Peace Corps
Thai 27
1969
 
 
 
Hugh Leong and family
Hugh in Seattle
Pukin in Chieng Mai
After my Peace Corps extension I left Thailand in 1972. I arrived in New York with $40 in my pocket and a new wife who didn’t speak a word of English. Pikun was a teacher at the same school as I. I worked for 4 years as a psychotherapist while I got my MA in TESOL from NYU. We left the US in 1976 to spend a year in Iran (before the revolution) and then ended up back in Thailand. I taught at Chiang Mai University for 4 years and then spent 2 years as the AUA director there. I also did some free lance writing for the Bangkok Post, Asia Magazine and a couple other rags. That is when my two sons were born. (See 1984 Article from Mother Earth News) Still broke, we left Thailand to spend a few years in Saudi Arabia. Then in 1985 we returned to the US and settled in Seattle. I went back to school and got a BS degree in data processing and changed careers and went into computers. My timing was pretty good and I eventually became an independent consultant and owned my own small consulting firm. I did that for about 18 years.

A couple of years ago my contract with Boeing got sent to India so I decided that I had had enough of corporate life and retired. Well, really semi-retired as I occasionally take an ESL teaching job at one of the community colleges here.

We have also started a really cool career selling handicrafts we import from Thailand. It brings in enough money to buy a couple of plane tickets to Chiang Mai each year. From November to February we live in our small cabin in Chiang Mai at the base of Doi Suthep. As both my boys have graduated from college and we have no debts we don’t need much so why stay in the rat race?


Our Cabin in Chiang Mai

Teachers from Peace Corps days in our cabin

When I was 39 I changed careers to computers; when I was 40 I ran two marathons; then I took up rock climbing here in the Cascades; at 50 I got my black belt in Karate and then at 56, while playing my twice weekly game of basketball, I came down with an irregular heartbeat. It took a while to get that worked out so I don’t do those crazy activities anymore. I took up golf instead. It turns out that golf is the most difficult sport I have ever played. It is a humiliating activity but it gets me out of the house which Pikun appreciates.

I just finished writing a pronunciation text for Thai students learning English and hope to get it published this winter in Thailand. I also am most of the way finished with a small book called “Emails From Chiang Mai” that I may or may not publish. I might just keep it for my kids to read. I still have all my hair and only about 12 of them are grey.

We have done quite a bit of traveling. I have been to 42 countries so far and lived abroad for about 13 years (not including the three months a year we live in Chiang Mai). My latest trip was to Brunei where I met the Sultan’s uncle when we tried to get a contract doing computer business. Didn’t get the contract but it was a lark.

 

Warren, my youngest son at 24, is a Marine lieutenant. He just spent 18 months in Okinawa and is currently somewhere on the Syrian border in Iraq. You can imagine how I feel. So please send good thoughts his way and to his men also. He is more worried about his men than he is about himself. He leads a platoon of 32 men, all between the ages of 19 and 22. Sixteen of them are married and 4 have infant children.


Hugh, Warren and Pukin

Darin is 26 and is about the opposite in every way from his brother. He has lived in Brazil and traveled to Thailand and Costa Rica on his own. He has done lots of interesting work, his favorite being an assistant at a Montessori school for 4 and 5 year olds. He just took a job on Orcas Island, one of the most beautiful spots in America, as a naturalist at a state park.


Sons Darin and Warren

Pikun is a Thai classical musician, has taught Thai here in Seattle, and is now working with me on our import business. We spend lots of time going to villages in Thailand looking for interesting things to import.


We have been married for 34 years. What a “long strange trip it’s been”.
I really don’t have a clue what I will do next.


Hugh and Pukin on vacation in the south of Thailand