Phahonyothin Rd. from Ngao to Lampang around 1940-1950.

Kittichai and Clare, the daughter of E.G.S. Hartley, at the Ngao's suspension bridge in 2019, when Clare came to visit him.

Twenty years in Ngao forest station

Amphoe Ngao in the 1940s and 1950s was a small district. Nevertheless, it had a significant landmark in its suspension bridge over the Ngao river. After crossing the bridge and heading north on small Phahonyothin Road less than a dozen wooden stores would appear by the side of the road, travelers then reached the district office, and the police station. In front of the police station was a check point with a red and white wooden barrier.

The outer gate to the Anglo Thai Company was a few hundred meters north of this checkpoint and on the left-hand side of the Phahonyothin Road. The company’s compound covered an area of ​​about four hectares. The eastern edge of the compound was adjacent to the Phahonyothin Road, while the western edge was adjacent to the Ngao river.

Upon entering the company gate, the first building to be found on the right, or the north side of the road, was the ironworks. The area between the ironworks and the company’s inner wooden fence to the west was a wide yard with a large rain tree (Samanea Saman) in the middle. On some mornings, the company’s elephants, with their howdahs on their backs, could be seen resting before starting the day’s work. The company’s office building was inside the inner fence which could be reached by following the company road from the front gate straight through to the inner gate.

The area to the south of this road had a walkway passing through a stream that flowed from the east into the Ngao river. This walkway led to the rear of the residence of Mr. Kiet Wattananikorn and his wife, Malee, and their children. This residence faced Phahonyothin Road. On the other side of this walkway, behind Mr. Kiet’s residence, was the residence of Mr. Stanley Kinder, facing the Mae Ngao River.

In front of Mr. Kinder’s residence there was a gravel path directed northward. Following this gravel path about one hundred meters to the north, on the right-hand side, would be the company’s office. This office was a simple single-storey, teak building. Further to the north, this gravel path led to the residence of Mr. Evelyn Guy Stuart Hartley, the forest manager.

The first five children of Mr. Kiet and Mrs. Malee in 1941, just before WW2

From left: Panpimal, Malee, Kittichai and Chalermsri, infront of Hartley's residence in Ngao around 1955.

Kittichai and Clare on the lawn beside the company's office in Ngao around 1955.

Life in the Anglo Thai office at Amphoe Ngao was self-reliant, simple, peaceful, happy, and natural living at its purest. Every now and again, trucks carrying rice, which were known as pigsty vehicles, were heard revving for the uphill climb along Phahonyothin Road in front of Mr. Kiet’s residence. Amphoe Ngao was far away from civilization. Storm lanterns and oil lamps were the only sources of illumination at night. Battery wirelesses and a small, wind-up gramophone were the sources of entertainment during the leisure time of the foresters and their families.

Malee spent almost twenty years of her life living in the ACL’s compound in Ngao. Most of the time during these years, except a few months in summers, her husband, Kiet, had to be away to work in the forest, leaving Malee to her own with the children. The couple had all together seven children. The eldest, Prapasri, was born in Paknampo in 1932, followed by Kriwan, Chalermsri, Chavewan, Bunrit, Panpimal and the youngest Kittichai, who was born in 1948. When their children grew up, they were all sent to school either in Lampang or Chiang Mai.

Prapasri, the eldest daughter of the family, infront of Kiet's residence in Ngao.

Prapasri and Kittichai around 1950.

Kittichai was playing with chickens on the wide veranda at the back of the residence in Ngao.