I first met the big Dutchman at Thai Garden Restaurant, at the time he, his wife Dao & newcomer, David Polman had formed a company, with Jeff & Dave being co general managers, while Dao really did everything from dishes to curry, and with a hardworking attitude and smile.
Jeff was a large man, at 6’2″ and 250lbs, the bald headed Dutchman seemed to be talking constantly. When first met, he seemed overbearing, slightly redneck and at times you wish he’d just shut up.
After getting to know Jeff, he became very personable, often funny, constant joker with a knowledge of history that most had no idea of.
The gentle giant had been a part of the Underground in Holland during WWII, helping the Allied cause, so much so, that when the war ended, he was given immediate immigrant status in USA, where he turned his demolition skills to the construction industry.
Jeff floated around, when Viet Nam war got going, he resided in Saigon as an “advisor”, his favorite story there was how he took a month old baby reeking of fever, immersed it carefully in an ice bath and saved the childs life, after local “Dr’s” had given up on the child and left it to the “tiger balm” medics locally.
Jeff had been to Thailand for various “reasons” during the war and after the war, he moved first to Bangkok, living around Sukumvit for several years before he finally made the plunge and relocated to Patong beach.
One of the first expats living in “the old green house”, Jeff rented this place for about 4yrs with his wife Dao.
After meeting David, setting up biz in the newly formed Thai Garden, things changed rapidly, when Jeff scurried off to Penang to re up his visa, Jeff being a true Dutchman, never spent one satang more than he had too, taking the baht bus to HadYai, then onto Butterworth.
By the time he returned a week later, David and Dao had run off to Songkla, Nikon Si Tammerat and Koh Samui for a “holiday”.
Jeff knew the score, Dao had played around before with SAS pilots,etc and he knew better than to get into a brawl with his so-called new biz partner, instead, he simply moved out of the “old green house” and back into what at the time was considered the remote village of Baan Nam Sai Yen, actually just 3 kilometers to the east, on the other side of the rice paddy located at the base of the rubber tree’d mountains.
Dao moved in with David, they got Thai Garden up and running, Jeff and David still ate lunch together daily, Jeff would often come around just after the paper boy had delivered the Bangkok Post, as long as I can remember, Jeff never actually bought anything at Thai Garden, but would read the paper after another customer had left it there.
Jeffs favorite hobby at the time was to “acquire” paper back books, he’d only take those in almost new condition, that had been “left” in the restaurant, Jeff, within several years had thousands of books in his little house, he’d built from the ground up.
Life went along fine for Dutch Jeff, he enjoyed his new found single life, floated from one party to another, in Old Patong, a party could start at noon and last til those purchasing the drinks and food left a few days later or a month later! Jeff seemed to know where the partys were and you’d see him enjoying the good life, at a Dutchmans price…:-)
Jeff, at times could be obnoxious, but one the whole he was a good fella and would help most anyone in need. In Old Patong, not many people or things really needed help however, but the big Dutchman could be seen helping a neighbor dig a well or helping a Yachty pull his boat into deeper water as the tide rapidly ran back out to sea.
At one party, another expat took Jeff to be a person the opposite of a Dutchman, in other words, a German, Jeff was belittled for blabbing so much, but in the end, he won all hearts when he left the party say “Merry Christmas everyone”, most had gotten so uptight and/or drunk, they forget what day it was, but Jeff didn’t.
Jeff went on to marry a local gal, Panom, they soon had a little boy, “Jep Noi”, he’d bring the boy along on his 50cc Honda, barely enough power to get the big Dutchman about, but all liked lil Jep Noi and his lil sister Tanui, about the same time Dao named her dog Tanui also, this was just part of the little passive agressive nature of things, but Jeff let it roll off his back like duck in water…
Crazy Dave would get incensed when lil Jep Noi would use Thai Gardens as a hognam, but the rest of us, who didn’t have to clean it up, roared with delight as the lil boy would run around and under and over tables, knocking things astray with a little kick here or a grab there. Then Jeff, Jep Noi would be off and down the road to the next celebration of life.
In Old Patong, the celebration never really ended.
btw, although Dutch Jeff hasn’t been around since the early 90’s, you might have seen him! He played the Russian Ambassador in the movie “The Killing Fields”, but that’s another story of Old Patong, where most anything could and would happen…:-)
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