The carriages of the sky-train rolled through Nana BTS, slowing to a gradual stop. The doors ‘phished’ open. A couple stepped on. The man, early 30’s milk-bottle white, cropped receding hair, overweight, casual attire, jeans &
t-shirt, sandals, sweaty, 99.9% chance a tourist. Accompanying him was a Thai woman. Her facial features, dark skin, demeanour and posture distinguished her as a lady of Isaan. She was maybe mid thirties, dressed in jeans, t-shirt and flat shoes,
large flat shoes. Although the carriage was sparsely populated, seats available, they stood together, holding the hand rails. They whispered to each other, the language used inaudible, giggling and laughing. They touched each other in a playful
manner. It was obvious to the few other passengers this couple were intimate with each other.
Sat across from the couple was a white western man. Late twenties, maybe older, clean shaven, lightly tanned skin. Smart-casual dress. Chinos with shoes and shirt, tie loosely tied around his neck, laptop / courier bag draped over shoulder.
The 'just finished work' look.
He was looking at the couple, almost staring, and thinking…
'Probably taking his 'whore du jour' shopping. I bet she's lost her mobile and needs a new one. Ha. Another idiot sex tourist. A holiday to see how many girls he can bang. Looks like this one's hooked him in. I'm
still yet to decide if these girls are deviously clever or the men are so blinded by the fact they can have sex with young girls, unobtainable for them in their home country, that they fail to see what's really going on. Good on the girls
I say. These sex tourists are scum. Plain and simple. They spout about loving Thailand and its culture and wax lyrical about everything Thai, but all they are interested in is CHEAP sex. Nothing more. They go on and on about farang women being
fat and mercenary etc but they are worse. Nothing is more mercenary then what they are doing. What they seem to forget is their dating pool back home reflects them. Are you old, fat, don't take care of yourself? Well, guess what…that's
exactly the kind of women who's going to take an interest in you. Same here until you start splashing the cash. Which, by looks of it, this guy is about to do, or be coerced into doing. Serves him right. She'll be banging someone else
tomorrow. I can't stop this smirk from breaking onto my lips. Ha.'
* * * *
1987, 10 years after losing his wife (during my birth) and at the age of 40, my father spent 2 weeks in Thailand. My grandparents were happy to look after me for the fortnight because working 60+ hours a week and looking after a young child
my dad deserved this break. His first holiday since before I was born. All I know about the trip is this is when he first met Sumalee. Over the next few years my father took more trips to Thailand, usually no more than a week and no more then
twice a year, keeping the time I was pushed onto my grandparents to a minimum. Not that they minded but he didn’t want it / me to become a burden. Each time he came back he spoke more and more about Sumalee. Showing the whole family pictures
of her. Nobody minded, everyone could see the spring she was putting in his step. Each time he spoke of Sumalee we learned more about her, she was younger then him, 10 years younger, from a poor region in Thailand. She had a child at 16, Thida,
her daughter was only 4 years older then me. Sumalee’s husband had died in a motorcycle accident. How my father met her or what she did for a living in Bangkok was either never told or I paid no attention and have since forgotten.
7 years after that first holiday, my father brought Sumalee to the UK on a fiancé visa with the intentions of marrying her after introducing her to all the family. Everyone liked her including me. Her daughter would be staying in Thailand
with extended family members for the foreseeable future as she was then 21 and living her own life. 2 months later they married. Approximately a year after the wedding I moved out of the ‘family’ home to start my independent life.
I returned frequently to see them and would always stay when Sumalee’s daughter (Thida) was visiting. We got on like the proverbial ‘house on fire’; we were like brother and sister immediately. Teasing and taunting each other.
We would contact each other regularly, weekly letters, phone calls and more recently email and webcam.
My father and step-mother lived in the UK for another 10 years before he retired and they moved to the northeast of Thailand. It was some years before I was able to visit my father. He booked a hotel for me in Bangkok. Thida suggested she
come to Bangkok and meet me, thinking we could see the capitol together then she could bring me back to see my father's home.
She met me at the airport, we went to the hotel, checked-in, put my bags in the room, showered and changed, then I suggested we do a little exploring. She mentioned about a shopping mall called MBK and we could get there on the sky-train.
As we walked through the hotel reception area I noticed a selection of newspaper’s on a table. I picked an English language paper and scanned what made the headlines in Bangkok on 18 April 2009…