Stickman Readers' Submissions September 3rd, 2012

It Just Sort Of Happened

It was in early 2006 when a colleague of mine persuaded me to join him on the next jaunt to Bangkok as a "newbie." It took him a number of months to get my agreement to come mainly because I had never flown or even left the
UK before. I must confess I was a bit scared to fly and especially that kind of distance for a first go. I was 27 and as single as it was possible to get with no ex wives or children and I lived with my parents. I was earning more money than
I could spend at the time as I had hardly any outgoings. The perfect candidate you may think!

My life had been fraught with confidence issues stemming from a spell of bullying at school. I had been conditioned to believe I wasn't good enough for the western girls. A job I worked in during 2001 was to bring about an interesting
and off-beat introduction into my sex life. In a nutshell, a colleague was searching escort websites and decided to go and visit one. He drove out there and was almost outside the front door when he got cold feet and drove home again. The
next week at work he told me about what he did and challenged me to go to the same place and go through with it. I accepted this challenge and did what I was expected to do. I moved to another job later in the year and left that all behind

Five years later in 2006, my colleague, who was 58 years old at that time, had been going to Thailand since 1996 and had been about 20 times when I made my first trip. He had a lot of experience in the bar scene and was a good guy to
drink with. I trusted him to show me around and he knew where he was going.

It was June of 2006 and we travelled on a Thai Airways 747 direct to Bangkok for a two-week visit. What an experience of a lifetime this was! I was so excited and enthralled the whole time during the journey. The feeling of hitting the hot steamy air
when we stepped outside the terminal was something that I wasn't prepared for! The taxi ride to Soi 4 had me looking out the window in awe and disbelief at the different country I was now in. Coconut trees everywhere and bananas just
hanging there! The enormous billboards beside the tollways. At street level the smell of barbeque smoke and boiled cabbage filled the air. We stayed at the Dynasty Inn Grande on Soi 6 and with the exchange rate at 70 THB to 1 GBP we were super
rich! We wasted no time in getting ready for a drink on the first night. I was buzzing and although tired from the flight I couldn't wait to go and explore. It was dusk and Soi 4 was just starting up as we walked past the Bangcockney
Bar amongst others with shouts of "welcaaaam!" ringing out beside us turning right out of Soi 6 into Soi 4.

We started out by heading to Foodland in Soi 5 and to the excellent Took Lae Dee restaurant that many Stickman readers have mentioned in the past. A recommended place to gently introduce your farang stomach to proper Thai food. We went
into Gulliver's where a couple of freelancers joined us at the table and started chatting. One sat with my friend and the other came to me and the attention was most welcome after such a sexual drought. I could stand it no longer and
we agreed to catch a cab back to the hotel. After this encounter the other freelancer left us and the one who was with me came along to Nana Plaza with us where we descended into drunken confusion in this strange place. We went back to the
hotel together at (what I believed to be) the end of the night and this lady had agreed to stay overnight with me. She was quite energetic and pleasant enough at this stage but it was very late and I was really reeling and jet-lagged. She
started saying she wants to go out dancing and kept on pestering me to go back out again. I really didn't fancy it but she must've been able to tell how naive I was and took advantage of me as she knew it was my first night in Bangkok.
I found myself in a taxi with her and we ended up at what I now know to be the Absolute 7 bar (now Bangkok Beat) on Soi 7/1. I was sat at the bar and was very bleary eyed by this time. We went back to the hotel again and went to bed. During
the night this girl woke me up and complained that the air-con was too cold and threatened to leave if I didn't turn it off! What a cheek! It was this moment, combined with being dragged to a venue I didn't want to attend that started
turning me off her. The next morning she was paid and left but would keep ringing my phone asking me to go out with her again. No thanks.

The next couple of days were occupied by day trips and a lot of beer of course and copious amounts of female company.

It was on the forth night we went out as usual for our evening drinks. My friend suggested having a look at a certain bar in the Soi 22 area near Washington Square. It was a venue that another of our friends often went to. I was happy
to do anything really since it was all great fun and still so new to me. We took a taxi getting out about 100 meters inside soi 22. It was raining if I recall correctly and we scurried across the street and sought shelter in the bar. When
we entered the bar we were greeted by about 4 or 5 girls who ushered us to a table and sat with us. Beers were ordered and one particular girl drawn to my side. She was very affectionate and massaged my shoulders continuously as we sat there
enjoying our beers and chit-chatting. The topic came to where we should go next and I expressed an interest in bringing this particular girl (henceforth known as Ann) along with us. I paid up and I am sure one of her friends came with us as
well. We went out to various places arriving eventually in Nana Plaza and some photographs were taken that night. We were getting along very well and kissing a lot throughout the evening. Her English was significantly better than the other
bargirls I had met up until that point. We went back to our hotel and spent the night together. It was perfect. This girl was unreal!

The next morning we went down to breakfast and my friend suggested we spend 5 nights in the Dynasty Inn down in Pattaya soi 13. I asked Ann if she would like to come with us and she agreed. Excellent. Off we went to the bar so she could pack a case and
I paid bar for the days we would be away. The mamasan in the bar said if I pay X amount of baht I could be exempt from barfines for the foreseeable future and while I can't remember the exact amount I remember thinking it wasn't
a bad deal. We were getting on really well and having lots of fun and laughter along the way.

The trip to Pattaya was really great fun and it was during this time the legendary "girlfriend experience" took off. I was on cloud nine and when we returned to Bangkok the reality of the end of the holiday started to dawn on me. How can I go
back to single life with my parents now I have Ann? I was hooked!

I told one of our friends who spends a lot of time in Bangkok I was going to bring Ann back with me but he had heard it all before. Yet another new visitor besotted with the scene and a bargirl! The last day was a very sad time for us at the airport and
we said goodbye and promised to keep in touch. A scene played out many times every day as the bargirls and their customers go their separate ways.

Back in the UK I told my parents about the trip and about Ann and they adopted the only stance you would expect and that was one of skepticism. I set about arranging another trip as soon as possible and we kept in touch by phone, text
and email. Ann was emailing from the local internet shop and used one of the girls there to help write the emails. I could tell that this service was quite in demand and obviously Ann was not the only girl doing these types of emails. We agreed
mutually that she could continue to work in the bar and go with customers as I didn't have the resources to pay her the sort of money she was used to earning and save up for the next trip and besides: being a Stickman reader I wanted
to see if she was genuinely interested in a relationship or just after a sponsor. I wasn't 100% happy with her going with other customers in the meantime but since she was insistent on safe sex or not at all I just had to grin and bear
it and hopefully we can work out some way of getting her a mainstream job in the future.

One day during this interim period Ann called me and said she needed to have some dental work done and would I send her the money? I thought this would be an interesting test and so I said I'd like to be sent a quotation from the
dentist before I would send any money. Alternatively, could she borrow it from elsewhere and if she showed me a copy of the receipt I would then reimburse her for it. She didn't seem to think that this was possible so I said I was sorry
but I cannot pay. This didn't deter her enthusiasm however and the dental work went ahead. She told me she borrowed the money from a friend (and paid it back herself.) She passed the test!

Also during this time I started searching around online for someone who knows about getting marriage visas to the UK. I stumbled across an introduction agency
that offered visa only services and translation as well as a selection of ladies you could meet if you are still searching. I sent an email to the proprietor and outlined our situation. I was very impressed by the response and was told that
they can certainly help us. I was sent a Word document of all the requirements for a visa application and what supporting documents would be required.

The October trip came along and what a reunion that was! I travelled to the soi 22 bar and the girls were just sitting down to lunch outside before the bar opened. I was so excited when our eyes met after four months apart. It was during
this trip that I visited Ann's home village in Isaan. It was a real eye opening experience and every bit the way Isaan is so brilliantly described by other submissions on this site. We had a wonderful time and Ann kept reminding me when
we were sat in the house, "no kiss!" We took plenty of photographs of us together in the village as this would help to build up a record of our relationship. These photos were to become important for our visa application in the future.
When we returned to Bangkok we were back in Soi 6 sat outside the Dynasty Inn I again asked her if she was still interested in getting engaged to me and she said yes straight away. I realised I had a lot of work to do! Yet another emotional
send-off and back to reality in the UK again.

One of the requirements was for Ann to get out of the bar job as soon as possible and into a mainstream job. It meant a drop in pay and we agreed I would send some money over to help bump up her pay. She obtained a letter from the bar
owner outlining her job description which did not involve going with customers. Simply serving drinks. The letter was required for the visa application. Ann moved to Ekkamai and got a very small one room apartment in one of the side roads.
She took a job in a chain restaurant near the Big C supermarket. Here she made new friends and started collecting wage slips for the visa application. Meanwhile we kept in constant contact with emails and phone calls and I set about collating
the paperwork and photos for the application. We needed bank statements and wage slips, phone bills to prove we had phoned each other, emails were printed out and photos were printed with times, dates and names of those pictured written on
the backs.

In March of 2007 I travelled to Bangkok for another two week trip. I had been in talks with my visa man and been through the checklist so I had everything ready. This time we arranged to meet him and his wife in Pattaya and there we exchanged
paperwork. I paid him to put the application together and away he went to put the application together. When we liaised in Bangkok a day or two later he had a neat plastic binder ready with the form and all documents inside ready to go. I
then travelled alone to VFS to submit the application taking care not to talk to anyone at all between the taxi and the people inside the VFS office. I was told exactly the layout of the building so I could find it and how many flights of
stairs to go up etc. There were very convincing touts in the building who might scam you so it was important not to talk to anyone and to know where to go. My visa man stressed he tries not to go there too often because he doesn't like
the staff to know how many applications come from his agency. That being said he still kept abreast of any changes or possible pitfalls that may occur in the building.

The rest of the trip was had and it was a matter of waiting for a phone call from Ann so she could let me know when her interview was. I was at home one afternoon when Ann phoned and told me that she had a phone interview and answered all their questions
about us and my life in the UK. They wanted to know about my work, family, the city I live in and my birthday; anything was possible!

One day I was at work. It was about 5:30am and that meant it was around midday in Thailand. Ann phoned me and gave me the good news. The visa had been granted! I was so relieved and elated that early Spring morning. The next step was
to book a flight for Ann to come to the UK with me. The one way ticket was very expensive. I had to send the money to Ann so she could buy the ticket from a travel agent in Bangkok. It cost me more than my return ticket I bought from the UK!
I was able to book my trip so we could travel back on the same flight together. I flew alone for the first time to Bangkok and the flight was so quiet I had the whole front row seats to myself! No seats in front or anyone either side of me!
Ann booked into the Dynasty Inn on Soi 6 (where else?) for my arrival and I went up to the room and knocked the door. Another happy reunion took place and we were excitedly getting ready for our departure onwards to our shared life together.
How far we had come already! We decided to go out to Ann's old bar for a few beers and had a brilliant time there. We ended up quite drunk and slept the night at the Dynasty Inn. The next day we had in Bangkok and our flight was the 1
AM departure on the usual Thai Airways 747. We had a big turnout at the airport and about 10 of Ann's friends saw her off. A few tears were shed.

We lived with my parents for the first few months so Ann had someone around while she acclimatised to the new country and of course I was working full time as well. We decided not to marry in Thailand before making the trip to the UK
as I wanted us to live together away from the holiday vibe and see how we got on. I also thought a 6-month engagement would give her a chance to back out with no hard feelings if she wasn't 100% happy. We saved up during this time so
we could find our own place. Our very dear friend and my colleague who first persuaded me to go to Thailand (and took me to Ann's Bar) owns a number of flats and we looked at one which we moved into in August of 2007 and it was like a
dream come true. We were so happy with the flat and each other and had our wedding booked for August 6th of 2007. We couldn't afford a lavish do so booked the registry office with a reception back at our local pub. We even borrowed Ann's
wedding dress off a Thai friend up North! It was hilarious when we woke up in bed on the morning of our wedding and got dressed up for it. Then we dashed across the car park, me in my suit and Ann in the white wedding dress to our car hoping
no one spotted us! We had just 5 guests at our wedding and we used gold rings we bought in Thailand on previous trips.

Whilst living together we have had our ups and downs as most couples do but nothing serious. We were very lucky in that our upstairs neighbour who we never previously knew was also a Thailand visitor. I used to sit out in the hall on
a chair smoking cigarettes and one day I was just sat in my usual spot and he came to the front door with a large suitcase. He gestured to me to open the door which I did and that was when he said he'd just arrived back from Thailand!
It turned out he had met a girl out there in a popular soi 4 bar and he was intent on bringing her back to the UK as well! What a coincidence! A great friendship started from that point and he married his girl out in Thailand and I helped
advise him with his visa paperwork. It was great to have another Thai of a similar age and background right on our doorstep and many a great time was had. This was invaluable when I was out at work because both Ann and our neighbour were not

After we were married a 2-year visa was acquired and the work restriction lifted. I was able to help find Ann a job at a local hotel and she still works there to this day. The extra income has really been a great help. As time progressed
other Thai girls were met and circles of friends mingled and this brought about a support network in our city where the Thai women have been able to take care of each other. I made the effort to install a satellite dish to our house so we
could receive the Thai Global Network. I had this from day one and it is well worth the money and effort for the comfort of having up to date TV shows to watch. I'm still surprised how few of the Thai / English couples we've met
over the years do not have this TV channel! Another thing that has been a great help to us is the availability of Thai products and ingredients from our local Asian grocer only a short drive into the city. To be able to cook all her favourite
foods has been a massive bonus and I could imagine a lack of Thai food to be a major issue to similar couples in some of the more remote parts of the Western World. It is true that a belly full of Isaan comfort foods will pacify your wife!

In December 2009 Ann was given permanent residence in the UK and so her Thai passport sported all three visas in the same book. The last hurdle was for Ann to become a naturalised British citizen and on 18th January 2011 she attended
the ceremony and we all watched. It was a very proud moment and we have some wonderful memories and photographs of that day. The icing on the cake was when her British passport was delivered and in March of 2011 we travelled to Thailand together
and both entered the country on British passports. I remember joking that she was a foreigner in Thailand now!

In early 2010 just after New Year we decided we would like to have a baby together. By mid-February Ann was pregnant. What followed was a year of preparation and appointments, saving up and buying the usual gear. On the 11th of October
we were blessed with a healthy baby boy and our little family was taking shape nicely. We spent the majority of that year arranging the purchase of a house so we had a bedroom for the boy when he got a bit older.

We are wonderfully settled now and happy as can be and the boy is nearing his 2nd birthday. He looks just like us too; exactly half Isaan and half English. We celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary this month and it was around this time
I decided to start this submission although I was slightly nervous that putting it in words would break the spell! My aim is not to upset the apple cart and undo all the wonderful advice about bargirl relationships; that is still 100% correct
and I agree that it is a very risky business. My point is that if you are positive that you are both in the relationship for the right reasons and are a good judge of character then it could be worth a shot. Everyone is different including
bargirls and it is never wise to apply strict avoidance measures without looking at your own personal situation carefully.

When I went to Thailand that first time it was just a naughty boys' drinking holiday and I was not there to meet anyone…But could I afford to chuck away such a lovely girl?

Stick's thoughts:

Great to hear such a positive story!

He Clinic Bangkok
nana plaza