The contracts to commence work were signed in January of 2002 and an old house was demolished and removed.Then after breakfast we went to Tiger Kingdom. Sung Hyun had been interested in visiting the place ever since he had seen that Anne-Marie posted some tiger pictures on her site. Although I wasn't too excited to go I did enjoy myself as you can (kinda) tell from the photos below:
Foundations were dug and the footings were poured, our contractor and builder advised us that we didn't have to wait for building permits to commence but acting on legal advise we put a stop to all works awaiting council permits.
Several months passed and in July construction resumed, after several demands by the contractor to give more money we became suspicious that not enough work had been done for the amount paid, we got assessments done by Independent builders and found we were about 400 000 baht short, so a careful strategy to remove the contractor was put into place. (a rare experience where THAI SAVE FACE has worked to the advantage of the foreigner.
A new contract was drawn up with the builder and things progressed (at Thai pace) until just after the roof frame was erected, then the nightmare began.
The council closed the site down due to allegations of corruption. The claims against us had come from letters from someone within the close proximity of the building (If you know Thai people they are an extremely jealous race and they hate to see other people have something better than them especially a foreigner).
Their claims were that we got to build such at tall building within the old city because we bribed a council official to the sum of 1,000,000baht (no monies had passed under the table that is why we waited so long to obtain the permits because we refused to pay off anyone). Anyway this prompted a full investigation and it unearthed corruption within the council but not from this site and jobs were lost.
Work resumed after two very stressful weeks and letters kept coming this time of accusing the council official assigned to oversee our construction of receiving money from us.
One of these letters was signed "President of Battarn" a local elected community member but without a signature, so with the council official we confronted him on this matter and he claimed he knew nothing of this letter or of the allegations so the letter was ignored, the following day his wife appeared claiming she represented three people wishing to make problems for us and she could make it stop if we paid her a sum of money, after carefully thinking about our situation we agreed to a meeting with this woman and a video camera was set up in a pile of rubbish where reception is now.
Many questions were answered at that meeting and an exchange of money was captured on tape, the same afternoon she called asking for more and another meeting was arranged a [sic] the Shell gasoline station for the next day and of course the price increased.
We asked her to identify the three people and she refused so we told her that we were not prepared to give money to unknown people and to go away, she quickly threatened us that they would make problems for us so we revealed to her that if this does not stop now she was the one with the problem (the video evidence which carries a jail sentence).
Thinking that the problem was resolved we went about our business and a couple of days later another letter landed on the table of a high government office once again accusing the council of receiving money, this time his job was on line so we released a copy to him to clear his name. We then took a copy to the Monk at the local temple and invited her husband (the president of Battarn), to view the video, he did not stay long and left rather agitated, fifteen minutes later his wife was on the phone and threats began, a long day was had with people calling up, people coming around the site ect [sic] until a meeting with some family members and a screening of the video got us an appology [sic].
With tearful eyes one girl looked at us and said "that is my mother, I'm sorry". With that behind us we returned to find our builder had run away so we carried on alone employing workers and sleeping little until we got the chance to open on the 23rd day of March 2003.
THAILAND IS A NICE PLACE FOR A HOLIDAY!
Then in the afternoon I went to some nearby temples with another lady from our trekking group. The boys stayed behind for some rest. Here is my mumble jumbled temple photos: