Round-trip tickets on a one-way journey
"We are beginning our final descent into Don Muang International Airport…". It was music to my ears. After walking the high moral ground for all those years and suffering from that mindset as a result, I finally decided that it was ok to be classified as a sex tourist, perhaps a last resort to bring back some joy into my unhappily married life. After a lot of reading, thinking and planning I finally bought that first round trip ticket to BKK (Bangkok).
The year was 2001. I was 42 years old, married for 12 years. Believe it or not, I am still married to that same woman, but the equations have greatly changed between us. We have a child together, and I support her 100% for education and expenses. In the
child's mind we are still a happy family. Our child was the only reason we decided against a divorce. As soon as "expectations" from each other are removed from a marriage, the strife goes down too. So we are together, yet separate.
Married, but single. To put it simply, ours is a "marriage of convenience".
To paraphrase George Bernard Shaw from one of his short essays – "you don't have to love people, you just have to tolerate them". I tolerate her and she tolerates me. Don't ask, don't tell. Look the other way. Live and let live is the motto. At least we have that in common. Neither of us wants to get married if either were to become single again, we agree on that too. On most other things, we have agreed to disagree. I think we both are good individuals, just not compatible for marriage with each other. If you are going to have an unhappy marriage, let it be like mine.
I am a moderately successful engineer, no debts, and confident of a comfortable retirement when the time comes. I live a simple life. As the journey of life goes on, there are bound to be ups and downs. One 'down' I never expected was an unhappy marriage. I always thought that I would be in that small percentage of couples that were happily married for life. My 'ideal' marriage lasted about 8 months. After that it was all downhill.
If I were to categorize, I can divide my life so far into 4 phases in terms of attitude and outlook, specifically towards the fairer sex :
Age 0 to 17 — Very secure childhood, doting parents, I was at the center of the universe. It was a small universe. The journey of life was going great. Girls and women gave me the looks of 'want to be my friend?' Don't remember a single instance of a girl not looking at me as I passed by. The age of innocence! If I had the wisdom then as I have now, what a world it would have been!
Age 18 to 28 — Realized there was competition for everything… seats in a professional college, grades, job, pretty women… Despite that, the journey of life was still going good. Many young women were interested in me. Not as good as the previous phase, but still very good. I was waiting for Miss Right to come along. At that time the focus was "which girl do I like". I wish the focus was "which girl likes me". If I had that wisdom then as I have now, what a world it would have been.
Age 29 to 39 — I was engaged to the girl I liked for 8 months. She wanted to wait for intimacy until after marriage. After marriage we would live happily ever after. Yeah Right!! The moment the kid was born (actually before that, while she was pregnant), I was demoted to 2nd place. She cut her hair to a short bobcut, put on lots of weight, and sex? Once a month as a favor to me, an obligation of a wife to the husband. It wasn't really making love, just a 5 minute "quickie". The journey was getting bumpy now.
I was still getting 'looks' from other women, some knowing I was married, some not. But I was a man of high moral character, I let go every opportunity for a little fun on the side. I was, after all, still getting the once-a-month quickie from the wife. If I had the wisdom then as I have now, it may have been a different world.
Age 40 to present — separate rooms, separate schedules, separate lives for the most part, but under the same roof. And intimacy? Down to zero. It was now a 100% marriage of convenience. Regarding getting "looks" from women 45 or younger in the home country? Forget it. I was middle aged and bald (but quite slim and trim). I became invisible to women, unless they were trying to sell me something. Have you encountered the pretty young women at shopping malls asking passers by "can I ask you a question?" I never stopped to answer (reading Stickman submissions has made me wiser every day) but did see them applying some kind of lotion or cream on people which they want to sell to you. I could see right through that intent. They always have young and pretty female salesgirls hawking their wares to men. Seen quite a bit of that. But the good news? I now recognize it. They want to sell me something, but that's not what I want.
I am only in my 40s and is this how it is going to be for the rest of my life? Now the journey was getting painful. Is this a dead end? But wait, I have grown a little wiser now and I am going to use that to change the course of my life.
I had heard about Thailand during my very young days and also concluded that since men go there for sex with prostitutes, it would never be on my list of destinations to visit. I looked down upon such men. Going to prostitutes for sex? Can't they find a girlfriend and marry her? Then they could have sex for life. And married men going to prostitutes? In my very young mind, such men were criminals. How could they do that to their wives? Not me. I am a man of high morals, I will never pay for sex. I will not even look at a prostitute.
My transformation took many long years and lots of realizations and revelations. What if the wife does not want intimacy? What if she is argumentative, picks quarrels, nags, has a hot temper, keeps checking on you, and considers giving sex as a favor and privilege to you? What will you do then, mister? Such questions had never entered my mind. Your attitude changing towards paid sex now? And those prostitutes? Looking at them in a different light now? You didn't want to even look at them, are you now ready to eat the words that came out of that naive, immature, inexperienced, opinionated young man? It is very difficult to feel the pain of any situation till one experiences it. When faced with a dead end, one then starts looking at other options. When the ego takes blows day after day and you start falling from that high pedestal, you start looking for anyone or anything to hold you from hitting the ground.
One fine day I capitulated, threw in the towel. I bought that first round trip ticket to Bangkok. I decided that I want to make the best of the remainder of the journey. It is never too late to start over. It worked like magic and there were more round trip tickets purchased. These trips, one at a time, have changed my path on the journey. I hope to collect many more. I have thoroughly enjoyed the ride every time.
At some point on this journey, I may not want the trips anymore. I believe that there should be a point of satisfaction. In this life one must try to satisfy all of one's reasonable desires. But once satisfied, do not keep moving the goal post. Otherwise, it will turn into a limitless quest in a limited life. I believe satisfaction, contentment and peace with yourself and those around you are good to have as you approach the end of the journey, whenever that might me.
Between Thailand and Philippines I have made seven round trips in all, with lots of wonderful memories. Memories that fill the 50 weeks of the year between the trips. Borrowing the title from our good friend Phet — a broken man is being repaired, one round trip at a time. A slow, steady and wonderful journey. My current honey (non bar girl, working as a full time accountant) is single, never married, no kids. She knows about my marriage of convenience. She also knows I will never marry again if single. I treat her like a princess when I am with her. And I 'assist' her financially. No loans, just a gift from me when I meet her. And no sending money from here. It isn't free after all, and why should it be?
I also visit the gogo bars, just for the fun and nostalgia of it. No more bar fines for now, don't need to. I do, however, spend a decent amount inside the bar buying drinks for the ladies, just want to return the favor of holding me when I was falling down.
My guiding principles :
1. Health comes first, then work (read money), then fun.
2. Never going to marry again, even if I become single at a later date.
3. Not more than one trip a year, and within budget. (I will increase or decrease the budget every year, based on my capital appreciation / depreciation).
4. I am in this for the long term, so if health or money pose an issue, will strive to get back on track as quickly as possible before the next round trip.
5. Maintain a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde kind of profile, one for fun activities and the other for society, and keep the two mutually exclusive.
6. Accumulate as many round trip tickets as I can. But a one way ticket? Never given that a thought, at least not as yet.
This submission is also a tribute to the hundreds of contributors who have shared their experiences and opinions on this website. I have immensely benefited from the submissions and this website. Many of you have played a part in changing the course of my journey.
I am getting ready to book my 8th round trip ticket to paradise. The excitement is building, the smile without a reason appearing, the countdown will soon begin. New memories to be added to old ones. I am already dreaming of the moment the flight attendant will announce "We are beginning our final descent into Ninoy Aquino International Airport…".
I thoroughly enjoyed this.
Of your principles, I agree that #5 is a big one, especially for those of us living in Asia. What you say and do in public and what you say and do behind closed doors are two very different things in this part of the world.