A Married Man’s Perspective
I have been married for 30 years. Met my wife at 21, married at 23, first son at 24, second son at 26, daughter at 34. My wife and I both came from dysfunctional families, probably classified as low class (in my case anyway). We had basic education, no skills and no money.
My wife was magazine cover attractive and pursued by a number of men. What she saw in a “no hoper” like me was unfathomable to both me and her parents. Suffice to say I was flattered and I sort of fell into marriage with no ambition and no direction other than a burning desire to find out “who am I”. I was therefore too self-centred to make a devoted husband and we also both brought with us the dysfunction we were taught in our childhood. Our marriage was a battle.
We persevered though and tried the best we could, and with our limited parenting skills raised three children in similar circumstances to our upbringing (and the beat goes on). My wife was a committed, responsible and loving mother and, as it turned out, I was a good provider. I was successful in my self-made small business and much to the surprise of both our parents I had managed to, by my 35th birthday, own outright a small, modest but modern home in a beachside suburb of a coastal town in the lucky country, an achievement I was proud of.
This moderate success allowed me the freedom to travel overseas (the first in my family to do so) and I ventured on my first holiday to India where I went to the festival of an Indian Master from whom I had learnt the techniques of meditation some 10 years earlier and whose teachings I had followed during his continuing western crusade. I cannot overstate how valuable these teaching were to my getting to “know thyself” and then being able to participate successfully in the world.
I got the travel bug. I talked my wife into coming to Singapore with me which she eventually did and she liked it enough for us to go to Bali as well the following year. However a downturn in business and family responsibilities resulted in a difficulty for us to travel together so we decided to travel on our own if we chose to, and had saved sufficient funds from our personal allowance, but for no longer than 2 weeks at a time.
I tried a Club Med holiday in the Pacific but found it boring. On my next turn I really wanted to go to California but it was going to exceed my budget. My wife had just returned from an intrepid style holiday to Thailand and strongly suggested I go there for my holiday. I didn’t really want to. The only thing I found interesting about Thailand was its erotic reputation. However a LOS holiday came well within my budget and I thought I’d give it a go. In February 1997 I flew into Bangkok for a 2 week holiday and the world I knew turned upside down.
I naively fell in love with the very first bargirl who attended to me and for 2 weeks she showed me around Bangkok including a 2 day getaway upcountry. I was enraptured with everything about Thailand and could see no wrong. My life back home seemed utterly boring in comparison and when I returned home after the “time of my life” I suffered a deep emptiness and had difficulty just attending to my daily responsibilities which seemed a waste of life. I didn’t know whether the girl had got into my head, or Bangkok itself. After 3 months I knew I had to return and get my head and heart back. My wife did not stand in my way as after 3 months of being around my miserable self her patience was wearing thin and she was glad to see the back of me, but apprehensive at the same time.
My second 2 week trip to LOS was the flipside of the first. My heart was heavy the whole time, my rose coloured glasses were off. After 1 week I wanted to go home. Even though I gave the Thai girl no false illusions on my first trip, the reality of it all become very clear on my second trip and I knew we had no future. I also knew she would be deeply disappointed (she thought I was a definite keeper) but to her credit she didn’t create a scene when I gently explained there was no option but to part. When I reflect back, with what I know now, she was one of the better ones and I do believe her feelings were sincere. I also believe she was good for me in a roundabout way and she taught me a lot about the LOS. I returned home to get my life back on track and it took a full 6 months of head down bum up, but I firmly believe I came through a better man for the experience (I think?…..wiser anyway).
But I didn’t get Thailand completely out of my blood though (do you ever once you’ve been bitten). My wife managed to spend 3 weeks travelling through Malaysia and Southern Thailand with our then 8 year old daughter, and my wife’s brother and his 8 year old daughter, in 1998, and in 2000 I was ready for another Asian holiday and I really wanted to return to Thailand. I wanted to do it right this time, you see, without all the emotion and drama and immaturity of my previous adventure! I couldn’t believe it when my wife said ok, after listening to my ramblings. I couldn’t contain my excitement when it was booked and paid for, and I was like an 8 year old with only 20 more sleeps to potentially the best Christmas ever.
I won’t bore you with too many more details but felt it important to give you a background. My third trip was uneventful in comparison but was very pleasant. I was persuaded twice in Bangkok (after many drinks) and once in Phuket (same same) to take a girl back to my loom but without the passion it felt empty and all I was left with in the morning with the beer goggles off was an unattractive bar girl and a skeleton in the closet. My butterfly days were short lived and on my 4th trip in 2002 and 5th trip in 2004 I abstained altogether. During my 6th and most recent trip in May last year I had a “stumble” one night which was a BIG reminder that it just wasn’t for me.
I am going back to LOS for another holiday next month, 6 days Bangkok, 3 days Chang Mai (first time) & 5 days Siam Reap (first time as well). And why I hear you ask, with what I’ve outlined above, do I keep going back to LOS for holidays on my own.
1. Budget for my upcoming holiday is 80,000 baht all inclusive (and I’m going to Cambodia this time). I would find it hard to have a similar holiday in my own country for that, and a Pacific Island resort would be way over.
2. Current business commitments make it near impossible for my wife and I to be away at the same time, and I NEED my time off once or twice a year to break the mundane.
3. 2 weeks is the maximum I can be away and I’m not going to travel halfway around the world for that amount of time, so that limits me to South East Asia.
4. Having lived all my life on or near some of the best beaches in the world I find beach resorts rather boring and sterile plus I find on my own they can be lonely. Therefore I much prefer the hustle of a city for my “getaway”, and none in SEA I’ve found is as enchanting as Bangkok. And I never feel alone there.
So what is my perspective now?
Perspective n. mental retrospect or prospect.
For 12 years Thailand has never been far from my mind. One could say I’m obsessed with the place. I was never much of a googler but the last year or two has seen me in situation with time on my hand and a computer in front of me. Needless to say I googled in Thailand and found a plethora of info. Stickman was one site I discovered, and this site and a Thai forum takes up the majority of my google time along with holiday planning. I love the mongering stories and the lonely hearts club and she ripped me off etc. (Thanks Stick).
During the day on holiday in Bangkok I like doing the simple things; getting up early and strolling around Sukhumvit, catching the sky rail to nowhere in particular and catching the ferry from one end of the river to the other. I don’t do the tourist spots (too much of a battle), and I don’t buy anything either, no matter how cheap I get it when I get it home I usually find it wasn’t worth what I paid for it and / or it’s junk. My favourite night time activity in Bangkok has been sitting at the Golden Bar overlooking the Nana car park where I enjoy a few cold beers and watch the freelancers and punters negotiate. I enjoy buying the girls a lady drink in exchange for their company (although I’ve put a bit of a cap on that recently). I love the street scene and the street food. And I like being in bed by midnight before the witching hour.
On the flipside I don’t like the boys in brown. They and the ladyboys creep me out and I give them both a wide berth. I don’t like hearing the word Farang spoken with a contemptuous tone, and I find it harder each trip to get a decent traditional Thai massage, my most recent in Bangkok had a girl massaging me one handed for periods while she was on her mobile (can you believe that) <Yep, I sure can. The only thing worse is a cabby belting along the expressway screaming at his wife up country with mobile phone in one hand and steering wheel in the other – Stick>. I don’t complain though. It’s pointless in Thailand; I just don’t go back to that establishment which unfortunately does not do them any favours. My feathers go up though if I witness a bargirl treated with disrespect, or vice versa. I don’t get involved though. I don’t like it either when the moral police turn their noses up when passing a “naughty nightlife” scene. However some of my fellow Farang make me cringe at times.
The raised eyebrows at home when I mention I holiday in Bangkok don’t bother me anymore, and for all Thailand’s increasing problems I still find it the highlight of my year. As for the naughty nightlife, it doesn’t bother me. Why should it? I just don’t indulge. The post LOS blues are bad enough without throwing guilt into the equation. I’ve learned a lot about myself in LOS and while it took a while to find my feet I now have my own compass to guide me. I’m not a mongerer but if my situation was different I could be, (probably not). “One man’s medicine is another man’s poison.” I don’t like taking girls back to my room and I don’t like waking up with a bargirl beside me, and I don’t want them accompanying me to breakfast and I certainly don’t want to walk around hand in hand shopping. I appreciate my downtime too much. I don’t want to have sex with them but I like the scene. It’s not like I’m not tempted, mind you. I had a health scare last year and that with turning 50 recently and “you only live once”, and “you’re a long time dead” etc, are compelling arguments to add variety to my sex life, however I really believe my holiday is a better experience and memory without it. I haven’t tried a soapy or a Lolita’s either and I am tempted to try them as that’s not really counted, is it? I suspect though I’d be disappointed.
As obsessed as I am with LOS, I would not contemplate living in Thailand as then it would not be a holiday. And if I wasn’t married, I would never consider marrying cross cultured with a Thai girl let alone a bargirl. I know how hard marriage can be without throwing those complications in. Maybe my holiday next month will be the trip I start to finally tire of Thailand. Maybe it’s happening already as I’ve noted that I’ve included Cambodia this time. Maybe in a few years when business commitments have eased and I have more play time my wife I will stretch our legs into Europe and America, and Thailand will become a distant memory.
In the mean time bring on my next holiday to LOS, I’m ready and looking forward to it, but no surprises please.
I have noticed a number of people who used to yearn for their yearly trip to Thailand have moved on to other places. Boredom with the same old, same old or looking for new experiences, I don't know…