Monthly Archives: March 2018

Griff at 96

I have been fortunate to have visited Thailand 4 times. I never went to the south of Bangkok where all the tourists were going to party. Full moon was not for me as I was over 60. I went up to Chiang Mai way up in the north. This was the old capital of Siam and I always felt comfortable up there. The old city was square and is surrounded by a moat and there are still some of the walls standing. I stayed at a cheap hotel called the White House. It is near the Thai Pai gate. The rooms were $15/night. Not a great hotel, but clean and in a good location.

In 2014 during my last visit I met an incredible woman. Her name was Griff.

She has spent 3 months here in Chiang Mai and after staying at 3 other hotels/hostels was now staying at my hotel. Griff is from northern Prestatyn, Wales and an amazing life force at 96 years old. She was there on her own and is a well seasoned traveler. We started to have our breakfasts together at the UN Irish Pub and Crusty Loaf Pub. The pub is a couple blocks away from our hotel but worth the extra distance. They make their own bread there.

My role was to make sure no motorbike or taxi ran over Griff on our way to and from the Pub. She can really move when she has room. I told her to slow down a couple of times. The pub is on a busy street so I hold her hand as we cross the road.

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Let me describe the way she orders her breakfast…(spoken in a crisp Welsh miltary-precise manner) I do not need the menu… I want tea with ‘boiling’ water…2 hard boiled eggs…peeled and do not cook them as long as yesterday….1 piece of whole wheat bread lightly toasted, some butter and some honey and no jelly…it really is not jelly nor jam.
The waitress is use to the breakfast orders and they all love her. We usually arrived at the pub’s courtyard at 8:50 am. Our talks go on and on, most of the time past noon and a couple of times past 1 pm. We eventually had German and UK people showing up just to be in her presence.

Our talks were amazing…she has been everywhere. She told me about the military. She worked at a radar base in Belgium when the country was still occupied. She was stationed in Ghana and she went out looking for snakes and birds. She was an excellent horse women. She later was stationed in the UK Sector of post war Germany.

At first she told me the internet was stupid but I think I changed her mind. She asked me to find a 1944 BBC production of Under Milkwood as narrated by Richard Burton. This was written by a famous Welsh man. Dylan Thomas. I found the program on Youtube and we listened to most of it at the Wat Chiang Man Temple. She did not like that Youtube only gave you 10 minute bits at a time. I have a couple hours of audio recording of her and eventually will post it.

She told me about an Australian poem she memorized when she was 6. And now 90 years later she still knows the whole thing. Bannerman of the Dandennong is a long poem and she can still recite it. I found it on the web and read it as she recited it.

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Griff with her German admirers

We both left from Bangkok on the same day for Europe.

I recorded several hours of our talks and will try to post them here.

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