The Mongering Philanthropist Part 4
In the previous chapter we found our hero exploring the delights of Pattaya and about to embark on his first visit to the Issan, the source of the mythical Djihm.
Part 4. A visit to the Issan and a question of plumbing
Next day I took a taxi back to the airport and flew up to Udon Thani. I am greeted at the airport by Kul an old girlfriend. We met many years ago when she worked as a waitress in a restaurant cum bar in the Pattayaland 2 area of Sin City. I had a full-on Thai girlfriend experience with her for a few days then. It had been a few years ago but we had kept in touch and every couple of years met for a platonic dinner or lunch in Bangkok. She had found a rich sponsor and although it only lasted a couple of years she had managed to accumulate a substantial nest egg in that time.
A year ago she returned to her home town which she told me was a small settlement about an hours drive from Udon. She was now in her early 40s, a little on the chubby side but as enchanting as she always was. In the car with her was Kwan her childhood friend who I remember also worked in that Pattaya restaurant. Kwan had maintained a slim figure and although still pretty was showing her age. As we drove they told me how Kwan had married an elderly Irish chap who after 5 years of marriage died on her leaving her a small house. She sold the house and pooled resources with Kul to start a little restaurant in their home town.
They dropped me off at a pleasant small guest house which was a self contained apartment in the centre of the town and asked me to come and eat at their restaurant that evening. I unpacked, took a shower and as it was only 3.00 pm decided to have a quick snooze. I had hardly got settled before I hear a knock on the door. I opened it to see Kul standing there. She informed me the shower in her apartment was not working and asked if she could use mine. I readily agreed and stepped aside as she made her way to the bathroom and locked the door behind her.
Deciding not to sleep I began reading one of the Steven Leather books I had on my kindle. I was just getting to the point where Inspector Zhang was about to make his denouement, when Kul came out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel with a wicked smile on her face she climbed onto the bed beside me opened the towel to reveal her plump but definitely inviting little body. “Lick Djihm” she said more in instruction than request but I willingly obliged.
In the post coital torpor I asked her what had prompted that unexpected show of ardour. She explained there were no eligible Thai men in the town and the farang men were all kept under close scrutiny by their Thai wives. As a result she (and Kwan) had gone without the comfort of a man for almost a year. She added “Do not be surprised if you get a visit from Kwan sometime in the next day or so”. After an hour or so of pleasant and playful conversation she left to begin preparations for the evening’s business at the restaurant.
That evening I was invited to eat in the girl’s establishment. I took another shower donned a good drinking shirt and took a little stroll through the main street of the town. It was a small settlement and I figured a 10 minute walk would totally cover its environs. In fact I could see the restaurant was only about 150 yards away. I had only walked a 100 yards when I spotted what was obviously a western owned bar.
I had an hour to kill and felt a thirst upon me so my foot naturally turned into said establishment. I stepped inside to see a sight reminiscent of the beer bars one sees in Pattaya but without the bar girls. There was a handful of western gentlemen quietly sat chugging at the bar. They would be described as the “usual suspects”. I took the vacant seat at the bar ordered a beer and took in the ambiance. Serving behind the bar was a big Aussie fellow in his 60s clad in a bright Hawaiian shirt. He was clearly a larger than life character, the gregarious type that only the antipodes can produce. He was holding court telling tall tales to a couple of elderly western fellows sat at the bar. It was the harmless banter you hear in any bar in the world but highly entertaining nonetheless. I couldn’t help but be drawn in to the friendly atmosphere.
The chap next to me introduced himself as Alec. He was a slim American guy in his late 40s. He was clean and nicely dressed in a Ralph Lauren polo shirt and beige chinos. He had an air of ex military about him and was extremely polite. He asked what had bought me to the Issan. I explained I was seeing old friends and passing through for a few days. He informed me he lived nearby and told me a little about the area and the nearby city of Udon. He seemed a nice bloke but had a slightly dejected air about him that would prompt you to hide all sharp objects in his vicinity.
Once he felt comfortable in my company he began complaining about his brother in law a subject on which he seemed to have an endless list of gripes. I listened politely for 15 minutes or so until he emptied his glass and exclaimed “I had better get back and check he hasn’t burnt the house down”. He took his leave and within a few minutes I emptied my own glass and made my way across the street to the restaurant.
It was small but spotlessly clean with 6 glass topped rectangular tables. The place was decorated in a modern bright western style and had a very welcoming ambiance. Two of the tables were already occupied, with a young Thai couple and an elderly western man with his middle aged Thai wife.
Kul and Kwan were dressed in their chef whites and welcomed me with huge Wais and big kisses. They settled me down at the table nearest the kitchen and introduced a third girl as Kwan’s niece Nong who was the waitress. They then returned to the kitchen to continue their cooking.
Nong was a delicious little creature with the beautiful light brown skin that makes the girls of the Issan so desirable. She was dressed in a white blouse, a black skirt and a small pink apron. The hem of her skirt was just above her knees revealing an agreeably coltish pair of legs. Her delightful face housed an enthralling 1000 watt smile. She screwed up her eyes when she smiled which was thoroughly enchanting.
She was one of the most naturally pretty girls I had ever seen. Her English seemed passable so I asked her to tell me a little about herself. She explained she had just finished university and it was her 23rd birthday the next week. This was a great relief as she looked about 15. I asked for a menu but she surprised me by exclaiming “No menu for you, my aunties say they take care, cook all thing for you”.
Nong was a most attentive waitress and all evening presented me with small plates of a variety of dishes, vegetable, duck, chicken and pork each one possibly more delicious than the previous. The centre piece was a sea bass served with lemon and chillies which was quite exquisite. The food was Thai with an Issan theme but slightly modified for the western palette. My constant cries of “a-loi mak mak ” as Nong removed each empty plate seemed to meet with her approval.
I had noticed the restaurant was busy and observed by the time I ate my sweet course (mango and sweet rice) all the tables were occupied. Seeing a party of two couples waiting to be seated I relinquished my table and took my coffee in the kitchen with the girls. Seeing how busy they were I thanked them for a wonderful feast politely took my leave and returned to my room at the guest house. I felt a little tired from the fresh country air so thought I would take the opportunity for an early night.
At about midnight I was awoken by a knock on the door. To my surprise it was Kwan with a huge smile on her face so I point to the bathroom and lay on the bed. After 10 minutes Kwan emerges from the bathroom clad in a towel and a wicked grin. I am somewhat used to the routine by now so ask Kwan to join me. Kwan dropped her towel to display a surprisingly trim body with small firm breasts and a flat belly you could bounce coins on. As she climbed aboard me to my great delight I found she had pussy lips like Harry Rednapp’s eyelids.
I had always thought Kwan to be a little reserved so the passion she gave me was a revelation and totally unexpected. I wondered if this ardour had contributed to the early demise of her Irish husband. She stayed with me until 6.00 the next morning as it was her turn to work at the minimart. I certainly now saw Kwan in a different light.
I had a sleep in and dispensed with breakfast. At about 11.00 I decide to take a leisurely stroll and have a closer look at the girl’s property and the infamous plumbing arrangements.
The building was a 3 storey structure with three quarters of the ground floor housing the girl’s restaurant and a quarter the mini mart which Nong and Kwan told me they worked in during the day. There was a steel staircase at each side of the building leading to an external walkway that went the length of the building at the rear on each storey.
I noticed the door open so put my head through to see Kul sweeping the floor. “It is always good to see a woman working” I declared to which she flashed me a big smile and beckoned me in. She put her broom down and took me through to the kitchen where she poured me a cup of green tea. I mentioned I would like to have a look around the building. I said “You know I have always been inquisitive” to which she laughed and replied “No you are just nosey the most”.
She began the tour by going through a door next to the kitchen to a central stairwell that served the restaurant and the adjacent minimart. The first floor was being used as a storage area for both of the girl’s businesses. The whole floor was barely occupied which was a clear waste of potentially productive space. The stairs led to a second floor into a corridor which had 4 doors along its length. Kul explained these were 4 apartments and she opened the door to the first one which she said was her room. It was a small studio with a kitchenette at one end and a bed at the other. It was spotlessly clean and quite spacious by Thai standards.
I put my head into the separate bathroom to see a western style water closet, a wash basin and a shower cubicle. There was a big blue plastic water barrel and a wooden ladle adjacent to it. I tried the tap and as no water emerged I realised the purpose of the ladle and barrel. With no water pressure it was used for her ablutions. Kul confirmed she had to carry water up every day to fill the barrel and use the Ladle to wash down.
I went outside and climbed the staircase onto the flat roof to find the water tank totally empty. The mains pressure was clearly inadequate to fill this tank. I noticed earlier that the previous occupant had put a tank on the empty first floor. This gave enough head pressure to supply the ground floor so the kitchens and customer toilets were ok but there was insufficient pressure to supply either the first or second floors.
This is Thailand or T.I.T as the infamous Bernard Trink would say. Kul further explained that they could not let the apartments because there was no water. They had realised the problem too late but it may have explained why they got the property so cheaply.
We went back downstairs, Kwan had just arrived laden with groceries so I stayed and had a cup of tea and a chat with them. They were quite stoic about their situation but I could not fail to feet sorry for their predicament and resolved to help them. After drinking my tea I made my excuses promising to return to eat there that evening.
There was not much to do in this sleepy town so as the sun was over the yardarm somewhere in the British Empire I let my foot turn into Mike’s bar. I found him sat at the bar drinking coffee from a huge mug. There were no customers so I asked if I could join him. I felt in the mood for one of those long pointless conversations one has when you have nothing to do and all day to do it.
Mike seemed to welcome a bit of company and with my gentle prompting he proceeded to tell me his life history. He had been a successful Architect in Australia and had been a widower for 5 years when one of his pals suggested a trip to Thailand. They did all the Bangkok bars and Phuket beaches until he met Pong his current wife about 5 years ago. On first seeing her he knew all was lost. He married her and ended up, to use his own words “in this flea bitten dog hole”. He said it with a laugh and as if on cue his wife emerged from the back with a huge smile on her face. “Take no notice of this old fool, he is the happiest man in the world” she exclaimed as she threw her arms around his large girth.
I would have put Pong in her late 40s, she was suffering the usual effects of age and gravity but it was clear she had been a beauty in her youth. She turned to me said “I see you yesterday in here, then you go to restaurant over there”. I explained I was an old friend of the girls and she gave me a knowing smile.
She continued “They have good business, food good and many customers; there are many farang men live with Thai wives here nearby. The girls cook Thai food mai phet …not too hot for farang so they come to eat. They can speak English good so can entertain and charm”.
I nodded in agreement saying I had seen it myself. Pong continued with a smile “but they are older lady so the wife of farang men not worry they try to steal husband”.
I gave a huge laugh at her somewhat perverse but quite no-nonsense logic. “However” I said “I think they have real problems with the property in particular the plumbing arrangements”.
Mike gave a slight frown “yes I know that side of the street has problems with the water pressure, we are ok this side…. but over there I could piss stronger” Pong smiled and said “for sure I know this I hear you peeing in the night”.
Naturally inquisitive Pong turned the conversation to me. I explained I had been a Foundry manager for many years but lately I was a sometimes consulting engineer. I confided in them I had had an unexpected bit of luck so now had enough money not to have to worry too much.
I expressed my desire to help the girls out and asked Mike if he know a plumber up here in the jungle. “There is that geezer Alec you were drinking with last night ….he is quite a handy chap”. I answered “He was a nice bloke but seemed a bit of a misery” Mike guffawed “Yes he does give that impression but he is a decent bloke I just think he has watched too many old Vietnam war movies” .
Seeing my bemused expression he continued “He was a fully trained combat engineer in the US Marines but they kept him on base in the first Gulf war, they didn’t need him in Afghanistan and they retired him off just as the second Gulf war broke out so he never saw actual combat in a 20 year career”.
Warming to his theme he continued “I get the impression for years he always fancied ending his days as an embittered and dissolute old war veteran drinking his life away in an Asian bar ….like some of those Vietnam vets you see in Bangkok”. “Instead “Mike continued “He retired with a good pension, came to Thailand and married a lovely girl Jerani who absolutely dotes on him. He lives in a big house just out of town and leads a respectable orderly life”.
Mike was now in full flow “The only thing is he has to suffer is his brother in law who is always around”. I remarked “he seems to hate him with a passion”. Mike laughed and continued “His brother in law isn’t that bad he is just a bit dim but he drives Alec to distraction which is why he set up a general maintenance business just to get out of the house”. Mike chuckled to himself “He doesn’t get much business but he is not that bothered as he doesn’t need the money”.
Mike picked up his phone and began to dial a number “I will give Alec a call; I know he will jump at any chance to get out and will be here within the hour”.
I hadn’t taken the skin off my second beer when Alec came through the door. I greeted him with a handshake and ordered him a beer. He seemed reluctant to sit as he was excited at the thought of some activity but I persuaded him to sit as I outlined the situation with the girls plumbing.
Alec immediately observed “I will have a look but it sounds like it is the mains pressure, a small pump will sort that out”. He stopped for a moment then sheepishly continued “But it could cost ….you could be looking at around 300,000 baht”. I told him not to let that deter him as it would not be a problem. His smile immediately returned.
Once he had drunk his beer we took a stroll to the girls place. I introduced Alec to the girls and he asked me to leave it to him to inspect the system I did so willingly as it gave me an opportunity to flirt with the girls. They were concerned and said they had no money to pay. I remarked that I had never met a Thai girl who wasn’t destitute. I assured them I was just getting an estimate and an idea of the scale of the problem.
It was 30 minutes before Alec emerged breathless and excited “the water system is generally sound and the pipes are ok” he said “it is just the lack of head pressure from the mains to the header tank that is the problem”. “If I put an intermediate tank and a pump at the mains we could fill the cistern on the roof and you will have enough water for the showers on the top floor”. He gave me a nervous smile and continued “I could probably do it for a bit less than I quoted you earlier as long as I don’t find anything unforeseen”.
That sounds ok to me” I said “when can you start?”
“I can order the materials today and start some preparatory work tomorrow” he exclaimed with the enthusiasm and joy of a child who had discovered the toys under the Christmas tree.
Seeing the worried expression on Kul and Kwan’s faces I told them “You can not continue with this water situation it has to be sorted sometime” I then added “I will pay for this. Just consider it a loan until you get on your feet but it may be a good idea to invite me Alec and his wife for a free dinner here tomorrow evening”.
We take our leave and repair to Mikes bar.
As we took our seats I gave Alec 30,000 baht in cash as a deposit and ordered beers. Alec no longer had a hangdog expression on his face and fairly glowed. Enthusiastically he talked about 100 litre intermediate steel tanks and the various centrifugal pumps available. He explained how pumps don’t suck and work better when pushing. He went into great detail about how positive displacement keeps the air out.
After a few minutes I stopped him “Alec I am confident you will do a great job but let’s now change the subject and talk about something else” I paused for a moment and with a look of total innocence asked “Tell me more about your brother in law” Mike fell off his chair with laughter. It was about 3 pm before I got back to my hotel so I decided to take a short nap.
Within the hour I am awoken by a knock on door. To my great surprise it is the delightful Nong dressed in jeans and tee shirt with a plastic bag in hand and looking every inch like a sweet demure 18 year old college student. She told me she had been out for the day and asked if she could use my shower before going to work. I let her in and pointed her in the direction of the bathroom.
Ten minutes later she emerged from the bathroom with the ubiquitous white towel wrapped around her, her long hair still damp from the shower. I asked if she wanted to use the hairdryer. To my surprise and delight she dropped the towel and jumped into bed with me. She was a most tasty little morsel with a perfect unblemished body. She lets me explore all her sweet little places but eventually I was glad I had my “mongers little helper” at hand in the form of my small variable speed vibrator else the undertakers would be taking me home in a bucket such was her energy and enthusiasm. I can safely say Nong was one of the most exceptional girls I have ever experienced and wasted on a man of my vintage.
At about 7 pm she left me now dressed in her waitress uniform complete with apron which must have been in the plastic bag she bought with her. She was ready to start her shift.
The next day I asked Kul if she could take me to a Bank so I could open an account. Knowing how difficult dealings can be in the Kingdom I felt it better to have a native help me through the process. The manager was a customer of the restaurant and was surprisingly helpful. He made a few phone calls and with my trustworthiness established opened an account and within the hour transfers were affected and I had access to the cash I needed.
The next evening I meet up at the restaurant with Alec and his wife Jenerai who turned out to be an extremely attractive and charming lady in her late 30s. They had bought the infamous brother in law Somchai along with them.
Although it was Christmas Eve it was a quiet night in the restaurant. I quickly established that although Somchai was a bit slow I saw he was a generous hearted lad. In his mid twenties he was a very handsome boy, exceptionally well behaved although I noticed he was easily distracted. Through his sister he tells me he can play the piano which Jenerai confirms. She explains he has a keyboard and it is his incessant practice on said instrument that actually drives Alec to distraction.
The food is excellent and I find Alec, Jenerai and her unusual brother to be wonderful company. At the end of our pleasant evening I give Alec an envelope containing a banker’s cheque for the remainder of the sum agreed for the plumbing job. I explain I would not be there when he finished the project so wanted him to have it now. I thought he was about to burst into tears when I did so.
On Christmas day I host a party at the restaurant. The girls had rearranged the tables in a line to house a most impressive buffet. I think most of the town are in attendance but I am pleased to see Mike, Pong, Alex and Jenerai have turned up. Somchai was also there and had bought his electronic keyboard. The girls had set it up in a corner for him and it turns out he can actually play very well.
His repertoire is a sweetly haunting Issan music which delights the locals. After playing for an hour he tells me in his stilted English he knows all the Beatles numbers and he asks me to sing with him. In the spirit of the occasion I get up and sing “The long and winding road” and” Yesterday” to his wonderful and sympathetic accompaniment. Every one politely applauds my performance…. most likely because I have paid for the party.
I was pleasantly surprised at the bill of 10,000 baht which was less than it would have cost me for a modest Christmas night out back in blighty. When everyone finally departed Kul and Kwan invited me to sleep with them in Kwan’s apartment upstairs. We slept together knowing we had all drunk too much to have sex but I was most appreciative of the intimacy of their soft warm bodies close to me.
The next morning we took a leisurely breakfast which I cooked for them downstairs in the restaurant.
Today was Boxing Day and I had plans. I had places to explore and people to meet.
To be continued