Almost 40, out of work, a very nasty separation, broke and being visited by the bailiffs. That's how I found myself about 15 years ago. Living in a suburb of a large city, the kind of place that if you did not have an attitude and couldn't punch it out as well as the next man you didn't survive. I'm sure that this scenario is familiar with a lot of British readers. I was stagnating and going downhill with a turbo. A chance meeting in a bar changed my life forever, and for the better. Being well known in my town as a traveling man, prepared to be off ski at the drop of a hat, an acquaintance approached me in a bar and asked for some advice. He was not a traveler and had been offered a contract to go 1. To Thailand (his preferred choice as he wanted a Thai wife) or 2. To Hong Kong. In a quandary he asked me which one would be best for him. Naturally I told him to take the first definite offer. This turned out to be HK. He took the job, took me out for a few beers to say thanks for the advice (the Thailand job fell through) and off he went on his merry way.
3 weeks later I received a phone call asking me if I also could go to HK as my friend had got into trouble in the girlie bars of Wanchai and needed someone to look out for him. Not a problem, a 3 month contract would put me back on my feet. So I sold what I could and bought a return to HK thinking, great, a paid holiday and when I get back to the U.K. I will be back on the tracks again. How wrong I was.
The real story begins:
I was met at the airport by P, taken to n hotel in the center of Wanchai (Suzi Wong territory), settled in and off to one of the local "bars". P told me of his problems with the ladies and mamasans, also that he had met up with a Thai girl and that as tomorrow was Sunday we would all be doing a bit of sightseeing with his new girlfriend and some of her friends.
Bear in mind that after all the shit I had gone through in the U.K. the last thing on my mind was women, (let me drink beer and leave me alone). We met the girls on Kowloon side, about 6 of them, all carrying groceries (if you know Thai girls you will know why). One girl stood out from the rest and I commented on this to P So off we went and had a very good day out. It turned out that all the girls were domestic helpers and Sunday was their only day off. So most Sundays we were all together doing something or going somewhere, it was a great time. P was doing well with his girl and I was happy tagging along until the bars opened. At this time I resembled a washed out hippy, long hair continually sporting a hangover and a wardrobe that was 5 years overdue replacing. The girl I commented on, A, was usually with us and considered me to be a "crazy man" and kept trying to palm me off on to one of the other girls who was looking for a husband, not a problem as I was only looking for the bars to open.
Speaking English was a problem at first but the girls started with English classes and soon became conversational. During one of the study at home periods, P's girl and A were practicing reading, the conversation went like this," a fat man, a fat pig, a fat man on a fat pig" turning to me A asked " what is fat man doing on fat pig" I had had a few beers and replied "fat man fucking fat pig" I have never seen a reaction so spontaneous, both girls screamed with laughter holding each other and rolling around laughing to tears for about 5 mins, needless to say that laugher is contagious and we were all laughing and crying, the girls at the retort and P and me at the antics of the girls.
P married his girl and I continued to see A, now we were mostly alone on Sundays, somewhere along the line mutual respect and love grew to the extent that I gave her a key to my apartment and she would let herself in on Sunday mornings and make me coffee and para's for breakfast along with a McD morning meal, she paid. My birthday came around and arriving home I found a pair of quality jeans, a named shirt and a bunch of flowers (at least a week's wages for her) waiting for me.
All through our friendship and courting times A gave far more than she took, never asking or suggesting I should give her anything. Needless to say we eventually married.
We lived in HK for another year until the contract ended (3 months turned into 2 years) then another contract came along for Holland. Sometime in HK I decided I wasn't returning to U.K. if I could help it.
We were still in adjustment mode and I wasn't the most trusting of husbands as far as money was concerned, I kept a tight hold of the purse strings, this did not cause any problems as I gave A a good amount of throw away money and never asked what she did with it. I know a lot went to help her mother and to pay for her son through school but she never asked for anything from me to help. We stayed in Holland for about 5 years and A even got a job working with me so she now had her own money plus her throwaway cash. I did help her and her sisters to build a new house for mum but I didn't donate a lot, we also bought a motorsai for her son.
We had our ups and downs just like any other couple. A adapted very well to European life and really enjoyed living in Holland (so did I). I had an opportunity to go to work in Paris for 10 months so I had to leave A at home as she had her job and independence, so now I had to trust her with a joint bank account (not easy as after the divorce, I had a hard time trusting anyone), I also had to trust her alone, her job necessitated her working in different towns in Southern Holland with a team of men, but I knew I could trust her as she was very much a home bird and was happy to go home after a days work and watch TV. During my time in Paris one of the guys said to her that it was a dangerous place for a single man, she replied "I don't mind if he forgets me for 5 mins now and then as long as he comes home". (I didn't forget her, not even for 1 min). Now after 7 years together I had a 2 week holiday from Paris and we decided to go to Thailand to see her family, my first time to LOS. A fantastic 2 weeks and I even bought a house, we would need somewhere for later, the place was run down but was the right price, half way between BKK and Ayuthya about 600K's from her parents, ideally situated and with a lot of potential. We went to the farm, had a Thai wedding, sin sot was waived due to the house we built and I fell in love with Thailand (not hard to do). Work started on the renovation, I was seriously commissioned by her brother in law and now we don't speak, but that's Thailand. Back to Europe for about 6 months until work dried up. We decided that it would be far cheaper for me to look for work from Thailand using the internet than to remain in Holland.
We had a bit saved, not all that much and my job searching took well over 3 years to find something. All through this time A supported me and gave me encouragement when I was feeling depressed saying, "God will give you a job when he's ready to". The only nagging I got was when I drank too much or didn't eat enough, never once about finances. So God decided one day that he/she had given me enough hard times and on my 53rd birthday I started work in the Middle East working month on month off. A is very happy about this and so am I, so we now have a pretty damn good lifestyle thank you very much.
Life really does have it's up's and down's.
A is from Isaan and has had little education, but that does not mean she is stupid, she speaks Lao, perfect Cantonese, good English and passable Dutch. She is a very hard woman to do business with as I have witnessed when we bought the truck, she somehow managed to get a load of goodies thrown in and a 30K discount. I would have just got the truck. She managed to learn how to install telecommunication equipment and survived working with a bunch of crazy Dutchmen for almost a year whilst I was in France.
A couple of afterthoughts; We do not support any of her family by sending a monthly allowance, according to A, they got along fine before I came along. We do however drop a couple of grand off for Ma when we visit, she allowed her father 100K to buy a second hand truck and believe me you don't get much for that kind of money, but he can now run his welding business and is able to live pretty well. We are well respected in the village and are made to feel more than welcome every time we visit. Locally I have made some very genuine Thai friends, who like A give far more than they take despite the vast difference in earnings.
I still have long hair and the wife still thinks I'm a crazy man. Just a Thai tale.
It sounds like you got a good one!