I’m sad to hear of the death of Keith Mundy, a long-time friend and colleague, from prostate cancer in Bangkok.
I first met Keith in around 1975 when we were both living in hippy ‘squats’ in Sydenham, London – vast Victorian mansions adapted to a lifestyle radically different from their original intention, with their servants’ quarters, tennis court in the garden and so on.
We were never really close (Keith was always something of a loner) and we might never have met again if we had not shared the dream of teaching English abroad as a way to an exciting life, which we then both followed.
Keith went to Libya and I went to Sudan, then later to Venezuela, and we must have kept in touch (by good old-fashioned letters), as some years later Keith joined me in Venezuela, looking for a change from the limited social life in Libya.
For some reason things didn’t work out for Keith in Venezuela and he made the move to Bangkok in around 1980, where he held a respected post at Chulalongkorn University.
I visited Thailand briefly in 1982 and saw he was doing well, then in 1987 I arrived in Thailand myself with a contract to work for the British Council in Bangkok.
Living in Bangkok can be a back-breaker, but fortunately Keith had a friend who knew of a huge apartment to rent for cheap in the Soi Aree area, which is now one of the hippest districts in the city. So I had a soft landing in the Big Mango.
I moved to Chiang Mai in 1989 and once again, we might not have kept in touch were it not for the fact that we both started getting articles on travel and culture accepted by local newspapers like the Bangkok Post.
We often shared lengthy phone chats, grumbling about publications not paying on time or sharing tips for new contacts, as we both tended to sell our stories to similar publications such as inflight magazines.
Keith was always a ‘bookish’ person and his apartment was stacked high with reference books on topics such as modern art and CDs of Latin music and jazz.
As a tribute to Keith, I’ll post a story he wrote recently about three artists in Chiang Rai for the Thailand Tatler, and for which I provided some images, here.
Keith’s demise was rapid and it was chilling to hear it evolve. Within a matter of weeks, he went from being lucid and fully aware of his predicament to talking gibberish and finally not talking at all.
Rest in peace, Keith; the struggle is over.
is a British writer and photographer based in Chiang Mai, Thailand.