A ThaiLoveLinks Romance – and a Moral Dilemma
Your last weekly piece (incidentally, well done for that – I was very impressed that a Kiwi could manage such an effort on World Cup day – you truly are the Richie McCaw of the Internet), on the subject of mongers moving into the "good girl" scene, struck a real chord.
Last year I submitted a piece entitled Gadzooks Hits the Trail Again, explaining that I had been given such a horrible time by my most recent wife – she had ended the marriage by having me arrested, made homeless and dragged through the courts on a totally bogus (and duly dismissed) assault charge – that I was intending to go back to P4P again, where at least one can limit one's expenditure. But I thought it might be not too bad an idea if, with due respect to the advice and warnings of the Stickman community, I had a go at ThaiLoveLinks before my next visit to the Kingdom.
Rather than looking for some pneumatic 18-year-old Bangkok bimbo, I looked for the sort of woman that I would look for in my own country; around 40 (I am 51) and outside the obvious naughty areas. The first bite I got was a lady in the neighbourhood of Khon Kaen who wrote such a sweet reply to my enquiry that I thought (with due discretion) I would enquire further. During our correspondence K. told me that she had fallen in love with me and that she slept with the picture I had sent her above her bed. Now, of course, this set all sorts of alarm bells ringing, as it just doesn't sound plausible in Western terms. On the other hand, I thought it at least possible that what she had fallen in love with was the idea of a man who would look after her, and thus she was being honest enough. Anyway, I arranged to visit her on my next Thailand trip.
This went very well. I didn't actually tell her how long I was going to be in Thailand, so that I could do the usual Bangkok stuff, including a wonderful evening at Tilac and my favourite soapy massage at Annie's. But I booked a few days in a hotel at Khon Kaen and told K. when I would arrive. To my great surprise she threw herself into my arms (just outside the hotel) when I arrived – I'd thought that decent Thai girls wouldn't do that. We had a lovely dinner, and then went to bed – I must say it's been a long time since a woman woke me up in the night with demands….
Next day she took me touring in a rather smart pick-up (this was the first time I realised that absolutely everyone in Isaan drives a pick-up – like the redneck belt in the US) which belonged to her sister. "My sister works in Pattaya," she told me. Ah yes, I thought, that's why she can afford such a smart pick-up. "In the police," she added, which made it even clearer. We saw all the sights in and around Khon Kaen, and then drove off eastwards, somewhere near Kranuan, to her family's home.
Her story absolutely stacked up. She owns and runs a farm with pigs, sugar cane, and a well-stocked fish pond. Her family's "baan" was full of pictures of her husband, a soldier, who had died several years previously; she has a 13-year-old son, the usual rather podgy Asian male child, who was rather ill at ease with me; her mother and her aunt (Mama Pua and Mama Mui) were really very welcoming, and I was also introduced to her father (always maow, she said) – but I don't mind sinking a few beers with a guy who is maow. After all, who am I to criticise?
One afternoon she suggested an outing to Pattaya. "Pattaya?" I asked, knowing that it was at least 300 miles away.
"Pattaya in Khon Kaen", she said.
I happily belted myself into the passenger seat of the pick-up.
She took me to the Ubolratana Dam, about 60 miles to the north-west of Khon Kaen. On a beautiful summer afternoon it was actually rather impressive, with some lovely views. We walked up and down the dam enjoying the sunshine and working up a colossal thirst (at least I did). Then we got back into the pick-up and headed for "Pattaya". Along the eastern coast of the reservoir there were one or two restaurants, but Pattaya it was not. No touts, no crap music, no sweaty shirtless Germans, no obvious prostitutes – but what am I complaining about? We found a lakeside restaurant and ate some utterly divine prawns and such.
It was during this meal that I encountered the downside, which the discerning reader will no doubt have been waiting for. K. got a call from a compatriot named "Bobby", who clearly thought that he had a right to broker any potentially lucrative farang relationship which K. might manage to set up. He took it upon himself to ask me whether my intentions were honourable, and, if they were, how much I was prepared to pay to demonstrate this. I told him, very politely, to fuck off, and told K. that I was always happy to talk to her about anything, but not to some "Bobby".
Later, just before my departure, K. got a call from her sister, the Pattaya policewoman. Could I please pay a certain number of baht for the use of her pick-up? As I had punctiliously paid for all the fuel we had used on our peregrinations, I decided this was a bit much, and refused. I knew that K.'s family would probably try it on, and thought it best to make it clear from the beginning that it wasn't going to happen.
Now it gets complicated. Simply because both K. and I have played it dead straight. I recall, at least vaguely, a submission of Dana's in which the Sage of Boston warned that getting involved with a Good Thai Girl was a deadly sin. I have been back since the first visit. In the intervening period I only had loving and caring e-mails, without a single request for money. On my second visit I was paraded around the village as K.'s husband (she told me, very apologetically, that she has represented me as such to the village to save her face, while assuring me that this confers no obligations on me). I suppose I don't mind being considered married in one village of Khon Kaen province.
Sometimes she sends me e-mails assuring me that she loves me while suspecting that I don't love her. The problem is that this is true. I like her as a person, and I admire her enormously as a woman who runs her own farm and supports her family. But, as a man with two ghastly marriages behind him, I am not looking for another one. I have a very bad feeling that I have led her on, although I have never ever told her a lie. I should also say that I do not think myself any more capable of fidelity.
She would quite like to come to the UK and open a little shop – she would be good at this, as she can work 16 hours a day without batting an eyelid. But she doesn't understand how much that would cost over here – money which I don't have.
Most recently, she has written to me explaining that her farm has suffered badly in the recent floods, and asking me if I might lend her 10,000 baht to tide her over. Now, at any previous time in our relationship, I could have done this, and probably would have. But at the moment I am genuinely on my beam ends, and had to explain to her that it wasn't possible. She replied that it was OK, she'd raised the money from somewhere else, and had all sorts of new ideas for the farm! And she still loves me, and is looking forward….I'm absolutely sure she is straight as a die, but am not at all sure what I should do about it….
Perhaps I should have stuck to mongering…
It sounds like you have represented yourself and behaved in a way in which you can hold your head high. I think when someone outright lies in a relationship, or even so much as implies certain things which are not true or which will never happen, they are asking for trouble. You have done neither. I think the actions and words of K's friends have not helped things and I get the feeling that K is perhaps not really aware of your situation. If it were me, I would simply reiterate my personal situation to her. Be honest with her – as you have – repeat things and hopefully she will understand a little better.