By Jerry Nelson
If some of this begins to sound vaguely familiar it might just be because you read my article “The Origin of the Trekker Teddy” which appeared in the September 2018 CMIRC Bulletin. You can check it out here.
Recently Nel de Betue contacted me saying there were about one hundred Trekker Teddies ready to come to Thailand but no one coming this way. She decided to ship them to me EMS. I gave her the CMIRC postal mailing address and waited. On 19 August I went to the post office and found a form directing me to go to Chiang Mai Customs; there would be an import tax to be paid. For a moment my heart sank, but only for a moment. The Trekkers are way too important to be trampled by government fees. “In for a penny, in for a pound."
I called my favorite e-taxi driver (sounds cooler than tuk-tuk driver, which was absolutely true when I met him a few years ago). He examined the paper from the Customs Office, smiled and said OK he knew where to go, and took me straight to the Immigration Office! Close but no cigar. Now I’m starting to get a bit edgy and really need to breathe. I take the paper (written all in Thai, which I can't read), go into the Immigration Office, find an official who looked like he might be helpful; and he was. (Perhaps this wasn’t the first time a tuk-tuk, err e-taxi driver had made this mistake.) I should go to the big building next to the airport terminal.
At the Chiang Mai Customs Office, I saw a Customs Officer on the stoop and showed her my paper. She kindly took me to the proper room. The Customs Officer in Charge asked me to show him the contents of the bag. We opened it and I explained that the Trekker Teddies are a gift of love from older ladies in a retirement home in Australia. They have been sent to me for free distribution to needy children in Northern Thailand. I showed him a photo of a little girl, with her Trekker Teddie. Officer smiled and then observed the amount of postage paid and the insurance declaration. “Pang Mach” very expensive he said. How much do you estimate the value he asked me. I told him in truth that I have no idea of their monetary value and assured him they would be given to children like the one in the photo. He understood, consulted with his colleagues and told me he would estimate the value at 1,000 baht. God Bless him and may Buddha go with him always! The total customs tax was 676 baht. (About AU$33)
Now we have almost one-hundred Trekker Teddies ready for distribution. Most will go to the Burma Children Medical Fund, others will go to Community Based Organizations here in Northern Thailand. Did you know that sometimes when a child receives a Trekker Teddie it is the first toy in their life?
We are fairly aggressive in distributing the Trekker Teddies; they stay in our storage for just a short time and we need your help to obtain the next batch. Should you have travel plans that include a flight from Australia to Thailand PLEASE let us know and we’ll introduce you to the marvelous Trekker Teddie team. Perhaps you would carry a few back for us.
If you are coming to Thailand from Australia, especially Melbourne, perhaps you would be willing to help transport some of these wonderful toys? Contact me for details.