Three Nurses and a Waitress
She was the first Thai woman in my life and she worked as a waitress in a Phuket restaurant. Cat, as we’ll call her, was attractive enough that I had cause to eat all my meals at that restaurant during my week long stay in 2004, and one day I managed
to get her to come out for lunch. My last night in Phuket she was meant to come and see me after work, but torrential rain and my hotel street being one metre deep in water put an end to that planned rendezvous.
I thought about Cat for several months and then on Boxing Day 2004 was shocked to hear of the tsunami that swept the Phuket coast. Fortuitously having time on my hands, within a week I had flown to Phuket as a volunteer, and of course hoped to meet Cat again. Was she alright, did the restaurant still exist and was she even still working there?
Arriving in Phuket I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the day, the brightness of the sky, the cleanliness of the beach and that eerie sense that something terrible had happened. There were no tourists and the buildings across the road from Patong beach were twisted ruins. I found a place to stay and with a knotted stomach made my way to the restaurant. There she was, and what’s more she recognised me and ran up to give me a hug. I had work to do by day, and we were able to meet most nights. Finally, I was able to holiday with her for a few days in Chiang Mai, before going home. Cat was 29, had been married and had two young kids. She wasn’t easy, at first insisting no sex unless married. Being a normal man I had to work hard to break down this initial resistance!
A few months later I found myself back in Phuket with a month’s work contract.. It was then that the requests for money started flowing. Being a middle-aged single man with no kids I thought it was the right thing to do. I saw the money as making her life more comfortable – a television, a washing machine, a motorbike, and new clothes. Plus 30,000 baht. It was relatively small money for me, but a lot for her. Although Cat was not in the bar trade, she knew a surprising number of friends who were, and she knew a lot about the money their boyfriends or sponsors sent them.
Then when I was back home again, tragedy struck. The 30,000 baht had been stolen from her room, where she had kept it so she could look at it every day! Coincidentally, at the same time Papa’s car had broken down requiring a similar amount to repair. Cat didn’t want me to replace the stolen money, but she did expect me to pay for Papa’s car. I did.
Things began to fall apart after that. On my next visit I noticed she had two phones, one supposedly belonged to a friend. She had changed jobs and now worked in a billiards room, where it was possible to barfine all the other staff, except her. Sometimes after work, she told me that she and some friends would go to one of the local discos, but of course she never went with any man. And then I noticed written on a scrap of paper in her room was a slightly different email address along with a password. When, after eventually logging in (pangs of guilt here) there were her emails soliciting money from another man she had met.
It’s been a couple of years since our “relationship” ended, but I’m in Phuket a couple of times annually and I usually call in at the respectable shop where she now works. I think she may have found a real boyfriend now. She is friendly in a slightly frosty way, but I don’t regret helping her in the past and if I put myself in her financial position would probably have done the same things.
Shortly after I struck up friendships with a couple of ladies on TLL. I say friendships because there was no sex involved and no money sought nor given. They were both nurses and seemed comfortably off, with a car and motorbike respectively. Living at opposite ends of the country I visited both, and it was all I could do to even be allowed to pay for some meals. We’ve remained friends but neither is relationship material. I’ve learned that not all Thai ladies are after money and some are very independent and even generous.
Thinking that a nurse could be the way to go, last year I met a 30 year old nurse living a few hours from Bangkok. Let’s call her Jaa. It was so much fun chatting to her on the internet and she seemed a genuinely beautiful lady in all ways. Two months later she picked me up from the town bus-stop and drove me 20 kilometres to a rural resort. It was a hair-raising ride as her driving skills were poor at best as we screamed along the entire distance in second gear. Jaa was like a dream come true – fun, beautiful and educated. And as a bonus, a similar hair-raising ride continued within a few minutes of checking into the hotel room, which probably should have rung a small alarm bell!
By day I explored the town and rural community on her motorbike, and visited her at her hospital. We planned a trip to Ko Chang and a slightly bigger alarm bell should have rung when she asked for money so her Mama could take care of her young son while we were away for four days. Silly me thought the figure might be a generous one or two thousand baht, but the sum requested was ten thousand!
The drive to Ko Chang was enjoyable, and I’d had her car serviced in a major way before we left. I developed a code to remind her to change up gears – grabbing her knee as though I was doing it. We stopped in a flea pit of a hotel en route, when it was getting too wet and windy to drive any further.
Ko Chang itself was fantastic, and being off season we scored a couple of really nicely positioned hotels for very reasonable prices. Jaa was into fitness and exercised every morning, and strangely for a Thai woman, enjoyed long walks. A day trip to some outer islands was great, although I ended up with a blocked ear after all the snorkelling. No problem as I was with a nurse and we called into a local clinic next day and she used the medical equipment to give my ear a much needed clean-out.
Driving back to her home town, Jaa insisted on dropping me off in Bangkok rather than me journeying all the way back to her town. She had to get back for work, and I was going to Phuket. Half an hour after saying goodbye, she was on the phone, crying – no, screaming. She was lost and it all appeared to be my fault. In between screams I suggested she flag down a taxi and get the taxi to lead her onto the correct road to get her home. Phone goes dead. Half an hour later, same again and more screaming. Was this the stereotypical angel to screaming banshee Thai girl transformation I had heard about? It wasn’t until the next day that I finally managed to get her to answer the phone and establish she was safely home.
After a week in Phuket, I flew back to Bangkok and took the bus to her town once again. I would spend a few days there before going home to my country. She was an angel once again and gave me the most wonderful herbal massage. More importantly we seemed to hit it off. I really enjoyed her company and conversation and we could communicate with humour as well. Of course Mama wanted more money as she had figured out that Jaa and I had slept together. Mama wanted this money to give to Papa and to brother and sister. Brother was evidently too lazy to work and Mama regularly took money from Jaa to give to this waster.
Jaa wanted to get married immediately, but after 50 years of never ever having been married, this was a bit of a rush for me. I also indicated that whilst happy to support her and her son, extending this to people who were perfectly capable of taking care of themselves wasn’t high on my priority. For the next few months whilst back at home I acceded to a couple of requests for 10,000 baht here and there, but thought it a bit odd being required on top of a nursing salary.
It was with some trepidation I returned to visit Jaa three months later, but she was pleased to see me and we enjoyed a nice weekend holiday exploring the Lopburi area. I was then to travel to Laos and see her again on the way back. But it didn’t happen. Something triggered the I don’t want to see you again response, and I can only assume she had met another man on TLL, one that would give her all the money she desired. She did tell me earlier that there were other farang prepared to do just that.
This year I’ve seen her online on MSN and one time she even asked what had happened between us. I said I thought it had something to do with her not wanting me anymore, but she seemed conveniently oblivious of this. Then after wanting to see me again, suddenly no more communication and no answering my emails telling her when I would be in Thailand again. Strangely enough, phone disconnected and no way of making contact. I guess she has a new man, and once again good luck to her, although it may be him who needs the luck or at least a healthy bank account. I have some fantastic memories of our brief times together, though it does hurt slightly to see the lovely photos I took of her being used on her TLL and MSN accounts.
In conclusion whilst being able to make broad generalisations about Thai women, or any men or women for that matter, the reality is that you have to judge each on their merits. You can meet wonderful ladies in all strata of society. Some seek money, others are exceedingly generous. Sometimes it’s need and sometimes it’s greed, and sometimes it’s pressures that we don’t understand. And if we were in the same position maybe we’d be exactly the same.
They are all different, of course, but many of the same traits can be found in them.
Why a nurse would ask for money, I do not know…