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Searching For Miss Goodbar Part 7



"The truth about Miss Goodbar"… (Part 7)

(aka Ramblings & excerpts from the "Butterfly Chronicles")

If reading my previous articles "Searching for Miss Goodbar" will enlighten anyone as to the woes and attributes if any, (!?) about dating in Thailand, I hope at least it tells of some of the idiosyncrasies that occur, and maybe in some way how to deal with them, – errrrm, or not to as the case may be!!?? [You decide?] "Dating a Thai woman", let alone a BG in the sense of the term, will never be "straightforward", – so be prepared for a roller-coaster ride through your emotions and sometimes maybe your wallet too (!)

She's out there boys!…

If the truth be known, Miss "Goodbar" is really out there "somewhere", – and there's one girl [at least!] for everybody, and she's just waiting for a nice enough guy! He just needs be careful he gets the "right one", – but believe me, they do exist, – period. I've known case-hardened and seasoned BG's or "Vet's" however, go all mushy even on little ole' me when 'treated right', dropping their work facade in private, as you get to 'know' them. That's right, "getting to know them" – or 'her' in more personal terms, – on her terms. Once or twice in the past, out of sheer boyish 'devilishness', I've deliberately hunted and chosen an attractive, stone-faced seasoned girl purely for a physical more than emotionally pleasurable encounter… Guess what?? – after a day or two they 'change' – "metamorphosise" in fact and become more malleable, – then, even some possessiveness begins to creep in. Maybe it's a pre-programmed female trait that surfaces no matter what after a while? Women will "always be women" in the end, – and thank God for that maybe eh guy's?

For those who possibly might be wondering what I am rambling on about in the "Miss Goodbar" series, and who're about to call for the "White Coats" to come and take me away and out me inside a rubber room, – I am sure, you will agree that the accompanying photograph of Dan shown in more her more mature years looking a tad leaner, might clearly indicate my interest in her back then, and how our friendship or relationship has endured… More importantly, I hope the stories thus so far, portray as accurately as I can, the "highs & troughs" of [perhaps more seriously] 'dating' any BG, – or any respectable Thai girl for that matter, – as often the basic 'rules of engagement' are much the same. A girl might not necessarily work in a bar or club, but competition is fierce, and if things don't work out, the guy doesn't have to look too hard or far for another 'conquest' or 'physical opportunity', – a 'moot point' on the minds of many a Thai woman, all too painfully aware of the fierce competition and distinct advantage to the mighty farang. This in turn, can possibly be a distinct disadvantage for women in Thailand, whereby their ratio outnumbers men some 10 to 5… Clubs and bars in 'red light' areas however can give an almost 'disproportionate' representation of these popularly assumed ratio's, – as often by the very virtue of the area, women seemingly dominate by far in numbers for obvious work-related 'migrational' reasons. I am sure however these figures are debatable, and my figures are only illustrative.

You won't find this in allll areas of Bangkok of course. By far the greatest congregational massing of [working] girls I've ever seen, was in Pattaya's Soi Diamond [aka South Pattayaland] and [former?] "Marine Parade Disco" area, whereby some 5-600 girls would amass ritually every night among the bar-biers opposite the Marine Parade in an area the size of a football pitch. Truly a sight to behold by any red-blooded male in the mid nineties, – and the highest concentration of working girls you are ever likely to see in one area…

Herein though, are possibly some of the very underlying problems that cause so many 'relationships' when they occur to subsequently fail, – simply because the man doesn't have to try so hard, – hah! – you see, there's really no competition for him, – only the abundant willing and able females he seeks. Now again, herein lies the problem; A man can 'acquaint' himself with as many sexual partners as he can feasibly 'juggle' or program into his mobile phone's memory, – yet feel a deep inner loneliness, emptiness and dissatisfaction… Even after multiple [and I mean "multiple"!] sexual encounters that would make Renaissance lover and socialite "Casanova" blush unreservedly like a raw beetroot, and have Hugh Hefner resign, – deserting his Mansion's for Bangkok still wearing only his silk smoking jacket and slippers…

Why?
Women on tap?…

Well, he simply doesn't need to 'try' – when one [bad?] 'relationship' fails possibly in a matter of days or hours, [I use the term "relationship" loosely] he moves then on to the next easy-conquest, and so on and so forth until [eventually] he's exhausted all his options. As for him, it's only a 'piece of flesh', nothing more… What a sad lonely fuck some men are like this? What kind of a life do they lead anyway like this?… To add to the problems, dating a prostitute no matter how 'nice' she is, carries a kind of 'stigma', – it just depends if you [or she] can carry it through, but people can see straight through you when you try to 'qualify her' in a different light for example; "Oh, erm she works in a posh Cafe serving posh Coffee" People will look at her voluptuous girlish curves, her overall look in spray-on bar girl Jeans, tattoo's etc, and decide for themselves…"Oh yeah,…Right then…?" They'll say and nod agreement but the "stigma" is there… I too knew it could always be a 'limiting' factor, but Dan and I still overcame a lot having said that. Fortunately for me, and herself, Dan had the character and personality that could carry her 'beyond' the realms of the bar world, and with other normal people who fell over her and her obvious 'outside' charms… She had "Chutzpah" as the Americans would say. That memorable trip to the Bridge over the River Kwai (Part 4/5) was an "acid-test" really, one she passed with flying colours.

"Miss Goodbar", – a personal history profile…

Dan's real name is "Ladda Raiprasert", and was born in Karasin General Hospital in 1972, but lived throughout her early life in neighboring "Som-Det", her family and home village. "Dan" was her adopted bar-name as so many girls have, but her friends sometimes referred to her as 'Da' – a shortened version of Ladda. This caused some confusion in earlier initial meetings as I asked for her by bar-name, [Dan] but some of her closer friends referred to her as "D'a" – I never used her bar 'number' as it were, preferring a more 'personal approach'. "Dan" was about 25 years old when we first met at "Camelot", – quite 'senior' as BG's go, – which I preferred…

After our River Kwai trip together, I more often referred or called her by her real name "Ladda" – I liked it anyway, it had a nice 'ring' to it… Formerly and well before meeting her sometime in the 1980's-1990's, Ladda had grown tired of her numerous jobs doing part-time Beer promotions, supermarket and dress shop assistant jobs, to even selling fake wrist-watches on Sukhumvit with a former Chinese-Thai Husband. She later 'migrated' to the bar industry sometime in 1992 following her separation & subsequent Divorce from him. By now she'd worked already in the city for several years. Possibly lured by better and easier money, the noisy nightly 'boasts' of girl friends already in the industry and the lure of meeting rich and affluent foreigners, Ladda took the plunge, and turned to dancing sometime in 1994 – by her at times vague accounts… Like all girls, Dan "bar-hopped" to different bars depending on movement of friends, better clientele, better monthly salary etc, etc, and maybe even changed bars when a lengthy relationship ended, – making a periodic fresh-start. Girls will often do this after a painful break-up, – or if their boyfriend 'disappears' if only to 'save face'. A relationship gone bad can effectively ruin her 'reputation' and 'face' in one bar, necessitating a change of location sometimes to another… If the girl works for the King's Group for example, she can also expect to be relocated 'at will' by the management to bolster profits at lagging sister-bars and improve patronage, sometimes at her own request too if she's well liked by the management, and Dan was, – like her mentor Pia…

By 1997/8 Dan was already an 'experienced' and 'seasoned' girl when we met although not "case-hardened", and in spite of years of relentless lies, disappointments and heartbreak her resilience left her mainly unaffected in her new-found career, with her sanity [still] in tact. While Dan spoke broken English at first and farang spoke pigeon English to her, but fluent bull**** was always spoken by both parties as in most bar-environments… Fortunately, some girls know how to 'separate the two' and disallow the lies & deceit to take over completely. Dan didn't 'do' drugs, – or maybe only experimented in early life but didn't like them – quite unusual for anyone in the game. However even girls who take drugs will always denie it to a stranger at first. However BG's will go to great lengths to hide their habits, sometimes injecting between their toes or fingers so the needle tracks don't show so easily.

Dan however, was quiet a stable and well-balanced girl when we met, quite shy in ways and took time to get to know, – which 'attracted' me further in ways, she was a 'challenge', I liked that.

No way out?…

So what did Dan want out of working in the bars?? "Money" of course, but eventually 'escape' and a family life resembling normality which is quite natural, after earning a certain amount of 'collateral'… Of course, she wanted a relationship deep inside, as most girls really do if they admitted it, and the money, avarice and their 'act' can just be a way of getting to their final destination, – a relationship or marriage, – or return-village seclusion, whichever comes sooner sometimes. As soon as a girl similarly to the way a customer 'identifies' a nice girl, she'll drop the facade and acting, and show him a different, more 'genuine' side, yet will often fall victim to his often unreasonable suspicions, even paranoia in doing so…

Of course, let's not be naive here, some girls do become hopelessly 'hooked' on bar life, become more greedy, through ignorance, immaturity or both, habitually screwing up every subsequent relationship they ever have through habitual lies and deceit, too far ingrained in their moral fabric to ever fully remove the stains of deceit. Some are wholly incapable of conducting a relationship, – similarly fallible and flawed as some of their farang customers, – 'cast adrift' on an endless sea of failed encounters…It might be why they even gravitated to bar life in the first place in some cases, and why so many farang gravitate to Thailand too???? Nearly all the BG's you ever speak to will recount a failed relationship or marriage to a Thai man at sometime or other, and Farang men will nearly always recount their own failed relationship's too to the girl in same tense… Some men become "emotionally crippled"

Some girls react differently to "bar-life", some go off the rails while others, such as Dan seemingly endure with little ill-effect, at times watching others go off the rails, and these girls generally have their future in some form of 'focus', – and their own 'self-preservation', – unlike their drug-taking or alcoholic counterparts… While girls may look the same en mass entering a bar, each is as individual a person with different dreams and aspirations as you could expect like anywhere else, and it's the luck of the draw as to which personality you attract, with her 'own' particular traits and aspirations. This is why it is essential in my book, to abide your time, and 'wait for the right girl' to come along rather than the first… For example, a girl you've never seen before who comes along, 'plonks herself on your knee', and places your hands on her breasts, is hardly likely to be the right kind of girl for any enduring relationship, – it's plainly obvious what she wants is only your money! [OK, that's okay for most right?] She's most likely too, not the kind of girl you'd ever wanna take home and meet the folks in Australia, England or America for example either…[You might not wanna leave your wallet unattended too in her company]

It's Thai way or the high way?…

This simply isn't the "Thai" way anyway, – it's the slightly shy-er ones you wanna watch, the more 'reserved' types with their traditional Thai values and mannerisms still in tact that will most likely make a better 'date' if you care about that, and most probably friendships or more… The worst thing any Thai girl or woman can possibly do is show any overt physical affection in public, even in a Go-Go bar this is considered 'common' by some, and a heinous social feaux pas and 'crime' in higher society circles.

Walking the tightrope…

Dan was possibly such a girl, teetering on the edge sometimes and influenced poorly by her friend and self-appointed 'mentor' "Pia" at times in her 'latter' bar years, particularly at Pat Pong's raunchy "Camelot" Go-Go bar. Dan was at a crossroads when we met, she could have gone either way, she was at a turning point whereby the bar-life could have taken over had she continued, – just as Pia seemed content in doing. Pia was invisibly 'trapped' though, and had allowed herself to become so by her own ambitions and avarice. Pia was no doubt 'hooked' on the buzz of bar life and adrenalin rush that it undoubtedly brings, a lure which would ultimately ruin her, forcing her into eventual isolated 'retirement' and virtual obscurity back in Som Det…

Life can be grim, – relentlessly cruel and uncompromising for a 'veteran' bar girl who's lost her looks and direction, her body broken 'used' & abused, and can often result in suicide, – the only option left in so many cases. It's not uncommon for girls to die in abject poverty too, in ill health from passed-on STD's or HIV/AIDS with no money as they never saved, after years of relentless family demands. Fortunately, some girls have the common sense to foresee this, and 'abandon' their bar 'careers' before they know it becomes 'too late'. The "point of no return", whereby the bar becomes a part of them, and it narcotic & euphoric effect, eventually destroying them as equally as it thrills them in life. The luckier ones meet someone and leave the bar, something they all dream of, but something not all can do or achieve for various reasons, even if they think that's what they want. A bar girl will walk a tightrope between comparative prosperity and total disaster, the point of no return can come quietly, insidiously, sucking her into an irresistible whirlpool of drugs & alcohol, numerous shattered relationships and promises, betrayal, family incest and relentless demands of money amid emotional blackmail. Even by the tender age of 16, [unofficially] a bar-girl, or even the demure girl working in a shop, has "done a lot of growing up" and logged many life experiences by then, – quite unlike her spoiled western counterparts, – probably still studying at college with a small car Daddy bought her for her 18th, and fully supported by her family, her not wholly supporting them!

Just after Dan's falling-out with Pia as in "Miss Goodbar" – Part 6, I had to fly home to England shortly thereafter, reluctantly leaving Dan pretty much to fend for herself and the new-found hostilities from her former friend and ally, Pia… Things didn't get any better either, and after a short-lived making-up period, their animosity resurfaced. Dan then decided to leave Camelot for another bar, taking another disenchanted friend with her, but remained in Pat Pong. She said she wanted to work in Safari bar, but her height was too much, and proved 'uncomfortable' and nearly impossible when dancing the long required dance-shifts, – so she quit there after only a short time.

During our 1st separation in 1998, a barrage of phone calls and text messages ensued, and oddly enough I began to discover another side to Dan through her messages I hadn't seen before. In some ways our relationship began to intensify against the odds, and Dan had seemingly 'resigned' herself to me, now that she was alienated to Pia and a few others. Dan had 'turned a corner' it seemed, and wanted 'out' of the bar scene altogether, and her short dancing spell at two other bars were effectively her "swan-song", a bowing-out period before leaving to develop a micro-business partnership with her Sister, as buyer/supplier of clothes, with my help. Dan had at least, quit the bar-scene while she was 'ahead' – and had her looks and body still in great shape, she had a future, and she had me… Dan was 27 when she 'quit' the bar scene in 1999, but still looked younger, putting all her resources into her clothing enterprise, with some help from me… It was December 1999 before we met again, and stayed together through until about April 2000 before a 2nd separation due to circumstances.

Flashback…

Early 2000 began so full of promise for me or us, but turned sour and was an awful year of prolonged unemployment for me in the 'fickle' world of the Aviation private sector, and it wouldn't be until December 2000 that a new solid overseas posting arrived, although not in Thailand. The long cold winter of 2000 from April onwards was the wettest and longest I can ever remember during my seclusion in England, maybe even the loneliest too… My new O/S posting in the December took me to the Indonesian Islands chain, – here at least we would be geographically nearer, with Thailand was very accessible from where I was stationed both distance and economically speaking. After a long period of 'neglecting' Dan in late 2000, I had hoped I would be again able to take up the mantle of supporting her, sometime early in 2001, but unbeknown to me on my Island posting in paradise, storm clouds were again already gathering, – in Thailand and over our relationship… Some time in June 2000 during our separation and me being in England, Dan had accumulated some money in her clothing enterprise with her elder sister and had gone to Hong Kong to buy some clothing for the purpose of re-selling back in Thailand… On this trip however, she met someone whom would ultimately become her future Husband there, – a guy who pursued her relentlessly throughout her time in HKG, returning to Bangkok the same time as her on a 'detour' from his own trip. Lacking support from me at that time, and her business needs requiring more financing, Dan 'gravitated' towards her new-found German 'friend'. It was uncertain too, at that time if I would ever be able to 'recover' my own situation and return to Dan's side, – circumstances then were being so unkind to 'us'…

Things went wrong for me for sure late in 2000, – not so much with the 'relationship' per say, but in circumstances that tore us apart throughout most of the latter part of that year. Earlier, Dan and I had reunited passionately in the Dusit Thani on Silom that fateful December in 1999/2000, and it is where our daughter "Sapphire" was certainly 'conceived'… I don't know if either of us considered the consequences of our short period there, and the impact it would have permanently on our lives, but Dan almost certainly did on reflection. In Dan's [Da's] assessment of me prior to a marriage as we'd already discussed it by Dan actually 'asking me' – we went through a period of soul-searching, – and it was during this time in our early reunion one of the weirdest things happened and some of the most beautiful things…

Hoisting the Buddha, & courtship in paradise…

Dan had asked me to accompany her to a Temple or "Wat" in Bangkok, whereby she would 'spiritually seek' Buddha's guidance & approval about 'us' and our 'compatibility'. Kneeling in front of a small-ish Buddhist statue as I waited nearby in full view, Dan knelt and preyed in what looked like 'absolute meditation', – then after a while, interrupted her prayers to attempt to lift the Buddha statuette above her head while squatting…failing, and setting it down as too heavy, – then returning to her 'meditation'. It was obviously too 'heavy' for her without further emptying of her mind, and further, deeper meditation… Dan's concentration seemed to intensify, and took longer this time before again attempting to lift the statuette above her head… To my amazement, Dan not only lifted the statuette this time, she raised it 'high' above her head with ease, as other devotees looked on aghast…!!!! Afterwords, standing victoriously and brushing herself off with a radiant smile, she came running over, "Did you see, did you see???" – "Buddha say everything okaaay Khun Simon, – you right for me!"…. I wasn't quite sure what I had just seen or 'witnessed', but certainly a mysterious case of "mind-over-matter" it seemed. One of the weirdest things I've seen in recent years, – "inexplicable", – utterly inexplicable frankly when I think back…

The next 'ordeal' or 'trial' for me, would be an arranged meeting in Som Det, North Eastern Thailand, with her [Karasin] regional Buddhist Priest, for my final 'approval' or "absolution" before we could marry. This Buddhist Priest has resided in the Karasin province for years, and had known Dan since her tender childhood days, consulting with her family on many occasions through both time of happiness and sorrow.

Sometime in the January of 2000, we visited Som Det driving through Karasin from Bangkok in Dan's friend's borrowed Honda "Prelude", and then visited Dan's provincial Buddhist Temple [Wat] or "Monastery" in effect, near her village of Som Det… The sprawling high-walled Monastery contained various smaller decorated Temples and Wat's with scattered Teak-built pagodas and sitting areas for the contemplating Priests, set amidst lush beautiful gardens and grounds and cherry blossom trees, – it was breathtaking… Smaller ornate Temples littered the grounds, their glass-fragmented and encrusted sides glistening in the sun, giving them their characteristic iridescence and their red-tiles sloping and gabled roofs amid bursts of pink cherry blossoms.

The 'epicenter' of the Monastery was a placid looking lake with a central 'Pagoda' of sorts in the middle, adjoined by a slightly arched wooden bridge, the lake was full of huge catfish as we'd later find out along with multi-coloured Koya Carp…

The 'initiation' of the Grasshopper…

I honestly thought for a moment I'd accidentally stepped into TV's 1970's "Kung Fu" Monastery film set that February of 2000… Instead of meeting "Master Po" with white-eyes and "waiving bamboo" philosophy, Dan guided me by hand to a small Teak pagoda, where her 'provincial' Buddhist Priest and "adviser" was sitting within and waiting, squatting and smiling as we bowed, and entered, sitting in front of him, – not in the "Lotus" position, but as to carefully positioning the souls of our feet to point away from him…hands held in customary wai… The souls being the "lowest part of the body", in terms of importance, are deemed unsuitable for any Priest to gaze upon, and must, must be facing away from him as a sign of respect….
It was 'hard' for me to be so outwardly 'subservient', – being a 'Christian' in religious terms, and not used to such displays of well, 'religious-ness' – even in front of a high-ranking Buddhist Priest… Sitting in the Lotus, pulling, adjusting his orange robes, he leaned forward to smile and began speaking softly in Thai to Dan, and throughout the holy consultation, would take care never to touch or make contact with Dan, – occasionally looking over at me, – the "subject" of the holy 'consultation'… It is totally forbidden for a Buddhist Priest to touch women or money in Thailand. The only way a Buddhist Priest can ever accept money, is if it is contained within and envelope. The touching of females is permanently forbidden while he is ordained in 'Priesthood'… Funny that eh, women and money being so 'decadent' as to be objects verboten!?… Many provincial Buddhist Priests drive serenely around in white Mercedes S Class cars, – driven by their appointed Chauffeurs… The car's bought with money the High-Priest never physically touches or even 'sees', – often by donation and religious funding, and the donations of visitors and his own 'parish' in mark of their respect for him.
The Priest played and toyed with a small smoothly rounded stone or pebble he held in the palm of his hand which he took from a small ornate box, turning it, studying it, examining it and then warming it in his hand to 'transfer' his intrinsic energy and thought… Dan and I just sat there watching, Dan asking occasional questions in Thai, speaking softly and purposely. He then placed the stone in my hand, asking me to clench it for a few minutes, [Dan 'translated' for me] then returning it to the Priest so that he may 'read' the information within, and my 'energy' laid within the stone… He had calm yet [piercing eyes, the sort of eyes that can see right through a man, and I even felt oddly and Consciously 'naked' before him in ways I cannot describe…

Suddenly, the Priest smiled warmly changing his stony facial expression, placing his hands side-by-side in agreement gesture, and indication that our 'unification' would be granted as a 'good one', – he then beaconed me forward to kneel closer in front of him. Suddenly without warning, he "slapped" me on top of my bowed head three times, – 'slap-slap-slap' – with his palm, in 'rapid', yet meaningfully 'paused' succession… Dan smiled over at me from her bowed and Wai'd seating position in apparent 'contentment', all the time keeping her head bowed in acknowledged submissiveness of the Priest. Without warning again, the Priest suddenly then presented me by opening his palm, with a heavy silver chain with a small Buddhist motif on it, – placing it my hand, and squeezing my fingers together to clasp it, – a 'gift' from him, to me… I was more than a little overwhelmed, – it felt heavy, even hefty and expensive in my hand, I was honored… At no time throughout the unofficial 'ceremony' could the Priest touch or make physical contact with Dan, – Women are "forbidden" as is money, to touch or make contact with, and are considered 'corruptible' or negotiable elements to a Priest, as is money…

Maybe there's a point here guy's????

Catfish & Pagoda's…

As is customary after receiving the Priest's "blessings", Dan and I walked over as invited to the Pagoda that stood in the middle of the Monastery grounds own lake. Crossing the ornate wooden bridge, we entered the Pagoda's lower level to find large open Hessian sacks of fish-food, one of which we 'dragged out' onto the bridge. Delving in and collecting handfuls, we then both scattered the fish-food over the water beside the bridge, on calm water which suddenly 'came alive' with the splashing, foaming movement and capacious bewhiskered maws of the ravenous catfish… The surface became so thick with catfish, and almost created a false surface you felt you could almost walk on in their hunger for the handfuls of food we threw to them, – there were literally hundreds. It reminded me of the ritualistic feeding of the catfish I once saw on the Chou Preyou River banks by orange-robed Priest's alongside Bangkok's "Temple of Dawn" once. Dan explained as we joyously threw them food here, that this action was customarily supposed to promote 'fertility' within the couple feeding the fish, and assure family propagation…

Mountainside encounters…

Before the final meeting with her 'top' regional Buddhist Priest, several consultations took place high in the hills surrounding and nearby Som Det, and a jungle "Wat" retreat, seldom ever seen by any farang I suspected. On one memorable night, we drove up to the hills, climbing steep inhospitable roads and dirt tracks as we went in the night, seeing snakes slithering across our path, and I wondered at times if the car, a Honda Prelude we'd borrowed, would make it… The roads were more suited to a 4WD after all, and some of the snakes were damn big! Driving upwards, occasionally 'crashing' the chassis against high rocks and boulders on the track, Dan exclaims as she sees a large black and white banded "Krait" [Snake] in our path, caught fleetingly in our headlights… "Ohhhh very lucky for us, we see snake like that!!" (Que; – barely audible 'squelch' sound!) I reply; "Not soooo lucky for snake darling, – I think we just 'ran it' over…!"

Highly venomous [Banded] Krait's and Asian King Cobra's are common here in the forests and hills of Thailand, not to mention a host of other extremely poisonous snake species and forna, and I was praying we wouldn't suffer a break-down, not here… – "Hold together!?" I silently 'implored' the Honda Prelude, – while cursing it's now 'inconvenient' automatic transmission, – useless on such 'roads'…

Finally making it to the top, [in one piece I thought gratefully to Honda] we entered a sandy clearing amid trees, surrounded by an inky black and dense rain-forest, the air was thick and alive with flying insects and the ambient buzz of crickets and frogs enveloped us. The clearing was lit by a single floodlight, showing a small wooden pagoda and the resident Priest's simplistic living quarters. Leaving the car, we entered a small brick-built and ornate lean-to, and sitting within was a lone Priest, who beaconed us in. Again, us sitting or 'squatting' on a tiled floor this time, the souls of our feet carefully pointing 'away' from the presiding Priest. Dan continued to 'consult' the Priest evidently on several family issues, and tribulations, and yes, even the national Lottery and what numbers they should choose, – as I tried to suppress a wry smile when Dan quietly translated.

After the consultation, the Priest stood, then trailing his robes, led us along a rickety jungle pathway, and a stone stairway that seemingly led off up into the mountain and the inky blackness of the forest, overgrown with overhanging trees and jungle… Some 220 stairs later and out of breath, (!) we entered a level stone plateau on which stood a large central Buddhist statue overlooking the sweeping valley's below, and Som Det, – we could see for miles, and miles… The Priest examined the plateau for any "unwelcome guests" such as snakes by gingerly bashing the overhanging branches with his walking stick, at arms length, careful not to be bitten by whatever he was trying to scare off ! Meanwhile Dan prepared some small Joss-sticks for burning, and presenting to the Buddhist statue, under what was a beautiful moonlit February sky and night, it was almost surreal and I found myself utterly enchanted in this holy place. Dan moved quietly and softly around the bottom of the statue, placing the smoldering Joss-sticks in her palms while kneeling and praying toward the statue, wai-ing repeatedly as she did so, then placing the josticks carefully erect in a small ornate sand-filled pot, to smolder throughout the night… The ancient Buddhist statue was literally bathed in moonlight as were the overhanging branches of the trees surrounding our plateau in what was a truly magical night, and one I will never, never forget as long as I live… "Miss Goodbar" had come to meet Buddha, who stood with open arms…No sexual or political prejudice would ever be shown here, Miss Goodbar too, was welcomed with open, and 'unquestioning' arms, – One of Karasin's lost daughters had returned home for her overdue redemption…

To be continued…

Footnote:

Throughout my many visits to Thailand and since 1993, I religiously kept diaries of all my travels and experiences, later affectionately referring to my Thailand diaries and notes as the "Butterfly Chronicles"… Not that I was particularly a 'Butterfly" (!) but the term seemed most appropriate given the sheer use of the word both then as it is now…


Stickman's thoughts:

More magic from Simon Templar.