Alexander Bailie: May 7, 1930 – June 23, 2010

Last month on June 23 I was working at Peppers when a very distraught woman came into my shop. Her name is Samruary and I knew her as a regular visitor to Peppers as she often accompanied a great old man by the name of Alex when he came in for a cuppa, nourishment and a chat.

“Alex die, Alex die” she said to me through a flood of tears. “I don’t know what to do, you help me Andrew, you help please” she continued. The long process of helping began right then and is still continuing now.

I was of course more then happy to do what ever I could do and I was very happy that Samruary had come to me for help.

Alex was not married, had no will, no money and had some small debts here in Ubon. This caused a few minor problems which we eventually overcame with help from his embassy in Bangkok and the wonderful help from his daughter Siobhan in Canada. Ubon locals Helmuth and Wee also provided fantastic help with the funeral, cremation and scattering of the ashes.

Alex was cremated on June 28 at Wat Dtai วัดใต้ and part of his ashes were scattered on the Mekong River the following day. The rest of the ashes are currently in Bangkok awaiting the final paperwork that will see him on his final journey home to Ireland via Canada.

I don’t claim to know Alex all that well as I only had the privilege of his company off and on over the last 14 months. This blog is to provide friends and family from around the world a little more information about him and the circumstances of his death. If I am wrong with any of the following information then I apologise and hope that you the reader will set me straight. I hope that people who knew him will leave messages here with their thoughts and memories of Alex to provide a much more in depth story about the true Gentleman I simply refereed to as ‘Old Alex.’

I will begin at the end with my memories and what happened leading up his death, then I will go back to the beginning with the help of his daughter Siobhan who provided me with some valuable information.

I first met Alex in May last year. He pulled up on his trusty old motorbike and shuffled inside my recently purchased shop called Peppers Bakery & Cafe. He sat at what I soon found out was his regular table near the door and introduced himself. It turns out that he was a regular before we took over and he had been waiting patiently for us to reopen after we had finished our renovations.
Over the months that followed I got to know this lovely man and a little bit about his life. He would tell great stories about his life in Canada, Ireland and on the seas. I would always greet him by opening the door for him to enter and asking him how he was. He always answered with a story about his bad legs and his bad health before saying “but never mind about that’ as he sat down and ordered. It was usually the pan fried fish of the day that he ate or some breakfast. Black coffee was a given.

One day he told us that his health was too bad to continue living in Thailand and that he would have to move back to Ireland. He sold all his belongings and made the long journey back.

Here is a photo of him with friends at Ubon airport before going back to Ireland.

I didn’t believe that I would ever see him again so imagine my surprise when I received an email from him which in part said:

Dear Andrew,

I shall arrive in Bangkok at 1810 on Friday, May 7th, my 80th birthday. I intend to find a nice hotel with a pool and a sauna, and sit and soak up the sun for a few days before coming to Ubon…..

….. had a balloon inserted into my right leg on April 12th at the Royal Victoria hospital, the circulation has improved immensely in that leg.
Unfortunately I suffered a mild heart attack the very next day and was hospitalized for 10 days in Antrim hospital, I subsequently had a dye test, the
result of which was that I should have a bypass. That would mean staying here for another three to six months, I am not prepared to do so, coming home is the best solution.

Thank you, Andrew, for all your assistance, and I do hope to see you in Peppers as soon as I return to Ubon. Kindly put on one side a nice T-bone steak, baked potato with sour cream and butter, vegetables of choice, of course. And your lovely wife on hand to ensure perfection!! Dream on, Alexander!!!!!!!!!!!

Yours sincerely,

Alex

Unfortunately his coming home wasn’t as smooth as he would have liked. Here is part of a facebook message that he sent to a friend.

I left Manchester with bronchitis, I arrived in Bangkok with Acute Bronchitis and heart Failure, according to the doctor at the medical center in the airport……Samruay had arrived on Sunday night, was I ever glad to see a familiar face!! She was a great help to me, my condition was far from good. She, and her daughter and friend, left on Tuesday night by bus to Ubon. I checked out of the hotel one day earlier than I should have done, on Thursday morning I had booked a flight to Ubon by NokAir, when I arrived at the airport they refused to let me fly, I could not breathe properly and needed oxygen, by this time I was under the care of the doctor at the medical centre, he sent me by ambulance to this hospital in Bangkok….. to cut a long story short, I went through all sorts of tests, spent two nights in the hospital…….and left there in worse shape than when I arrived!! Diagnosis – heart not supplying enough blood to the lungs, doctor gave me more
medication, said I needed beta , I am afraid that I trust the City Hospital doctors much more than I trust him, so I have stuck with my original medication and am beginning to come around, but it is going to be a slow process, I have to accept that I cannot function as before. I feel that I need a bypass, but to have that done here is prohibitive, to say the least!!! I just have to believe that the medication will keep me alive, but I have to take things easier, if such a thing is possible. Sincerely, Alex

Alex did make it to Ubon but his health wasn’t all that good. He also make it into Peppers a few times and it was great to see him again. Five days before he died he phoned me up about something and he sounded really good. He told me he felt great and had just bought a motorbike! He was so happy to be mobile again and was looking forward to moving out of his current place into new accommodation. That was the last time I spoke with him.

The morning that he died his house keeper had found him in a bad way and called Samruary to come over and check on him. She promptly arrived and found him with a raging fever. She wanted to call an ambulance but he refused. He got worse so she ended up calling one against his wishes. He arrived at Sappasit hospital at 9.15am and died at 9.45am. Hs death certificate says Cardiac Arrest. Samruary was with him the entire time and was holding his hand when he took his last breath.

Alexander Bailie was born in Toronto, Ontario on May 7, 1930. His parents Annie and Alexander with both Irish citizens. Shortly after his birth he returned to Ireland up until the time he joined the Navy as a young man.

Alex was the only son. He had three sisters, Joanna, Patsy and Lynne. Alex had four kids of his own. Two daughters and two sons.

Alex was fascinated with the Asian culture and spent time in Japan, Taiwan and then Thailand. He spent almost 20 years in Thailand and Ubon Ratchathani. He just couldn’t get enough of the warm weather and would do anything to escape the bitter Canadian winters.

Alex was an exceptional salesman – in his early days he was a bartender but then became a salesman of a number of different things. He could sell ice to Eskimos and sand to the Arabs – he could sweet talk anyone into almost anything. He sold cleaning supplies for a while, then household items. His last work in Canada was with the provinical power company called Saskatchewan Power, where he was a dispatcher.

Here in Ubon he spent a lot of his time teaching English and playing golf. Apparently he was quite good at golf and only his ability to BBQ the perfect steak was better!

His daughter Siobhan told me “Dad always had wonderlust – he could never really figure out where he wanted to live. He moved back and forth between England and Canada numerous times and as he approached retirement his dream was to live in Hawaii, where he could spend his days basking in the sun and golfing. Due to immigration rules that just wasnt possible so he moved to Asia.
In Asia, Dad moved around a bit, finally ending up in Ubon where he had a connection with a family of people that lived in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (where he lived most of his adult life).”

To me, Alex was one of a kind. He really was one of life’s true gentleman. He treated everybody with respect and always had a kind word to say no matter what the circumstances. My wife and our staff loved him and he will be missed. Safe travels home to Ireland Alex. Rest in Peace.

Funeral ceremony photos.

Some photos from Khong Chiam where Alex requested his ashes to be scattered on the Mekong river so “it can carry me back home”.

8 responses to “Alexander Bailie: May 7, 1930 – June 23, 2010

  1. This a really lovely tribute to your friend Alex! I hope his friends and family get to read it and I’m sure he’s smiling right now.

  2. Nice story Andrew. Well done!

  3. Andrew , you’re a true friend , and a good man .
    Alex had a good life , and friends like you made his day . Malcolm

  4. Andrew

    That was a beautfil tribute to Alex.

    I would like to gather my thoughts and post something later, even a few photos if that is possible. I’m sure anything added here will be treasured by his family.

  5. Rachel Rogers

    This is really sad to read, and sad i didnt get to meet him. Glad you did. Thanks for the writeup, something to live up to!

  6. MICHAEL G LARKIN

    IT WAS A SUNDAY MORNING IN UBON ,I THINK MAYBE AROUND MAY 2009
    I WENT TO PEPPERS WITH A FRIEND FOR BREAKFAST ABOUT 11AM AND AS I WAS LEAVING TO PAY THE BILL A MAN SMILED AT ME AND RETORTED “WHAT PART OF THE OLD SOD ARE YOU FROM ”
    THIS WS MY FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH ALEX BAILIE ,BUT IT WAS NOT MY LAST AND FOR THE NEXT 9 MONTHS I MET HIM IN PEPPERS ALMOST EVERY DAY
    ALEX HAD BEEN LIVING IN UBON FOR ALMOST 20 YRS AND I HAD BEEN LIVING IN UBON FOR 5 YRS BUT I HAD NEVER MET HIM BEFORE THIS MEETING AND I KNEW MOST OF THE EX PATS IN UBON GOOD AND BAD
    WE BOTH HAD A KEEN INTEREST IN ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE AND GOLF SO WE EXCHANGED MANY STORIES
    IVE SINCE MOVED TO CHINA AND ALEX EMAILED ME A FEW TIMES
    AFTER HE RETURNED TO IRELAND
    ALTHOUGH I KNEW ABOUT ALEXS MEDICAL PROBLEMS HIS DEATH CAME AS A SHOCK TO ME WHEN ANDREW EMAILED ME
    I WILL SUM UP MY SHORT TIME OF KNOWING ALEX AS A TIME OF GREAT FUN AND ENTERTAINMENT AND I WILL SAY ALEX BAILIE WAS A BRAVE MAN AN HONEST MAN AND ONE OF THE FRIENDLIEST MEN I HAVE EVER MET
    MAY HE REST IN PEACE
    AR DHEIS DE GO RAIBH A AINM
    AGUS CODLAIDH SAMH
    ALEX A CHARA
    MICHAIL O LORCAIN

  7. Very touching and I am sure you have done him proud with this beautiful piece on his life. He sounded like an exceptional man who had an exceptional life.

  8. Dear Alex stayed with me at my home the day he left Manchester to make his return to Thailand.
    I had known Alex since 1994, first meeting him at the home of Joy Gadd, which was about 100 yards away from where Alex was then living…Soi 16 Ubon.
    I got to know him quite well, I even stayed over at his home near the airport, just before I myself left Thailand in 2000.
    His command of the English language was fantastic, his stories even more so, and we shared many an hour or so just chatting away.
    In a way I once saved his life, earlier on, for he came over to Manchester to stay with me, and also to receive medical treatment at Wythenshawe hospital. He needed an English base to get that treatment, and after a few days of being here he had another mild heart attack, whereupon I phoned for the ambulance. He was taken in and stents were applied to help the blood flow, he improved and was later released again. In all he was here about three weeks before he went back to his beloved Ubon, a lot healthier than when he arrived.
    This time however, I debated with him the wisdom of his return, he looked terrible and could hardly move, but he was adamant that this is what he wanted. That was the last time I heard from him, as I left for work, and he awaited his taxi, he thanked me for my help, again.
    Looking back he may have known that this was almost it, and that he wanted to see it out in a place where he had so many friends, and that he liked so very much.
    His death upset Joy really badly, she was someone for whom Alex had great affection. My own dear Noi was also a great favourite of his too, his easy going smooth talking style was a firm friend winner.
    I am pleased that you have taken the time to write this piece about his final days and return to Ubon, it has answered a few of my questions, and I hope that his memory will live on there with the people of Ubon who knew him, and whom he also helped in their schooling.

Leave a Reply