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Yoo Kon-Diow Sa-mer



Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok

After arriving back in Australia from my August 2007 visit with Wan I threw myself into work, leaving practically no time for anything else. The way things had panned out in Chiang Mai had started me wondering about the accuracy of how I was seeing things in my relationship with Wan. It wasn't that I was doubting her love – more an acceptance that she really does have a lot to contend with and that perhaps my presence there with her really does cause complications in her life. I didn't want to do that to her.

There was some dental work that needed attention so I made appointments with Smile Dental Clinic in Krungthep and flew there on 17 April 2008 – returning to Australia on 29 April 2008. Perhaps the break from seeing Wan so soon again would allow me to put things into perspective. Again, on my return to Australia, I knuckled down to work with a vengeance. With rumblings on the horizon about the impending Global Financial Crisis I made a decision to abandon any definite plans to go to Thailand in 2009, becoming quite focused on the transcription and translation of Thai music and lyrics. However, in August I went and booked a flight to Krungthep for 16 October as I was getting “withdrawal symptoms” for Thailand – just had to go. On my return I settled in for a period of solid work until the end of the Financial Year.

In early 2010 there was more contact between Wan and myself than during the whole of the time since my visit in 2007 – letters, e-mails and telephone calls in both directions. I managed to find a silver Tiger pendant that we had looked for without success in 2007 and I sent it over to her by mail. The Tiger is her birth animal and she really wanted that. The longing to be with her again was too strong so I booked myself out of Australia on 23 July to Chiang Mai. We are now in contact on a weekly basis and it feels a little like it was in 2005.

I had discussed with her how I had been disappointed with some parts of our last time together in 2007 and that I wanted her to come down to Krungthep to be with me when I next come to Thailand. I went ahead and booked accommodation for both of us and planned to send her money for the airline ticket and some extra for herself. I was also planning to have more dental work done in Krungthep but the trouble erupted at Ratchprasong between the Red Shirts and The Army and Police. After seeing the damage done to shopping facilities in Krungthep, on the Internet, I told Wan I would come to Chiang Mai instead because I know she loves to shop for clothes and many of her favourite shops were wrecked. Then I booked into Fun Sabai dental clinic in Chiang Mai.

Today is Friday 23 July and here I am once again at the International Terminal, waiting around for the boarding call for TG 474 to Krungthep. It is almost 3 years since I have seen Wan and I guess I am wondering how time may have changed things from how I remember they were the last time I was with her in October 2007. This 777 will take us to Krungthep Suvarnabhumi International Airport where there will be just over an hour for the transit to TG 117 for the 1-hour-and-10-minute flight to Chiang Mai, where Wan will meet me at the airport – just as she has done so many times in the past. It seems that so much of my time has been spent sitting in aircraft going to or coming from Thailand when the truth is that all I ever wanted was to be there always and to be with the one person I love more than anyone else in my life. What would life have been like if I had gone to Chiang Mai that first time I went to Thailand? That is something I think about so much – if I had done that would we now be happily married and living together permanently in Chiang Mai? Who would know?

Many times in the past I have transited to the Chiang Mai leg when Don Muang International Airport was the entry point for flights into Krungthep – it was always straightforward with very few hassles and I knew the procedure very well. Now the entry point for Krungthep is the new Suvarnabhumi International Airport and this is the first time I have done a transit for Chiang Mai here. In 2007, I left Krungthep for Chiang Mai as a domestic passenger but even that is more difficult than the procedure was at Don Muang. Suvarnabhumi is such an enormous place and it is so easy to become lost unless you keep your wits about you at all times – and even then it is easy to make mistakes. Tonight, there is just a little over an hour to make the transit before the Chiang Mai leg departs – the last flight tonight out of Krungthep to Chiang Mai.

My seat-row companion from Australia is a Thai lady also making the transit onto TG 117 and we have chatted a lot during the flight over from Australia – an attractive, divorced lady who lives in Chiang Mai city with her adult son. She tells me he has a nice Japanese girlfriend and is very happy. I tell her a little about my relationship with Wan and the times I have been to Chiang Mai to be with her over our 5-year-long fragmented relationship. This lady seems a nice person and I imagine she is very familiar with the transit procedure in Suvarnabhumi so I decide to keep close to her once we disembark and she will know where we have to go. At least we don't need to worry about the luggage as that will be transferred onto the other aircraft.

The transfer to TG 117 was not without problems as we were given incorrect instructions several times about where to go and had to go through security screening three times before finally finding the transfer gate and boarding the aircraft with about 20 minutes to spare. One of the most confusing things about this was that we had to clear Immigration in Krungthep – whereas it had always been done at Chiang Mai in all the previous times I had done the transfer. In the confusion I had been able to call Wan on cell-phone and she said she was already waiting at the airport in Chiang Mai. Once we cleared Suvarnabhumi it was a routine flight and we made Chiang Mai just about on time. At the baggage carousel I said goodbye to my Thai lady companion and loaded my suitcase and guitar onto a trolley and headed out into the arrivals area to find Wan.

She was nowhere to be seen so I had to go looking for her – and this was the last thing I needed as I was feeling a bit jaded and sore. Chiang Mai airport is now almost double the size of when I came through here in the past – the International section now occupying a large area to the south of the old section but now making one long building and this made the search for Wan doubly difficult. After calling her three times on cell-phone I eventually found her and her daughter, Nee, hurrying along outside the building toward me, where I stood, outside the old domestic section. I could tell from the first contact that she was different, somehow. She was not the warm, hugging person that I remembered – now a bit stand-offish and seemingly reluctant to want that intimate closeness that I remember from the past. And I wondered then if this would be a totally different experience to what I was expecting.

She wanted to know why I had brought a guitar with me – seemed to be quite a bit put out by that. She knows that I always take one of my guitars to Thailand when I go – and she seemed to be in a hurry to get us over to the car park because Phibun was there with Tai – and a new addition. Tai had a 4-year-old lukchai. Anyhow, we piled into the sawngthaew and drove to Loi Kroh Rd to check into Centara Duangtawan Hotel – having booked and paid from Australia. It was a quick check-in-and-dump of all our gear as Wan wanted us all to go for a Thai meal – at midnight (and I wasn't even hungry after meals on the aircraft). But I agreed and off we went. What food I had was not good – but the beer was cold. We got back to the hotel and finally got to bed around 3 a.m. after showering. But making love with Wan was fabulous – as good as I can remember, before falling sleep in each other's arms.

Back in Australia I had printed out another two-page letter for Wan that I had written in Thai script, outlining how I really expected things to be when I came to Thailand. Told her that I just wanted us to have a good time together with no problems about family or other matters – then went on to explain that it is impossible for me to be with her permanently because of residency requirements by Immigration. I wrote some thoughts about marriage that we had discussed in the past – and how I was really not in a position to offer that to her since I could not be with her always. I just wanted to be totally honest with her so she would know where she stands. Think it was a big mistake saying this.

The next morning we made love on waking before showering, dressing and heading over to The Gallery Restaurant for breakfast just before midday. I gave her the letter to read and keep – and it took her quite a while to go through it. Then she folded it and handed it back to me – but I told her it was for her to keep and I gave it back to her. She put it in her handbag. During breakfast she told me that she now owned a beauty salon with her sister, Tai – and that she would show it to me when we went for dinner later this evening with the family. After leaving The Gallery it was off to Chinatown where we ended up in a gold merchant shop where she tried to coax me to buy her more gold. She really wanted a 3-baht bracelet but I bought her a nice gold ring instead – and this was probably mistake number two.

Later, we went to Wan and Tai's salon where I got a taste of the 4-year-old “prince's” tantrums. He is a proper little shitbag – the reason being that they pander to his every wish. So, off we go to dinner with Mamma, Pappa and Uncle Tom Cobbly and all. The food was fine and Wan sang some karaoke while I took some nice shots of her on the camera. When it was over, we all went our separate ways and Wan and I ended up in a bar on Kotchasarn talking with her lady friend and sharing a few drinks.

Sunday I was invited to go with Wan and Nee to the movies – with the little “prince” – oh, how I wished I had stayed at the hotel. Nee picked us up in Wan's car (an almost new Toyota sedan) and off we went to Central Kad Suan Kaew for three hours of misery. After leaving there we drove to a restaurant for a belated “lunch” where they had none of the dishes we wanted and, to cap it off, they did not sell beer. By now I was foaming at the mouth and was never more glad than when Nee dropped us off at the hotel and left with the little monster. Back in the hotel I made it very clear to Wan that I come to Thailand to enjoy myself, preferably with her, and I have no intention of being stuck, playing the part of baby-sitter, with someone else's badly-behaved kid. Later, Wan and I went shopping at Thapae Gate markets then to Kotchasarn for more drinks at her friend's bar. We had some dinner there and stayed for quite a while chatting and drinking.

My dental appointments were successful but I had started to come down with a bad case of tummy bug that required a visit to Loi Kroh Clinic where I was given a large selection of different tablets to take. This is probably one of the best medical centres I have attended anywhere – I have a long history going to this doctor and have found him to be one of the most thorough and caring doctors I have ever seen. Still, I was confined to bed for two whole days, unable to eat any food – only Coca-Cola and liquids – and virtually living in the bathroom when not in bed.

Most days Wan would go to the salon around 1 p.m. and return around 5.30 p.m. – and I began to wonder why I had even come here as I don't see her much during the day at all. I only came here to be with her and she had assured me it would be no problem for us to be together all the time. I always make it a practice to give the room lady a tip each day as I know they don't earn a big income and they are always so helpful – but Wan got angry with me about this. She said I should give it to her instead. I was already giving her 3000 baht each morning to spend on whatever she wanted – and I was still paying for everything when we were together – even the clothes she wanted to buy.

We have not made love for 4 nights now so I asked her on Sunday evening, after returning from dinner with the family, if she wanted to make love. She said no – and she did not even shower that night before bed. I felt like asking her to leave if she didn't wish to be with me – but I couldn't. Didn't have the heart to say that to her – did not wish to hurt her. We had a long talk about how she felt and what she wanted from life – and again I brought up the subject of marriage with her, to which she replied that she didn't want to be married to anybody. She said she didn't want to have to answer to any man – just wanted to live life as she wanted. We turned the light out and turned away from each other but I couldn't sleep.

Nee picked us up in the car today and we went out to Huay Teung Tau and set ourselves up on one of the covered bamboo rafts to have lunch and a few drinks. I took the guitar with us and played and sang a few Thai songs for them that they seemed to enjoy. Looking out over the water my eyes came to the old dead tree out in the middle of the lake and I thought back to 2005 when we would come here. It was so beautiful then – and it still is – but something seems to be missing.

When Wan goes to the salon there is not a lot for me to do – Internet maybe, go have an ice cream or whatever – not much else. I started to go for 2-hour Thai massages to fill in the time – at least there I can talk with the massage lady. Today is my last full day here and we have not made love now since Sunday last week. She told me yesterday that she doesn't like me so much now that I have lost 6 kg – said she liked me better when I was pum-poi. Tonight I wanted to go back to the bar where Wan and I first met – don't know why, but I feel at home in that place. It was nice talking with the young Thai couple who run the bar and we had quite a few drinks – including shouts for the couple in all of our rounds. Like the first time, I drank Jack Daniels straight – Wan had Orange juice – but with Malibu and it was nice talking and listening to the music on the stereo. I wished it was that first night again.

Today I leave Chiang Mai but first we went to make thambun at a wat in the Old City – never been to this one before but Wan suggested it. Really beautiful place but I still don't know the name. Back at the hotel we packed up our gear and arranged a late check-out at 4 p.m. Nee came to drive us to the airport and we said our goodbyes outside at the the drop-off point. I was glad Wan didn't come inside with me as I felt really flaky and teary – just can't shake off the feelings I have for her.

TG 117 leaves at 7.20 p.m. then TG 473 leaves Suvarnabhumi at 11.59 p.m. So I have a little bit of time to kill in the terminal at Krungthep – but that's OK. Sitting here waiting to board TG 117 I'm just writing a few notes and feelings – trying to find meaning in this time with Wan. Now she has her business and I know priorities change – she has become the caring aunt for Tai's young child – and there are her parents to consider also. Don't know what to think – her whole focus seems to be on money even though she says jai is the most important thing. When we were at the salon one afternoon I saw the silver Tiger pendant that I had searched for so long to find for Wan – it was now a plaything for the boy. So much for sentimentality, I thought. I gave her 20,000 baht before I left the hotel but she never even said thank you or gave me a wai. I don't care about the money but I really wanted that wai.

***

It's March 2011 as I write this – almost 7 months since I left Wan last year. I'm already paid up and have my ticket to Krungthep for July with hotel booked – yet I'm battling my instincts to extend the journey to Chiang Mai to be with Wan again. Khun Loong says I should forget her – all my Thai friends say the same thing – but I still love this person and miss her every single day and night. I must be crazy to even consider this – yet I know deep in my soul that we will be together in the end – maybe not until the next life – but I can live with that belief.

Yoo kon-diow sa-mer – until then.