Readers' Submissions

Misadventures with Noi: My Own Money


This story is the first in a series of mostly true adventures I had when I was very close to a Thai woman named Noi. I first met Noi on the 4th floor of Orchard Towers, at a club called appropriately the Top Ten as it had the best looking working ladies in all of Singapore. She may not have been the most beautiful in the club, but her smile lit up this mostly dark bar. After I took her back to my hotel room at the Stamford, she made me feel like I was the best lover she had ever had. A couple of trips back to visit her in Bangkok and another visit from her to Singapore, and I was in total fascination with Noi and her culture and every graceful and erotic move she danced before my thirsty eyes. I told her she was my only girlfriend, and for a nominal sum of baht each month, she agreed I was her only boyfriend

On her second visit to Singapore, she announced that she had a long-time friend living there named Mai. We arranged to meet her at a restaurant in the Golden Mile shopping complex, a shopping plaza devoted to the many Thai people working in Singapore. I expected to meet an off duty working girl, looking drab after a long night of work, but instead Mai was fresh faced, well dressed, and covered in diamonds. She had obviously had her boobs upgraded and her face was “westernized” via some sort of plastic surgery. Whoever was looking out for her was well provisioned and liked to spend his resources on her. She had a sweet smile, an easy laugh, and I liked her immediately. During lunch, she explained that she lived in Singapore with her Kiwi husband who had some important job with a European bank. They had two young children, a condo in a fashionable part of Singapore, a maid, a nanny, and commuted frequently to Thailand to visit her family. As much as I thought I was taking good care of my teeruk, this Thai woman had obviously hit the jackpot.

The lunch was usual for two Thai women as they ordered more food than they could possibly eat in a week, speaking Thai to each other as if I wasn’t there, then occasionally inviting me to eat their leftovers. I was fine with that as I had my Singha beer yai in front of me and I casually watched them as they nibbled their food and drank their fruit juices. I did not speak Thai but I was sure of the conversation; the two women were contrasting and comparing their respective males in a friendly but competitive manner. I knew I would come up short against Mai’s husband but hopefully Noi was making sure I came in a close second. In between this banter I got a chance to ask Mai about her family. She told me she was an Issan girl from Korat with four brothers and two sisters. Her parents were separated, with mom working as a street vendor in Pattaya. She liked Singapore but only felt comfortable shopping in Golden Mile with her Thai friends. The large Japanese department stores intimidated her and thought her Filipino maid was stealing money.

After lunch, we said our goodbyes and I let Mai have the first taxi at the stand. After Noi and I got into our taxi, she told me some more about her good friend Mai. They had met in Pattaya when they were both working at go-go bars and discovered they lived in the same building. I was mildly shocked when she said this as I would not have immediately identified Mai as an ex-bargirl. Anyway, for some reason, they immediately felt close to one another and started to hang out in their off hours. A few months later, Noi’s sister invited her to visit her in Singapore where she worked at The Top Ten. Noi liked the bar, and the much improved wages, and decided to return two weeks later. She invited Mai to join her on the next trip and together they trolled the tables for likely customers. One night, they ended up with two Swedish businessmen traveling together on business. It was a group party in a swank hotel that lasted for two days, with Noi and Mai working together to bring in quite a haul. They became fast friends.

It was on the 4th such trip to Singapore that Mai met Michael from New Zealand, who would later become her husband. He was already living in Singapore; nearly divorced from his wife who hated living in Asia; he loved it. He was also 15 years older than Mai but soon they were a young couple in love. Mai moved in with Michael after their second session and stayed with him in Singapore as long as her visa allowed, usually two weeks. Three months, two surgeries, and a kiwi divorce later, they were married in Pattaya, Thailand (where most of Mai’s family now lived) and one year after that they had their first child; a daughter with light curly brown hair like Michael’s and beautiful almond eyes. Their son followed a year after that, a Thai looking baby but with round eyes, via caesarean section. Both children were born in Singapore but Michael made sure they had New Zealand and Thai passports. Thus was Mai’s transformation from Thai bargirl to upper-middle class, Singapore ex-pat society, or so everyone thought.

I did not give Mai much thought over the next few weeks. When Noi was in town, they had lunches together in Golden Mile, and occasionally all of us would get together for dinner and drinks in the evening. From our first meeting it was easy to see why Michael was doing well in business; he was smart, talkative, and quick to laugh in any situation. He was patient with his wife’s simple questions and conversation; a rare quality amongst farang men who married Asian women from simple origins. Michael and I were becoming mates, with our going out for drinks after work in Boat Quay and other night spots. He gave me good insights on relationships with Thai women, especially ex-bargirls, which really helped me to understand Noi’s behavior much better. Michael and Mai were fast becoming fixtures in my race to acclimate to Asian ex-pat culture.

Then one day, Noi sheepishly asked me for a favor; would I go out with her and Mai that night? Sure, but where is Michael? He was on a business trip to Sydney and Mai just wanted to get out of the house for an evening. No problem. I started to suggest several good restaurants but Noi cut me off and said they wanted to go to a particular place. This bar did not serve dinner and was little more than a pick-up palace for western men looking for prowling Asian women. This seemed like a strange request but I agreed. Strangely, Noi put on her working girl clothes and face, heavy eye makeup and short skirt; something she had not done since our second night together. No alarm bells went off in my head, as I thought something was happening beyond my limited grasp of Asian culture. Little did I know how right I was.

Later that night of our sojourn to one of Singapore’s many clubs devoted to helping Asian women meet the western man of her dreams, or means, Noi and I picked Mai up at her condo and headed to the designated bar. I did a double take when I saw Mai. The elegant and beautiful woman I had met earlier was transformed into an erotic female package flashing just enough of her flesh to arouse the interest of even comatose men. I was speechless in the cab as the girls chatted excitedly, and drooled in open appreciation. Outside the club, there was a velvet rope blocking the entrance with 20 women waiting to get in. When the bouncer saw me with the two beautiful women wrapped around my arms, he instinctively pulled the rope back and without losing a step, we walked down the stairs into the bar. Inside, there was a mass of well dressed men and women, both Caucasian and Asian, sitting at tables and a very long bar. The hostess showed us to a small table for two but gave us an extra chair. As the small band played the usual American rock songs, I resumed my appreciative stare at Mai until Noi’s hand jerked me back to reality. We ordered drinks, beer for me and white wine for my girls, and I instantly noticed roving eyes from the men around us. For a few moments, I felt like Hugh Hefner surrounded by bunnies at a star-studded pajama party.

Trying to talk above the loud music, I noticed Mai returning the glances of a few men in the bar. Occasionally, she would look and smile, before turning away to rejoin our conversation. One man to my right was especially enjoying this give and take of glances and smiles, with Mai enjoying it as well. He was a middle-aged man, smartly dressed in a Singapore tailored suit, but displaying the bulging stomach of someone who thought more about business than personal health. Soon, he and Mai were exchanging longer glances and smiles, and much to my annoyance, he walked up and introduced himself to me. He said he was an American living and working in Singapore for some large corporation, and he couldn’t help but notice that maybe we needed a fourth person to complete our party. He pulled his chair from his table, sat down, and immediately locked eyes on Mai, who just as intently locked eyes on him. I talked to Noi and watched from the sidelines as he slowly put his left arm around Mai’s shoulder and his right hand on her knee. I began to feel very creepy, like watching a school girl being groped and not doing anything to sop it.

After 30 minutes of trying to ignore this creep fondling my newest best friend’s wife, Noi began to feel the tension rising in my face and suggested we proceed to the very crowded dance floor near our table. As I put my arms around Noi’s slim waist and we started to sway to the slow rock beat, I asked her what was going on. Why was Mai with that man? Noi at first did not answer and looked annoyed, but I persisted and she finally told me that Mai just wanted to be out with people as Michael left her alone many nights. I was openly skeptical of this explanation and as I was tiring of this night of charades, I told Noi I wanted to go home. She surprisingly agreed and we made our way back to the table. Mai and her creepazoid friend were now holding hands under the table with wide smiles on their faces. We sat down, I called for the check but Mai’s friend insisted on paying for it. A few minutes later, we were walking out the door and up the steps to the street. Our American friend said good-bye and started walking up the street to our right. Mai said as she lived in a different part of town, she would take a separate cab from us. She jumped in the first one, waved goodbye to us, and off she went. Noi and I waited for our cab and as we did, I noticed a cab swing around the corner to our right, pick up Mai’s friend, then make a u-turn and drive off. Not surprisingly, the cab looked an awful lot like Mai’s cab; same color and company logo, arriving at just about the time it would take a cab to drive around the block.

I may have been new to Asia but I was not stupid enough to not to believe what I just saw. It was obvious that Mai had earlier arranged to meet this man at the next corner so they could be together. Getting in the cab, I looked intensely at Noi as she sat next me, oblivious to my rising anger. I asked her directly why Mai had gone off with this man. She told me to be quiet in the cab and she would talk to me later. Back home, we went through our silent ritual of getting ready for bed; a shower and a brushing of teeth. After that we both jumped in the king bed next to the window overlooking the many ships waiting to get into the port of Singapore. This time, I softly asked her what happened tonight. Noi at first looked away but when I didn’t say anything else, she knew I was serious, and she started to explain.

She said that even though Michael had been very good to Mai; providing a great lifestyle with trips all over Asia and a large stipend each month, Mai still did not feel like she had anything that belonged to just her. I said that was silly because they had quite a nice life and Michael was completely devoted to her. Noi looked doubtful, and said that Mai suspected that Michael was seeing working girls on his business trips. I shook my head “no” and said Michael wasn’t like that.

Noi said, “Why not, he cheat before on his wife.” True, that was how Michael met Mai.

Still sticking up for Michael I said, “Yes, but Michael told me he is very happy with Mai.” Noi shrugged her shoulders in a who knows gesture. “Anyway”, I said, “Why is she with that guy, unlike Michael, he’s loud, ugly, and has a poong yai.”

Noi wouldn’t look at me, and as the answer started to dawn on me, Noi said, “She just wants a little money of her own.”

With those words, the little world I had created with Noi in Singapore became clearer to me. Noi and Mai were working girls. Working girls wanted money. The only money working girls believed in was money they could hold in their hands and put into their Thai bank accounts. Everything else was make-believe or something that could be taken away from them, as had so much else in their lives. Mai had a wonderful life with beautiful children, an envious life even for a western woman, yet she would risk it all to get a bigger bank account that she could control herself. Were all working women of Thailand this super-pragmatic? Did nothing else matter except money? Not even good men with good hearts, beautiful children, or happy times lying in bed entwined in each other’s arms? Was my lovely Noi this way as well? As the anger and uncertainty subsided, I started to appreciate the simplicity of Mai’s plan for life’s happiness; no concerns for feelings, guilt, worry or obligations, just how much money, or pleasure, you can get out of your life. Was this the secret of living happily in Asia? As I drifted off to sleep with my body wrapped around Noi’s, I knew tomorrow I would experience Asia in a new and completely different way.

Stickman's thoughts:

A truly excellent submission. At about the half way point I started thinking about what I would write at the end and was thinking it would be something like "I have met many Thai working girls who have got married to successful Western men but I have yet to meet one who fooled me into thinking she was never a bargirl." But then as the submission progressed I could see where it was going…

This story serves as yet another warning to anyone thinking of marrying such a woman. Michael is about as good as a girl could help for and still she is not happy.