Ben Oostdam's Autobiography

TRANSITION

THAILAND to HOLLAND to CANADA, 1957


After five years with the Nationale Handelsbank - 2 in Amsterdam and 3 in Bangkok - I resigned and paid my own fare to Canada, where I had been accepted as a freshman in geology at McGill University in Montreal, Although at first I had planned to fly across the Pacific, on closer consideration I decided to go through Amsterdam to visit my parents.
I had saved $ 3,000, just enough for passage and one year of board and tuition fees. That this was more than Nf 10,000 reminded me of an earlier ideal, namely, to buy a yacht and sail single handed around the world; somehow, this did not appeal to me any more.
I had decided on Canada by default: Holland and Europe in general did not appeal to me, neither did Australia (perhaps New Zealand?) and I hated the USA with a passion for causing us to loose the Netherlands East Indies...now Indonesia.
So I sold my MG and jeep and said goodbye to my colleagues and my good friends Rudi Klerekoper, Charles Cockburn, Cynthia Ellis, Ann Breingan, Jennifer Turner, Anthea Leslie, Stella Jackson, Stewart Addis, Humphrey Babbington and Brian Jackson. I had grown to love Thailand and the Thai people and language, so it was a sad farewell.

at Schiphol, my Bangkok roommate, Jan Hempenius!
I had originally booked stayovers at Beirut, Athens and Rome, but the moment I stepped aboard on August 20, 1957, I started sweating and getting dizzy with what later proved to be malaria cerebralis. Because of my high fever, I was allowed to change the booking and flew from Bangkok to Amsterdam via Rangoon , Karachi , Beirut and Athens. I had not told my parents of my change in plans, so they were very happy to see me...actually, my mother thought she saw a ghost when I walked into the yard, pale, yellow and emaciated while they were eating dinner.

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