Stickman Readers' Submissions November 26th, 2007

Bangkok Dream (Via Internet)

I met Pung in an internet chat room in the UK. I was just trying to chat to some lady and sent her a wee message to say hello. She had a picture on her profile and to be honest she was too lovely and I hesitated to PM her. But I did and before I knew it we were chatting a little. I remember sending her an email and then we chatted a little on MSN.

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She was in her thirties and working in management in Bangkok. I just thought of her as a friend and to be honest was interested in finding out about her as she was exotic and seemed different. I was not thinking of a relationship. Pung's English was really good and we had fun chats and got to know each other. She was chatting to other guys and I remember her asking me about falling in love on the internet. I think there was a guy in Germany she was interested in. I thought I was too old for her and was not interesting to her so I spoke to her like a friend I guess.

I knew a little about internet relationships: I had got involved with a couple of women in the US. I almost met one of them in South Carolina. I did meet a woman in Ireland I had met online. So Pung and me started chatting and emailing more and more over the next few weeks.

Then one day it suddenly seemed serious between us. The chatting was different. We were close. It was around Loy Krathong – she explained this to me. I got a little upset somehow and tried to end the friendship. I felt really silly – 10 years older than this lovely young woman and thinking of being in love with her even though we had never met. She got upset with me and was crying in the toilet at work. She begged me to be her friend and to keep chatting. Eventually I gave in, and I told her some things about my past to let her know some things about me. Then we started chatting more seriously. Each day almost.

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We tried web cams- and I can still remember seeing her for the first time on her friend’s cam. She is so beautiful. I sent her some pictures of where I stayed. We began to text now and then. I spoke to her briefly on the phone. We were both shy and unsure. We had talked about me going to see her in Bangkok. We even began to talk about getting married. She explained that in Thailand it was serious for a woman to start seeing a man. We talked about me moving to Bangkok, and for her coming to Scotland. She knew I was not rich and had debts and nowhere wonderful to stay. I always seemed to be negative and she was the hopeful one. Pung spoke of destiny for us and about accepting and taking a chance. She mesmerised me and dazzled me.

So in the middle of December I was arranging a trip to Bangkok. I had to arrange a flight and hotel near her work. I then realised I had to renew my passport and arrange this first thing in New Year in Glasgow. I paid for the flight on 24th December 2005. Pung was going to the South for Christmas with some friends. She was going to an island to be on the beach and going snorkelling with a big group of friends. It was an island near Phi Phi. We couldn't chat or text for three days. She sent me a last text from the boat as it was leaving the pier wishing me Happy Christmas.

I woke up at 5:10 AM UK time on Boxing Day to the news story about the Tsunami. The next 24 hours were a nightmare. I was so scared she had been caught in the waves. Finally I got a message from her. She was in an internet café on the mainland. Her friends were out at sea diving in the coral when the waves came and they were transferred to a Thai naval ship and taken to safety. She was all right and so were all her friends. It felt like a miracle.

This internet relationship was more and more real to me. I was scared and nervous as my flight approached. We even argued a little and got upset a bit. Four weeks later I was flying into Bangkok on an Emirates plane, wondering what was going to happen over the next 2 weeks. I met Pung with her friend Lek and they took me for Japanese food and then to rest at my hotel.

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Pung drove us about and I was stunned really sitting with these 2 beautiful smiling educated ladies who bought me lunch and chatted with me. But Pung was the most lovely. For the next 2 weeks Pung and Lek took me around Bangkok and down to Pattaya and to Koh Samet Island. Most of the time I could not pay for a meal. Pung would not let me. I had to trick her and give her 5,000 baht after about a week. And by arguing a little I managed to pay for 50% of the hotel rooms on the Pattaya and Koh Samet trip. I was amazed.

I felt like a god walking in this exotic city with these two beautiful women. Lek was kind of like a chaperone and by the second week Pung and me were comfortable enough to go around together alone. I felt a little weird walking along the main beach with them both in Pattaya as I realised this was where the bargirls were and I felt strange walking with them both to this club to meet a gay friend of Lek's. On Koh Samet I felt like I was in paradise, in the boat shaped room on this hotel on the beach. I was walking with these two model beautiful women who were posing for pictures with each other, laughing and having a good time with me.

We shared a room on the trip, Thai style. It was like a dream for me those two weeks. Pung and I kissed at first. In private, in my hotel room. She never stayed over and the hotel staff always showed her respect. Within a few days we were almost intimate. Then at Koh Samet we grabbed a few hours when Lek went to the internet café on the next beach. We made love and it was her first time. It wasn't wonderful and yet it was. We made love several times before I left. We talked more about marriage and being together and what we could do. She cried before I left. She asked if she could come and visit me to see if she could move to Scotland to be with me. I was so happy and yet sad when we parted, because now it was real.

Pung came to Scotland for 2 weeks in May and stayed with me. She had to pretend with her mum, that she was staying with a friend outside London who was a student there. But she did tell her mum that came and saw me. It was magical being with her here in Scotland. My chance to show her around and take care of her. We talked more about marriage and decided to save and see if we could take a chance. We chatted every day nearly and texted and spoke a little on the phone.

I went back in October and met her family and saw her again. I had to talk to her mum and dad through her sister. I spoke about loving Pung and wanting to marry her. When I visited their house I was really nervous, but it was OK because the house dog jumped and peed on me within 5 minutes so that broke the ice. I got 20 questions from her mum and I really thought she was going to say no to me. The main thing she wanted was to know was that I was really divorced and not lying and whether I could afford to take care of Pung. I was asked could I accept their way of the family being involved even after we were married. And she said yes. I was told that next time I came to Bangkok, I could stay at the house.

Now we got serious and planned the marriage. I was careful about money and worked extra and saved hard. I chatted every day with Pung and chatted on web cam. Next hurdle was the visa- but it was no hurdle. 4 weeks after putting in the application Pung was told she could get her visa- no interview and no questions. All she needed was a marriage certificate. I quickly arranged time off work and flew to see her in February just over a year after we first met in Bangkok. I had known this woman maybe 45 days and now we were going to marry. We had talked about a ring – she wanted a diamond ring to show her mum that I was serious. I think it was nearly £2000 in the end. I had a 100,000 baht as a gift to her mum and dad. I didn't even know this was called sin sot.

In the first few days we got married at the Thai registration office after a formal engagement ceremony with her family. We then sorted the passports and documents and got the visa at the embassy. But I couldn't sleep with my new wife until after a Buddhist ceremony with her family at the temple and we were properly married – and we had gone to Pattaya together for a 2 night honeymoon.

Pung had asked me if her mum could visit with us and after some discussion I agreed. I think this really pleased her mum. We got a visa for her mum as well when Pung got her visa and had arranged flights for her and for her sister to come and pick her up in Scotland. So I flew back to Scotland with my new bride and my mother in law. Emirates mixed up our seats so I ended up sitting on my own with strangers in the back while my new wife kept her mum company. She stayed for 2 months or so in a small flat with us and then Pung's sister came and took her back to Bangkok.

I think it was best decision I made because it allowed to get to know Pung's mum and family and way of doing things and to understand Pung better when her mum went back home. Pung got a good job and we settled in. After a year we had saved enough to buy a house here. Pung's mum and dad lent us money to make a good deposit. We are happily married and hope to have a baby soon. Pung will get her indefinite leave to remain in a couple of months. Her mum is visiting our new house in a week. Pung is back in Bangkok visiting and bringing her over here to stay for maybe six months. I have never ever been so happy. A real Bangkok dream…

Stickman's thoughts:

Reading between the lines, you met and married a good woman from a good family. This really is a dream for many Western men, and you have succeeded in making it happen. Well done!

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