Although I’ve lived here for nearly a decade, I met the worst farang in Thailand mere months after arriving. As far as I know, he still lives somewhere in the hills of Issan, with a Thai wife and her parents. I was glad to see the back side of him when I booted him out of my life in 2010.
He’s English—from somewhere in the north. Pasty white skin, red hair, freckles. I don’t actually remember his name. I just remember what he called himself after he’d put away 6 or so beers. Anytime he made himself sufficiently drunk, he’d choose a moment at random to stand up on the table and shout “Look at me! I’m Stewart McKinley!” I learned later that Stewart McKinley was the most famous drinker in the small town where this fool had grown up, and in his mind to drink with abandon was something admirable, and to drink like Stewart McKinley was something to aspire to. And since he got drunk every single day, anyone within earshot was treated to this obnoxious announcement on a regular basis.
As a functioning human member of society, he was useless. He never kept his word, was constantly late or simply didn’t show up for stuff, and never said a single witty, intelligent, or relevant thing. He’d been a long-time employee of his town’s Tesco’s, and had saved for over 3 years to be able to come to Thailand for the first time. I met him because I was working for a fake NGO that attempted to find jobs for foreigners in Thailand, and we placed well-meaning do-gooders into teaching positions so they could get work permits and make their time last longer. We didn’t ask much in return—be responsible, plan lessons, show up to work on time and presentable. Old Stewart McKinley found that list of do’s offensive, and so didn’t bother. And even with the bar set as low as we set it, he couldn’t measure up. He couldn’t even teach the language he himself spoke, so low were his skills and IQ. The only thing he was good at was making a fool of himself while drunk. He stole other people’s clothes, urinated on the floor of the common area, and sang loud football hooligan songs while people were supposed to be sleeping…
The dorm where we all stayed had a Thai-style bath. That’s where a large container is filled with water, and you stand next to it and scoop out the water with a bowl and douse yourself with it. Even though everyone was told how to use the Thai bath, it didn’t stop Stewart from climbing into the container like it was his personal tub. He must’ve thought someone filled it for him and walked off.
The fridge was also communal, so to keep other people from drinking your beer, you simply had to apply a piece of tape with your name on it. Stewart became famous for walking around the front garden brazenly drinking from a beer with someone else’s name attached to it,
Right about the time the other staff and I were considering whether or not to kick him off the program, he made the decision for us. The number one rule we had was “don’t get drunk on a school night.” We didn’t say they couldn’t drink at all, but at minimum we didn’t want teachers showing up to class reeking of booze, hung over, or still intoxicated. And in order to ensure everyone got enough sleep, we typically had lights out at 23.00 and people were expected to be quiet and power down. What we didn’t find out until shit finally hit the fan was, unbeknownst to us, for several weeks Stewart was sneaking out in the middle of the night and walking down to the nearest bar to drink and rub elbows with the local Thais. And he probably could’ve gotten away with it a bit longer if he hadn’t decided to steal a motorbike.
The night before we said our goodbyes, Stewart snuck out per usual and caught a ride to the bar on the back of a random Thai guy’s motorbike. He drank there with his new friend until quite late. Then the well-meaning Thai guy offered to drive him back home. Stewart accepted, and climbed on. But after arriving back at our little compound, he discovered he was too drunk to scale the fence to get back in. Instead, he decided to steal the Thai guy’s motorbike while he was taking a leak. Stewart made it about 200 yards back toward the bar before crashing, whereupon he split his scrotum open and had to be rushed to the hospital.
I heard about it all the next morning. The poor Thai guy told me the whole sordid story. How he ran up to the crash and saw one of Stewart’s balls dangling out the bottom of his shorts. How Stewart began to scream, and kept on screaming all the way to the ER, and continued to scream as they sewed his ball bag back together, stopping occasionally to curse out the medical staff. Before he returned to us, we had packed his belongings and set them on the curb. Groggy from the pain meds and still covered in blood, Stewart meekly agreed to leave. I saw him a week later in Ao Nang. He was slumped over a table in a joint on Disappointment Street. A bar girl was wiping his arms with a wet towel. A month later, I heard through the grapevine that he’d decided to stay in Thailand. He married that bar girl and moved to the country to live with her and her family.
As far as I know, he’s still out there. Doing what, I don’t know. Every day I expect to see his photo in the Post with a story about how his girlfriend killed him in a drunken rage, or how his body turned up on the side of a road somewhere. Since meeting Stewart, I’ve run across a lot of intolerable farang, but nobody—I mean nobody—can hold a candle to him. He takes the crown.
If you’ve got a story that tops Stewart, leave it in the comments below. And follow me on Twitter for daily photos from red light districts @BankgokSeven