Thai No. 1
I suppose to be accurate; this submission should be titled “My Essay to Try to Get Invited to the Writers Meeting.”
I was intrigued by the recent announcement of a meeting of the regular contributors to this site. I am a fairly recent reader, having found the site about the time of the beginnings of Readers Submissions 10. Until now, I have made no submissions. But I’m contemplating living part of the year in Thailand, and I regard several contributors to this site as the kind of people I’d like to know while in the Kingdom.
To understand the perspective from which I write, I am retired (at age 51) so have both the option of obtaining a longer term visa and have no need to seek employment. I have traveled to Thailand on about half a dozen occasions since 2002, on business, and liked it more each visit. I presently live in the United States, in Florida. What I’m thinking is, when the snowbirds invade Florida for the winter, I should go to Thailand. It’s less expensive than Florida, warmer in our winter, and the women are much more fun. (And even if they aren’t more fun they’re more fun to look at)
I came fairly late to the nightlife scene in Thailand. On my initial visits I was busy at work, and I had then a long term Chinese girlfriend, in Singapore, who visited me in Bangkok when I was working. So I didn’t get out on the town. However, as I continued to visit, I realized it might be a good thing to “get out on the town.” (I’m older, but I’m not blind.)
I’m afraid I don’t have tales of betrayal, wild fights, or fleecing to report. My interactions with the Thais have all been pretty positive, even with the girls in the bars. I attribute this to not being naïve, not having unrealistic expectations, and combining that with treating others as I’d like them to treat me. It seems pretty simple, but it’s amazing how many don’t grasp simple concepts.
Truth be told, I am contemplating Thailand because I’m a divorced 51 year old who simply doesn’t find women my own age attractive. I’m not suggesting they’re bad people, au contraire, I know several nice women my age, and they’re my friends. But as I age, I find an attractive 25 year old a tremendous incentive for me to “rise to the occasion,” so to speak. I simply prefer younger, attractive girls. If that makes me a bad person, so be it.
Persons my age in Thailand are sometimes described as “losers who couldn’t get a date in their own country.” That’s not really true. To begin with, the business class airfare to the Kingdom is about $6000 from the USA, a little beyond the level of affordability for many losers. As for getting a date, if I found blue hair and wrinkles attractive, I could be King of Florida. And although I enjoy a good martini, good red wines, and an occasional fine cigar, I do not drink until I can no longer speak coherently or get sick in the street. I have nary a tattoo, and dress tastefully and well. So those of you that speak “loser” in my presence, feel free to do so, but I won’t be looking up, as you’re not addressing me.
So how is it for a 51 year old out there in Bangkok? In my limited experiences in Thailand, I have had two “friends,” and more offers than I can remember, much less be capable of acting on. And although I have visited both Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy, and enjoyed drinks and chatting with the girls; save for one “short time” with a real stunner I have stayed away from those venues to meet women. It goes back to not having unrealistic expectations.
My first real Thai lady friend was met in a very unlikely location…the Beirgarten on Soi 7, at lunch. I was about 12 hours off the plane, and I was introduced to this place earlier by a colleague. I enjoy it…open air, a little warm, and a fascinating place to sit, sip a cold one, and take in the passing scene. I was doing just that when “Fa” kept making eye contact with me. I avoided it at first, as I was just there to relax, but she was persistent in catching my eye and had a beautiful smile, a fresh, clean, look, and no tattoos. (Yes, really, at the Beirgarten.) Finally, I asked her if she spoke English, and when she responded yes, I invited her to join me in a drink.
Fa was from Chaing Mai, an only child, and had completed schooling. (I don’t know what equivalent; I’m not an expert on the Thai education, but she showed me a picture of herself with her Mum, as an adult, in a “cap and gown” at a graduation ceremony) She spoke English fluently, and had a sense of humor. She said that she was in Bangkok looking for office work, was unable to find any, and so came to the Beirgarten from time to time to make ends meet. She had friends who worked in the bars at Nana but she didn’t want to go that far. The story probably had some semblance to the truth, but again, I’m not naïve.
But what Fa was, was frank. She wanted a husband. She wanted a farang husband. She accepted it would be an older man. (She was 26.) Her roommate had a farang boyfriend and they were “very happy.” And what she didn’t do was ask for money, beyond any specific instance of services rendered. Or tell any sob stories. We corresponded for months via e-mail, and then one day I received a polite e-mail saying she had found a husband and to please not write her anymore.
So what didn’t happen here? I didn’t lose a baht, wasn’t strung along, and contact with me was severed when it was appropriate to do so. Not an exciting story, but evidence that it is dangerous to make generalizations about all Thai women. I believe Fa may indeed be making someone a good life companion, and I wish her well.
My next experience was with “Opal.” I met Opal at the Sheraton Grande on Sukhumvit, where I was staying. I guess she’d be a freelancer. She just wasn’t too good at it, as I’ll explain in a moment.
Anyway, I was sitting at the bar in the evening, tired, and having a sandwich and a glass of wine before toddling off to bed. Opal came in and sat beside me, engaged me in conversation, and joined me in a glass of wine. She was 24, exotically beautiful, and her English was flawless, even to the point of grasping nuance and humor. (She had an excellent sense of humor.) She said she had just come from English class, had done well on her test, and was celebrating. There was a band playing, and she asked me to dance. Even though I should have a sign on me in such venues that reads “old white man, do not place on dance floor,” I love to dance, and do it badly but with great enthusiasm.
We danced, drank wine, and laughed; she told me about Thailand and I told her about the USA. And as such an evening might have gone back here in Florida, my supper sandwich before bed turned into closing the bar, and when I finally went upstairs, it wasn’t alone, or entirely sober. I can confidently state that Opal, like Fa, had no tattoos anywhere either, and didn’t only dance with enthusiasm.
You will note from this narrative no mention of the discussion of money. For good reason, as at no time did any such discussion take place. That’s what I meant when I said she wasn’t good at being a freelancer. She was dressed and ready to leave the next day to catch a cab, and never asked me for a baht. I know, since I’m not stupid, that that was her intent initially, before she spent the evening drinking wine, dancing and becoming even less sober than I; but I was pleased that she was willing to accept leaving empty handed, and I didn’t make her. She beamed with pleasure when I gave her “cab fare,” (it would have purchased a really long cab ride) and I have fond memories of an evening with an
intelligent, charming young woman.
So I’ll return to Thailand with pleasure. Of course, it has its drawbacks, as does everywhere else on Earth I’ve been. But if I can borrow from an old joke inquiring about one’s worst lovemaking encounter….”What was your worst experience like with a Thai girl?” Answer: Fabulous.
Retired Guy At Large
I like nice stories like this. We need more of them!