Friends Or Lovers Part 2
I returned to Thailand in May 2005 after a gap of around eleven months. Things at home were still uneasy although we had reached a sort of stalemate situation. We were at best, good friends, and at worst companions, not a lot of difference really is there.
There were no rows but I wouldn’t or maybe couldn’t talk about what had happened with that old girlfriend, was too ashamed too, if I was honest, and I felt a lot of guilt as well. I’d been to Thailand many times and with B
my wife, both loving the country, she could understand why I was going by myself, and knew that I was trying to assess what we were going to do for the future, as I mentioned before it is one of the only places where I can work out personal and
work problems. Scotland is another place but Thailand has better weather and I can understand the Thais speaking Thai better than the sweats trying to speak English!
I had booked a package through a travel agent for the last time. Nine days, nice hotel on Soi 5. Subsequently did all bookings via the Internet myself, found it cheaper and more flexible. No wonder a lot of travel agents are shutting up shop over here. The Bangkok flight landed mid afternoon in one hell of a storm and the golf course that runs parallel between the two main runways was barely visible. It was quite unnerving and I recalled that a few years before, a Qantas flight skidded off the runway on to the golf course in similar conditions. Can you imagine that all you golfers out there, lining up your birdie putt on the twelfth green and you see a bloody great 747 slithering up the fairway towards you. Oft quoted, and yes only in Thailand.
The hotel reception recognised me from my two previous solo visits and I was upgraded to a deluxe room. Good start. Went downhill from there, for the first four days same uninteresting and unhelpful routine, up at ten, breakfast in Foodland, read the Bangkok Post, move to base camp, a bar run by a Brit on Soi 7/1, commence alcohol intake as soon as the sun has passed over the yard arm, (that’s about midday for you non-sailors). Discuss sport, politics, Thaksin’s latest antics, with whoever would listen to an old fart like me, then back to the hotel for a kip. <This is the life that *many* early retirees live in Thailand…for those of you who want to retire early, think again – Stick> A shower, an evacuation of the bowels, and a shave later, exit the hotel, eat, then hit the bright lights, usually base camp, although one evening I went to Radio City in Patpong for the Elvis show. Kevin me old mate your drinks are getting a bit pricey.
And so it came to pass that on the fourth day, actually it was about 1.30 AM on the fifth morning that I found myself slumped on a plastic chair leaning on a plastic table on Sukhumvit Road supping beer Singha from a china mug. Amazing Thailand, the bars throw you out at 1 AM by law, yet you can get a drink on the street just after. At this point I decided rather unwisely to stretch my legs, stood up, took two paces forward and went down like a lead zeppelin. Now I firmly believe that the cause of this unfortunate accident was the unevenness of the pavement but in hindsight the fact that I had a couple of gallons of beer onboard may well have contributed. Two pairs of hands grabbed hold of my stationary torso and helped me back into the chair, one pair belonged to the barman who quick as a flash said “Another drink, sir?” Not, are you all right, are you hurt?
I looked at who the other pair of hands belonged to, and instinctively said, “Thank you for helping me please let me buy you a drink.”
She sat down opposite looked across at me and said to the barman, “Two teas please.” Actually I didn’t understand what she said as she spoke in Thai but within a couple of minutes two teas had arrived.
“My name is Pa (not her real name). I come from Ban Phu near Udon and I live Bangkok, have house near where new airport is being built.” Her English was reasonable. In my semi-comatose state I took her in, not in the first flush of youth, darkish skin, long black inky hair (now there’s a surprise), lovely set of teeth, scruffily dressed, with not a scrap of make up on. “I need toilet for poop poop.” She got up, nice arse too! I downed the tea in one, felt slightly better and ordered two more. Soon she returned and I stood up as she sat down, about 5 foot 1, 8 stone, that’s 50 kilos for those of you on new money. I gave her the usual, name, rank, serial number bit and asked her what she did for a living as if I didn’t already know, with her walking home at 1.30 in the morning. She produced a business card with a phone number two e-mail addresses and the name of the bar she worked in Nana. My suspicions were confirmed, a bar girl but what the hell. We chatted on, I asked her if she had any children and she produced two photos from her bag, boy and girl which I looked at. Her ID card also fell on to the table. I had a little peek saw that the year of her birth was 2502, quick mental arithmetic even in my poor state told me she was 46.
She looked pretty good for 46. She asked me how old I was. “50” I lied, how old are you?
“40” she lied, then she laughed, “Actually me 46 too old to be dancing round a pole.” I didn’t amend my opening age gambit! We talked some more, her Thai husband had been killed in a motor bike accident 13 years before, she had four sisters and five brothers and worked the bars to support everybody. “I go now, I’m seeing son early tomorrow, no it’s later today now.”
“Okay I’ll pay the bill and get you a taxi.”
“No no. No taxi, taxi driver bad men this time of night me walk, not go home am staying with girl friend on Soi 57 tonight.”
“Pa that’s still over an hour’s walk.” Then I did a really silly thing, I think you all know what’s coming.
“Pa, it’s very late, why don’t you come back to my hotel it’s only a short walk, I have two beds in the room.” She looked very perplexed which surprised me a little, after all she was a bar girl and may have been looking for some late night trade, but her reaction was totally different. Maybe and I know it sounds corny, maybe the bar had gone out of the girl when she left Nana. Whatever, in my state I would have been unable to perform anyway. I paid the bill and she grabbed my arm or maybe it was the other way round.
At hotel reception we went unchallenged and as we got to the room, she was physically shaking. As I put the key in the door I looked down at her. I really didn’t know what to say. “Pa, listen I’m a friend not a customer, you’re my friend not a bar girl.” She half smiled.
We got into the room she picked her phone out of her bag, “Me phone my friend.” After the short call ended she went into the bathroom and closed the door. I could hear the shower. Eventually she emerged and told me to look the other way,
which I did. I turned round when I thought appropriate, she was in bed with the covers up to her chin. I showered, wrapped the towel around me and got into the other bed. As I leaned over to turn the light off she looked at me. “Andy, thank
you, you have good heart.”
I awoke with a start, it was still dark, I felt an arm around me and a warm body next to mine. She was awake too. “Sorry Andy you have air-con too high, me cold.” I turned over and kissed her lightly, then fell asleep again.
It was light when I woke up and when I came to, I looked around, she’d gone. As quick as a rat up a drainpipe I jumped up and checked my valuables. Nothing missing. I felt myself asking did I dream all of this. Went into the bathroom for a run off and noticed a comb beside the sink which wasn’t mine. Then I saw her card on the table and looked at her phone number for what must have been a very long time. Sod it I’ve got to give the comb back! If the comb hadn’t been left I would have found another excuse to ring her. She was still with her son but we arranged to meet for a late lunch in the Huntsman as she needed to go home and get changed. Something inside of me wanted to say, bring enough clothes for four days, but I thought better of it, didn’t know what her reaction would be.
She turned up dead on time. I was on my second pint and needed a bit of Dutch courage. She waiied me which I returned then kissed me on the cheek. “Finish your drink it’s expensive to eat here, we go round corner in Nana.”
So I had my first taste of som tam. I had always wondered what those old ladies were pounding with the pestle and mortar. It was delicious but I would ask for a few less chilies next time!
We sat down at a table outside one of the first bars past the entrance to NEP and I ordered a beer Pa had a coffee. I was a little bit lost for words so I asked her what she had in the bag she was carrying, she started giggling then reached down and picked a small box out of it. “This is for you, you were kind to me last night, go on open it.” It was a lovely hand painted china mug. “For tea.”
Whether she was hinting that I was drinking too much I’ll never know, but it was a lovely gesture, then I blurted it out. “Pa I go home in four days. Would you like to spend that time with me?”
She started giggling again. “I hoped you ask that,” and opened up the bag. Yes you’ve guessed it, enough clothes for four days.
Then came the difficult bit, the bar fine. I hadn’t lost sight of the fact that she was a bar girl but didn’t know quite how to proceed. I asked Pa where her bar was and she pointed upwards, so a couple of minutes later I made an excuse to go to the toilet and went instead up to her bar and asked to see the mamasan. I didn’t go into the bar but through the curtains noticed that the lights were on and some of the girls were putting on their make up. This rather large middle aged lady came up to me smiled and asked me what I wanted. Believe it or not this is exactly how the conversation went. “I want to bar fine one of your girls for four days, her name’s Pa.”
“Have four girls name Pa here.”
“She’s got long black hair comes from Isaan.”
“Have four girls name Pa long black hair come from Isaan.”
“Near Udon.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out what she said next.
“Have four girls here name Pa long black hair come from Isaan near Udon.”
I reverted to plan B which should have been implemented in the first place took mamasan’s hand looked over the balcony and pointed. “Oh Pa? She good girl, two thousand four hundred baht.”
I handed over three thousand which she took. “You buy drink mamasan?” I nodded. She came back with four hundred and fifty change. “You look after Pa she one of my best girls.”
Yes mamasan, I thought, I really wanted to know that.
Back downstairs, business was getting busier and it was starting to get dark. I sat down. Pa had an odd look on her face “Mamasan just call me, why you pay bar fine you friend not customer?” I was lost for words again and I think she realised it. She smiled, kissed me on the cheek, and grabbed hold of my hand. “Me already pay checkbin. Come on we’ve got four days.”
The days went very quickly. She took me to places I’d never been, would barter for me in the markets and would use her discount card in Robinsons. Okay I would water and feed her but she didn’t drink and we would mostly eat on the street. But and it’s a big but there was still this odd protocol in the bedroom as in the first night, this time it was night and morning. She would also fix the air-con so she wasn’t cold! I didn’t dare ask why there was no hanky panky, but I was desperate to give her one. The final day dawned and I had a list of stuff to get to take home. Included were chilies and unripe papaya for som tam. “Don’t buy those in Foodland Andy, cheaper Klong Toey market."
If you’ve never been to Klong Toey market give it a go, mainly fruit and veg and there are things there not for the faint hearted, but I bought enough chilies for life and enough unripe papaya to live on som tam for a month all
for about sixty baht. I bought a few other things then we went back to the hotel.
“Andy, final evening I dress sexy for you, have shower first.” She went into the bathroom and I flicked through the TV channels, nothing much on, she came out of the bathroom, nothing much on, except for the ubiquitous towel covering the good bits.
I went into the bathroom, “You no come out until I tell you.” So I had a leisurely soak and dozed for about twenty minutes. Pa knocked the door “You come out now, close eyes.” I got out of the bath half dried myself and with closed eyes stepped into the bedroom. “Okay open eyes.”
Now I’m not one to dish out expletives unless I’m at a rugby match, where I might question the referee’s parents’ marital status or call him after the name of a female’s lower sexual organ, but all I could utter was “‘kin ‘ell.” What greeted my eyes was a gorgeous sexy Thai lady, a drink on a stick call it what you will, a street urchin transformed into a beautiful woman. Lovely black short skirt half way between her knees and her Playstation, high heels, halter neck showing her shoulders, a small amount of make up.
She smiled, “you like?”
“Yes Pa.” I thought briefly, “Pa no street food tonight. We’ll go to Cabbages. So we went out grabbed a taxi, “Soi sip sawng,” I said to the taxi driver. Pathetic isn’t it, been to Thailand over a dozen times and all I can do in Thai is count up to twenty. Hadn’t been to Cabbages for a few years it had changed a lot, now a bit like Santa’s grotto, but the food was excellent as always.
I asked Pa if she would like some wine, “I don’t drink but it’s last night yes.” So we split a bottle of wine. “You like sing song later?” I nodded. Time went very quickly. I paid the bill and we left. On the
way out Pa grabbed a couple of handfuls of the free condoms which were available, looked at me and smiled. “For work!” Yeah bloody right I thought, certainly not for me.
The sing song bar was on the corner of Asoke and Cowboy. I can’t remember the name, karaoke with a difference you sing with a live band. Piled on the beers and Pa kept pace with me on gin and tonics. I should have seen the danger signs. Soon it was midnight and Pa suggested we go back to the hotel. She stood up and nearly went down again. She was as bad as I was on our opening night. It got worse. There were a lot of tuktuks lurking nearby and I agreed an expensive price with one and as Pa attempted to get in the back, she puked up all over the seat. I paid the man and said to Pa, “we walk.”
About twenty five minutes and two further Technicolor yawns later we were back in the room. “Me no drink,” Pa said and unceremoniously took off her clothes and got into bed. Soon she was snoring like a piglet. Sod this I thought, so I turned the air-con up as high as it would go hoping for you know what, stripped off and got into the other bed and waited. I must have fallen asleep as I woke up with aching legs I was bloody cold. Pa was still snoring away to her heart’s content. I put the light on and searched for extra bedding, nothing.
There was only one thing to do. It was now shit or bust so I jumped into Pa’s bed for warmth and soon fell asleep. She woke up first, my right hand was in a rather naughty place. She shook me and I was awake too. She kissed me properly for the first time which surprised me, and whispered, “Me think you only like me as friend you no want boom me. Now you in my bed you want boom me.” So Pa wouldn’t make the first move as she thought that I thought she was only a friend.
“Pa I wanted to boom you within ten seconds of meeting you.” I had mistakenly thought that as a bar girl she would make the first move but she wanted me to.
Fortunately I had arranged a late check out from the hotel the previously day as my flight home wasn’t until after midnight so from getting past the unfortunate misunderstanding we certainly made up for it big time. Late afternoon I packed, we showered together and got dressed together. I phoned down to and waited for my luggage to be collected. Pa looked at me, “We good friends Andy.”
“Yes and lovers, Pa.”
As mentioned before I was on a package deal thus when the limo turned up the driver was only expecting one passenger to take to the airport. Obviously I wanted Pa to come with me but he refused to take her. He wanted two hundred baht. I said no and that if he didn’t take her I would phone the travel company and report him. Wrong move! As soon as we got on the expressway he drove in such a way that the proverbial shits were put up me. Pa was asleep.
The time to Don Muang must have pushed the all time record. Put this guy in a formula one racing car and he would have come a close second to Schumacher, Michael that is. He would have beaten Ralf! He got out and took my luggage from the boot. Pa had
woken up by then and she got out. The driver smiled at me and said, “Have a safe journey home.” I shook his hand, smiled gave him two hundred baht, and said, “Thank you for the ride.” No loss of face all round. <Ah no, YOU lost face – Stick>
I checked in and then we went and had something to eat. Pa went to the toilet and I slipped some money into her bag. She hadn’t and didn’t ask me for any. Whatever her thoughts when she found it she would have to deal with. She asked me if I would come back to see her which I did five months later.
In part three there will be happiness, sadness, secrets, lies and heart breaking tragedy.
A fun story. I am kind of surprised that you did not initiate things earlier!