Monday 14 February 2011

Is this the shortest address in the world?

I had the pleasure of meeting one of the nicest people ever to be on a murder charge yesterday: John Spiers.

John arrived in Thailand on his way from Australia to Europe in 1977, and never left.

He trekked deep into the jungled hills of northern Thailand, came across Pang Ma Pha near the Burma border (or Myanmar depending on your political leaning), and that was it. He set up Cave Lodge where he shares his love of this region, its mountains, caves, and rivers, with guests from all over the world.

A friend of his sent him this letter recently. The post office in Australia of course told him there was insufficient information; it would never arrive.

But the letter did arrive, jing jing! 

"Well, I am the only farang in this post code," blonde-haired John laughs. "So they all know me."

Which reminds me of the legendary status of Jim Thompson, who built up Thailand's silk industry in the early 60s. He was such a well known figure in Bangkok at that time, that a letter marked 'Jim Thompson, Bangkok,' reached him.

I tried this recently, enclosing a letter to the Jim Thompson company, but got no response. So I guess Bangkok -- with about 10 million people -- is just a little too big now?

Which is what makes Pang Ma Pha special. Just you, some hilltribe villages, the Soppong River, and a whole lot of nature ...

Oh, about the murder charge: that was decades ago, and John was away in Chiang Mai (200km away -- or a 10 hour drive in his Land Rover) at the time, but the poor policeman had to blame someone, anyone. So it may as well have been the only farang in the postal district. Charges were duly dropped.

But you could say John has left his stamp on the place.

Is this a world record? How could anyone possibly have a shorter address than this?

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