Misadventures with Noi: The Farang Boyfriend
After our engagement, Noi and I went to our routine her visiting Singapore for two weeks, filled with shopping and nights together like man and wife, then when she was away, I would travel and work like the devil. This really suited me as I not only supported operations here but some back in the states, throw in travel to all parts of Asia-Pacific including down under, and I could get stressed very quickly. Forcing myself to relax a little when Noi was in town not only gave me a little relief, but it gave me a better perspective on my job and so I was able to work more proficiently. My boss seemed to think I was doing a good job; a ten percent raise on top of the ex-pat package, so I wanted to keep this zone of good karma between work and Noi going as long as possible. Noi and I played by the then rules of farang-Thai relationships; phones always on and if ever off, always a good reason why. For the many months I had known Noi, her phone had been on 24 hours a day, even in the wee morning hours when I would come home from a night out with my mates. On one such Friday night, after getting home early, I called her but her phone was off. I kept calling, many times, until it was 2 AM but still no answer. I even called her sister, who I knew was working in Bangkok, but still no answer from her. Where was she? Was she alright or had something happened to her?
I barely slept that night and early the next morning I started to call her again, sometimes every five minutes. Luckily, it was the weekend and I was able to use my own time to devote to my misery. With visions of Noi lying in some Bangkok gutter or hospital, I decided I had to do something or I would lose my mind. First, I went to the Singapore American Club where I lifted as much weight as my body could stand, then jumped on the treadmill until I felt like I couldn’t take another step. A warm shower and a few beers in the bar reduced my anxiety to a modest level, such that I could at least think a little more clearly. I decided that whatever had happened to my darling, it was just going to take time to work itself out. What I had to do until then was just survive and keep my hand phone close by. With most of the afternoon in front of me, I decided to take a walking tour of Geyland, the mostly Malay section of Singapore. As I walked through the small shops and crowded lanes (lorangs), I tried to be interested in the items I picked up and examined, but I was still thinking of Noi. With some restraint, I managed to only call her about once every hour. But it was still the same; phone off.
By now, after my workout, a few beers, and three hours of walking in the hot Singapore outdoors, I was exhausted. I wouldn’t be able to walk the three miles back to my condo. Also, the pretty working girls were starting to wander through the lorangs but I was strangely repulsed by their entreaties. I hailed a taxi, stopped by the small grocery store in my condo complex to buy three large Sapporo beers, and proceeded to drink my way to numbness. Luckily, the Japanese channel was showing Sumo wrestlers, and as I watched and imbibed in their wonderful beer, I fell asleep on my couch watching hulking bodies push each other around in this strange dance of leviathans. My last call to Noi was at 1 AM; five minutes after I nodded off on the couch.
The next day I felt hollow inside, like there was absolutely nothing there, as I mindlessly went about my Sunday business: workout, check email, watch TV, dinner, and then bed. I called Noi once in the afternoon, this time without any anticipation, but the result was the same. In fact, this was how I spent the proceeding week at work, going through the motions and trying not to think about her. But at least working was easier to deal with than idle time, but as Friday afternoon approached, my nerves started to peak. Arriving at my condo complex Friday night, I decided to try the Sapporo trick again, so I invested some more money in this somnolent liquid. Popping open my first dose, the house phone rang. It was the front gate security guy. There was a woman named Noi there; can she come in. I said yes, unlocked the front door, and then sat on the couch and waited. In the five minutes it took the door to open, my mind raced; what I would say to her? I imagined everything from just staring at her saying nothing to a huge screaming match.
When the door opened and I saw her smiling face, my supposedly logical western mind abandoned me and I started acting on pure emotion. I hugged her, put my arm around her and walked her to a chair in the living room. I sat opposite her on the couch. I asked where she had been and she said she had dropped her hand phone and broke it. The phone shop said it would take a week to fix, so she stayed at her sister’s place then decided to come to Singapore today as she knew I would be worried. I sat impassively through this explanation, and then I asked why she didn’t use her sister’s phone to call me? She said she did not know my hand phone number. At this, I yelled “bullshit” to her as loud as my lungs could muster. “Your sister has my number in her phone and you know it”, I screamed. Continuing my barrage, “She is looking all over Bangkok for you, all your friends are as well, and nobody has seen you. Where have you been?” She looked down at her feet and said nothing. In fact, she said nothing for the next hour as I peppered her with questions, mostly at the loudest volume my voice could handle. At last, all emotion was out of my body and I walked slowly to the kitchen for another beer. I came back and stood at the edge of the living room and then stared at her in silence.
After a few endless moments, she said, “I went to Phuket with my old boyfriend”. She went on to explain that he was her farang boyfriend before we met, a British chap from Hong Kong, and apparently very well off. They had dated for almost a year; she working and he blowing into Bangkok occasionally to have a grand time for a few days or a few weeks. One time, he had closed a very large deal and the next time he saw Noi, he gave her a bonus of one million baht, which she used to build her family house outside Udon Thani. Some weeks before Noi and I met, they had quite an argument. He was not coming in to see her as often, so she suspected that one of the Hong Kong Thai ladies (he always loved the Thai ladies) had sunk her sharp talons deeply into his pocketbook. They had not spoken since. Last week, he called her and offered her a good time in Phuket and another large bonus. I asked her why she had accepted, and she said that although she loved me, I did not provide her with the money she could get from this guy. She was sorry, but she had to think of her family. With that, she lowered her head and I sat stunned looking at her in silence. After five minutes, I walked over to her, lifted her up and kissed her deeply. I then led her back to my bedroom where we stayed up most of the night, making love and telling each other silly stories. Just like old times. <You stupid, stupid bastard – Stick>
The following week we resumed our routine; she shopping with her friends during the day and then meeting me in the evenings for intimate dinners discussing news of the day. This time, she was only able to secure a one week visa so when Friday night came, I drove her to the airport, waved my hand as she passed customs, and did my best to look very sad. When I got into the cab at the airport, I instructed the driver to take me to Orchard Towers. I paid my entrance fee and walked boldly to the front bar where I could look up and see most of the tables. I spotted a short but beautiful Thai girl who returned my smile. She was a little older but her hair was beautifully light brown and her smile was more pirate than schoolgirl. We left the bar 30 minutes later and had a wonderful night in my condo. Ice stayed all the next day but left in the early evening claiming she had a bad cold. By then we had established that we were just friends; I told her of Noi and she told me how much it would cost to keep her with just one man; way above my pay grade. The next afternoon, much to my surprise, she showed up at my condo with hot Thai soup and some other goodies, and we spent a wonderful day under the covers watching TV. I hated to see her go; were we kindred spirits in some weird way?
I am sure Noi’s friends at the bar would tell her of my weekend with Ice. Bad news travels quickly, especially between Thai bar girls. I didn’t care; the previous two weeks had drained me completely of any sense of responsible actions. Later, I realized I was starting to adopt the mores of Noi’s social group; get as much pleasure, or money, as you can and then don’t look back. Since I had been with Ice, I had turned my phone off. When I turned it on again Monday morning, I knew another blistering exchange was coming. When Noi’s call came in, I listened silently to her angry words. When she finished, I told her my phone was off because I had dropped it in the gym and I just now retrieved it from the shop. She asked if I had a lady with me over the weekend. Oh no, I stayed in and worked. I knew she didn’t believe me, but I didn’t care, I just wanted to get through this conversation. After a few more minutes of grilling, she rang off with a cooing, “I love you dah-ling.” I knew she was trying to win me back but it didn’t work this time; my heart was as cold as a farang winter.
That night, sitting alone after work in a small beer garden on Orchard Road, I contemplated my situation. I was still married to a woman back in the US but engaged to a Thai prostitute in Singapore. My new love had an old, but rich, boyfriend who she would always run to when he flashed enough money at her. In a small place in my heart, I still loved Noi, but I was so disgusted by her loyalties that I would try to hurt her by picking up her working buddies for a night’s pleasure. Now what the hell was I going to do?
Glancing up from my beer, I saw three young farangs in American clothes, drinking beer two tables away. Their hair was very short and I immediately remembered that a US aircraft carrier was in dock. I walked over to their table, introduced myself, and then bought them another round of beer. After making small talk about where we were all from, they suddenly went quiet. Then one sheepishly asked where they could meet girls in Singapore. A broad smile came to my face and I explained they were only a couple of blocks away from more women then they could ever imagine – Orchard Tower. As I told them about this infamous place of men’s liberation, their eyes became wider and their mouths started to salivate. “In fact”, I said, “I am headed there right now; want to join me?” In seconds, I had paid their bill and we were walking down Orchard Road with my new best friends. Inside the modestly priced Ipanema Bar on the second floor of Orchard Tower, I explained the rules of engagement and where the short time hotel was located. In less than an hour, I was waving good-bye to my friends and their new found dates, as they left the bar for new adventures.
Alone again with my beer, I was glad I was able to bring a little joy to these guys. Maybe that was all I had been trying to do with Noi in the beginning when we first met. Or was I looking for a new love after my old one had crashed and burned? As I started to think more deeply on these subjects amidst the loud songs of the Filipino band, I heard a soft Thai voice say, “hello hansom, wah yor name?”
I admit immense enjoyment reading this series. But oh, the roller coaster ride! I am amazed that it didn't start to have a profound negative effect on other parts of your life, namely your work.