Stickman Readers' Submissions April 5th, 2007

Delightful SE Asian Wife – Holidaying in SE Asia

China Hotel Guide
• Chunyi Hotel Changchun
• Days Hotel Changchun
• Intl Conference Center Changchun
• Maxcourt Hotel Changchun

Our first touch-down at Suvarnabhumi airport. Impressive indeed. We start our trek towards immigration.

The new, glamorous setting is fitting: While I marvel at the construction, I remind myself that this is not only our first time at Suvarnabhumi. It is also the first time Nahlee and I fly two ways *together* – eastbound *and* westbound. And it is the first time we fly *out* to Asia together and then fly *back home* to Europe together. We are married now.

He Clinic Bangkok

Reader, this is a change for an intercontinental relationship.

Now it's no more Richard Marx, those…

…oceans apart

CBD bangkok

day after day

and I slowly go insane…


After wrong information on the monitors, a polite and well-dressed THAI employee finally guides us to the correct luggage carousel. She informs us that we only have to wait another 60 minutes for the bags. But there are chairs for our convenience, as she points out. We sit down next to the conveyor belt and, in a jet-lagged daze, stare at the odd suitcase rumbling past.

Sparkling new Suvarnabhumi airport! Our bags won't come so fast. I notice the ceiling in the baggage claim consists of gridiron. It looks like, I don't know, a machine-room? Not a smart, worthy look, I think.

wonderland clinic

Now Nahlee, my SE Asian wife, looks into the same direction.

"Hans, why do they put gridiron on the ceiling? That's not smart: Lots of small animals will lounge in the opening behind the gridiron. And it will be difficult to remove them. Hans, why do they do that?

Hans, look, as I told you: There are big spider webs on the gridiron already. You see? And they are difficult to remove from that gridiron. And if you remove them, the spider webs will all be back tomorrow."


We walk along the glamorous beach to look for an inviting beachfront bungalow.

"Look, Nahlee, this bungalow there – it has a shady terrace, it has beach view, it seems to be free. We take it?"

"Oh, Hans, but see the big spirit house next to the bungalow! I am not so happy with that! IF you really want to stay there, I will follow you everywhere in the evening, until you go home. Even to the noisy blues club we saw yesterday."

"Why, Nahlee, the spirit house is great for us: All ghosts and ancestors have a beautiful place to stay, so they will surely not haunt the modest bungalow next door!"

"…" (Very sceptical look.)

We walk on.


She didn't understand in the first place what one could do in a drab provincial town. So when I set out for an afternoon stroll, Nahlee, my SE Asian wife, stays behind in the hotel.

To my own surprise, around sunset I discover something like a beach cocktail bar. They've logged sand to the riverside, put a few cosy lamps on the palm trees and a cocktail menu on the bamboo tables. Now here is a place to stay.

After test-ordering the first Caipirinha I call Nahlee's mobile number. "Nahlee, come here! I discovered a lovely beach cocktail bar. I have a waitress standing next to me, and she will tell you on the phone how to find here. You'll love it, and they have spicy Thai food too!"

"Wait a moment, Hans!" I hear voices in the background. Where is Nahlee?

While I had been wandering, Nahlee says she has befriended the hotel's kitchen staff. All together they've cooked up a whopping noodle soup. They will now eat it right in the hotel kitchen, because there are no dinner guests so far.

"Hans, please come and eat noodle soup with us here in the kitchen."


We are in a remote mountain lodge. Nahlee's eldest brother, a very relaxed and easy-going guy, has this time been our driver on my in-law's shiny Nissan jeep. We just arrived and look forward to a few days of relaxation. I believe we don't even have mobile phone reception here.

When Nahlee's phone starts to ring.

She listens and gives me a worried look. She hangs up.

"Hans… parents have a surprising, great business opportunity. If they buy fast, this would be a sure profit after some time. But they have almost no free money right now. The bank will release serious money only two weeks from now. They already borrowed some 10,000 USD from uncles. But they need 3,000 USD more, fast…"

The Thai in-laws need money from me. They promise to pay it back within two weeks. But I don't have a lot of cash here, and there is no ATM for my credit cards.

"So we have to drive back to your parents, if they need cash fast", I think aloud to Nahlee.

"Well, if you can, you just give your credit cards to the brother, he can drive back to the parents tomorrow morning."

"But then they need the PIN number."

"Yes, of course. Up to you. We can also just do nothing, or we drive all back together and stop somewhere at the next ATM."

I hate the idea of bumping back down the rocky road just hours after we arrived in tranquil nature. About the in-laws, I admit that I partly love them because they are so exotic, funny and entertaining. But so far, in important matters, they have been perfectly reliable and reasonable. They are easier to deal with than certain westerners. Before marrying Nahlee, I not only made my mind up about her, but also about her family; result: They are ok, we can grow together.

Usually, the in-laws pamper me with great food and the best possible accommodation. We may use their car even if they would need it for business or pleasure. I have gladly helped them with some IT problems previously, because I have a strong family feeling towards them. Sometimes I feel that their friendliness is an (unconscious) program to make me more protective and supportive towards Nahlee, their beloved youngest daughter, my wife.

And now the Thai in-laws need money from me. And I'll do it. It is another fine way of mixing my juices with this family and kind of growing together. And I won't leave the mountain lodge.

I give two credit cards plus PIN numbers to Nahlee's brother. The cash and another credit card I keep. I explain the daily limits, they will have to visit the ATM two times. "She said 3000 is definitely enough", Nahlee confirms again. Brother boards the Nissan and bounces off.

Three days later, the brother returns by car, and with my credit cards. "We took 2500 USD", he says, "you get them two weeks later."

Four days later I check my bank accounts on the internet and see that they took 2500 USD indeed. And yet four days later the sum comes back. All in all this transaction is so trivial that you wonder why the expert readership here on should be bothered to read these 550+ words about it.


In our return luggage, we have several large custom-made baskets. I want to get rid of them soon. We stuff some other souvenirs and dress into the baskets, we stuff the baskets into a cardboard box, then we visit the post office. The price is high though, over 3000 Baht. I shrug, but Nahlee refuses to accept this price. So it's a shlep back for the box.

In a narrow soi near Pratunam, Nahlee discovers a suitcase on wheels. Or not exactly a suitcase on wheels, but more like a backpack with a frame on wheels. After merciless, persistent, Nahlee-style haggling, the rolling backpack can be had for 680 Baht. And Nahlee doesn't give 20 Baht tip, as the vendor may have calculated. The 20 Baht are used to buy strong duct tape.

Back in the hotel, I have to heave the cardboard box with all our basketry and such onto the empty rolling backpack. She ties the duct tape around box and backpack. After tieing around ten times, I see the result: A monstrous cardboard box on rolls! And it works: We do a test trip up and down the hotel floor, and the cardboard box wobbles with us like any suitcase on wheels.


Touchdown in Old Europe, and we just get onto the last train home. It is 11.30 p.m., but our bodies say 5.30 a.m. Bangkok time. In the train, Nahlee's head sinks onto my shoulder. My head sinks onto her head. "Hope we don't miss our train station", I manage to worry before I fall asleep.


I don't have to worry about missing the right station. My old buddy Mr. Peter is on the train too, and according to him, we looked so sweet sleeping there that he just had to wake us up to tell us how sweet we look. And – FLASH! – he shoots his Kodak digicam at us.

Nahlee blinks and does what she does best: She gives Peter an affirmative smile and sinks back into sleep. Or so it seems. I have to try to stay tuned into his stories, he had just come back from a Buddhist meditation weekend in the capital, oh well, he still is elated, and this would sure be something for my Buddhist wife, and the teachers there –

Fortunately, Peter has to get off the train before us. "He's gone", I whisper to Nahlee. She is immediately fully awake and gives me another affirmative smile. She looks out of the window and hits me hard: "HANS, LOOK!!! It SNOWS!"


I don't think snow is so practical when you still have a ten-minute walk home from the train station, and without a taxi in sight. But joyful Nahlee bursts out of the train and hugs a hundred snow flakes. Only then she notices that the snowfall is really thick, and it is cold to boot.

That doesn't dampen Nahlee's mood. She opens her regular suitcase on wheels and drags out a few items: She puts socks around her hands as gloves. She dons her tropical hat against the snow. "Hans, you need my other socks too, around your hands?"

We set out into the black night. Snow-covered empty streets. You only hear the rumbling of two real suitcases on wheels and another huge cardboard box on wheels – dragged by two bizarre people, wearing tropical hats, socks around their hands, and sneakers.

We come to the first big street light. The snow flakes in the street light look impressive against the pitch-black snow. Nahlee stops and stares in awe. I shudder: From Bangkok to here, we have lost about 40 degrees Celsius. I want to get home, start the heating and a hot chocolate. Not so my tropical wife, who says: "This is so wonderful, Hans!"

For she loves snow so much more than her chilled through husband.

Stickman's thoughts:

Delightful! The two of you must have looked quite a sight wading through the snow late at night!

The author of this article can be contacted at: hansmeiermail at googlemail dot com.
nana plaza