Journey of Despair & Hope Chapter 3
I’d caught her out twice. She’d promised to stay in contact but only hours after I left she was not answering her phone. Now I was back home, going out of my mind (or perhaps I was already out of my mind for not walking away!). I couldn’t
eat or sleep. I SMSed her and emailed her. Finally, the next day, she emailed me with a lame set of excuses about being with her friend in Naklua, flat phone battery and then no top up. I sent her long and tormented emails begging for honesty
but of course the English was way beyond her and who knows what was lost in translation. She responded, acknowledging she’d been wrong before, promising her love, asking me to give her a chance to prove how much she loved me – and
the crazy thing was I believed she did love me in her way – but I still couldn’t be sure this meant she would be faithful.
I contacted the PI, who had still not been able to find her. Then finally a breakthrough the next day – I phoned him while she was online “chatting” to me and he was able to open a conversation, flirting with her. She agreed to meet him. But my credit was all gone – another 20,000 baht required with an assurance that now contact was made he would prove one way or the other what she was. I sent the money. The costs were mounting, further proof my emotions were out of control…
My girl turned up to meet the PI. I was mentally (but probably not emotionally) prepared for her to accept the PI’s cash offer but it was not to be so straight-forward.
The PI asked her “do you have a husband or boyfriend?” Her immediate answer was “yes” and she proceeded to tell the PI about me and how much she loved me, but also that she was a little “afraid” of me because I was “very jealous”. The PI asked her to stay with him but she said she could not, because of me. He pressed her, “I don’t want to be alone” and she said maybe she could meet him the next day but definitely “no boom-boom” and now she had to go. The PI’s opinion was that if he offered her enough money she would definitely sleep with him – but then “so would any girl in Thailand” and how hard did I want him to push?
It tore me apart. In one way the report was good. She was acknowledging her love for me, resisting an offer…but why did she flirt with him in the first place, and why did she leave the door open to see him again? I had to resolve this before I completely lost my mind. “Go for it”, I said.
I waited for the PI’s report without sleeping the night of the meeting. When it didn’t come I called him. Yes, she’d turned up for the meeting. When he’d offered her money he could see that she was tempted and got the impression that she was short, but nevertheless she said “no”. I noted his words to me at the time in an email to my friend’s Thai wife, and after all the negative buildup, they were surprising: "You are lucky to have her! She's a good girl. She's just a simple country girl and she is out of her depth in Pattaya. She's a bit naive and has made some bad friends but she really loves you. The problem is that as long as you are not with her, you are not completely real, just part of a simple girl’s dream of a better life. Someone else can come along and tell her a lot of bullshit and she could be taken in. I have NEVER seen a distance relationship with a girl in Thailand work – you have to be together."
I was ecstatic. I resolved to do everything possible for us to be together – but first I had to get a job, and so far had no success. Hope rejuvenated, I began helping her to put together the documents she would need for a visa application down under.
What I should have realised was that every email was a major undertaking for her – she had to pay to have mine translated, then write a reply, then have that translated into English and sent to me. The original budget of 20,000 a month to support her never contemplated this additional expense – anyone else conducting a distance relationship with a Thai girl of limited means and limited English needs to understand this. Yes they CAN live on 10,000 – but they can’t buy endless phone top up, or translate your emails or sit for hours in internet cafes to chat without more. We had a few difficult exchanges about money because I didn’t understand the reality for her here.
The “beauty school” had a graduation ceremony coming up at which my girl would “graduate”, even though in reality she had not completed the course and would not actually get to keep the certificate until she had done so. I was invited and went – it was a surprisingly huge event at a local hotel’s function rooms, with lots of speeches from various presumed dignitaries and more than a few farangs seated at the back to look on admiringly. Not least an unbelievable number of students – who clearly were not all in the school at the same time, more testimony to the school’s ugly reality.
But it was still a nice occasion. I started to load her bank account so that she could show means for her visa application, and I also had some unexpected other things to shell out for. Money aside, I was happy and felt things were progressing well…until one more note to the PI – just to say hi and let him know how it was going…I was flabbergasted at his response which although wishing me well, re-stated his initial bad impressions, that these were rarely wrong (as if he’d never said the positive things only four weeks earlier) and that he had recently conducted an investigation into her for another farang! All the ugly memories and doubts re-surfaced.
I immediately emailed the PI back, requesting clarification. Did the results of his other investigation confirm she was still seeing other men, or was it just ancient history biting back? I appreciated he couldn’t tell me about the other farang on confidentiality grounds, but if I give my permission for him to be contacted with my details could he make contact with me?
His response was blunt. Forget my girl – he had photographic proof she was still actively prostituting herself. She was the same as EVERY other Thai girl he had ever investigated and her “love” was simply for money. There was no possibility of contact between me and the other farang, the investigation agency would not allow it. The evidence of her deceit was available, but only on the basis of a new and expensive investigation!
Further discussion revealed that the other farang could not possibly have known my girl – nothing fit right. I was bewildered. What was the nature of this damning evidence? Meanwhile, Christmas came around and while I was chatting online to my girl she said she had no money to go home and could I give her 5,000 baht. I was taken aback because in addition to the 20,000 baht a month regular support I was already dispensing liberally for other things, not to mention 100,000 baht sitting in her bank account for visa application purposes, which to her credit she did not touch. However, her mother took 7,000 baht each month from my girl’s account for her own needs and seeing how much was there, asked my girl if she could have some more. Mother had become aware that there was a farang boyfriend – father was not – and when my girl explained the money was not available her response was, “but all farangs have money….”. Anyway, I thought my girl should have managed her money better and said an annoyed “no” to her request.
One of the little tricks I discovered which may interest readers – I haven’t tried recently to see if it works with the new yahoo messenger – but last year while my girl was logged in, I would log in as her to see who she was chatting to – it worked. I did so that day – and there was the PI! I logged back in as myself and sent “who are you chatting to?” She replied immediately with the PI’s name.
“Who’s he?” I asked.
“Just friend”, she replied.
Thinking “ok, it’s the PI looking out for my interests”, I let it go… Next day I relented and sent her the 5,000 baht.
Eventually I accepted another demand from the agency for 20,000 baht and arranged to visit my girl in early January this year to confront her, after first meeting the PI to receive the evidence. At the last minute the PI cancelled the meeting and instead emailed me the results of the investigation “for the other farang” that he had denied to me previously. Whooo—oo! The PI had persuaded my girl to go to a hotel with him and there was the “evidence” – photo of her ID card and phone, bra, and her asleep, apparently naked, in bed but under the covers. The PI had previously assured me there would be “no sex”.
There was more. A transcript of his chat conversation with her before Christmas. After I turned down her request for money to go home she had asked him on messenger for the 5,000 baht she clearly needed. Immediately he had responded with a request for explicit sexual favours all night. She had responded not with words but emoticons so there was no explicit agreement. Then he offered, “1,000 baht, okay?”
She replied, “5,000 baht!”
“How much for short time then?”
More emoticons, irrelevant chat, nothing consummated, but here surely was proof that she would still completely prostitute herself for money?
Sick to my stomach I made my way to Pattaya, thinking it was the last time, prepared with some harsh words and to leave her with the cash and to ponder what she lost. The first evening with her in her room, after dinner I confronted her: “I know you had other men again, now please tell me the truth”
“Darling I say to you I not have sex with other men again, I love you…”
“I had you followed – do I have to show you photo of you and other man having sex?”
“No, impossible, I not have sex with other man…”
“After I caught you second time and went to Singapore you said you answer phone always but you did not. You went back to ***** didn’t you? I have photo of you with him, I know the truth, now tell me! I had you followed.”
“But I not have sex with him! After you go, he call me and ask me why I don’t see him and I tell him I have boyfriend. He want me explain, so I meet him at hotel”
“You bloody slept with him!” I roared.
“But I not have sex with him.”
“What, you just take clothes off and sleep with him but no sex?” I asked sarcastically
“Yes”, she insisted.
“And you think that’s alright?! I shouted at her. You take all your clothes off and lie in bed with another man and I should think this is alright?!!
“But I not have sex…”
“Okay, I go now, see your friend at **** Club and take her to hotel. We take our clothes off and touch but not have sex, okay with you???”
She was sobbing deeply now, “You can if you want!”
“You happy if I do this, are you?”
“No—ooo,” she sobbed, holding the pillow to her chest and rocking backwards and forwards, tears soaking the pillow case.
“You don’t f***** love me, you just want money!”
“I do love you. You don’t have to give me any more money, I get job”
“You always lie, I can never trust you again!”
“But I not have sex!”
“Who else you sleep with?, I demanded
“I already told you, just *****” she insisted.
I produced the transcript. “You know I can always get into computer”, I said.
She nodded numbly. “I hacked in and see when you chat to ****** (the PI).”
I read it to her, savagely emphasising her request for 5,000 baht and the PI’s explicit requests. “So you will F*** him for 5,000 baht, but you want me to believe you just take clothes off and not have sex”, I screamed at her with biting incredulity.
“I ask him for money, but I not go with him.”
“Because he not pay!!”
“I know he not pay 5,000 baht for sex. No-one pay 5,000 baht because can get anywhere for 1,000 baht. I joke with him. I not go with him.
“But you did go with him another time didn’t you?”
She hung her head silently for a while and then quietly sobbed “yes, but I not have sex with him, just stay with him, because he lonely.”
I berated her and cursed my own stupidity for much of the night, but in the end I believed what she said. The PI had promised no sex. She had previously agreed to meet him but said “no boom-boom” because she had me. What logical process can make a girl believe she is not prostituting herself if she is naked with another man in bed, even without sex, is beyond my comprehension, but there it was. And despite it all, I truly believe she loved me then, as she loves me now.
I held her and we made love. Afterwards I asked “How much ***** give you to stay with him?”
“And how much from *****(the PI)?”
“Now I don’t have job. I give you 20,000 baht every month and pay your school fees. Difficult for me now to give you money….”
“You want I leave school? I get job in Bangkok if you want…then you don’t need to give me much”.
“No”, I replied. “I want you to think about what you did. How much you think I get every month when I work?”
“I don’t know…maybe 50,000 baht, she replied.
“No”, I said. “250,000 baht. And I start new job end of this month”.
She silently took this in. “You know how much I pay detective to find out you lie to me”…pausing to let her reflect some more… “nearly 80,000 baht. I could have paid your mother’s debt with this money already but now don’t have.”
“You don’t have to pay” she said. “I know I wrong. It’s my problem, I can get job”.
“How much you get from men all the times you do and lie to me after I meet you”.
“I don’t know, not too much” she answered.
“You think 20,000 baht? I asked.
“No, not so much”.
“Well let’s say it was 20,000 baht. You do bad, and lie to me and hurt me for 20,000 baht. But now you lose 80,000 baht I could have given you but had to pay detective. Kao jai mai?”
“ Kao jai. I am sorry darling. But you don’t give me any more money. I love you. I stay with you anyway.”
Her student visa application was rejected but she was finally granted a multi-entry 90 day visitor visa that effectively allowed her 6 months in Australia. She arrived in February and immediately I used the money in the account to clear the family debt that had hung over her and pushed her into a life she never really wanted but couldn’t resist. She went to English school for three months. I never imagined she could work so hard. In class on time without fail, and every night she studied late, making good steady progress to pre-intermediate, almost intermediate from a minimal base. But I had other financial pressures and could not afford a further three months’ fees. She stayed two months more but became bored because she could not work and I was, so I sent her back to Beauty School in Pattaya to complete her course, and get her certificate. By the end of December, or January at the latest she will be a qualified hairdresser and beautician. Was that a crazy risk? Maybe, but also a test and so far she’s passing!
She is in school every day now when she should be. She has never missed a phone call. When I’m not there, which is most of the time, she spends the evenings watching TV with some friends in the same condo block, and studying English grammar. I send her less money now and she lives in a less attractive room, with no air, no TV and no fridge, and she doesn’t complain. She is more truthful now – even when she knows she has done something I won’t like, but like most Thais, a calm surface is probably still more important to her than clean water underneath.
Hope, despair, hope again. A happy ending? I don’t know…. After all this time, some of the practical realities are more obvious – we have little in common. An intellectual conversation? Forget it. A brisk walk together – how could I be so jai rai to even think of inflicting such torture? Fine wine and dining? She hates wine – it makes her sick, and though she has to her credit learned to enjoy some Western food, especially Italian, som tum has no competition. Great sex? Yes…she has learned to enjoy it (she never used to), but will never need it to the same extent I do. Affection, attention, yes like only a Thai girl can give…
The immediate plan is for her to get some hairdressing work experience while I try to teach her about the financial realities of running a business – then either purchase a Beauty Salon or start one. Will we be together in the future? I honestly don’t know now. I mentioned the practical issues and there are more. Sooner or later you need to include other people in your lives – I mean mutual friends. We don’t have these. I can’t imagine that my girl would ever be welcomed into the circle of likely work colleagues if I work in Thailand, nor will I ever find much in common with her friends. And even though I’ve moved on past what has been done, will I ever be free from the nagging doubts and mistrust – the legacy of her duplicity?
If we split will she return to the bar life? I really don’t think so. The pressure of family debt that combined with betrayal from her own common law husband pushed her into it, albeit with little resistance is gone and she never actually enjoyed the life. More likely she could be a target for another less farang with false promises, but I think she’s smart enough to avoid the worst pitfalls in that direction.
Maybe we’ll be together, maybe not. Was it worth it? I don’t know. It tested my finances and my emotional sanity. But I survived. And she has come through I think in a better place. She is out of the bar and doesn’t want to go back. Her family debt is gone. She has marketable skills that can bring her financial independence. And maybe from this dumb farang who persevered beyond reason with her she has learned something…I’m not sure what.
This was my last instalment. However I wondered whether readers might be interested in my musings about the complexity of motives at work in some of these girls, about private investigations and how to avoid being screwed and various other things that have occurred to me through my experience with the passing of time and a little more emotional distance. If so, let Stick know and he’ll pass it on to me.
Yes, yes, more would be great! I'd love to hear what you have to say about PIs.
For readers' info, I met the fellow who wrote these submissions and was amazed at how much the PI charged him – outrageous sums.