A Single Tear
When I first met Pan she had just started working in a bar beer in Pattaya. All the signs of a newbie were there. She dressed conservatively, hardly wore any makeup, couldn’t speak much English and was very shy. I don’t know why I was attracted to her as she wasn’t a beauty but was rather plain looking, more of a girl next door type. We could hardly communicate with my limited Thai and her non existent English but we got along somehow. I ended up seeing her regularly for over 3 years; I never was a sponsor and had no contact with her once I left Thailand.
Over several years, whenever I was back in Pattaya I would see Pan. This was a constant in the ever changing bar scene. Most of the time when you meet a bargirl she is either not working at the bar or is gone from the bar life the next time you visit. There were fun times and also some drama that would annoy me but nothing major. The second time I saw her, her sister Jab was visiting from Bangkok. When I would see Pan we would start off drinking at different bars but her sister would always show up no matter where we were. She would take a seat at the same bar but away from us and I would call her over to join us. After the third night of her sister showing up unannounced like it was a coincidence, I told Pan and Jab that I don’t mind Jab drinking with us or my paying for her bar tab but Pan should ask me beforehand if I mind if Jab joined us instead of her just showing up.
One night I wanted to butterfly so my friends and I go to the bar complex between Soi 2 and Soi 3. Pan works there but on the Soi 3 side. We got off past her bar and start drinking at a bar on Soi 2. I don’t know what he was thinking but my friend Sam had this stupid idea to check out Pan’s bar. When she sees Sam she asks him where I am and he tells her what bar we’re at. She comes to the bar I’m at and effectively ruined the moment I was having with a cute girl there. She begs me to pay her bar with sad looking puppy dog eyes and that ends my butterfly night out. We ended up going to Walking Street and at the end of the night Pan wants to go to her room to pick up some clothes. She led me and my friends Sam and Wayne down this dark alley off Walking Street. Sam said he was afraid she was setting us up to get robbed in the dark deserted alley and wanted to turn around and go back. Just as he is about to high tail it out of the alley we got to her place.
There was an incident with my friends Sam, Ross and Wayne over Pan’s sister Jab on that trip. It came about that Ross asked Wayne about Jab’s status and Wayne gave him some misinformation. Ross was interested in Jab but Wayne told him that Pan was my girl and Jab was with Sam. The only problem was Jab didn’t like Sam and had never been with him but did like Ross. It came to a head when the six of us were on a bus baht back to the hotel and Pan, Jab, Sam and I got off but Wayne and Ross stayed in the baht bus and continued on down the road. The look on Jab’s face was one of pure terror as she thought she would be hooking up with Ross. As we arrive at the hotel Jab is talking with Pan and is adamant about not staying with Sam and wants to come to our room. Sam joined us in the room and the discussion between Sam and Jab ended with Sam leaving and Jab going back to Pan’s room. Ross later hooked up with Jab after the status of Jab was cleared up.
I once took Pan and Jab to a restaurant that serves exotic meats like Ostrich, Emu and Kangaroo. I should have known better than that but what do you think they ate? It killed me that they ate some very expensive Thai food that they said wasn’t very good. The next year we went to the same restaurant but before they came with us I told them that it was mandatory to eat ostrich. They ate it but weren’t overly impressed.
Other interesting meals that we shared were at a fishing park where the girls ordered the meal. Soup was the first course and the girls ordered two different types. One was fish soup for us mai pet (NOT SPICY) and theirs was Tom Yum Koong pet (SPICY). When the soups arrived, the boys started eating ours and we started sweating profusely. We were saying if ours was this hot theirs must be unimaginably hot! I tried their soup and it turned out that their soup was not hot at all. In typical Thai fashion the order came out backwards.
On the last trip that I saw Pan, she informed me that she now had a boyfriend who had asked her to marry him. He was sponsoring her with a monthly allowance of between 20,000 to 30,000 baht. She told me that she would stay with me this last trip only because of the history we shared. The only thing was that he had friends visiting Pattaya at this time so we could not be seen together in public near my hotel where they drank regularly. She told me that she loved me more than the other guy but the security that he offered was too good to pass up. I told her I was happy for her and that although I liked her I would not marry her or even provide sponsorship so she should go forth with her plans with this guy. My friend Ross asked her why she likes me more than her boyfriend and she told him that I am funny and make her laugh. I guess sanuk is very important to Thai people.
The time to leave Pattaya was quickly approaching. Ross and I had already made arrangements for a cab to go to Bangkok to spend a few days there before I had to return home. True to form Pan waits until the night before we leave Pattaya to tell me that she and Jab want to go with us back to Bangkok. I asked her why she didn’t let me know sooner and that we had only a small cab. She says mai pen rai, can do. Can you imagine 4 passengers with luggage squeezed into a Toyota Corolla? It was an uncomfortable ride with bags on our laps but when I turned from the front seat to look at the two girls in back they’re sleeping soundly. Thais really can sleep through anything.
On the last night of the trip we went to the long since closed Coliseum Drinking Arena. I always enjoyed myself there and all four of us had a great time. I had a room with two single beds at the Nana Hotel. She refused to sleep on the other bed and we had to share one single bed and sleep together. In the morning I had an early flight so I made arrangements with my friend Ross who was staying another week to have her join him and her sister Jab in their room when I checked out. I woke up to shower while she still slept. As I emerged from the shower and am putting on my clothes I see she’s awake. When I was ready to leave, I held her in my arms and wished her good luck with her marriage and I hope she has a happy life. Before we made our way out the door to leave I gave her one last kiss goodbye. As I was kissing her, from the corner of my eye I saw a single tear running down her cheek. Sawatdee and chok dee khap Pan.
It's never an easy choice in life when a big decision has your heart telling you one thing and your brain telling you another. Here's hoping that she made the right choice and life has worked out well for her.