Yoo Kon-Diow Part 2
This has been a long time coming – The Reunion.
Check-in and departure were the usual routine and the flight over was pleasant – I had two young tourist passengers for company in the adjacent two seats. They were booked to have a few days in Krungthep staying at The Raddison Hotel
and then would fly on to Phuket for the remainder of their holiday. I enjoyed their company and, after the evening meal was served, the young lady settled down to try and sleep for the flight while the young man and I spent most of the journey
in conversation as neither of us was tired and felt like sleeping. It certainly makes the journey more pleasant when you have somebody to converse with – I think this was the most pleasant flight I have had to Krungthep.
Suvarnabhumi, although relatively new, is equally as efficient as Don Muang with Immigration, baggage retrieval and Customs handled in the usual efficient and competent manner – although I was surprised at the long walk from disembarking
to Immigration checkpoints even with the assistance of moving walkways. I don't know where people would be without them as this airport is massive. I bid goodbye to my companions and wished them a happy stay in Thailand.
After clearing Customs I went to the currency exchange and cashed $AU for Thai baht then went down to the next level to get a taxi chit for the journey into the city. This is a fair journey, especially at this hour of the morning and it usually
takes about 45 minutes via the new tollway to where it joins the Viphavadi-Rangsit Tollway at the Din Daeng Interchange. From there it is about another 20 or 30 minutes to thread your way through Ploenchit and right into Ratchadamri, through Pratunam
and thence to The Baiyoke Tower – quite a journey. At Baiyoke the check-in was handled efficiently by a beautiful Thai lady and I was shown to a lovely suite in the mid-levels, facing east with a wonderful view of Din Daeng and a fantastic
view of the construction of the new Airport-link railway connection out to Suvarnabhumi Airport. When that is completed the journey in and out will be so much more pleasant. But, for now, all I want is to unpack a few things and dive into the
shower and get into some fresh clothes. Went to see Amorn and the family, did some shopping and stooged around, generally. The 5 days passed quickly.
Wednesday morning I checked in for TG 104 – don't know why but the flight seemed to me to take so long to get to Chiang Mai – yet, here we are on the glide-path into Chiang Mai and I can see it is just as I remember back
in 2004/5 and I'm wishing that's when it still is. Oh, Wan, this place makes me feel like it is where I should never have left. But we do what we think is the best at the time and so often, for me, it seems to be the wrong choice.
It is 11.45 a.m. and we have just docked at the air-bridge. Passengers are now starting to disembark and it is the walk I remember so well that will lead me to the person that I love so much. The baggage is quick to come onto the carousel
and I have my suitcase and am soon out into the arrivals area. There she is – just as lovely but quite a bit slimmer than I remember. I walk toward her and we exchange wai's before coming together in a warm hug.
"Pirawan, my Darling – so good to see you again. I miss you very much."
"My Sarmee, korp-Khun ka. I miss you too – I love you my Teeruk."
"And I love you Wan – my Waanjai always."
Wan had come with a different sawngthaew driver – not Phibun.
"Wan, where is Phibun? He not come with you.?"
"Phibun not drive any more – now he have market place to work."
As we drove along the usual route from the airport to Thapae Place she slipped her hand into mine and I kissed her lovely hair. We paid the sawngthaew driver then Mr Kot, the Thapae Place Porter, came outside with a big smile and shook my
"Welcome – you come back again!"
"Ah, Mr Kot, thank you – it is a long time but so good to see you again. It is good to be back."
Mr Kot carried our belongings inside while I arranged check-in and then we rode the elevator together and walked along to Room 322 as we had done so many times before. You know, it is just so nice to be coming home to a place you feel comfortable
in – and this place feels like home to me. It has always been like that.
"Pirawan darling, have you had breakfast yet?"
"I OK – I have something to eat before. Maybe we go to market and we get some fruit for later. Darling, we go see Mamma and Pappa tonight and we take some fruit out to them too?"
"Yes, my Love – whatever you want. I am happy."
On the way back from the markets we called in to see the pharmacy lady just to say "hello". She was so surprised and glad to see us.
"We just call in to say 'hello' because you do so much for us before."
She came over, full of smiles.
Wan and the lady made small talk for a little while then we left and took our fruit back to the room. Shortly after that we went down to Thapae Road corner and got a tuk-tuk for the ride over to Buak Head Park – the place that was
so significant to us when we were first together again in January 2005, after my December 2004 return to Australia.
Walking around this place brings back so many memories that I have lived through thousands of times since I have been away from Wan. I never gave up on believing that I would come back to her but, sometimes, it seemed like an impossibility.
Many times I was on the point of desperation – wondering if it would ever happen. But here we are – even if it is only for a short time – but a short time is better than not at all. Maybe that is a selfish way to look at it
– and maybe it is not in Wan's best interests for me to be here for such a short time. I honestly don't know what is right or wrong. All I know is that it feels good to be with her again. I suggested to her that, since we were
going to have dinner with the family, we should think about going back to the hotel to shower and change. She agreed that was a good idea so we caught a sawngthaew out on Bangrum Buri Road and rode back as far as Wat Mahawan on Thapae Road then
walked around the corner to the hotel.
Wan called our sawngthaew driver and arranged for him to pick us up at 5.30 p.m. – and I assume he will stay with us and have dinner just like Phibun used to do for us. It is now about 3 p.m. so there is time for a shower and a short
time to relax together and, perhaps, to make love. I want to make love with Wan – it is always so good. Lying together on the big bed it was just so wonderful to feel her soft warmth close against me – nothing has changed at all.
I set the alarm before we came to bed just in case we fell asleep – so we lay there as one, drifting in and out of sleep – the soft music channel on the TV playing Thai songs and we could have been back in 2005 again – nothing
Wan tells me that Mamma has not been well but I don't know what the problem is – she looks OK and Pappa looks well and I was really glad to see them. The house still looks the same and the food stalls on the side of the road are
still there on the way to the restaurant. It seems as though nothing at all has changed.
Nee and Tai joined us for dinner and that was nice as we sat in the usual place overlooking the water with that lovely view of the sun setting behind Hang Dong. The only thing different was the driver choosing to stay with his sawngthaew
instead of joining us to eat. As always, the food was superb and the service was good. Why would anybody choose to be anywhere but here? I was still unable to tempt Pappa to have more than two beers.
After dinner we returned to the house and Wan picked up the DVD player that we had bought so we could play a few discs in the hotel room. We left the house about 8.30 p.m. after promising we would come again on Sunday evening to do the same
thing. As we travelled through the darkness back to Chiang Mai I was thinking how many times I had done this same thing in my mind while still back in Australia.
Sleeping next to Wan is the most wonderful thing but waking up to find her beside me is the best of all. We made love twice during the night – each time falling asleep with her head on my shoulder and her leg over me, my arms around
her. To me there is nothing more restful than falling asleep cuddled together, my face buried in her sweet hair. I always wake before her and it so lovely to wake her with a kiss and to see her stretch and respond – I can never get enough
of making love with Wan.
Around 11.30 a.m. we went down to the hotel restaurant and had breakfast. Wan asked me if I could give her 11,000 Baht – it appears she had given some of her gold to a pawnbroker and wanted to get it back. Of course I wanted that for
her also because I realize that I am probably mostly to blame that she had to sell the gold in the first place since I do not send her money from Australia. Yet, I was a bit doubtful about this story as I know Thai women are very reluctant to
part with gold as it is more a status symbol than anything else. I remember all the photos I have with Wan wearing gold long before I met her. This seemed odd, so I figured I would play poor.
"Wan, Darling, mai-dai. This time when I come to you I do not have Mastercard with me. I don't use credit cards any more – only cash – and I don't bring a lot of spare cash so I simply cannot give you that amount
if we are to do the things we need to do."
She looked at me with a look of disappointment on her face and I just wanted to hold her close and be able to take away all of her problems.
"Darling, I have fallen behind in the monthly payments for the tong."
"Wan, how much do you owe in back-payments?"
"I not sure, Darling – I have to go see the man today."
I figured this was a little strange – she surely must know how much she has to pay. So, how did she arrive at the figure of 11,000 baht if she doesn't know how much she owes? Of course I had debit cards with me but I wasn't
about to get sucked into this one. I thought it safer to play the “poor” card to see what she did.
"Wan, I can give you 2,000 baht but that is really all I can spare now. I can come with you to pay the man – is that OK?"
"No, is OK Darling – I go myself and I come back quickly."
I started to believe this was just a ploy to extract cash for some purpose that I know nothing about. I haven't seen this woman for almost 3 years now – perhaps she has changed. Why did she not want me to go with her? In the past,
we went everywhere together.
I gave her the money and she left to find a sawngthaew and said she would be gone for an hour. I went to check the Internet and then went up to the room to wait for her. She was back around 2 p.m. Not long after her cell-phone rang and it
was a lady friend. She spoke for a little while then gave the phone to me as the lady wanted to talk with me also. She was Thai, very friendly and spoke English pretty good. When I gave the phone back to Wan she finished the call and we decided
to go down to the beauty salon so that Wan could have her hair washed and dried. She always takes good care of her hair and nails – she has lovely hair. I like to see Wan happy. When we were together in 2005 she always wanted me to buy
her a beauty salon – she really does like beauty salons, going there at least twice each week for hair or nail treatment.
It was always our daily routine to go over to the bar on Loi Kroh Road or to a cafe´ on Thapae Road to have drinks each afternoon before going to dinner. I asked Wan where she would like to go and she asked me if it would be OK if we
went to the bar of her friend up on Kotchasarn to have drinks.
"Up to you Darling – we can go there if you want."
We arrived up there about 6.30 p.m. The bar was a small place not far from Aroon (Rai) Restaurant and Wan introduced me to the lady who was in charge. There were three other girls sitting around the bar on stools and Wan's friend walked
over to a table with us and told us to make ourselves comfortable. We looked at the menu and Wan said that they had good food here also. So we ordered our drinks and then the evening just seemed to get fragmented.
Wan was up and down from the table most of the time. She went off to order our meals and I sat there for what seemed like ages waiting for her to come back. When she did come back she said the meals would be there soon – but it was
probably another half hour before they arrived. The food was OK but we had not much peace as the girls came over to chat now and again and Wan suggested that we buy a drink for them for good luck. Something else that was strange – Wan was
drinking Malibu. This was most unusual for her and she was having a few as well. Still, I have always tried to encourage her to have a drink with me in the past so I shouldn't complain about that. She seemed to be enjoying herself.
I guess it was around 9.30 p.m. when we decided to leave and I asked for our bar bill. We had already paid for the food when it arrived. When the bar bill came I was quite shocked to find it around 1200 baht – this was more than we
pay to take the whole family to dinner and drinks out at the restaurant. For that price we could have had dinner and drinks at Le Brasserie. The girls had put more than one "shout" on our bill and I told Wan that I was not happy. Inside
I had this rotten feeling that I had been set up and taken down tonight – and I began to suspect that Wan was in on this – but I kept my cool and smiled. I really was quite angry and I told Wan, quietly, they were kha-moi. Maybe
I was over-reacting but that was how I felt. There was not much conversation between us on the way back to the hotel. I had calmed down by the time we stopped at the 7-11 then back to the hotel and I began to feel guilty that I had blamed Wan
for a bad evening. After showering and watching TV for a short while, things were back to normal for us. We placed a pair of Lotus garlands that we had bought on the bed-head and both of us knelt, side-by-side to pray before settling down. I cannot
be angry with this lady – I love her.
Next morning, as always, I was first to wake – and lying there beside Wan in this half-dark room I got to thinking how crazy some of the things we do really are. Since I left here in September 2005 I have been totally consumed with
the need to come back to be with Wan – yet, when I have that opportunity, I go and spend some of that precious time in Krungthep away from Wan. How crazy is that? Then, when I do come back here, I expect things to be the same as they were
when I left – and logically I realise that I don't have the right to expect that even though it would be nice. I know that is a selfish thing to want.
Wan stirred and I leaned over to give her a kiss on the cheek. She turned to face me and gave me a lovely warm kiss on the lips.
"Good morning, my Sarmee."
"Good morning my little dok-mai – how are you?"
She just smiled and kissed me again and we were, once again, making love.
For drinks before dinner we went to the lady-boy bar on Loi Kroh Road and I had a Bia Singha while Wan had her normal alcohol-free drinks. The feel of this bar has changed now – not so many people here as before and the front of Traveller
Inn Hotel could do with a nice coat of paint. The bar next door is different and a solid concrete-block wall separates the two places – but you wouldn't believe it – just across the road a tuk-tuk pulls up and it is Sanan. I
called him over and he recognized us, ran across the road and shook hands.
"Sanan, you sit down and have beer with us?"
"OK, neung Chang lek, korp-khun krup."
Wan did most of the talking – we had a lot to say to him. Gee, it was good to see him again.
We clinked drinks together then he sipped his beer.
"Where you go after you leave here?"
"Wan and I go down to Changklan to have dinner and walk around The Night Bazaar."
"I take you down – no charge, today my birthday – OK?"
I laughed – "OK – korp-khun krup!"
And he did. I hadn't seen Sanan for a long time but I often wondered where he was or if he still gave free rides in his tuk-tuk. It is very rare for a tuk-tuk driver to do that. Doesn't matter where he sees us, he always tells us
to get in and never will take the money – always says “You lucky again today – my birthday again”. The only thing we've ever done for Sanan was to buy him a beer each time we see him – doesn't hurt
to be friends.
Back at the hotel, after we had showered, I asked Wan if she would like to watch a movie on DVD. She said she would so I put on "Beautiful Boxer" for her (the Thai language copy) – having brought it from Australia because
I knew she would like it as it had scenes from Chiang Mai Province and areas around Chiang Rai. She had not seen it before and she really did watch it very closely and I was so glad that she was enjoying the story. I never get tired of seeing
that movie and I put it on whenever I am missing Wan and Chiang Mai badly. It seems to help.
I feel really close to Wan tonight. We put the new Lotus garlands on the bed-head and knelt down on the bed to say our prayers. I know in my heart that we pray for the same things – the same thing I have wanted since the first time
I met Wan. Pirawan, I love you so very much. We made love before sleep and two more times during the night – a joy that never ceases to amaze me.
"Rah-tree Sawat Khun Pirawan."
"Rah-tree Sawat Khun Mark."
Today we are going out to Huay Teung Tao – where there is a beautiful picnic area beside the lake not too far from town along the Canal Road but, along the way, we are going to stop at Wat Suan Dok to make merit and buy two matching
Buddha amulets. The sawngthaew driver will be here soon to pick us up. Originally I suggested to Wan that we go to Wat Pra That Doi Suthep but I remembered the last time how the touts ruined the afternoon so I suggested Wat Suan Dok because it
is well-known and we had not been there before.
For me, all wats have a calm, peaceful feeling about them and Wat Suan Dok retains that feeling in spite of the high-density tourist visitors. The grounds are large and there are several outlets where you can purchase amulets – but
it is hard to get an audience with one of the monks because of the number of people here this morning. However, after asking, we were directed to a quiet part of the grounds where we found an older monk who gave us a blessing in a tiny temple
room. We left a donation with him in an envelope from each of us and we thanked him.
More than two years have gone by since I was last at Huay Teung Tao with Wan but it hasn't changed at all. Oh, maybe there are new owners of the food kitchen but everything else is still the way I remember it. We ordered the food and
drinks – considering the preferences for our driver as well – and began to relax and enjoy the beautiful view across the water to the other side where the green hills melted away into the distance. Out in the middle of the lake is
a single, lonely dead tree standing out of the water and I wondered how long it had been there and under what circumstances it had died.
Our drinks came first and it didn't take long for the food to arrive. Of course we always order tom-yam-goong but I don't care where it is made because they are all different but they are all good. Plenty of rice and two other hot
dishes to pick from and som tam, as a side salad dish, is all one could wish for as a lunch. The staff removed the dirty dishes after we finished so not to encourage flies. With a gentle breeze blowing in off the lake and the tiny waves lapping
against the bamboo rafts we all stretched out to try and sleep for a while – Wan and I on one side and the driver on the other.
I handed Wan a two-page letter I had printed for her in Thai on my computer, telling her how I saw things as they are now (and were before) – told her I would love to marry her but I was not as rich now as before and was concerned
that she may be able to do a lot better than me. I just wanted her to know that I cared about her welfare and future – that I most likely would not be able to give her all the things she should have. She read it for a long time before folding
it up and giving it back to me – she never said anything.
Needless to say I didn't sleep, even though I had my eyes closed but it was lovely just to be here – and I tried to imagine that I had never left here – and that I never would leave here. In my heart I would never leave
here and I never would leave Wan. But life doesn't always unfold as we pray so hard for it to do – at least not in this life perhaps. As I have learned, through bitter experience, there are karmic debts that must be repaid.
We settled the bill and our driver took us to a Hill Tribe shop near Wat Suan Dok on the way back to Thapae Place where we had a good coffee from the stall nearby. Back at the hotel we paid the driver and went up to our room to relax. Later,
I took Wan down to Thanon Kampaengdin and we found a mobile-phone shop open so I charged Wan's phone with a decent amount of credit and put some on mine as well. Then we walked up to Thanon Moon Muang to buy Chiang Mai food at the market
to take back to eat in the hotel room. After that we cleaned up and I put on Cold Chisel's DVD "Last Stand" from Australia – although I'm not sure that Wan was too impressed with Jimmy Barnes from that era, as he was
Next morning, after breakfast, Wan wanted to go again to the beauty salon to have her hair done so I went with her. She was looking at hair colors and was asking me which one I thought would suit her best. There were a couple of colors that
looked quite nice but she was not having that done today as she said she would rather have it done next week. I joked with her and said she should have orange, green or purple – maybe streaks – but she just gave me a playful slap
on the arm in disgust. While she had her hair washed I checked out the Internet. Wan was almost finished when I went back to the beauty salon then we went down Thapae Road to have a look around and ended up getting a few things at the 7-11 near
Talat Wororot and picking up some fresh Lotus garlands for the bed tonight. Back at the hotel we showered and settled down for our afternoon nap with the music channel playing softly. This afternoon we will go out to have dinner with the family.
The sawngthaew driver came on time and we drove out to pick up the family for dinner. I sometimes wonder what Pappa thinks about my coming and going all the time – he never says anything but I would think it strange that somebody who
says they love his daughter, as much as I say I do, always seems to be leaving her. This is something that I think about quite a lot but the truth is that there has always been some compelling reason why I have had to leave – and it has
always been centred on money, or lack of it. That never seems to change. Then there is the matter of permanent residency in Thailand which would be an insurmountable problem without cash reserves to use as collateral for Thai Immigration. I don't
have that sort of capital any more so I must accept that I am limited to short stays here. As much as I love this country and as much as I love Wan there is not much choice for me now.
Dinner was good as always but the thoughts kept running through my head, making me feel quite sad. It's like an endless movie that keeps re-running – and I look back at the other times I have been here in this same position. I
don't want to leave these people because I have come to regard them as my own family – Lord knows, I don't have one back in Australia any more. I wonder if I will see these people again or, for that matter, if I will ever see
Wan again. but I believe I will, even though I don't know how or when.
I found it difficult to say goodbye back at the house but we left and headed back to town on The Superhighway. In the hotel room we showered first and then settled down to watch a VCD before bed. If I had a choice I would be happy to spend
the rest of my life living in this room, in this hotel with Wan – just doing the things we do. I know that's selfish and I shouldn't think that way. Since I arrived last week there has been something I have noticed about Wan.
She has appeared distracted a lot of the time – almost as if her mind is elsewhere and she seems to have become an obsessive-compulsive with regard to minor things such as straightening the mat outside the bathroom, picking up pieces of
fluff on the floor or continually returning to check if she has put an item of clothes straight on the back of the chair. There seems to be something that she is worried about but I can't decide if it is her concern for Mamma or it is something
to do with my lengthy time away in Australia. She doesn't say anything about it.
Wan said that she will have to take Mamma to the hospital tomorrow for her monthly check-up. I asked her if she wanted me to come with her.
"No, Darling, you stay here in the room and I go to get her from home in the sawngthaew and then take her back home."
"How long you be gone, Darling?"
"Maybe two hours."
We watched a little TV then showered and went to bed after praying together with the new Lotus garlands on the bed-head.
We were up about mid-morning to have breakfast, I gave Wan money for the sawngthaew and then we waited around for ages for the driver to show up. He came about 1 p.m – an hour late and I said goodbye to Wan and wondered what to do
for the time she was gone. Checked e-mails and walked around a bit then went to sit in the room. Wan was a long time away – it was after 3.30 p.m. before she came back and I had been quietly stewing that she had spent most of our last day
together running around – but I didn't say anything. I guess it was not her fault and I don't want to leave tomorrow with any bad feelings between us. I told her we better go and pick up the laundry – it was ready, then
I reminded Reception that we would check out tomorrow around midday. Had drinks at Thapae Road cafe´ and then to markets on Thanon Moon Muang where we bought Chiang Mai food to take back to the room. I love Chiang Mai sausage and nam-prik
and I think Wan would prefer to have this type of dinner every night – it's really good food and it doesn't cost very much with sticky rice. Wish I could buy it in Australia.
However, now comes the hard part – the packing up of our things to leave. I feel so sad putting things into the suitcase. There is so much that I want to say to Wan about how I am feeling and how much I love her – but I am choking
up with emotion at leaving again. She looks very upset also and I want so much to make her happy – but there is nothing that I can do. Perhaps it's better if I don't do this to her again because it's not fair to her and it
is very difficult for me. Maybe I shouldn't come here any more – but I don't know that I can do that – I want to be with Wan always.
There are just a few things left that have to be kept out for the morning – toothpaste and brushes, deodorant etc. Wan has most of her things in plastic carry bags on the floor near the wardrobe – including the DVD player. It
makes me smile sometimes how she always brings her things in plastic carry bags in preference to the two suitcases we bought in 2004/5. Why doesn't she use one of them? Anyhow, I just wish she wasn't packing anything to go anywhere –
and I wish the same for me.
When she came out from her shower I gave her what money I could but I know it would never be enough. How much is enough? I could never afford to give her what she's worth to me. I also gave her some extra for the sawngthaew back to home
in the morning. Then we prayed together. That night, love with Wan was very special and highly emotional – several times.
In the morning, we did the things we had to do, called reception and Mr Kot came to take our belongings down for check-out. I just looked around the lobby area and I wondered how long it would be before I saw this place and these people again
– the house-maid ladies, reception staff, Mr Kot – would I see them again?
The drive out to the airport was busy – and I was thinking that I definitely prefer the drive in more than the drive out. When we got there Wan said goodbye to me before I went through the first Security before check-in and that's
unusual for her because she always comes up to the departures area to wait until I go through Security there and into the departure lounge. Anyhow, maybe the driver is in a hurry to go to another job.
I put my gear down on the floor and gave her a big hug.
"Wan, Darling, you take care. I love you and I will call you from Krungthep – OK?"
"I love you too, my Sarmee – you take care also."
Then she was gone.
I checked in and made my way up to the departure lounge and found a spot to sit to read the paper. I had a little while to wait before departure, but I'd only been sitting there a short while when my cell-phone rang and it was Wan.
"Darling, you forget to give me money for hair color-change in beauty salon. Can you come down to give to me?"
"Wan, I go through Security already – now I cannot come out. I wait in the departures lounge for my flight – I am sorry, Love."
"Oh, it OK. You not worry – I call you later – goodbye Darling."
"Goodbye Teeruk – ruk-Teur dta-laud-bpai, Pirawan."
"Ruk-Teur dta-laud-bpai, Sarmee."
I felt awful. Was this just about money? How could she ask me for more when I already tell her I cannot spare any more? We are only talking about another 500 Baht, maybe. Is she that strapped for cash? I know 500 Baht is not a lot for me
but maybe it means a lot for her. What have I done to Wan that has reduced her from the impeccably-groomed lady that I first knew to a person who is so worried about relatively-small amounts of money. Someone who now, does not wear the same expensive
clothes and accessories that she once wore – nor does she spend the same time with make-up as she once did. I don't care about all of that – I love her anyway – but it breaks my heart to think she can maybe no longer
live in the style she is used to. Am I responsible for this? I hope not.
When boarding time came I was glad to be leaving here – the first time I have ever thought that. Oh, I still love this place – Chiang Mai still feels like a home – and I love Wan without question and still call her my
wife – but what can I do?
Arrived at Suvarnabhumi and was on the moving walkway from the arrival lounge to the baggage carousel when my cell-phone rang. It was Wan.
"Darling, I just call to see if you arrive in Krungthep OK."
"Hello Wan, thank you – yes, I am on the walkway now to get my suitcase. I love you my Teeruk – I will call you when I get back to Australia. Ruk-Teur sa-mur – chohk-dee Khun Pirawan."
"Ruk-Teur dta-laud-bpai – chohk-dee Khun Mark."
I blew her a kiss through the phone – she did the same – then she was gone.
To be continued.