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January 31, 2011 2:20 PM   Subscribe

How can I find someone in Thailand, who probably doesn't want to be found, without having to contact the one person who can contact him?

I am trying to help my mother contact my cousin, her sister's son - but without making this my new part-time job or inserting myself any farther than offering her the information I can find for her to use in her attempts.

Googling his name + various things hasn't helped, and the Consulate numbers that I found online went nowhere (as in, nobody answered either the toll-free or the direct line when my mother called today).

A few years ago, my cousin moved from California to Thailand. He gave up everything he owned, and moved there with only the clothes on his back. He was formerly a partner in a law firm, and when contacted today, they described his departure: He retired - wound up his work, made plans, followed through. He sold his home, donated everything he owned to Goodwill, turned in his car and his keys and moved without a forwarding address with only the shorts and tee-shirt he was wearing. He hasn't renewed his professional licenses or anything since. He was very, very wealthy and can no doubt afford a good life anywhere. At one time he confessed to me that life in Thailand suited his proclivities, and knowing what they are, I understand a why he's happily ensconced there and doesn't particularly want to be found.

The only way his former firm, or anyone, can contact him is through his brother who will email him. I'm not sure his parents even know how to get hold of him, since he's also trying to escape them, in part. He and I get along well enough to chat - but haven't been close since we were kids. I'm 42, he must be in his fifties now. I think it's been over seven years since we've talked.

I don't want to contact this brother, or his parents - and neither does my mother. To say that there's been bitter feuding is minimizing the magnitude of how angry they all are at each other - and I'm not directly involved, but I'm trying to keep my remove and have successfully extricated all this ugliness from my life and have been uninvolved in the drama for over four years. I'd like to keep it that way.

So, I thought I'd ask: Is there a white pages for Thailand? Does the consulate have a list of all Americans living there, and a way to reach them in case of a family emergency? How can I reach someone there if the toll-free phone number is a lousy way to do it? Is there a special way of Googling beyond his name + Thailand? Short of a private detective, how can he possibly be found/contacted without having to go through the one person who has his email?

It is because of a medical emergency - his sister was just diagnosed with kidney failure and two brain aneurysms, and she wants him to know. Maybe he'd even be a possible donor - but mostly, just so he knows. She doesn't speak to her parents, or her other brother anymore either, since earlier this past year. She doesn't have the use of a computer, though she has two sons who do - but involving two pre-teen boys in this isn't a good plan. The brother in Thailand might not know that she's estranged from the rest of her family, as her other brother and parents were how she stayed in touch, and are generally untrustworthy. She doesn't want them to know of her health problems, but she'd like the emotional support of the one brother she'd still get along with - if he were in the country. She has nobody else in her life, due to some hard knocks, to rely on other than my folks (and by extension, me).

So, thanks, in anticipation of any help. If you can tell me how better I can find him, that's great - I'll try it. If you have a special way to do it, or an "in" and need his name, I suppose I can do that, if you memail me. But I've probably already blown everyone's privacy enough as it is.
posted by peagood to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If all else fails, you're welcome to send me a MeMail with all the relevant information, and I will send an email to the brother in the US to send to the brother in Thailand. "I don't know you, you don't know me, I was asked to pass along a confidential message by a stranger." I'm happy to stonewall anyone who calls me or emails me for more information.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:31 PM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

Is it worth checking into what a Thai private investigator will charge.
I mean, a PI in Thailand could probably find him in a few hours.
I would imagine the charge would not be that massive.

There are tons of Thai PIs that can found on the inter-webs.
Like this one
posted by Flood at 2:32 PM on January 31, 2011

There is a 15 hour time difference between California and Bangkok, which may explain why no-one answered at the Consulate when you tried. You may have better luck if you try again this evening. The consulate does not have a list of all Americans living there, as registering is a voluntary thing.
posted by IanMorr at 2:45 PM on January 31, 2011

You could also consider posting on Thai Visa ... the expat community is pretty close-knit.
posted by cyndigo at 3:21 PM on January 31, 2011

Sidhedevil - Thank you very much for your offer. I think if it becomes dire, I would email the brother I don't care to talk to and say something like "I need to reach your brother. I don't want to get into it, but it's urgent, important and dire or I wouldn't ask you. Will you have him contact me?" and let the chips fall where they may at that point. I really, really appreciate your offering, but I think that he'd not suspect what it was about coming from me, and that he'd at least consider doing it for the sheer pleasure of telling his folks that I needed something from him - and that a stranger doing it would get shut down due to some previous situations he's been in.

Flood, thank you - I don't know exactly how one finds someone reputable, but that is indeed a possibility.

IanMorr, thank you - my mother is in NY state, and did indeed phone at a bad time. She'll phone later tonight.

And thank you, cyndigo - I will explore that, but I am considering that he is very possibly living reclusively there and isn't seeking any community with anyone. He is a strange one, if I may say so.
posted by peagood at 3:48 PM on January 31, 2011

At one time he confessed to me that life in Thailand suited his proclivities, and knowing what they are, I understand a why he's happily ensconced there and doesn't particularly want to be found.

Maybe my antenna is set way too sensitively, but are you implying that he's engaged in illegal activity involving minors? Because if he is, and you know or strongly suspect it, you have the responsibility to report it to the embassy and / or Thai authorities. I apologize if I'm entirely off base.

In answer to the actual question, Americans abroad are encouraged to register with their embassies. This is not a requirement and I doubt it could be enforced.
posted by charmcityblues at 6:10 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not meaning to babysit this thread, but, charmcityblues - you are right to be sensitive here, but as it was expressed to me, what he likes is not illegal - but his preference is not acceptable to his parents/our family's older generations and he wants/wanted to divorce himself completely from the scrutiny. It's more about how he doesn't care to marry, prefers a certain type of behaviour/lifestyle and wants no obligations or explanations. And, he can afford to live well there after his years of hard work here and doesn't have to deal with any of the poop our family tends to fling around.

Further, as an example, his parents once arranged for his brother's live-in girlfriend who was residing in the US illegally to be deported back to her European country (after she moved across the US to be with their son, bringing her lovely dog and having to leave it behind - baroooo!). So his preference is abhorrent enough as it is to them, without age even factoring into it. And, it's because his family is comprised of all-around horrible people that I don't want to have to invite them back into my life - because not only are they evil, but they will do things about it - so, I don't blame him and I am reluctant to do more than explore a few resources such as this. His sister has had a lemon of a life, and I care about her. Honestly, I'd let sleeping dogs lie, but this is her wish, and my mother's wish, and I'm the one with the computer skills.

I did find a friend who's married and teaching in Vietnam right now, and am hoping he'll have some insight too (though he's far enough away, he travels around thereabouts sometimes and knows how to work the system a bit). Thanks, everyone! I'll keep checking.
posted by peagood at 7:22 PM on January 31, 2011

The embassy did contact him - but he did choose to contact the family we didn't want to notify first. Thanks for your help, everyone.
posted by peagood at 7:08 AM on February 9, 2011

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