Dec 1998, Hat Yai :
The tuk tuk pick up truck rattled into the driveway with my friend G and I on the back. G whispers to me as we dismount “Whatever you do, don’t pick a chick unless she makes eye-contact and smiles at you”.
Got it, roger that, I said. Being a dark-skinned Malaysian Indian, I had my doubts on being the happy recipient of any smiles from these infamously racist Thais.
The KTV was a house with a large sitting area at the front. Not knowing how to speak Thai, G and I were relieved when the pimp greeted us warmly in Malay.
Three Thai girls were brought and put on display and G nudged me to choose. It had been agreed that I was to select my chick first; he would pick one from another KTV later.
Carefully gazed at the display. The first two were actually pretty hot. Absolutely no eye contact with me though and no smiles. The last one, P, was staring at me however and had a shit-eating grin which sort of unnerved me. Still, she wasn’t bad. Fair like a Chinese unlike the others who were somewhat darker complexioned. P later told me she had been smiling like a Cheshire cat as she was drunk at the time. We’re off to a good start…
She no can talk English and I no can talk Thai. Feels like I’m playing a never-ending game of charades with her. Somehow we make ourselves understood.
I’m struck with how beautiful she looks even when she’s asleep. I often find myself watching her sleep.
She drags me back to the KTV as it’s the pimp’s birthday. Great food and the booze flows. As usual I stick with a beer or two. I never have been much of a liquor man. P however is really having a blast and keeps downing whiskeys all night.
Though chattering in Thai incessantly to her friends, she still manages to peel and feed me prawns and other seafood. Though mute and bored, I’m certainly not feeling neglected.
When it comes time for us to head back to my hotel room, she’s staggering. I have to hold her by the shoulders lest she keels over.
As soon as we enter the room, she sprints into the bathroom and I hear her retching into the toilet. Nice.
She staggers out and plops herself onto the bed next to me. I focus on the TV for a bit then turn to look at her. She’s either asleep or passed out. Bits of puke still on her chin.
I wet a towel in the bathroom sink and start to clean her. She lets me undress her and the sponge bath is soon completed. I dry her off with a fresh towel, tuck her under the covers, kiss her forehead. Then I retire to my half of the bed and fall asleep.
I awaken suddenly in the middle of the night to find her awake and staring at me.
Find myself heading up north to Thailand again. Work is slow so I grab the chance for a quick visit to P.
Apr, 1999, 1 hour south of Chiang Rai :
The trip to meet her family in her hometown for Songkran is a blast. Though at first they’re not quite sure what to make of this dum dum, they soon come around.
I fall completely for the charms of P’s 4 year old daughter. She loves the Mickey Mouse talking doll as well as the Bananas In Pajamas pillow that’s taller than she is. She refuses to go to sleep unless she’s hugging them both.
Being immersed in a culture and language so foreign, I can’t help but pick up the pace in learning to speak Thai.
“I Khon Nea, not Issan” she tried to explain. “Khon Nea people very good, jai dee…”.
I nodded, paying attention. I had learned that the fairer-complexioned Nea were Northern Thai and their reputation in Thailand was that they were good, honest people, and not prone to deceit like the Issan.
She hadn’t been too comfortable living with me in Malaysia. I was partly relieved when she returned to Northern Thailand as it allowed me to focus on work which I had been neglecting.
Called her two or three times a week and of course sent her the monthly allowance without fail. When I could, I would pay her a quick visit, staying for a few days.
2001, North Thailand :
Its funny how completely a man can trust a woman he loves.
It was one of P’s neighbors who whispered to me that P had a Thai husband. At first I wouldn’t or couldn’t conceive of it.
I was at the neighborhood shop and my world had suddenly stopped spinning. The neighbor asked me to join her for a drink and filled in the gaps in the whole story.
In Thai, she gave me all the details I desperately needed and I had to admit that that it all added up.
P did not deny it when I confronted her later and for that I give her credit. I left for home, teary eyed and my parting words to P were “Rak Phuah Jing Jing Na…”
I’ve never had any contact with her since.
2003, Malaysia :
Whilst surfing the Net, I stumble upon a website, stickmanbangkok.com. Some of the submissions there echo my own experiences. I find myself wishing I had found that site earlier….
Nicely put together!