Consider Wisely – Regrets May Follow Part 5
April 2005: Wan and I travelled last week to Mai Sai to do a visa run for me – no problems with the crossing over to Tachilek and getting another 90 days in my passport on the way back through Thai Immigration. We had hired a late-model Toyota sedan with a driver and made the trip in comfort. The exercise took the whole day but here it is 13 April and it seems as though the journey may have been a waste of time as I have just found out that there is an urgent need for me to return to Australia to sort out something quite unexpected. I received an e-mail from the person who has been storing all my gear while in Thailand and I have been told that I must remove all of my belongings immediately as it is no longer convenient.
A mate of mine, Sam, lives not far from where the gear is stored so I called him and explained the circumstances after which he offered to give me accommodation and help to pick up the gear and store it at his house. He said he would pick me up from the airport when I land. Sam is married to a Thai lady, Noi – but he is a funny bugger.
“Just make sure when you arrive, you have no poo-ying with you!”
Wan decided to go back home while I was away so we checked out of Thapae Place Hotel today and Phibun dropped us at the airport. The security scan was fine and check-in was quick and easy so we went upstairs to the restaurant and had something for breakfast – but I was not hungry at all. After leaving the restaurant we sat for a while, not talking much but lost deep in thought and sad about being separated so needlessly. I hate leaving her like this. She had “Lukchai” with her in a plastic boutique shopping bag and she pulled him out and pressed him to make him "bark" at me. I could have cried – I remember the day we bought him on Loi Kroh Road from a passing toy-animal vendor. “Lukchai” is only a stuffed dog – our baby – very cute with a big red tongue and Wan fell in love with him. I guess we both did and we see “Lukchai” as the surrogate for the baby we would like to have.
The time came for me to go through final Security screening so we said our goodbye's and I went into the departure lounge and waited to board the aircraft – mostly wanting to run back outside and stay with her.
The flight to Krungthep was uneventful and I went down and collected my baggage from the carousel as I had flown this leg back as a domestic passenger. I hate waiting in transit so I always do this and check my baggage into "Left Luggage" and then I am free to wander the airport and do as I wish. I phoned Wan to let her know I arrived safely and to tell her I love her and I miss her already. Then I phoned Nat and told her I arrive tomorrow and I will call her from Sam and Noi's place. My flight to Australia – TG 983 – does not leave until late this evening so I will check in at Thai and go through Immigration later on. Right now I am going up to the brewery bar in terminal II to sit and have a few quiet Bia Singha and watch TV at the bar while I have some of their complimentary popcorn. The TV hardly registers with me as I sit thinking – just trying to get my head together.
I left the bar and went down to see when check-in would open for TG 983 but the lady at the Thai Information Counter told me I could check in any time I wished – so I retrieved my luggage, checked in, got my boarding pass, paid the 500 baht Departure Tax and went through Immigration. Once on the departure side I found a quiet place to sit, watch the aircraft movements and jot down a few thoughts.
Being here reminds me so much of the times I flew out of this place when Nat and I were first together. It feels different now but the emotions are still there and I don't think they will ever go away. I question if I would even be going back to Australia right now if not for this inconvenience of moving gear – but the truth is I do want to see Nat and I need to try and get on top of this depressive state that is getting worse as time goes by. I tell myself it doesn't matter if I die in Thailand or in Australia but I know I want to be close to Wan – yet I need to be sure that Nat is making a life for herself and is happy and secure with the kids. I know she is seeing someone and I expected she would, but I hope she is happy. Our Departure Gate tonight is 15 – the same as when I left here in December 2004 but such a lot has changed since then – or has it really? No, I'm just fooling myself.
Sam was there to meet me at the airport and we drove back to his home to drop my luggage and have a cup of coffee and a chat. I told him it was imperative that I go to my bank to do some transactions and he volunteered to drop me there and I said we would pick up some beer on the way home to his place. There was no problem at the bank and I was out of there quickly and we got the beer and were back at Sam and Noi's in no time.
My “friend's” middle daughter, Ann, arranged for me to go Saturday morning to pick up my gear and Sam said he would take me with his trailer and we would do that early. Now, we are sitting and talking over a few beers and waiting for Noi to come home from work. She arrived home around 5 p.m. and decided she would make pizza for dinner but she told us to stay out on the back deck and she would call us when everything was ready. By now it was getting cool out here and darkness was already setting in so we cracked another beer and just talked about Thailand – the smell of pizza cooking floated out through the kitchen screens. Only now am I starting to feel the effects of jet-lag and the stress I have been under so I will be very pleased to have a shower and fall into bed tonight. I feel stuffed.
Saturday we went to pick up the gear about 10 a.m. and Ann met us at the pergola door. After all the assurances that I had been given, here was my gear – half of it wet from the leaking shed where they had moved it from the house. Fortunately the computer was OK and we loaded everything into the trailer and I thanked Ann for contacting me and for her assistance. But, I have to say, I was totally confused with this about-face toward me after all I had done for these people and the assurances that had been given to me. We live and we learn!
Sam backed the trailer into the yard at his home and he showed me where I could unload and stack things until I organised a more compact area with plastic sheeting over the gear. Later on Sam and I went to do a mowing job that he had planned for today but he was concerned about me injuring my already-tender back. I told him it was OK and we worked together. We returned home after the job and adjourned to the rear deck for a few beers and a chat. While he was inside for a while I called Wan on the cell-phone and she was very happy to hear from me – and I was over the moon to talk with her. I said things were going OK and that I would call her in a couple of days.
"Teeruk, ruk-Teur dta-laud-bpai."
Sam and Noi came out to join me after my call and they asked how everything was going.
"Fine – Wan is happy and she is OK – but I miss her."
Noi started to ask how she was living while I was away in Australia.
"I leave money with her to take care of her while I am gone."
"How much you give her?"
I thought this was a bit rude to ask somebody – some people just have no manners at all – but I told her.
"Ten thousand baht and I put another 5000 baht in her bank account."
Noi was, obviously, horrified that I had given Wan so much money.
"Why you give so much to her – that is a lot of money?"
"Noi – she has to live, doesn't she? I don't want to see her short for money. We have lived for more than 3 months as husband and wife. I feel she is my wife."
Noi walked away and seemed quite angry.
I can't do anything about what other people think. All I can do is live by what I think is fair and honourable for me in how I treat those that I love.
Nat called me on the cell-phone today to say she would call around to see me later in the morning. That was nice and I started to sort out my belongings. Sam showed me a place where I could stack everything so it would be out of the way but he warned me that I would need to cover everything with plastic sheet as the weather may blow rain in through the wooden battens around the edges of the house. He said I could use some blocks to stand everything on as the water may come onto the concrete. I was in the middle of sorting things when Nat arrived and she had little Lek (her youngest luksao) with her. Sam was very cool toward Nat so I told her to come downstairs and we could sit in the cool under the house where I was working. Sam blames Nat for our problems but I won't have a bar of that – we are equally to blame – and I would even go so far as to say that a big part could be attributed to my inflexibility. Nat was very nice toward me and quite friendly and we talked for about a half-hour before she decided to leave – I know she could sense that she was not welcome by Sam's attitude. I was very pleased to see her and I wished we could have had longer to talk but she said she had to take Lek somewhere. I said I would see her later during the week.
I contacted Thai Airways and was able to secure a booking out of here to Chiang Mai departing Friday so I told them I would come in today and pay them for the ticket. Sam and Noi were surprised at my decision but what else can I do?
Friday morning I phoned Nat and told her I was leaving today to go back to Chiang Mai and she said she would call around to Sam's to pick me up and we would go somewhere to have lunch together. We went to a small licensed club nearby and I paid for the meal and drinks although Nat would only have soft-drinks. It was a strange meeting that we had because I gained the feeling that Nat wanted to talk about things between us and so did I – yet I hardly knew where to begin or how to broach the subject. I did not wish to upset the pleasant rapport we had established. She drove me back to Sam's and said goodbye and I stood there with this empty feeling that a chance to resolve some of our problems had just been lost.
Nat, I am so sorry that things have ended up like this. I still love you very strongly in spite of all our differences in the past. Right now, I am packed and ready to go – and waiting for a taxi to take me to the airport.
"Sam, thanks for all your help and support but I think you understand that this is what I must do if I am to hold onto any sanity that I have left. If I don't go back to Wan it will eventually destroy me with the feelings that we share – I must be with her."
We shook hands and he carried my guitar to the door and down to the taxi.
"Thank Noi for putting up with me – appreciate having been here."
"Good luck Mark – take care of yourself."
"Thanks, Mate – you also."
I don't recall much about the flight over to Krungthep as I had a fair amount of alcohol on the aircraft and popped a couple of Valium after dinner was served so that I could get a bit of sleep. However, I did the transit from TG 984 to TG 102 at Don Muang and Wan met me at Chiang Mai airport with her family. It was so lovely to be back with her again. Phibun drove us to Thapae Place Hotel and dropped us at the door and we said our goodbyes to the family and checked in for another month. Before Phibun left I gave him money for the fares to here from the family's home and also to cover his time taking the family home again. We told him we would book him now for tomorrow afternoon for dinner with the family. I had already phoned the hotel from Australia to make the booking and asked for Room 322 as we always have that room. The staff at Thapae Place are always very helpful to Wan and me. It's good to be home.
A week has passed and I am feeling really sick this morning – it began Wednesday evening after dinner and I started with nausea and stomach pains in the night. It got worse and then my whole body started to hurt and I felt like a fever was coming. On Friday I tried to ignore the symptoms and downloaded some "Scorpions" songs from the Internet but the rest of the day I couldn't settle and lay on the bed to try and fight whatever this was. By Friday evening the diarrhoea had started and I spent most of the night up and down to the hong-nam – Wan didn't get much sleep that night with me in and out of bed. I'm sorry, my Love.
This morning I was so sick I could barely stand up and I don't know how I walked over to Loi Kroh Road to see the doctor. Wan came with me and helped me as best she could and the doctor took me straight upstairs to the treatment surgery where he set up a drip immediately and said I urgently needed fluids and antibiotics. He ran Gentamycin and Ciprofloxacin through the drip and kept me there for nearly two hours. I was given that many tablets to take – pain killers, sedatives, anti-nausea and anti-flatulence – that I couldn't believe it. He said if I was no better by late afternoon I needed to be admitted to hospital and he wrote out a medical report for the hospital if I needed to go. Wan and I found a tuk-tuk to take us back to the hotel and I spent the remainder of the day sleeping. Wan lay beside me and tried to do all she could for me – just holding her hand was the best I could manage. I have not been this sick for a very long time.
We had to cancel out of our normal visit to the family on Sunday. On Monday and Tuesday I spent a large part of the day and night suffering from shivers and sweats and was required to go to the doctor morning and evening for each of those days for an injection of antibiotic and again this morning at 9 a.m. Today, I feel a lot better but I am so tired and weak. All I can manage to eat is dry toast and black tea – the doctor said I must avoid high protein for a few days. It's a good thing I like khao-tom. These last three days I have consumed many bottles of Pepsi. Wan looks after me like a nurse – she is a really good wife to me and I love her dearly.
Thursday was a day largely spent recuperating but I was looking through a few photographs I had of Nat in the evening while Wan was in the bathroom and there was a problem. When she came out she wanted to see them – then she became angry and tore them up and put them in the rubbish bin. We argued over that and about Wan's attitude toward Isaan people but I suppose I should have been more understanding of her feelings. We went to bed and both of us cried before sleep. That was not really an argument – things were fine between us after a while but it upset me to see the only photos I have of Nat with me destroyed like that.
Today was really the first day since I got sick that we have been able to do any of the things we normally like to do. I got up early and had a light breakfast in the hotel dining room and then I spent quite a while composing a long e-mail to Khun Loong. I phoned Nat and she could tell I was very upset about the photographs but she said to forget about it and she asked me if I was OK. I told her I was almost back to normal. I don't know if that is true myself – I feel fairly fragile. Nat told me I should talk with Amorn. Maybe I should.
It is Tuesday 24 May and there are urgent matters to be attended to with the bank in Australia along with issues related to work that I have been neglecting. Monday was a very difficult day and I was horribly depressed most of the time. There were letters that I had to write to the bank and to my Insurance Company that occupied a lot of time and there were some legal matters needing to be addressed. Mostly, Wan slept while I did that and she went down to the Beauty Salon for a short while as well. There was also laundry to collect and sort out things that we needed to send back to her home and those that I needed to take to Australia with me.
Early this morning I posted some letters off, to friends in New Zealand, at Mae Ping Post Office and the rest of the morning was very sad for both of us. But we checked out and waited for Phibun to take us to the airport again and went through the usual sad goodbyes – and Wan went back to her home to wait for my contact from Australia. When I landed in Krungthep I gave her a phone call to let her know I was OK and that I was still missing her and I loved her.
I can't even begin to describe the feelings I am going through at the thought of leaving here. But one thing is certain – there is no question about it – I have fallen in love with Wan very deeply and I am having trouble balancing this with the love I still have for Nat. Sometimes I feel like I am going mad – this indecision and feelings of duality are driving me down further.
Thai Airways have transferred some of my accrued Frequent Flyer points to upgrade to Royal Silk Class and I am now sitting in The Royal Orchid Lounge and just trying to unwind. I am trying to come to terms with leaving Chiang Mai today and trying to figure out a way to give Wan the things she wants – a home, a car and a family close by. It seems impossible, the way things are panning out.
Arriving in Australia after the flight I felt like a wrung-out dish-rag – totally drained, bodily and mentally. Nat has said I can stay at her place and I am grateful for that and I have chosen to sleep in the downstairs room I had before, when I last stayed here. I dropped my gear and went to the shopping centre to get a Lotto ticket – gee, wouldn't it be nice to win enough to buy a house for Wan and me and to set her up with a small beauty salon. I would also make sure Nat was OK for money. But that is probably just a dream that won't happen. Oh Lord, I am missing Wan so badly.
Nat, the kids and I are getting along well in spite of the past problems – but I stay pretty well out of the way most of the time, out and about with the things I came back to achieve, and I go down to bed fairly early after showering. I have made some arrangements with the banks and attended to a couple of legal matters that needed to be done but that will have to do for now.
Nearly every night I telephone Wan on the cell-phone.
"Teeruk, I miss you – Kit-Teung Pan-ra-ya. I will leave here Monday and I will be back in Chiang Mai with you on Tuesday 07 June. I have telephoned Thapae Place Hotel and they have kept our room for us."
"My Sarmee – I love you Teeruk. I see you at airport."
"Pirawan, I telephone you when I get to airport in Krungthep. I love you Darling – Ruk-Teur dta-laud-bpai."
It is Sunday 05 June and I hardly slept at all last night but Nat was home when I went upstairs to have coffee. Around mid-morning she set up an outdoor loafer on the patio and lay there for a while dozing and looking like she was trying to recover from a heavy night. She was surprisingly talkative and we sat for several hours talking about the future for her and for me.
She seems so confused and I wish there was something that I could do to help her because I really understand the things she is going through and I do care what happens to her. As time passed she began to open up and tell me some of the things she was worried about. From what she told me she seems to be having trouble deciding who she will keep as a boyfriend and she was able to talk about the good and bad points of both of them.
I know one of the guys she has been seeing for some time and I think he is a really good guy. He looks after Nat very well but he is still going through a property settlement arrangement with his wife from whom he is now separated. He earns good money in the job he does but can only come to see Nat every few weeks – staying for 3 or 4 days before he has to return to work. I get along very well with him and I wish she would settle on him as her partner as I believe he really cares about her.
The other guy she has only recently met but he doesn't sound like he is prepared to give any commitment to a relationship. She likes him but I told her there is no future in a relationship with a person who will not give a commitment. Perhaps part of the problem may be that Nat, herself, is not prepared to really give a commitment. I tried to tell her that "partying" and "clubbing" is a poor reason to make a choice for a partner – that will fade away eventually and then you will need somebody more stable and reliable. I realised then, what I had just said and thought that I was really the last person to be advising anyone on commitment and responsibility – I'm just barely managing, myself. She asked me how things were going with me and Wan. I told her that I could not stay in Australia because I missed Wan very badly – yet, when I was there, I had similar feelings about Nat.
She looked over at me.
"You must move on with your life – you have to think about the future too."
"Nat – yeah, I know that, – but it is so difficult. Wan is a lovely lady but there is only so long that we will be able to live the lifestyle that we now enjoy. I haven't worked for quite a while now and money will not last forever – but I must go back. I have booked with Thai to leave Brisbane on Monday."
It was a beautiful day being able to spend this time with Nat and the kids – it was so nice to be able to talk about things that really matter and not to experience any anger like in the past. Yet, I had times during the day of extreme sadness at the thought of leaving Nat to go back to Chiang Mai and I was thinking why times in the past could not have been just as they are today. I never wanted to leave Nat and I still wish it had never happened.
But I remembered what my old cockney step-dad George would say.
"You can wish in one hand and piss in the other – but see which one gets filled first!"
Monday I was up early and sorted the things to take with me and packed the suitcase. Mostly, I don't recall a lot about the rest of the day except for the fact that Nat decided to go out with the kids and told me she would stay away until I left to go to the airport. When I think about that this question keeps coming back to me – “If I had asked if I could stay with her and we get back together again would she have said 'yes'”? I think about this a lot as time passes and I wonder had I thrown away the last chance I had to be with the person I married and love so much. The reality is that I probably will never know.
But, the time came to call the taxi and I locked up and went down to wait at the front gateway where we had come and gone so many times together. The ride to the airport was uneventful and I waited around until check-in time and went through Immigration and Security before calling Wan to tell her I was just about to leave Australia for Thailand. I had a couple of beers and settled in at the departure gate but the flight was delayed 1 ½ hours in departing. After take-off I had a couple of whiskeys, straight, before dinner and several glasses of wine with dinner. I set my watch to Thai time before settling down then I popped a couple of Valium but slept fitfully in spite of all that.
To be continued.