Reminiscences Part 1
Hi to all the readers of this site,
I have been a regualr reader of this site since 2003 but never wrote something myself.
Well, so I will try to do my best and make a start with my first story about visiting the LOS for the first time.
I am a Swiss guy in my forties who is working as an office clerk of a big firm in the capital of Switzerland. I have travelled to the LOS once a year for the past four years and just came back from this year's visit about three weeks ago. My original motive to spend a holiday in Thailand was that I always (since childhood) fascinated with the Asian people, the Asian culture and my over the time grown interest in buddhism.
Today I am in a relationship with a Thai woman and I am happy to be fully accepted by her family in Thailand. I am interested in reading and all kinds of music. Mainly from the seventies, eighties disco-funk era, as well as everything that is done well and sounds great of today's artists and of course also Thai-music and moarlum.
I also like to do my own cooking and over the past 2.5 years I learnt quite something about Thai cuisine and am today able to prepare some dishes myself with a satisfactory result.
Of course I like to travel and like to get to know new cultures. I always regarded this as a great chance to open up the mind and learn for life. When for example travelling to a seaside-desitnation I never just sat on the beach doing nothing. I rather wanted to see as much as possible from the country and most of the times rented a car to get around and see something more than just my hotel. I tend to inform myself reading travel-books and in the internet before I travel and make some rough plans about what I would want to do and see at the chosen destination. It sorts of gives me a tingle of pleasant anticiapation to the trip itself.
Before I went the first time…
Back in January 2004 I decided that in fall I would finally like to go and explore the globe eastwards after having travelled inside europe and to the UK, ireland, the US and carribean for many times.
By this time and after reading some books about buddhism and surfing the internet on different asian countries I thought I would best start with Thailand. I came to this conclusion as Thailand is quite well developed for tourism and as I am not the backpacker-type of guy who likes to tramp around a country. Another reason was that the Thai-embassy here in Berne holds an annual Thai-festival on their grounds with culture, stalls with handicraft, music and of course lots of food. This was a good way to make first contact and I was impressed on how friendly the Thais are.
My next thought was that allthough I knew that in Thailand a part of the people is able to speak english well enough in order to make the most necessary communication, it would be an advantage to have something like a friend in case english communication doesn't work. Furthermore I hoped to get some first-hand explanations about culture and buddhism as well as customs of the Thais.
Therfore I went searching the internet and found a pen-pal-site, started to read postings from Thais and decided to setup my own posting where I clearly wrote what I was looking for. I also pointed out that marrying would not be my first motivation to make contact in case I would get a reply from a woman. This in order to sort out replies from a certain kind of girls putting up profiles which were, even for me as a greenhorn to the LOS, too obvious concerning the intentions behind them.
First contact and first day in BKK
After a few weeks and quite some answers I finally got an answer from J which was what I was looking for. She replied that she went to look into my profile and thought that it would be about the same interests as hers and sent me a link to her profile. Following this we exchanged quite some mails and after some weeks I told her that I intend to come to Thailand in august/september 2004.
Before my trip we exchanged the mobile-numbers and agreed sending an sms when I landed and had checked into my hotel on sukhumvit. When I was done with unpacking my suitcases I wrote the sms and got an answer after about an hour and she asked me where we could meet. I replied that it would be best we met outside in the coffeeshop of my hotel. We agreed to meet around 6 pm. As beforehand she sent me a photo I knew for whom to look-out. She arrived very punctual and I waved my hand and said: Hello, you must be J, pleased to meet you! She said she was quite surprised that I recognized her so easily as the photo she sent was not the most up to date one. I replied that I was not 100% sure but made a guess and just tried my luck.
So, she sat down and from the beginning went into a great conversation and found eachother instantly congenial. We later went for dinner and ended up in the hotel bar chatting until 2 am. We really enjoyed the evening and she said to me that she finds me very companionable and easy-going. During our conversation she asked me if I have a girlfriend which I replied with no and that I am single. She also said she's single and at this occasion I repeatedly told her that I am not looking for marriage. Just in case she wouldn't remember my original statement. I also said that I consider it as important to be of a friendly nature and show good manners towards women.
She then replied that she already noticed this from the style used in my emails and that this was actually the reason why she contacted to me. I then told her that I informed myself about Thailand the best way possible and that therefore I am aware of the availability of girls at locations like nana-plaza and soi cowboy's gogo-bars. (Should I have really planned to make just monger-holidays why should I take the trouble on establishing such a contact..) To me it was important to make the situation clear and to be very straightforwardly and most of all I didn't want any misunderstandings to happen. Looking back today, still being good friends, I think this was the best thing to do.
Let me slide-in an incidental-remark here: Of course I went to the bars having a drink or two to see what's going on when I was on my own on other evenings. Hey, after all I am not made of stone, I was a single man and had no-one at home to be faithful too. Who would I be if I didn't notice the beauty of Thailands daughters not feeling the call of nature as soon as I chatted with a nice girl who I met in the outside bar of the Nana Hotel? More of this I will save up for later when I will tell you all about my experiences and also my opinions about the bar-scene in Bangkok.
J and I met again for dinner and I told her that I would really be interested in going to visit the different temples and that I was interested in buddhism so I asked her where she would advise me to make a start for the sight-seeing. J meant that she would best send me her younger sister R for the next day as she knows much more about religious things than her, who in fact is not so much into this. J said that R is not very fluent english, but will have a dictionnary with her in case we should encounter problems and that R can call her anytime if we don't understand each other. Subsequently J said that R is a very good guide and that she will be able to show me every place I would whish to visit in BKK. We agreed on meeting on thursday morning 9 am when her sister R would meet me in the coffee-shop.
Sightseeing with the R
I met R and we first had a good coffee and made some initial conversation using the few words of Thai I already knew and her few words of english. With the help of the said dictionary and did quite okay. Of course we were not able to have a big discussion about life and buddha but for what we planned to do it was absolutely sufficient.
We then took a taxi and made our way to Wat Pra Keow and the Royal Palace, strolled around in the adjacent streets were R knew a good place for a bowl of "guideow" (noodlesoup). We had a nice lunchtime with some more telling about ourselves and I was able to cool down a bit as the place was small but had some AC. (I appreciated this quite much as I am the type of guy who sweats quite easily mainly in the face. A so called "khon ron".)
I think she must have noticed that I would need to cool down some more and proposed to me that we next go for a boat-trip on the chao phraya river. So we simply drove up and down the river had a drink, took some pictures and after about an hour hopped of the boat again on a pier where they had some souvenir-stuff to look at.
By this time it was around 4 pm and I proposed we drive back to the hotel and go to my room, refresh and wait there until her sister J would join us for the evening, after she finished her work. R was a bit hesitant and didn't exactly know what to say and I became aware that this might be a problem for a good girl as she barely knew me. I then called J and asked her to explain to her sister that my intentions are of a good nature and that my proposal is really only about having a comfortable wait until she would arrive. After this call she said ok and we went back to my room.( That was a cute sight! R was fairly tired and soon fell asleep on the sofa in front of the TV. So I covered her with sheet from the bed so that maybe she would not shiver as the AC was running and did a real good job keeping me cool)
In the evening we went out for another dinner in a restaurant on the outskirts of BKK where I was the only farang and which was not expensive at all. That's where for the first time I ate real autentic Thai/lao food and I could easily taste the difference to what one eats in most of the flashier restaurants on sukhumvit. We had a big fish which was served in the typical fish-shaped bowl they use in Thai restaurants. It was a very delcious fish. As a sideorder we got stir-fried vegetables and of course some somtum Thai with sticky rice. Very hot for them, less hot for me so that I was able to eat it. To me this was really something and absolutely what I am looking for when on holidays. I definately like to travel and enjoy every contact I can have with the local people and culture. To me this is, literally said, like the cherry on top of the pie.
It is self-evident that I was paying for all the expenses we had during that day. I knew it would be expected from a farang and actually I didn't have a problem with that because they both were taking their time to help me spend my holiday the way I whished. To me that was like saying thanks for taking the trouble. Later on one other evening they were even insisting they would like to invite me and didn't let me pay which in turn I appreciated also and to me it showed that the seemed to like me. On another occasion I said to J that I would like to express my appreciation of what they do for me and that I was actually quite surprised she sent me her sister for the sight-seeing who on that day didn't know me at all. J then said she just had a good feeling about my character and thought she could trust me to behave well with her sister as I did with her. I must admit that I felt quite flattered. To me it was very important that they had a good impression of me. Why is that so, you might wonder.
Let me explain…
Please read more in the upcoming part two… I hope you like it so far and are not bored…
Cheers, Khun Tik
Trusting you with her sister….wow!