[Start writing] 28 September 2012
[Ready for being posted online] 11 May 2012
[Updated] 20 May 2014

Memory of the Quest for the Real Mate
And the 7-day Experience in a Laotian Prison

Monday 7 May 2012
22:28 -- I posted a message on Facebook that read “Only 7 days remain. It seems unlikely that I will be successful in my love with ‘someone’ around here. Therefore, I have decided to travel around the world for my soul mate. My quest will begin tomorrow, Tuesday, May 8th 2012. I will travel along the Silk Road, and will stroll along the Mekong River till arriving at Switzerland. Then I will find and bring my soul mate back with me to have a wedding in Sisaket on May 14th as I mentioned to you before. I have set a budget of 1,000 baht for this quest. The quest will end depending on one or more of the following conditions: First, the soul mate has been found; Second, it took time until May 13; and Third, the budget has been finished. Wish me luck.”

Remark. This message is a continuation of the message posted on 14 April 2012 that .. “Due to the social value human beings implant in our minds, it makes me feel that it is very difficult for a woman to have a sincere love w a man over 40 years old … And it is also very unlikely that a man will sincerely love a woman when he is over 40.”

Therefore, before my 40th birthday, I must try to find a woman, whom I love and loves me in return for the purpose of marriage. If this goal is not achieved, I will submit to a single life until I die. ..... Starting from today, I have approximately 32 days remaining before I turn 40. ... Let’s see whether I will be able to find the one within this short period of about one month or not. .. If the one is found in time, I will have a wedding on 14 May 2012 so that my age will be only 39 years and 364 days old on the wedding day. Probably the wedding will be witnessed and celebrated via Facebook.

Any girls who are interested in marrying me (if there are any), please just stay calm. Do not do anything to contact me first, which will make me feel like a defender. I prefer to be the attacker. I can sense if a woman is interested in me. Ha ha. So, just stay still and wait for my contact.”

Tuesday 8 May 2012
10:31 – I posted another message on Facebook that read “Hey, I am really going. .. I have to leave the house before my parents will return. ... Oh, I just hope that when I am over 40, my parents will stop thinking of me as a little boy. … Bye for now, Facebook.”

10:40 – I left a note on my parent’s bed that read “Dad and mum, please don’t be panic when you arrive home and do not see me. I have gone on a journey to search for something. I will be back on either the 13th or 14th of May 2012. .. Please do not worry. Your son is a genius. .. I love you both very very very very much.. Globe GoHH Your Son”

10:50 – I carried one big bag and left home (Sri Boon Lue village). I turned off my mobile phone and prayed that no one I knew would see me leaving this small town. When I arrived at the main bus stop in Uthumpornpisai District, there was a bus about to leave for Sisaket Province. I got on the bus, which was heading to Sisaket Train Station. Oh.. I feel so joyous and excited about this trip.

11:40 – I got on a free train heading toward Ubonratchathani Province (Thailand has some free trains for Thai citizens). Actually I was late, but lucky that the train was late as well. I bought some sweets on the train for 10 baht.

13:00 – When I finally arrived to Ubonratchathani province, I walked from Ubonratchathani train station (Warin Chamraab district) and crossed the Moon River to Muang district of Ubonratchathani province. I stopped several times to rest and eat the berries and mangoes I brought with me from home. I took many photos along the way. Still feeling hungry, I bought fried rice from a roadside restaurant for 30 baht. (I noted down all expenses in order to control spending money over the budget of 1,000 baht I set before the trip.) In Muang district, I stopped at a basketball court in Toong Sri Muang Park, played basketball with some kids, and joined the aerobic dancing group. I called my dad to inform him about my journey, excluding the truth about my real position. Then I turned the phone off again, and walked to Ubon Bus Terminal, being hesitative about finding a place to sleep.

21:00 -- Eventually I arrived to Ubon bus terminal exhausted. After spending 10 baht for taking a shower at the terminal, I slept on a row of chairs and on a desk of a food shop alternately. (All shops had closed after about 22:00.)

Wednesday 9 May 2012
6:00 – I Got up and took a shower at the Bus terminal’s restroom again. I checked the two passports that I had brought with me, and found that both of them were expired. ‘Oh, so bad. Anyway, I should try using them to buy a ticket. If the ticket seller refuses, I will just have to cancel the plan to go to Laos’. Luckily, the ticket seller didn’t check the expiration date. So I got the ticket. (The booth selling tickets to Laos started at 8 AM, and the price was 200 baht). I thought to myself ‘Ha ha, so easy’.

9:30 -- The bus Ubon-Pak Se left the bus terminal. I sat in the front row with a middle-aged Laotian woman. Two seats opposite us belonged to two Thai monks. The four of us talked almost all the way.

11:20 -- The bus stopped at Chong Mek checkpoint because passengers were required to go through custom regulations; first, at the Thai custom and then to the Laos custom. However, the Thai custom officer found that my passport had been expired, and did not allow me to go through. I should have canceled the plan, but I decided to get on a motorcycle taxi riding back to the place where Border Passes are issued (only a Thai citizen ID card is required). The total cost was 78 baht (40 baht for the back-and-forth motorcycle charge; plus 30 baht for the border pass fee; and 8 baht for a photocopy charge). The operation was quite fast. The Border Pass allowed me to stay in Laos for only 3 days and 2 nights. That means I had to leave Laos by Friday 11 May. At the custom gate, I (and other passengers on the bus) passed from Thai custom to Lao custom, and was charged 100 baht (for each traveler) without getting a receipt! So bad!! It was a corrupt act of that dark little officer, or probably the whole Laotian custom system!!!

12:30 – I arrived at Pak Se bus stop (can’t be called bus terminal, because there were no other buses parked there.) It was just a small bus station beside a small market. The Laotian woman on the bus referred to it as “Queue”. The area seemed to be dense with small shops, and quite dirty. Rubbish was everywhere. The nearby market had even more garbage. Seeing a hotel on the other side, I crossed the road. It was quite difficult because there were many vehicles and they drove on the right lane, unlike Thailand. I walked straight to “Champa Hotel”, which was the nearest one. Their lowest-price rooms seemed to be acceptable for my budget: 250 baht/night for an electric-fan room. The hotel looked old and classic with wooden floor. It was a 4-storey building, and each floor was very tall. The restroom was located outside the bedroom, but they were on the same floor, and the restroom had a sign signifying that it belonged to which bedroom. I stayed in room number 405.

13:30 -- Left the room and went to the market. Bought a dish of fried rice with pork (8,000 kip or 32 baht) and ate there. Then bought a comb of banana for 20 baht (5,000 kip), and took it back to the hotel room. Slept.

17:30 -- Stood at the terrace, watched various types of vehicles passing by on the street. .. I then learned that not only Thai girls wear shorts and ride motorcycles; some Laotian girls do also. Not all of them wear "Paa Sin" (long traditional skirt) as I had originally thought. I spent a long time people-watching. I saw only a few bicycles. Most of the vehicles were motorcycles. There were quite a lot of luxurious cars also. .. I exercised after that, and then took a shower.

20:00 -- Walked and searched for a place to eat. I ate a big bowl of Fher for 15,000 kip (60 baht). The taste was great, and I was full and impressed by this experience. The Fher gave a local sense since it was served with a big spoon and a lot of vegetables. The restaurant owners were very nice too. The road was quite busy, but at 10 PM, the road only had a few side walkers strolling along. I went to bed about 10:30 PM.

Thursday 10 May 2012
6:00 -- Got up, exercised, took a shower, and ate Fher for breakfast at the nearest market, which cost 12,000 kip (48 baht).

10:00 -- Prepared stuff to leave the hotel. (Almost all my clothes had been washed.) I filled one big bottle and two small bottles with tap water, which I had to accept to drink in order to save money. At this point, about 1,000 baht had been spent already. That means only 1,000 baht was left, of which at least 300 baht was needed for my return trip home.

11:30 -- Checked out of the hotel. Walked along the road. The sun was quite strong. I took photos along the way until reaching Dowruang Market. With so many shops and so many goods, this market reminded me of Jatujak Market in Bangkok. The differences were only that this place had many gold shops and had much less shoppers comparing to Jatujak. I bought a bag of round buns that looked similar to deep-fried doughsticks, which cost 20 baht/bag (6 pieces), and 5 mangos (1 kg) for 30 baht.

12:00 – Walked to the bridge crossing the Mekong River that links between Pakse City and Ponethong City (both belong to Kwaeng Champasak). Before crossing the bridge, I changed the mind, and turned to the river bank on the opposite site of the very luxurious, Champasak Grand Hotel. First, I thought I would walk along the bank for about one or two kilometer and find a remote place to stay. However, the bank of Mekong River was not sandy making it difficult to walk. I couldn’t proceed. Luckily I found a small hut, which I thought might belong to a local fisherman. I decided to stop and rest in the hut, I read the “On Mobile” magazine that I brought with me and ate 2 round buns and 2 mangos.

15:00 – Resumed the journey. Walked up to the bridge and crossed the bridge to the Ponethong side. The Mekong River is very wide. I stopped at several points on the bridge to take photos of myself wearing the globe mask with the Mekong River as the background. There were times I was quite afraid that the strong wind would blow my globe mask away. I thought to myself; ‘oh it’s very lucky that I travel with little money. Traveling with a lot of money would not have given me this great opportunity to walk across the Mekong River.’

15:30 – I arrived at the Ponethong side of the river. I saw a big Buddha statue sitting on top of the mountain. On the right-hand side, I saw that the river bank had a rocky beach, which made it easy for me to take a short stroll along the beach. Since I personally am not a religious person, I chose the latter choice. Before I reached the end of the beach, I decided to follow a small path down under the bridge. Then I walked with a little difficulty along the rocks for about 100 meters. I stopped and found that it was not a good idea to continue, because there was a building that looked like a resort 200 meters ahead. The resort was built on the river bank, and it looked like it would be very difficult to walk along the beach under the building. So I put my bags down and stayed there. Above the river bank at that spot, there seemed to be another resort, a big one, with many workers. I heard them talking and saw a building that looked like a resident for workers. The people whom I assumed to be workers also saw me. One of them came near the cliff and made eye contact with me. However, I did not try to talk with them. I wasn’t in the mood to talk with people and I did not want to tell them that I came here on a poor budget, or they might feel obligated to help me.

16:00 – I read the “On Mobile” magazine until it got dark. I ate one more round bun and a mango. Two buns and two mangos were left for tomorrow. I was still hungry. Seeing some ants strolling on the rock, I recalled the words that I used to tell my friend (Mr. Golden Lotus) when we planned a trip to Laos. I had told him that “If we ever get hungry we can eat ants during the journey”. Therefore, I tried eating one of those little black ants. Hmm, it wasn’t so bad. It could relieve my hunger for a little bit. I continued eating about 3-4 more ants before feeling pity for them (and also for myself) and quit. Looked at a tall tree standing directly in front of me on the river bank, I thought about the Sacred Fig tree where the Buddha was sitting under at the time he became enlightened; I felt like I was the Buddha who tortured himself in order to reach enlightenment. However, the fact is that, my starvation was not intended for practicing dharma like the Buddha, but only for saving money!

18:00 – I found an old mat on the ground. I laid the mat on the big stone to prepare a bed for sleeping. The stone on the river bank is part of Mekong River. Thus I was sure that the land where I was going to sleep did not belong to the resort. I was sure that I had a right to sleep at this natural and public place. When it was getting dark, the bridge became colorful with decorated light. People walked and exercised along the bridge. I wanted to walk there, but figured out that it was far and too difficult to go there and come back. So I did not go. About 7 PM, there were some 4-5 people who came near my place to collect shrimp in areas with shallow water. I heard them say that they had no match to light their firewood. So I went over and gave them mine. They thanked me and said they would return it. Their actions showed that they were afraid of me, because they did not want to talk much with me. When it was totally dark, I took a bath in Mekong River then went to bed. The shrimp-finding group was still doing their activity in the river. There were many mosquitoes. I used my hat as a face mask to cover my whole head. I put on a jacket and trousers and covered my body with the prepared blanket. Then I could sleep comfortably despite feeling a little warm.

ดู จุดพักนอนและถูกจับ ในแผนที่ขนาดใหญ่กว่า

Figure 1. The location where I slept and got caught

23:00 -- (Around this time.) Out of nowhere a group of men, around 10 persons, woke me up shouting at me, “Get up!” “Don’t move!” “Stay still!” .. I was alarmed. Light from several torches was aimed at me. First I thought that they told me not to move because an elephant was coming. However, after a short while, I realized that some of them were in uniform, and had guns. ‘Oh, just police’. Then they quickly locked my hands with handcuffs. I still felt relaxed. ‘Pheew, so alarmed. Thought I was about to get treaded by an elephant. Actually policemen had just misunderstood. After explaining to them they would find me a better place to stay’. Then they led me up the cliff. They put all my sleeping stuff in my bag in a very rough manner. During the way, one of the police told me “Walk properly, or I will kick your legs so you will fall down” (in Laotian language). I thought to myself ‘Oh, Mr. policeman, you should speak a little more politely’.

They led me to a building; the one I assumed to be a worker camp of a resort. I then realized that the building was actually the Ponethong Police Camp. The 10 policemen questioned me in a very serious manner. But after details have been gradually revealed, the atmosphere got more relaxed. During the inquiry, my bags were dismantled and searched for illegal things. Even my two mobile phones (one was I-mobile S281 that I used mainly for calling, and the other was PhoneOne 501 that was for taking photos), their batteries were removed and thoroughly checked. The atmosphere got better when they found no illegal things in my bags, but some funny (weird) things were discovered instead. These included my globe mask, my banner written “It’s time human beings love all others. It’s time to unify all countries to be one.”, an old box of two pieces of condoms that I had carried along for several years without a chance to use, photos of girls in my wallet, and some money (about 1,140 baht). I asked a policeman to use my PhoneOne 501 to take a photo of my locked hands, and he did so. Many of them became friendly then, but some were still very stiff. After they have heard the whole story once, and were sure that I did not carry any illegal things, they had someone in their group write my details in a form. Some of the police had left the room. The policemen who noted down my story wrote very slowly, and asked the same questions as before; When did you leave your home? How did you enter Laos? Where did you stay last night? What time did you leave the hotel? What time that you crossed the bridge? etc. After he finished the interrogation, they unlocked the handcuff from one of my hand to allow me to sign the form and imprint my thumb on it. One of them returned my wallet. I kept it in my pocket, and felt relaxed that things were done. I used the PhoneOne to take a photo of the other hand of mind that was still attached to the handcuff. I asked them whether I could take a photo with them, but they refused. The whole conversation was all in Laotian. To my surprise, they handcuffed both my hands again and took my wallet back. They stuffed all my belongings in my bag, and took me out of the room. Before leaving the room they requested a bottle of water of mine. That was the smaller one of the two bottles that I filled with tap water before leaving the hotel. I absolutely said, Yes! ...

Then they had me sit on the back of a pickup car, where I sat with two policemen. I thought they were taking me to a guest house. Along the way, the two policemen sitting on the back with me talked to me nicely. They asked about the situation of the Red shirt vs. Yellow shirt in Thailand. They stopped the car in front of a place enclosed with a tall fence. Its gate was decorated with many flags. I then could guess that it was a prison. While waiting for someone inside to open the gate, a policeman said “Where is this place?” in Thai as if to mock me.

Then the Ponethong policemen took me inside the prison. (I found out later that it was the prison of Kwaeng Champasak.) Inside the prison, there was a hut with 10 time-off policemen sitting and watching TV (a Thai channel). The man who was sitting like a big boss at the middle chair told me to sit down on the floor. I did, but I did not pay him respect with the traditional hand sign. He asked me a question in a harsh tone (as if giving me no honor). I just answered nonchalantly, tired of answering the same questions over and over again. Once when being asked about the reason of sleeping on the stone, I said because I had to safe money for my return trip home. A policeman suddenly approached me and hit my temple, near my eye, and asked “why did you bastard travel with so little money?” .. Although it wasn’t a strong hit, it caused enough pain, both physically and mentally. My feeling started to change to become more serious. I wanted to ask them if they were policemen or thieves. I did not answer that policeman, but thought to myself ‘although I have little money, I still support tourism of your country’.. Other policemen told that policeman to stop; probably because they started to pity me. Rightfully so, I was alone and handcuffed. How could I fight? Or even if I was able to fight, I would not fight anyway; coz my principle is not to fight with human beings, but to fight with unknowing of human beings.)

About (probably) midnight, after the investigation, the boss told a policeman to take me to “Room 5”. They ordered me to take off my shoes. They replaced the handcuffs from Phonethong police camp with theirs, and returned the old handcuffs to the Phonethong policeman. The policeman from Kwaeng Champasak Prison then led me to the jail building. I walked pass “Room 3”, then “Room 4”. I saw many prisoners inside starring outward, with strange eyes that made me feel kind of scared. Then, when we reached “Room 5”, the policeman unlocked the door. He sent me inside and closed the door. Then, via a barred window, he gave the handcuff key to a prisoner inside to have him unlock the handcuff for me. After unlocking the handcuff, the prisoner returned the key and the handcuff to the police, who then went back (probably to continue watching TV).

Oh! Now I am in a jail. I never thought that one day I would become a jailed prisoner. Today it’s real! It really happens. This is a real jail! I am with real prisoners! ..I couldn’t believe that after finishing the investigation and discovering no illegal things with me the Ponethong police still sent me to jail!! Maybe it was to protect their face.

The room measured about 4x7 meters. Prisoners were lying crowdedly all over the floor, on the wooden lifted floor (a U-shaped floor, about 2 meter wide, was slightly elevated above the cement floor about 60 cm high), and underneath the wooden lifted floor. I found out later that there were 28 prisoners. One of the prisoners told me to sleep on the floor where there was a little space at the middle of the room. I lay down with mixed feeling of excitement and happiness for having this real jail experience. [Hey, dude. Why are you happy? You are in jail. This will cause a bad reputation for your family.] Oh! This is how a jail is. I became alarmed and scared. I thought about the movie entitled “All About Mary” (or something like this), of which the hero was jailed for one night and got hugged (probably raped) by a huge man. ‘Then how about this jail?’ .. Each prisoner was without shirt. Their faces looked unfriendly. Occasionally, a prisoner would get up to go to the toilet. With little space for them to walk, I was afraid that one of them would kick my face just as a greeting for the freshman of the room. I needed to pee a little bit, but was scared to go to the toilet, because it was dark and seemed like somebody was always using it. Lucky that the light in the hallway was on all night. A prisoner was kind enough to tell me to use a little cushion as a pillow. That helped me a lot.

I decided to just lie down and embrace my breast still. My eyes were closed, but my brain was not turned off. I kept thinking 'what a destiny of my life!' Hunger pains persisted throughout the night. 'How will my stomach be?' A life of intentional self torture is incomparable with a life that is tortured by the power of a certain group of people. Natural risk that may happen from the decision to live naturally is not as detrimental as the pain that this group of people have given to me. I do not think anyone should be blamed personally. The whole system should be blamed instead. It is the system that serves the power. And that makes the subordinates also passionate about the power .. the power to treat people unfairly. I do not blame Laos for putting me in this jail. But I blame the system of country separation in the world that makes human beings lack freedom to travel freely in natural places, which should belong to everyone equally.

Despite feeling a little excited to experience life in a jail, I realized that this feeling happened just because I thought that it would only be for a short time. Having to stay in this limited room for long would be unbearable for me. I then recalled my campaign for world unification. Suppose I really get jailed from doing such activities, the punishment would make me be more horrible than dignified. I probably need to change my strategy. After getting back home, I will stop doing risky activities. I will not try to unify the world in a way that would make someone feel like I am their enemy. Maybe I will just try to complete the United World Monument on my land. Then do some easy and peaceful work at home. I will also give priority to my relationship with neighbors and villagers, so that we can have a strong unity that the governmental sector would not want to meddle in our lives. .

The night was fucking long. I heard the rooster crow and the bell ring many times, but the sunlight still hadn't shown up through the open barred windows. I was eagerly waiting for the sunlight, becuase I believed that they would release me the next day. I did not do anything wrong or possess anything illegal. Moreover, my Border pass would expire on that Friday. If I am released on Friday 11, I would be able to return home before the 13th, which is what I said in the note to my parents. I then would not have to let them know the truth that I got jailed in Laos. If they knew this, they would recall my note and say "who said 'don't worry. Your son is very smart,” This would certainly make them limit my freedom in the future.

Figure 2. Room 5 of the Outer Jail

Friday 11 May 2012
Before it was completely light (about 5AM), a prisoner, the one that seemed to stare at me with a challenging face, asked another prisoner "it's the right time now, isn't it? Then he woke other prisoners up with quite a loud voice. "Get up, brothers. It's time to start working." Everyone got up, except two prisoners that were sleeping and hugging each other. (Yes, both of them were male). 'Pheew! This is good enough. At least most of them are not perverts'. Then they started their work, which was to make fishing nets. The pillow that I used last night was actually a seat cushion for the fishing net makers. And sometimes they used it to relax their feet while working. Oh no!

After a while, the challenging-face man came to greet me and asked about my story. He introduced himself as Tuan. He often said the same thing over and over again "Tuan can speak all languages; Thai, Laotian, English", "Am I great", "Am I handsome". Sometimes it was annoying, but he did many good things for me. Some of which included giving me a tooth brush and a bar of soap.

When the light came fully, the room became clear to my eyes. Beneath the U-shaped wooden floor, at the portions near the room’s front door and the room’s toilet, there were buckets and miscellaneous things stuffed inside untidily. Its middle portion was clear so that some prisoners could slide their body inside for sleeping (otherwise the sleeping space would be insufficient for everyone). There is only one side of the room where there was no wooden floor. On the cement floor of this side, there were mats for sleeping being laid starting from the front door until slightly over the half of the room. This has an exception at the area in front of the toilet, where many bottles of water were arranged. The drinking water inside the bottles was actually tap water. The bottles seemed to be so old that I couldn’t estimate their lives. In the middle of the room, there were two cloth lines made of wire, where many clothes of all prisoners in the room were hung tightly because they couldn’t go out to hang washed clothes outside. Thus the room that had a few windows and only one light seemed to be even darker, more humid, and smelly. The restroom, with a broken door, measured just 2x2 meters. Inside, there was a tub for showering water, and there were two toilets. (Of course, both of them were squat toilets; there were no flush toilets.) I was told that one of the toilets was full, and could be used for pee only. Light in the restroom was out of order. They said this failure just happened last week. But it remained out of order during the entire duration of my stay in this room.

Later in the afternoon, some prisoners started looking for coffee to drink. They had 3 old water vacuum flasks. The hot water and coffee was mixed in a plastic glass by using that plastic bag as a spoon for stirring. I still felt hungry. Tuan told me to wait for a while. “At 8 AM we will have food. There is good food here, unlike other rooms” he said. However, when it was 8 AM, there was still nothing to eat. One prisoner took out a big old bag of pure sticky rice. Many prisoners came to eat. I asked them for a little of the rice. It was quite rancid. However, that was much better than having nothing at all for my crying stomach.

9:30 AM
A policeman came to the door, and brought me out for meeting with some authorities. At first, I was quite happy and thought that I would be allowed to leave the jail. I sat in a room. There were two high-ranking policemen in the room. It was better that they let mesit on a chair this time. They told me that they called me to let me go. Wow, I was energetic. I talked with them cheerfully. They asked me about all details of my activities before getting caught, and noted down to record my information, slowly as usual. This was the third time that I was asked with repetitive questions in order to record my story. The questions were the same as before: where do live? Which village, which town, which city? What is your job? Where did you graduate from? Etc. This is the first time that I told them I got a master’s degree from USA. However, I did not tell them that I used to be a candidate for Bangkok governor election, because I did not think that would help the situation. They talked as if they were about to let me go. I tried to emphasize to them that the last bus left at 3:30 PM.

Then the same policeman took me back to the jail. It was the time that the prisoners were having breakfast. I joined them. There were sticky rice and some little food, not sufficient for filling full. But that was not a problem for me. I did not want to be full anyway, coz I was afraid I would get problem about the excretory system.

After finished that late breakfast for a short while, some prisoners told me that “It is time for a two-hour lunch break for police officers. They will start working again at 2 PM”. After 2 PM, I waited with a strong hope that they would release me. Until 3:30 PM, dinner was brought to the room. (Yes, this is the last meal of the day.) I finished the dinner with other prisoners then continued waiting. I thought to myself that even though I could not reach the 3:30-PM tour bus from Pakse to Ubonratchathani, there might be other buses that could take me to Chong Mek, and from there I could find other vehicles to Ubon. Once, when a policeman came for a prisoner in my room, I raised my hands to pay a respect to him and said “Please, sir. Please let me leave today. My dad and mum are waiting for me”. But he told me “My duty is just putting you in the jail, not releasing you” .. (Another police before that said “Your turn is tomorrow”. But tomorrow was Saturday. Other prisoners told me that it was holiday. Relatives cannot even visit to bring things to prisoners on Saturday and Sunday.)

I waited until 4 PM, then 5 PM, nobody came to call for me. The feeling of excitement of experiencing the real jail had turned into anxiety. However, when the office hour was over, I started to admit it. I changed the plan in my mind. If I could really get out of the jail tomorrow (as the police said), I would still arrive home before the due date. Or if I leave the jail on Monday, I would call my dad and mum right after being released, and tell them not to worry. I might also call the girl whom I intended to ask for her hand in marriage, for another chance, if I fail to find anyone in this trip. There were also some advantages I started to see from this experience: I could learn about Laotian jail and Laotian people without spending money. Thinking like this made me feel a little more relaxed.

That night, I tried to find a chance to defecate. I got up at 2AM, drank a full bottle of water then went to the open-door toilet. Success, yeah! (It was really difficult to find a chance to go to toilet. Both daytime and nighttime, it seems like someone is using the toilet all day. Especially during the daytime of today, tap water did not come. Anyone who wanted to use the restroom had to use one’s mouth to suck water from the valve. That made using the restroom became even more difficult. “Tap water here is like this every day”, a prisoner said.)

Saturday 12 May 2012
Got up in the morning, I wished this was just a dream. I wanted to think that this was just a room in a house with barred windows and a closed door; a room that I can just open the door to see the open field and run around. But the fact is that this was a jail .. a jail with so many rules. Loud speaking, singing, or farting are all prohibited. Even snoring, you cannot snore loudly. Otherwise the guard prisoner in operation would wake you up. There was also a limited space in the room. I could hardly find a place to sit. Anywhere seemed to be occupied with those who were working on the fishing nets. Wherever I sat, I was told to move over there then over there. Oh, so pitiful. A man who cherishes freedom most now his freedom was constrained at the highest level.

Today was the day I got to know many more prisoner friends. The oldest one was about 50 years old, and the youngest was 14. Yes, he was just a little boy, who was caught with a claim of stealing some electric wire. The boy said he was wrongly alleged by the village head. If he could get out he would burn the head's house, he joked. The boy has been in the prison for two weeks. I was told that at first he only stayed silent and cried. However, as I saw him then, he was quite cheerful. He also practiced hard on fishing net making. He was really an impressive boy. To my surprise, there was also a gay in this room. He (she) was not a normal gay. Her breasts had undergone surgery. Her name, if I am not mistaken, was Surin. Her action was so much like a woman that made me feel afraid that if I stayed in this jail for a long time I might see him beautiful. Oh no! Surin, as well as many other prisoners in this room (also Tuan) belonged to rich families. Their parents treated them very well, so well that they had time and money to try and addicted to narcotic drug. Then their parents could not withstand their kids' behaviors, so they asked police to catch and jail their kids. I was very surprised for how the parents could let their kids be under this condition for a long time, for how the kids could put up with this condition. Tuan told me that this was just a temporary retaining place, not a real jail. The real jail was at the inner jail, he said. 'Oh! If this jail is considered comfortable, then how the real difficult jail be. There was a kind and talkative prisoner. His name was Moo. Moo always called me Pee Gohh to show respect for my older age. Moo graduated with a bachelor's degree in law. He was jailed with a civil lawsuit because of having no money to pay for the debt. I knew a lot of things about Laos and the prison because of Moo. Moo said that it was so crowded and extremely hot in the Inner Jail. Prisoners there slept without space from the adjacent persons. Elbow touched elbow. I still doubted and thought he was over exaggerating.

In Room 5 there was one serious criminal prisoner who got in here not so long before me. His name was Boon. Boon highly cherished Thailand and always blamed Laos. His symbolic sentence was "so difficult living". Boon had been in several jails before this, both in Laos and Thailand. He concluded that this Champasak prison is the cruelest prison in the world. The situation was so bad for him because he had a motorcycle accident before he was caught. His face then was almost filled with stitches and wounds. The police caught him while he was in a hospital. Many stitches on his face were still waiting to be removed. That made him lived with a very pitiful appearance. Moreover, whenever Boon tried to talk to me, he was stopped. The leader of the room prohibited us from talking to each other because he feared that we would set a hidden plan.

Sompong is another interesting prisoner. His head and stomach had undergone surgeries. On Friday, he cried and begged to be released. He looked as if about to die. I tried to help taking care of him because no one seemed to care much. However, in the evening, after having realized that there were no chances to be released, he stopped crying. He could join having noodle soup with others. Thus he was mocked that his stomach know when it should feel hurt!

Besides Moo, other young and nice prisoners were Meeh, Suea, Tao, and another naughty-looking boy. He was actually really nice. After realizing that I used that little pillow for sleeping, he hurried to find a new pillow for me. However, the friend that I liked most was Tord. Tord is 30 years old, jailed because his boss claimed that Tord stole his truck. But the fact was that the boss asked him to repair the truck. Thus he took the truck to his home, disassembled its parts, and waited for a new part. The truck was there, but he was alleged unfairly by his previously good boss. Looked superficially, Tord seemed like a harsh guy due to his beard and still face. However, when smiling, Tord smiled openly, and he joked sometimes. I could sense sincerity from him. Tord had a wife, and they often had sweet time having dinner outside. Being in the jail, Tord missed his wife most. He argued with me that missing one's wife is more suffering than missing parents. Tord was sent to this room without being locked. The police said he would be left here for two days. But he had been jailed for two weeks already.

My point here is to let u know that many prisoners are not bad people. Prisoners committed different crimes. Some of them do not deserve to be jailed. Most of the prisoners I met were nice and kind and had a good will, but they were jailed without being cared for their health. Their dignity was spoiled. When speaking with policemen they had to call them 'sir' as if they were slave of them.

Today was a holiday, when relatives could not leave food for prisoners. Thus there was so little food. According to the jail's rule, food was given two times: 10:30 and 15:30. Food from the jail as given to all prisoners in this room was a big bag of sticky rice (about 3 kg) and two little bags of soup or paste. This amount of food was really insufficient for 20 prisoners. Thus people in this room had to cook mama and canned fish to eat once more at around 7pm so that they wouldn't have to sleep with hunger. After having little food at 3:30 pm I also felt hungry like others. anyway, due to limited amount, I had only a spoon of mama soup before going to bed at about 8:30 pm. (due to limited spoons, I also had to share a spoon like many other prisoners.)

Sunday 13 May 2012
Living in the jail, I had to adjust many of my healthcare activities that I always do routinely. For example, I brushed my teeth no more than 2 times a day, instead of 5 times as usual (after getting up, before going to bed, and after each of all 3 meals). I couldn't use dental floss either. I took a shower briefly and not more than twice a day. I drank only little water so that I wouldn't have to use the restroom often (i then used the toilet for only about twice a day, while I would pee for about 20 times in general at home. In terms of taking a stool, I also did only in some days, not every day and many times a day as usual. I did not exercise either, because I was afraid that the food in my stomach would run out and I would be too hungry. My clothes could not be washed because I had only one set. (I managed to wash my underwear sometimes though). I slept without wearing a shirt and without blanket covering, which I rarely did. I accepted to eat instant noodle soup and coffee that my prisoner friends gave to me in order to relieve my hunger pains.

Today I asked people to teach me how to make a fishing net. Many friends tried to teach me, but then gave up due to my stupidity. Finally, Mr. Boon could not tolerate watching. He jumped in to teach me on how to do it. I then figured out the trick of fishing net making because of Boon. That means Boon knew how to make fishing nets, but he did not help others make them. This may be a reason for Boon being rejected by others. Boon had many good thoughts, but he also had some thoughts of thieves. For example, he thought that stealing things from very rich people was not wrong. Boon felt sad for making the mistake of letting policemen find him in the hospital, but not for committing the stealing. Boon thought it was fair for him to steal others' motorcycles because many of his bikes were stolen as well.

In the middle of tonight, the head of the room shouted for the night guard to check Boon in the toilet after noticing that he went inside for quite a long time. Everyone was awake. Boon was accused of committing suicide since he brought two towels with him. When he came out of the toilet he was blamed a lot from the head and many member in the room before everyone could resume sleeping.

I forgot to tell u that the head of the room got quite much privilege. He had a soft mat to sleep on; he and his close friends were protected inside mosquito nets; and he got Surin, the female man, sleeping beside him. Most of the other prisoners had only simple mats to share while sleeping, without sufficient space to hang mosquito nets. (That mean we helped sharing blood for mosquitoes.) Hmm, there is inequality even in the prison.

Monday 14 May 2012
This morning, the room’s head reported to the control police about the event last night. The result was that Boon was sent to the ‘Inner Jail’.

The little boy got up and groaned “Yak Mua De” (I really wanna go home) repeatedly. Then, in the afternoon, he was released: the boy could really go home. People wished good luck for him and told him that “Do not come back here again.”

I got up with hope and a touching feeling. This was the first day in about a year that I cried. My tear had dropped since a few minutes after getting up. I was worried about my parents, who might be waiting for my return as stated in the letter. (Lucky that I wrote that I might go back on 13th or 14th, but I really intended to arrive home within the night of 13th May.) .. Then, my hope seemed to be true. About 9:30 AM, I was called to be investigated again. This time I had to sit on the floor. Two persons were the investigators, but only one of them asked questions and recorded my responses. The questions were still the same as before. While asking me, that person also smoked. [I really wanted to ask him .. ‘Between your smoking that had me inhaled some smoking and poisonous smoke and private narcotic consumption of some prisoners, which action is more wrong.’] This time, there were some additional questions that gave me more hope. “What is your home number, your parents’ numbers, your sisters’ numbers? What are the names of them as saved in the mobile phone. I thought that they would call to check whether these numbers belong really to my parents and sisters; and if that was true, they would release me right then. I asked them again whether I would be released today. They said that it was possible if they could get the work done today. The last sentence when we talked about parents made my tear drop before those two investigators. When they asked me to take a photo, I was still teary. And the tears continued until walking back to the front door of “Room 5”. I thought to myself ‘How are you gonna talk with my parents and let them accept that their son is jailed?’

However, that day, waited until the evening, there was no sign of my being released. My feeling started to change: from the feeling of being touched to the feeling of angry. It was too much. If today has passed that meant I could not arrive home on the time I told my parents. That means my parents would feel very worried about my absence. And what if my parents were told to come to get me here; and what if they got into an accident on the way? My happy family would be broken. I felt so angry at these persons. I made an intention in myself that if I got released tomorrow I would have no more smile for these people (police) in order to show them that what they did to me was really too much.

Tuesday 15 May 2012
This morning, the room’s head was ordered to move to the ‘Inner Jail’. He tried hard to beg the policemen not to move him there. He said he would die from getting parasite for sure if living there, because his health was not good. However, his attempt resulted in failure. He really had to pack his stuff and moved to the Inner Jail. I was really surprised. Moo used to tell me that he was so rich and powerful that some policemen had to buy food for him.

Not so long after that, another surprise came. A policeman and two working prisoners came to call 5 more prisoners in our room to move to the Inner Jail. I was the last one of the five!! That’s true!! Instead of releasing me, they moved me to another jail that had even worse living conditions. (Tord was also one among the five prisoners. Oh! Poor Tord. The reason of this movement might be because there would be new prisoners moved into Room 5, which, in general, prisoners need to pay some money or know a big policeman to be able to stay in this room.)

I followed them from ‘Room 5’ to the ‘Inner Jail’, which was enclosed with a very tall fence. After the door was opened, I saw a big land yard inside. The yard was also used as a basketball court. Next to the yard, there was a facility for hanging washed clothes of all prisoners inside. There was also an open building for cooking, where many female prisoners were sitting and talking. On the other side, there was a building for wood carving work. Moreover, there were some big trees around the yard. That was fantastic. How come people said the Inner Jail was worse than Room 5. I later learned that only old-time prisoners were allowed to spend some hours being in this open area. For new prisoners like me, we need to be in the room most of the time, except only when having a meal that each group of prisoners would be called to eat at the porch in front of the room.

I was set to be in the Room Number 1. (As I saw, there were about 3-4 rooms altogether.) In Room Number 1, I was put to the Group 3 of the total of 6 groups in the room. This room was about 3 times bigger than ‘Room 5’ of the Outer Jail, but the number of prisoners here was over 5 times greater than that of the Room 5. (Room Number 1 had 155 prisoners in the night, when everyone had to be inside the room). Therefore, from the evening until the time to go to bed, this room was particularly hot due to high density of prisoners. Many prisoners had abscesses on their faces, heads, and bodies. Some of them told me that several prisoners died here from sickness due to the heat. They added that “living here, your human status is only 5%”.

Originally, I intended that tomorrow, my birthday, I would ignore the rules and walk outside and shout “Let me go. I did nothing wrong. Why jailing me?” I knew that, doing so would result in a severe punishment (by being tied with other rule-breaking prisoners that would prevent free movement), but I would admit it as to exchange with my free will. However, there was an unexpected event this night. The room’s head called me out to the spot where old-time prisoners were sitting. He and his friends inquired me very nicely. Then they encouraged me to sing a song for them. I then sang the song “Jai Bor Mak Dee” (A mistake heart) of “Mai Thai Jaitawan”. When I increased the voice to be very loud due to rhythm of the song, people broke away and told me to stop. It was really a funny and joyous moment. From this event, I then decided that I would not shout as I intended. (I also asked for permission in doing so with the room’s head. Of course, he did not allow.) Another reason for changing the idea was that I thought about my parents. My parents would be really worried if this action for satisfaction of mine resulted in a longer time of my stay in this prison. Thus I’d better not do so.

In addition, there was one guy among the big persons in the room came to talk with me personally while we were working on fishing net making. This man was a little fat. (That was quite strange because we had not much food here.) He asked about my story and told me his story. (He was jailed from being mistaken of printing illegal banknotes). He also showed a book having pictures of nice places in Laos, and invited me to visit his village. After the discussion, he also gave me a bar of soap and a toothbrush. Maybe also because of his order, I was arranged to sleep on the wooden second floor of the room. (Please see Fig. 4 for the room diagram.) Otherwise I would have to slide my body to sleep underneath the wooden beds like many other prisoners. That would be very horrible and damn hot. Some prisoners had to sleep on the floor space that was left for walking, and were crossed over by prisoners who got up to go to the toilet. In conclusion, the room in the sleeping time was filled with prisoners everywhere. The floor surface and the bed surface seemed to have no open space without human bodies. Prisoners lay down everywhere, inside the room until the door and until the toilet’s door. I had to be very careful not to step on someone’s head while walking to the toilet in the night. The second floor where I slept was divided into several blocks. Each block was about 2x2 meters, which accommodate 5 prisoners within that. What Moo told me was really true! “Elbow to elbow”. I simply could not move at all while sleeping. Even worse, one of the guys who slept by my side changed his position at night. This guy, whose body was even bigger than me, turned his head to the other side. That mean his feet were pointed toward me. It was very disgusting when he scratched his abscesses on his legs, which were next to my upper body. This guy was really strange. Sometimes he slept at a perpendicular direction to my body. That made me had to bend my knees while sleeping. Otherwise my long legs would push him to fall down the 2-meter high floor. Lucky that the other side of mine was a small prisoner who always kept things clean. He had a small piece of damp cloth to wipe our sleeping floor before going to bed. My whole body was sweating all night in this first night in this room.

Today was the dateline date that I had to send a translation job to one customer. So bad, I could not do anything, neither work nor inform her.

Figure 3. Overview of the Inner Jail

Figure 4. Inside the Room Number 1 of the Inner Jail

Wednesday 16 May 2012
Today was my birthday. It was the birthday that I had to sing the song ‘Happy Birthday’ silently alone for myself in the jail. It was the birthday that I had no parties with family members or anyone. This day, my mind was filled with worry about the feelings of my parents: how would they be wondering about my situation?; how are they doing?; had anything bad happened to them? It was the birthday that I cried for a thousand times. Whatever songs that I sang softly to myself, my tear would run along with the song.

Food in this jail is really limited. We were given food two times a day. And those were two only meals in a day. Unlike in Room 5, no extra self-setting meals beside these. In each meal, a prisoner was given a piece of sticky rice at a size of a fist. Sometimes, food to eat with the sticky rice was just some paste. The amount did not match number of prisoners in the group sitting together around the dish of food. Most times the food would run out before we finished the sticky rice. The food hardly contained vegetables. There might be some little pieces of onion leaves in paste or soup; and none of them would be left in the dish. (When talked with the room’s head the day before, he teased me that you might need to use sticky rice as a birthday cake!)

That night, while sleeping I felt sharply hot at some spots around my forehead. ‘Is this a sign of abscess development?’ The room was also really hot at night. It was so hot that I was afraid that I might have a sudden unexpected nocturnal death syndrome (SUNDS).

I got up at night. I tried to go to toilet. After making a hard attempt, the stool still hadn’t come out. So bad. But even worse, when I peed after that, I could release only some little amount of it. This was really bad. I then complained my situation to one of the prisoner guards in charge who stayed in front of the restroom. (They were called ‘soldier guards’.) Instead of showing sympathy, he asked me back “Do you know a solution to make the dick bigger?” Oh! I had no words to say. ‘In such this condition, you still think about that thing?’ I believe if I lived here longer than one month I would have a sexual dysfunction for sure.

Taking a shower is one big problem here. It was good that this jail set exact times for taking shower, which were around 7 AM and around 7 PM. However, the problems were scarcity of water and excessive number of prisoners. We had to wait in a long and confusing line for taking a shower. When taking a shower, each prisoner was allowed to have only 4 bowls of water on average (depended on the flow of tap water in the day). There was one night that I took shower with later groups of prisoners, the big bath had only few water left at the bottom. The guard said each person was given only two bowls. But the fact was that I could scoop the water, contaminated with some sediment, for only half the bowl. I mixed my soap with the water and put my only shirt in the bowl, then wipe my whole body with the shirt. Of course, some soap would remain in my body. But I just wished it could help prevent some skin diseases.

While being jailed, I still tried to hold on the dharma principles of “Always satisfied .. Do good all the time” and “Love the whole earth .. Love all human beings”. These principles were quite much contributive for my adjustment to a jailed life. They helped me understood that ‘the world (the nature) and all human beings still deserve being loved; only some of their actions and knowledge that need to be corrected’.

Thursday 17 May 2012
Because of the difficult pee last night, today I got up and tried to drink really much water. I would care no more if it was tap water. Oh, I was also lucky to be loved by a 48-year-old life-sentence prisoner who gave me some bottles of boiled water. His origin was Vietnam, but he could speak Thai, and he was really kind to me. This room also had some female men (gays), but none of them had breast surgery. One of them was ‘Pui’. Pui was about only 24 year old, but his thought was adult enough. He (she) could make his mind to be satisfied with the condition in the jail and the decision of his parents for calling police to catch her because of over-consumption of narcotic drugs and too much partying. Another interesting prisoner was a 22-year-old boy who was accused of raping his girlfriend. The fact was that he had been living with the girlfriend for some time, and the girlfriend’s parents request for a wedding fee of 60,000 baht, which was too much for his family to afford. Thus he had to admit to be jailed so that he would be fined with a lower amount of money. This boy was a polite and good one. I think his imprisonment was unreasonable. The girlfriend’s parents might not know how hard to live in the jail. The boy told me that he could not defecate for 10 days already. (Hmm, maybe he was the owner of the fart that made the fishing-net-making group dispersed the other day. ;-) ) The case of my fat friend (the kind big man in the room) was also too much in my opinion. He just printed out fake banknotes on A4 paper to play with his friend, who used that banknote and cited him as the creator. He got a 5-year imprisonment, and had to leave his wife and his newborn baby.

There were about 3 prisoners who could speak some English and tried to speak English with me. It was unfortunate that this prison had no occupation trainings. There were not even books to read. (The only book I saw in the jail was the one of the fat friend.) Then, one day during my stay in Room Number 1, there was a meeting at nighttime held by a head policeman. He announced that there would be a program to promote occupations for prisoners. Then he let prisoners choose their favorite occupation for their training. Those occupations included agriculture, mechanic, livestock farming, etc. One prisoner asked whether there was a choice of “making fishing nets”. Everyone laughed. When the officer really collected their opinions, no one raised their hands to support “making fishing nets”.

This morning, there was a visit of a human right group in order to check living conditions of prisoners in Champasak prison. Big men of the room told us to hind all fishing nets and arrange stuff in the room so that the room looked spacious. I just knew from a prisoner that having prisoners work on fishing nets was illegal. However, the authority of this prison still had prisoners do so in order to sell the nets and get money for themselves. Making fishing nets may have some benefits such as giving knowledge of net making, practicing meditation, and relieving lonesome feeling of prisoners. However, there are some detrimental effects. Since prisoners had to sit down together to do this group-work in a limited space for a lengthy period and in a low-light and extremely hot condition, they can have back pain, lose their vision, and get abscesses.

Figure 5. An illustration of a group of prisoners working on making a fishing net

Due to the severe heat in the jail, fans (or what prisoners called “Wee”) were very important. However, it seemed like relatives of prisoners did not realize this. I had not seen any commercial fans in the jails. All fans were hand-made by prisoners themselves. To make a fan, they would cut a plastic water bottle and sewed it to fix to a bamboo stick. Each fan had name of the owner written or carved on it.

About 5 PM, some big men called me to take a package of necessities (such as soap, toothpaste, powder, milk, noodles, etc.) that was sent to me from someone. We did not know who gave it, because no other name was written except mine. Maybe that was from the Thai Consulate in Kwaeng Savannakhet. I was very very very happy. My tear dropped again, but this time it dropped with pleasure and a hopeful feeling. I thought that my parents might have arrived here, or at least they must have known about my situation. (Until now, I still did not know the owner of the package. But, please the sender knows that your package is extremely and gratefully appreciated.) Some cookies, milk, and powder were shared with other prisoners in the room. The rest was kept for my future use by my fat friend.

In the night, the big head of prisoners called me out to sit down at the same spot I sang the song the other night. He inquired me with the same questions that I had answered for 5 times already, and noted down my details. This time the atmosphere was very friendly.

At night, I tried to defecate one more time. Success! This might be because I drank much water and got a special meal of fried vegetables from my fat friend. I really could survive because of kindness of prisoner friends.

Friday 18 May 2012
The Independence Day

Around 9 AM, I was called to go outside of the Inner Jail. I was very happy at first; thought that I would have been released. But the fact was that they called me, and about 5 prisoners more from Room Number 1, to have a urine test for narcotic drugs. The police who conducted the test was quite a nice guy. He showed us the tool, explained things, and revealed the results transparently. Since I never had taken narcotic drugs even once in my life, I had no worry with this test at all.

Back to the jail, I complained with my friends about my disappointment. I thought that they would release me. But, not so long after that, I heard a heavenly voice saying “The Thai guy. Pack your stuff. Go home. Hurry up.” I was so hasty that my head hit with a wooden bar, which was normally used for working on fishing nets. It was quite unfortunate that I forgot the little net that I thought I would keep as a souvenir. (Making a net requires 3 elements: nylon, Jeem, and Parn.) Once being outside the room, I raised both hands and showed a victory sign. I then gave some kiss signs to female prisoners who were watching situations at the cooking area.

Stepped out of the fence of the Inner Jail, a Laotian female officer was waiting for me and took me to another office building. I was inquired for my parents’ names there. She noted the names on the paper. It seemed like all data here were recorded on paper; no computer. That was why every process was so slow.

Figure 6. An overall image of Kwaeng Champasak Prison as a whole

Then I found that the guy who inquired me last Monday was the person who came to receive me out of the prison. (He was the one that smoked cigarette while inquiring me.) He took me to another room. There I met with another officer, who looked around 40 years old like me. That officer read a document to me and explained that I was arrested because I really committed an illegal activity. However, since the Laotian government realized that that was the first act without knowledge, the government decided to release me. (But I still feel like that was an excuse in order to prevent me from being angry due to the tough imprisonment. Actually I did nothing wrong. It was them that did the wrong thing of jailing me.) Then he said all of my stuff would be returned to me except only communication devices due to the ‘regulations’. (That was also an excuse. I think they would actually take my 2 mobile phones, 4 memory sticks, and 2 SD cards to use for themselves. Otherwise they would not keep two chargers for the mobile phones as well. So bad men!) I was given back only 2 SIM cards. Though using different words, but their words sounded like “We can return you only these. Are you happy? If you are not happy just go back to the jail.” I could only accept that, because I was afraid that I would not get a chance to go back home. (Lucky that I did not carry a computer with me in this trip.) Not so long after that, I got my bag, shoes, and socks, said goodbye to police cheerfully and told them not to be so cruel, then got on the pickup car (Toyota Vego model) with the two officers.

There was an important thing that they emphasized to me both in the room and in the car heading to Chong Mek checkpoint. They told me not to tell anyone about anything I saw in the prison. I simply said “Yes, sir.” But, I was laughing in my mind: ‘the whole world will absolutely know about this’. I admit here that I break the promise I gave to him for telling story about the prison. Actually I rarely break my promise. But this time, I have to. Publishing this story on the internet is not only for myself, but also for friends and brothers in the prison who live with difficulties. (Hope this story can contribute to prisoners in other places around the world who receive unfair punishment and cruel treatment.)

On the way to Chong Mek, my dad called to the smoking officer. I got a chance to speak shortly with my dad. He said he was already at Chong Mek, waiting for me. I intended to pay a respect to my parents’ feet when meeting them.

I asked the two men whether there was any fee. They said there was a ‘regulation’ about this, and they had talked with my parents already, I need not be worried.

At Chong Mek, while they were going to an office, I asked to go to the toilet for a pee. After getting out of the toilet, I accidently met my parents. I got a chance to pay a respect at their feet (but not so fully). My tear dropped. However, we couldn’t celebrate then since we still need to follow the two officers.

The two officers told us to wait in the guestroom of the Laotian Immigration Office. They said we needed to pay according to the ‘regulation’ here. The 40-year old man left the room, remained only the smoking man and us (my parents and me.) I was not sure for the reason of his leaving. Probably because he did not want to get involved with the payment or he needed to block other persons from outside to enter the room. My dad submit money of 2,000 baht to that smoking man, and said politely that “this is for your help”. I was quite shocked, coz the money was quite much. However, the smoking man was not satisfied with the amount. He hastily put the money in his pants’ pocket, and said “there is still a fee of 500 US dollars according to the regulation”. My father said “But you told me 500 baht”. That man insisted “No, it’s 500 US dollars”. I said “A prisoner told me the fee was just 4,000 baht”. He then changed his word “Hmm, it can range from 100 to 500 US dollars”. I said “OK, then we will pay 100 dollars or 4,000 baht.” My dad proposed “5,000, OK?” The man requested “Let’s make it a middle price of 7,000 baht”. I then said “You got 2,000 already, so we’ll pay only 5,000 more”. He accepted. My dad then gave him 5,000. He suddenly put the money in the pocket again. Oh! Fuck it. What ‘regulation’ is this? There’s no receipt? So bad! Our family was lured to pay for these corrupt people. (When entering the Laotian side, my dad and mum also had to pay 200 baht for the corrupt dark little officer like me.) My stupidity. I actually had no need to bargain with him. I should not have paid even one baht. I should have even scold him back.

I then realized that I was very stupid. How come, being tortured that much and I was still a fool. I just came to understand that the word ‘regulation’ in Laotian context may have a meaning of ‘corrupt regulation’ or ‘my own regulation’.

After that there was a big officer of Laos and an immigration officer of Thailand entered the room. They signed in the only 1-sheet document that I received. Here is it.

Figure 7. The statement of my imprisonment

After signing, we said goodbye to that two officers. My dad and mum thanked them and invited them to visit our house. I also thanked them. I could not imagine what would happen if they were later than this, and I had to stay in the jail until Monday. They had some goodness, but their badness was also quite much.

I walked back to the Thai side with the Thai immigration officer to do some more formal procedures at the Thai side. On the way I told him my story, and he said that was so bad.

While being in our pickup car back home (my dad was the driver), after talking I just knew that the smoking man just called my parents on Thursday night. On Wednesday night, which was my birthday, my parents and my sisters had dinner together without knowing my whereabouts. My dad could only send as SMS to my phone number and wished me a Happy Birthday. That damn man kept my phones and turned them on without taking any calls so that the caller thought that I did not want to answer the call. Moreover, when calling to my parents, he told them that I was kept in a restricted place, not a prison.

I would like to consider this imprisonment as a confinement by a group of thieves to ask for a ransom. This evil action started from using a police force with guns to control me, having me stay in the prison with only a set of clothes, giving me no chances to make any contacts with my relatives or anyone (except only prisoners), taking all my belongings and formal documents away to ensure that I would not escape, and calling my family to prepare for some money if they wanted me back. The man told my parents over the phone call that I was doing fine. Fuck it! You had never come to see my conditions in the jail. If I did not get help from the prisoners, I might have died.)

By revealing this story, I have no intention to hurt anyone or to make them get punishment back from their corrupt actions or unfair operations. I only want to protect my innocence for having a history of imprisonment unfairly. I only want to inform those who took part in putting me into the prison and general people so that they know how the ‘power’, the authority system, and the corrupt act cause bad consequences to me and to people in general in our society. This story is for changing our world to be better place for everyone. This event gave me an even clearer image of disadvantages of the ‘country-separation world’. With many governments in the world, some of them become dictatorship governments that oppress their people. Thus I must try harder to unify the world as soon as possible.

Kongjak  Jaidee   “Globe”
Written and publish in Thai on Saturday 19 May 2012
Published in English on Saturday 11 May 2013

Special thanks to “Kisstina” for proofing some parts of the English draft.

NB 1. Eating too little might be suffering. But eating too much is also harmful. (After arriving home, my parents and my sisters brought me a lot of food.)

NB 2. Knowledge from the imprisonment ==> Eating sticky rice is not the cause of hemorrhoid. (I usually have hemorrhoid, but not at all during this trip and during being in the prison. Therefore, the real cause might be overeating, particularly eating too much meat from big animals or winged animals.). We do not need to defecate everyday if we eat only a little in a day. Cleaning the body by wiping with damp cloth instead of taking a shower may be acceptable. Using damp cloth to wipe the body regularly can help relieving hotness. Hard fish bones can also be chewed and swallowed. Having only two meals a day (at 10 AM and 4 PM) might be better than 3 meals a day.

NB 3. In my opinion, I do not agree with the imprisonment punishment. Imprisonment would not make the prisoner know the bad effect that his victim and the society received from his criminal act. Punishment should be made in a way that the culprit be punished similar to his act but twice as hard. For example, if he hurt someone, he should be hurt twice heavier. Murdering should be punished with a life punishment that is twice more severe. Raping is considered hurting people psychologically, thus the culprit should be punished by having his mind hurt as well. Stealing should be punished by having to pay back twice the price of the stolen thing. And imprisonment should be used only with the culprit that confined other persons. Some illegal but reasonable actions should be reconsidered about their punishments. Wearing no helmet should not be punished. Consuming drugs should not be punished either. The society should help teach social members about effects of drugs and educate people about a proper amount of drugs for consumption. Please do not forget that alcoholic drinks are also harmful, but most people know the limit. There should also be an online database system that records and updates all illegal acts of everyone.