he was also was on hand to sort things out when the jeep broke down in Loei.

Add to all this the fact that since I had returned from England, she wouldn’t let me touch her, let alone do anything more intimate, and she had been picking fights with me at every turn since I had arrived.There was no doubt in my mind that I once again, I had committed a right royal screw up. I also recalled an occasion when I had to wait for her for over an hour outside her flat at Bang Na because she told me that I would not be allowed in by security. There was  also the inordinate amount of time she spent there on an almost daily basis. So despite my predisposition not to believe the worst of my ladies, I could now see that two and two  equaled a huge, glaring “four”. I had been duped and played for a fool yet again.

I encountered some of her ex “work colleagues” in the bar where she used work, and told them what she had been up to, and I discerned from their lack of reaction that it came as no surprise to anyone in that bar, except of course to muggings Mobi. They all seemed to know what sort of person she was. As ever, I was the last to know.

There was a girl sitting either side of me and I drank a huge amount of whisky. As I became ever more intoxicated I started crying in their arms, and, being the thoughtful, loving things that they were, I was given much solace.They were such little darlings, never  tiring of providng me with  comfort in the time honoured, Soi 33 fashion – as long as the expensive drinks kept flowing.

By 2.a.m I was completely plastered, but that didn’t stop me staggering back to my car, and amazingly driving all the way back to my house at Thana City. I recall that when I finally made it to the housing estate, I spent at least an hour hour driving round and round desperately trying to locate my house. I remember thinking that if I didn’t find the house  soon I would give up and sleep in the car. Mercifully, I did eventually track it down.

(I have written elsewhere in this blog that up to a couple of years ago, I was what is known as a “functioning alcoholic”; that is, an alcoholic who is still able to hold his job down and keep his life together, which in my particular case included never passing out or having blackouts, and the dubious ability to drive when drunk and never having accidents. But all that was to change quite soon.)

I didn’t sleep much and woke at dawn, with a horrendous hangover, and my mental state was not good. There was a gang of people still working on landscaping  the garden, putting a concrete base down for parking and so on. They were also related to Mei in some way, and they greeted me with a cheery smile, and told me that Mei would be back soon. I asked them when?, but they just assured me that it would be very soon.

I called her; she told me that she was not well and that all our arguments had made her very sick. So she would stay away for a while and try to get better and get some rest. I insisted that she came back that day, but she refused. I called her back several times to reiterate my request, but she still refused, and eventually became tired of my whining and shut off her phone.

I was devastated. I knew with an unnerving certainty that she was with the Thai “cousin”, and that I had been taken to the cleaners. I was still besotted with her, and I was aching inside. But at the same time I knew for sure that she was a bad person, and I resolved to get as far away from her and the house as possible, and start anew

Having made this momentous decision, I packed up all my personal effects, including the stuff I had just moved in there the day before from my friend’s place, and loaded it  into my jeep and drove away.  I checked into a hotel off Sukhumvit Road and then went to a bar near Soi 15 and started drinking. A couple of hours later I decided to call Dave. He kindly came out and joined me and tried to comfort and counsel me as I drowned my sorrows. When I told him what had happened he urged me to not leave all the stuff I had paid for at the house, and also to see what I could do about reclaiming the house. It made sense, but in my drunken state I wanted to forget the whole sorry affair, chalk it up to experience and start over.

The next day, when I sobered up a little, I was still missing Mei like crazy, and decided once again to call her and beg her to go back to the house. I managed to get though to her and I begged and begged, but she told me that she would not come back yet, and I would have to wait until she was ready to return. She knew that I had taken my things from the house and asked me where I was staying, but I refused to tell her as by now I was starting to have some concerns for my safety. At length I realised that there was no way I would be able to persuade her to return in the foreseeable future and I truly knew  that the game was up.

I re-thought Dave’s suggestion, and decided that I would return to the house and see what stuff I could take away. It was a Sunday, and when I arrived there I found that the landscaping crew had finished and gone, and that the front gate was locked and chained. I climbed over the gate, but the doors were all locked. I tried the side doors, and had a bit of luck and found one door that came open with a bit of force. Once inside I was able to open the front door, and then packed up all the smallish stuff that I could carry and crammed it into my jeep. I left  the heavy stuff, (furniture, televisions, fridges, cookers etc), but took all the kitchen utensils, crockery, glasses and small electrical gadgets such as rice cookers, and also all the bed linen and towels.

I was quite anxious to get away from the house as quickly as possible with my car load, as I had no idea if Mei or her people  had left any instructions with the security guards to stop me taking anything; or whether someone would turn up and confront me. In the event I drove away without incident and  took the carload  back to my friend’s house,where once more it was put into storage.

How I managed to accomplish this is one of  life’s great mysteries. I was  totally exhausted, very hung over, emotionally traumatized and becoming increasingly ill from the effects of my recent bladder operation. I had a lot of pain in that area, and I was now starting to pass blood. The internal wound had not yet healed. On top of all this  I was, and still am, an insulin dependent diabetic, and had chronic heart disease. By rights I should have collapsed from mental or physical exhaustion,- or maybe both. My “Higher Power” was sure taking care of me during that tumultuous  period.

Once I had moved out of the new house for good, I leased a very up market apartment on Soi 15 and settled in alone to start my life over, yet again.

I had been persuaded by  friends to see what I could do about recovering my house, and contacted the lawyer I had previously used to set up the company for the purposes of buying the house. She confirmed to me that Mei had indeed gone ahead and purchased the house in her own name rather than the company, (which had been ready for ages), and that Mei now held house title deeds – the ‘Chanod’.

I lost confidence in this lawyer, and wasn’t sure how to proceed, but dear old Dave came to my rescue. Dave ran a recording studio, and his right hand man was a Thai guy named Chat who spoke good English and was a bit of a ‘wise boy’ with good connections. Dave told  Chat what had happened, and Chat said that he thought he could find someone to help me.

The next day Chat told me that he had a good friend who he was sure he could help. A meeting was arranged, and it transpired that the friend was a colonel in the military police who turned up to the meeting sporting a gleaming military uniform, complete with rows of medal ribbons, in a chauffeur driven Mercedes Benz, and a small entourage of military cops. His plan was to send a group of soldiers to protect the house, and another group to track down Mei. A third group would journey up to Loei and see whether Mei had decided to hide out at her family home. While his military style ‘campaign’ was taking root, the Colonel proposed to accompany me to the police station to file an oficial report against Mei.

Of course all this needed funding, and I handed over not an inconsiderable amount of money to put these plans into action and to pay the expenses of all his men.

I was instructed to gather together as much documentary evidence as I could find to support my police complaint. I actually had a fair volume of papers, ranging from the receipt for my house deposit (which contained the wording that the house was to be purchased in my company’s name), copies of all the bank transfers that were sent to Mei’s bank account, and even copies of Mei’s ID card.

Then the colonel asked me about my jeep. I told him that the car had been bought in Mei’s name, (she had told me  that farangs could not own cars in Thailand), and that I did not have the vehicle ownership documents. The colonel advised me that it was very dangerous for me to continue to drive the car around Bangkok, as Mei might arrange for someone to track me down, take the car back and even possibly kill me. He insisted that he take the jeep and keep it stored of sight on military premises until this business had been settled. I had little choice but to agree with this course of action, and that was the last time I ever saw that vehicle.

A day or two later, the Colonel took me to the Police station near to where Mei used to live, and we spent almost the whole day there, making the report which included taking evidence from witnesses (including a house agent at Thana City, who confirmed my version of events)), copying, cross referencing and attaching all the supporting documents, and so on. The police then used their authority to gain access to Mei’s bank accounts. They discovered that Mei had withdrawn a very large sum of money only a few days ago, and all the accounts now had nil balances. A warrant was issued for Mei’s arrest, which was duly sent to her last known address.

The remainder of this sorry story was played out over the next two to three years, so I will try to be brief in describing how it all panned out as I do not wish to overly bore you.

I was advised by Chat that they had been unable to track down Mei, but that they had been to her house in Loei where her mother asserted that she had not seen her for a very long time and had no idea of her whereabouts.

I subsequently discovered that they had lied to me and in fact found her almost immediately and  shook her down and forced her to pay over most of the money she had secreted away. I am also reliably informed that the colonel took Mei as his lover for a while, but where she is now I have not the faintest idea. She could well be dead.

Chat told me that the colonel’s ‘team’ needed money to hire a lawyer who was going to set up a new company for me, so when everything was settled through the courts, they would be able to transfer the title deeds directly into my new company.  Chat even brought me company papers to sign, but it was all part of their latest deception. Chat kept informing me that everything was proceeding slowly through the courts, (even giving me dates when the court had found in my favour) and periodically he hit me up for more money to fund the ongoing legal process and other activities that were being undertaken by the Colonel and his gang.

The costs were mounting, and months came and went and I heard nothing except these demands for yet more money. I was becoming more and more suspicious of what was really happening, but felt powerless to stop the process. After all, for most of the time, I was either drunk or severely hung over, and was incapable of logical thought or making difficult decisions.

During this period I got to know Chat quite well, and as he had been Dave’s right hand man for many years, I completely trusted him, but started to wonder about the colonel.

One day Chat made a proposal to me for a new business venture concerning the building of retirement homes for expatriates in Ayudhaya, and it wasn’t long before I became immersed in this new project. Once again the money started to flow. Chat and I made a number of trips to Ayudhaya, inspected a number of riverside plots of land that were allegedly for sale, met with architects, potential business partners, and even met a high level bank official whose bank ostensibly was going to finance the major part of the operation – after I had personally invested the initial capital.

Chat arranged to set up and equip a small office , complete with full time secretary. I commenced work on the project and if I hadn’t caught Chat out in a stupid but blatant lie, my suspicions would never have been aroused.

Once I had caught Chat lying about something, my instincts were alerted, and it wasn’t long before I realised that the whole project was yet another scam – a pack of lies – carefully planned by Chat to extricate money from gullible, alcoholic Mobi

His biggest mistake was introducing me to a lawyer to handle the legal work on the project, who then decided that I may be a better ‘touch’ than Chat. The lawyer made me aware that Chat was a charlatan, and that the whole project was full of inconsistencies and deceit.

So I called time on the project, but held back on informing Chat that I knew what he had been up to.  It wouldn’t have served any useful purpose and could have even served me badly, like me ending up getting severely or fatally hurt.

So where did that leave my house business?

I asked the lawyer who had blown the gaff on Chat’s little con if he could help me find out what was going on with my house. I gave him copies of all the relevant documents, including the police report and asked him to  investigate.

It cost yet more money, but at least this lawyer did genuinely earn some of the money I paid him. He quickly established that no court action whatsoever had been taken in respect of my house, and he told me that if anything had really been done, I would have been called as a witness.

The lawyer sent his people to see where Chat lived and discovered that Chat now had the Jeep and was driving it every day. I called Chat and asked him where the jeep was. He told me it was with the vehicle registration office as the annual registration had expired and the colonel couldn’t renew it without the car documents. The lawyer told me the jeep had a current tax paper on the windscreen, so it further confirmed what I already knew – that they had tracked down Mei and extracted the car papers from her.

The whole affair was becoming murkier and murkier, but I had to be careful. These people who were deceiving me were powerful and dangerous.

At long last, my real case was  heard in the courts. My lawyer had a very smart  colleague represent me in court and I was briefed in advance on the questions I would be asked.

As they say, I finally had “my day in court”.  It was a nerve wracking business, standing in the witness box in a Thai court and being cross examined by my lawyer as well as the panel of judges, but I managed to pull it off quite well.

I was told that there was a good chance that the court would rule in my favour, simply because the case was undefended. Despite the court summonses that were sent to Mei’s last known address, she never responded or came to court to defend her actions, as to do so would have resulted in her arrest on criminal charges, assuming she wasn’t already dead.

There was no decision byb the panel of judges on the day, and we had to wait for weeks for the final court ruling. It was unanimous and  they found in my favour. The court ruled that the house should be put up for sale by official public auction and the proceeds paid over to me.

But before this could happen, new land title deeds had to be issued to replace those taken by Mei, and this laborious and difficult bureaucratic process  took several months.

In the meantime the house was depreciating badly as it had been uninhabited for over  two years.

When the public auction was eventually held, my lawyer had arranged to put a reserve price on it to avoid it being sold off too cheaply and as there were very few people attending the auction the reserve price was not offered and the house was withdrawn for sale.

Under court rules, I was allowed to do this only once, and the next time the was auctioned, it would have to be sold, regardless of how low the ‘highest’ bid was.

And so started the last little twist in this nightmarish saga. It transpired that these so-called public auctions are not really ‘public’, as the only people who are aware of them are court officials who are in league with certain property investors who will attend the auction and make ridiculously low bids and thus buy these court auctioned properties at way below their market value.

My lawyer was fully aware of this little piece of corruption but had obviously decided not to share this information  with his client.  His agreed fees for representing my interests were on a contingency basis, with a guaranteed minimum which had been paid up front. I had previously checked and established that his rates were pretty standard in such circumstances, so I naturally thought that it would be in both our interests to get the highest price possible for the house. But I was unprepared for the wiliness of a Thai scam artist when he gets a stupid farang in his clutches.

After the house was withdrawn at the first auction the lawyer told me that he might have a friend who would be interested in buying the house as an investment and indicated a that he would pay a price within my anticipated price range. His friend had apparently agreed to make a respectable bid and I breathed a sigh of relief that we were at long last near the end of this distasteful and protracted business.

But the day before the auction, the lawyer called me to say that he was now informed that his friend would not, after all, attend  the auction. He warned me that the price I would get for the house would be extremely low.  I was  devastated, and barely had time to digest this piece of bad news when he called me back to propose a new deal.

He now declared his hand  and now started to put the screws on me. On top of the substantial fees he had already been paid, he was now asking me if I would agree to triple his fee if he guaranteed that his friend would turn up and buy my house at the previously quoted price.

I was between a rock and a hard place, so I reluctantly agreed.

The money I eventually received back from the sale of that house was barely 40 percent of the money I had originally expended, and it had consumed my life for over two years. One of the few truisms that my next wife was to tell me, (yes, by the time this house business drew to an end, I was well into my fifth marriage), was that I would have been better off just walking away from it at the start, rather than having to suffer all that aggravation and anguish for two years. I believe she was right.

As for Chat, well a little while later, I took Dave out for a meal, and related the whole sorry account of how his “number one man” had cheated me not once, but several times over, and was to that very day driving around in Jeep that I had paid for.

Dave said very little, intimated that he didn’t really believe what I had told him and continued to work with Chat until quite recently, when he stopped doing commercial work  – and even to this day, Chat is still in regular contact with Dave.

I never really expected that Dave would part company with Chat as I knew he would not be able to replace him. No, I wasn’t thinking that he would do that, but I did think that he might apologise  for his part in my suffering. After all, he had introduced Chat to me and assured me that he would be of great service to me.To this day he has never mentioned this affair again, or Chat’s ignominious and deceitful role in it.

Thanks Dave – a good one!

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