Stickman Readers' Submissions October 5th, 2007

Friends Or Lovers? Part 1

I first came to Bangkok in March 1981. I’d been working in the Channel Islands on a twelve month contract with a Canadian bank and after five months the three of us on the same job were paid out. So armed with a fistful of dollars I decided to visit relatives in Sydney. I’d been to Oz a couple of years before to see my ex-wife who kept hounding me for money and after reaching yet another financial settlement I spent a week or so exploring Perth. I liked what I saw. Part of the flight deal to Sydney was that I had to stop over in Bangkok for two nights. The only things I knew about the place was that it was the capital of old Siam, and the movie, The King and I. On arrival at the airport I teamed up with a couple of other Brits, likely lads like me, who were on the same deal and were staying at the same hotel so we agreed to share a taxi. The first thing that hit me outside was the wall of heat and humidity which was rather a shock to the system. Nowadays I’m used to it and treat it as a local greeting.

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Anyway we just about fitted in to one taxi, agreed a price, and drove out of the airport complex round a couple of multi level inter-sections and on to a straight highway. One of the few things I was good at in the army was map reading and orienteering and from the position of the setting sun which was on our left we were heading north. I knew from the map of Bangkok which I had been studying during the flight that the city was south of the airport, so I told the other two that we were going the wrong way, the comment from one of them was that maybe the driver knows a short cut! After about fifteen minutes or so he pulled into a driveway of what looked like a large hotel. Now, I knew that our hotel was in the city centre and this place certainly wasn’t. My suspicions were heightened when two very attractive ladies dressed in oriental garb came out of the building and opened the doors for us to get out which we did. They greeted us with what I now know to be a wai and beckoned us into the building. The penny still hadn’t dropped for me or the other two, but I’m sure you all know what’s coming next.

Yes you’ve got it, it was a knocking shop, the two dozen or so young ladies sitting behind the glass screen were all beautiful bar none and each wore a different numbered badge. This called for an immediate tete a tete between the three of us and we pretty much agreed that we would like some of this but not right at this time. We explained this very gently but quite positively and the two ladies smiled graciously, especially when we all said we’d come back. The taxi driver? Well he was full of smiles too. He’d probably got his bung for just delivering us there.

So after a beguiling hour’s delay we eventually arrived at our original hotel. I had experienced what was to become the norm on subsequent visits to Thailand, always expect the unexpected, corny maybe but true. Over the next two days we did the sights and some, not the Grand Palace or similar cultural settings but the coffee shop of the Grace Hotel and a couple of bent massage parlours, unfortunately not the first one, why travel for an hour when what you want is on your door step.

I vowed to return to Thailand one day.

1995 was the next time with my second wife, and on this occasion we did the tourist thing. She fell in love with the country and so did I, we then came over as often as we could afford, sometimes twice a year, went everywhere tourists go and some places they don’t. I always felt comfortable with the place, I could think straight, work out and work through problems that were ongoing back in the U.K. I could never establish why this was and still can’t even today. It wasn’t just the holiday feel. We’ve been to other places but I don’t feel the same way as I do when I’m in Thailand.

In 2003 I did something which I regret to this day. I had kept in touch over the years with a couple of old school mates even when I moved out of the area and one of them notified me that there was going to be a massive school reunion of our year. I went along and met up with some guys I hadn’t seen in thirty five years and we went over the usual old stories, absent friends who’d achieved what. One of the subjects which came up was a new web site which could be used to get in touch with old school friends, and when I got home I registered. I think you know where this is heading. Yes, I looked up old girlfriends too, found one who I had gone out with when I was twenty. We had a relationship for three months she then binned me. What was most annoying during that time was that I hadn’t given her one. So stupidly I contacted her, firstly by e-mail then by phone. She told me she’d recently divorced after thirty years of marriage. We talked about many things and eventually I met up with her. I’ll cut to the quick here. We had a relationship for a few months. Yes I did give her one this time, but it damaged my marriage, perhaps beyond repair. My wife didn’t / hasn’t forgiven me but we are still together, don’t have a physical relationship anymore but I can tell that there is a strong bond still between us with a lot of affection attached.

So what do I do to try and get over this? I come to Thailand alone, firstly in April 2004 then June. I would try and work through what went wrong, sitting in a bar with a bottle of beer Singha or three in front of me. I indulged in the local bar girl scene on a couple of occasions when I felt the need without attachments but this only made the thing worse I was doing exactly what I shouldn’t be doing, the same thing I had done to damage my marriage. There was no change at home in our relationship but at least it hadn’t got worse.

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I next visited Thailand in May 2005 and met somebody who I became very attached to both as a friend and a lover.

Stickman's thoughts:

Excellent start.

I can't say I have ever heard before of a taxi driver taking pick ups from the airport straight to a knocking house when the passengers had requested to be taken to a specific hotel. Still, this is Thailand and I really shouldn't be surprised!

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