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Thaivisa’s Poster of the Year “Colinneil” has lived a roller-coaster of a life in Thailand. But despite the occasional ups and devastating downs this 71 year old man from northern England who has made his home in Thailand is positive and upbeat about the future.
There have been plenty of knocks; a first Thai wife took him for most everything he had and had him jailed when she had stabbed HIM; a life changing motorcycle accident without compensation led to an existence condemned to sitting in a wheelchair and winching himself into bed. A shocking murder of a fellow invalid nearby led to him getting a dog and CCTV all over his house as he was in fear of his life.
But there have been positives too; he married the love of his life, a former Thai teacher who is his sole carer. And he has become “the only farang in the village” helped by neighbors and people in the local shops who recognize him as something of a local celebrity.
Now paraplegic – unable to feel anything from the waist down and needing a catheter – he is still smiling. While physically unable to ever get on his feet again this likable man is very much, if figuratively, still standing in Thailand!
Colin, from Preston in Lancashire, was a popular choice for Poster of the Year in Thaivisa’s annual competition in 2018. He had finished second the previous year but his forthright and honest posts, saying it like it is and laced with his trademark humor saw him romp home in the poll.
A Thaivisa reporter caught up with Colin on Friday at his house in a small village about 45 kilometers south of Khon Kaen that is home to about 300 Thais and one Westerner – him! Wheeling himself out to greet our reporter and operating his gate by remote control he apologized for not wearing a shirt because he finds it agony to get fully dressed. Then remarking on the electronic sliding gate he quipped:
“It’s to keep the relatives out.” He wasn’t joking. In broad northern English tones he refers to them not as his “in-laws” but his “outlaws”.
“All five of them have been caught on my CCTV robbing from me,” he said. “And my dog Dopey has been poisoned twice. The last time I had to feed her salt water to spew up the poison”. He doesn’t know who poisoned the dog.
Colin’s Thai experiences began after the death of his first wife in England in 1996. He was plunged into abject depression and withdrew from the companionship of friends. He didn’t care much for doing his job as a contractor, landscaper and dry stone wall specialist, one of few qualified in such work in the UK at the time.
But a friend one day told him to stop moping and invited him to a local pub. There Colin was in for a massive surprise. His mate had bought him a ticket for Thailand and they were on their way to a place called Pattaya. The friend had lifted Colin’s credit card while he was in the shower and used Colin’s money to buy the ticket.
Shocked at first he soon warmed to the plan and once in Pattaya Colin saw that this was the first of many life changing moments that would happen to him in Thailand. Colin was off the leash and left his depression behind him.
“My first wife was my whole life,” he said. “But now there was no looking back”.
A Thai bar owner in Pattaya advised him only to take ladies from his own bar as they wouldn’t drug him or rob him. This was news to Colin. One morning he found himself awake sandwiched between two women. “I was paralytic the night before but they ensured I didn’t come to any harm!”, he said smiling.
On another occasion he sauntered home arm in arm with EIGHT ladies though he asked us to believe that he didn’t manage to do anything naughty with them except take a shower. The whole experience and the bar bill set him back more than 10,000 baht.
Colin loved Pattaya and over the next few years he worked on and off in England so that he could make many trips to Thailand.
But finding a more stable and long lasting relationship had so far proved elusive. All that was to change – and some – when he went to a place called Prakhon Chai a neighborhood of Buriram in Thailand’s north east.
Not knowing where to stay he had inquired about hotels to a stranger who said there were only short-time resorts in the town. Not wanting that the stranger then suggested Colin come to stay in their home.
He was there for three weeks!
While staying in the house he was introduced to a seemingly respectable lady who worked for the local “tetsaban” or municipal council. It was only five years later that he discovered that this woman had a string of past Thai husbands and was a complete nightmare. The family were clearly trying to palm her and her child from a previous relationship off on a foreigner.
He was happy when he met her though he blamed himself for being a “silly bugger” and not delving into her past before he started sending her 20,000 baht a month from England then bought her a car and a house for more than a million baht. They married and all seemed set fair and he decided he had to live with her in Thailand.
Then after a statement came from a bank he had never heard of he discovered that his wife had got 250,000 baht using the car as security. The car was in her name.
On coming home he confronted her with the bank evidence in the kitchen.
“She grabbed a knife and stabbed me in the side of the abdomen,” he said. “She was crazy and completely turned on me. Defending myself I shoved her hard and she fell into a wall”.
Colin was astounded when he was arrested and charged with assault. He believed that his wife had paid the cops 20,000 baht for the trumped up charges. He claimed that the chief of police in the town said that if he paid 50,000 baht he could make the case disappear.
Colin, feeling he was innocent, was not having that and was promptly thrown in the police cells for two days then contrary to regulations detailed in a jail for another two days before a court appearance.
A Thaivisa friend stumped up 40,000 baht for bail. “That’s a true friend,” said Colin.
In the meantime his wife had told police she had three witnesses to say that Colin had attacked her. But a clerk at the court told him that the judge didn’t believe that for one minute. He was told that if he pleaded guilty his plea would be accepted and he would be fined just 1,000 baht and be allowed to go.
At first Colin was reticent but with a friend urging him on decided to go ahead with the plan. Then the judge walked into the court. “It was a woman,” said Colin. “I thought that’s it, I’m going to be in trouble here”.
But all went to plan and he was release and fined just 1,000 baht and even received 800 baht back- 200 baht per day for his incarceration in the police cells and jail.
Colin had money but he was allegedly warned that if he showed his face in Prakhon Chai again, or went to try and get his Thai ATM card there, he would be murdered. He borrowed 10,000 baht to change the date of his return air ticket to the UK and got out of Thailand.
But the lure of Thailand was still calling and he felt that a dating site online would be his best bet to meet Mrs Right. On the forerunner of Thai Friendly he soon had well over 100 Thai ladies wanting to get to know him. He ruled out the ones who were willing to send him naked pictures and concentrated on one lady who seemed promising.
When he saw another hand on the computer camera doing the typing he ditched that one. He was becoming a bit more street-wise about Thailand.
Soon a lady who said she was a 41 year old virgin and a teacher caught his interest. Chat eventually turned into a meeting in Thailand. But there was no hanky-panky – the lady insisted on separate bedrooms at her sister’s house and that they would go nowhere near her father.
He once left her 70,000 baht and a bank card and pin number. When he came back to Thailand she had not touched a single baht. He was now sure that this was the right lady for him and was in a way delighted when he heard that his first wife had used her connections at the district office and divorced him without his knowledge. She had kept everything for herself and even tried an attempt to blackmail him.
“We printed and kept the email,” he said. “In case it comes in handy in the future”.
In 2011 he married the woman who has become the Thai love of his life, his best friend and subsequently his carer. He asked for her name not to be used – she is now 50 and is the director of a local primary school.
While in England he had communicated with her via computer video. She showed him the house she had built for him on a plot of land near her father and siblings in the village where they now live.
“It was supposed to be five kilometers away from the relatives but their place is right there,” he said pointing just down the street. “But I understood that she wanted to be near her folks and she was paying for it so I went along with it all”.
When he came back to Thailand and they married he finished much of the work on the house and put money into the finishing touches himself as he was a great handyman. Nearly two years of marital bliss followed though he never liked the relatives who he felt were after his money and possessions and considered everything he had as theirs.
But the bliss was about to end abruptly. While out on his motorcycle travelling in the left hand hard shoulder with a gas tanker on his right, a pick-up was heading straight for him coming in the wrong direction. He tried to move into the narrow gap that soon closed. He was hit by the pick-up.
That was in October and it was two months later in December before he came round in hospital. In total he was in hospital for seven months and the bill came to five million baht.
“I was dead,” said Colin. “They had to use the defibrillator on me. I wasn’t expected to live. I was later shown pictures of the relatives who had hired tents for my funeral in the village!”
Throughout his tortuous time in hospital his wife was always by his side. “She slept under the bed,” said Colin, “then would drive back to her nice sister’s house to shower and go to work. After work she would shower again and come back to the hospital for the night. She did this for seven months without fail”.
Financially there was a silver lining, however. Due to the fact that his wife was a civil servant he qualified to be treated on her insurance. He only paid 40,000 baht of the huge bill because he wanted an upgrade to his room.
Finally Colin was allowed to go back home. But he was well aware that he would never have feeling in his lower body again and certainly would never walk. When he emerged from hospital he found that his relatives had been stealing from him.
In time a special bed was installed downstairs. He uses a winch to help him get into bed. At first he couldn’t even turn himself over and had developed a terrible bed sore, the scar of which haunts him to this day.
Initially a carer helped him in the day while his wife was at work but she left the employment. His wife became his sole carer often popping home from school in the lunch break to make sure that he had food and water.
Slowly Colin started to be able to do some things for himself but his wife always had to be there to clean him up, something that to this day he finds extremely galling but for which he is very thankful to his wife. A catheter takes care of urination.
“I have to drink a lot of water to try and stave off urinary tract infections,” he said adding that he currently had such a problem. Once he was bitten all over his legs by ants – but could not feel a thing.
As things slowly settled down, with the couple counting their blessings despite the daily difficulties, came a very unsettling event.
A man suffering from polio was murdered just a stone’s throw from their house in June last year. The murderer was soon caught though no one knows what happened to him. It was a pointless death over some five baht noodles but served to make Colin and his wife terrified of what might happen in their home.
CCTV was installed and Colin showed proudly how the reporter’s every move was caught on camera before and during his visit. He can see the monitor from his bed when he is reading or posting on Thaivisa.
Then his wife bought him a little puppy. Dopey is now one of the first lines of defense against possible intruders. When Colin hears the neighborhood mutts barking as well, he knows there is someone up to no good nearby.
The last few years have been made far more bearable after Colin managed to purchase a disability scooter with the help of old Thaivisa friends. An octogenarian in Pattaya had ordered one from the States but died before it arrived. Colin agreed to buy it for 45,000 baht and now uses it for his weekly trips to the local Big C.
This has meant a chance for greater independence though getting on and off the scooter is quite a difficult operation. Colin has absolutely no sense of balance but he can ride his electric machine to the shops and with the help of staff he can access all the things he needs at the store.
There have been some funny moments. He was initially barred from Big C as the security guards had never seen a disability scooter.
“They thought some mad farang was driving a motorbike into the store,” said Colin. Now there are several such scooters driven around the town of Ban Phai where Colin goes for regular check-ups and adjustments to his catheter.
Colin said he has no plans to go anywhere, certainly not abroad. He spoke of the “scaffolding” or titanium rods in his back joking that they would set off the alarms at the airport. He is happy to be living in the village with his lovely wife.
He has enough money to keep 800,000 baht in the bank for his visa. His UK pension is worth about 20,000 baht a month though before the pound dived after Brexit it was worth more like 30,000. He sympathized with friends who are seriously feeling the pinch.
Colin said that he had been on Thaivisa since 2007. He loves the banter and enjoys reading the news and commenting on it remarking on a story this week that spoke of “police transparency”. This made him laugh as the constabulary are not on his Christmas present list.
After the affair of the stabbing in Buriram, the motorcycle accident involved even more disgraceful police behavior according to Colin. He said that the driver of the pick-up was the head of the local council. He said that the police connived with him to say that Colin was the one going the wrong way and not the council chief. This meant no compensation.
“They even turned my flattened bike around and took pictures to make it look like I was going the wrong way,” he claimed.
The council chief and his family later moved out of the area to another part of Thailand.
Colin is now a serial poster on Thaivisa often garnering dozens of likes and reactions to his comments, suggestions and observations on Thai life. Despite the setbacks he remains very positive about life and is thrilled when friends pop in to visit him. One man comes every week to make sure he is OK and a delivery guy brings vital supplies like HP sauce and “proper bacon”!
Asked what he liked most about Thailand he said: “The people. The Thai people are on the whole just great”.
And about his disability and Thaivisa?
“I hope one or two of the trolls on the site will read this and see that I am not faking this disability. Look at my swollen feet, look at my useless legs.
“You tell me, am I faking?”
There was no need to answer that.