A Possibly Atypical Bangkok Bargirl – Part 6 – Back in Bangkok
For those of you late to reading my story, my first trips to Bangkok took place in July and August, 2006 and the first 5 parts of my story were mostly completed by 2008. Thought I was done at that time. But then there was more… Can you guess what happened? I went back to Bangkok, didn't I? I saw Nat again, didn't I? You would be right! So grab yourself a beer and pull up a chair. See, my friend, this is how it went…
I was the manager of a small network operations team; in spring of 2009, I was made surplus to requirements at my company as they were closing the local office and transferring my team's functions to the headquarters office far away. I was one of the very few who was offered a relocation package. The problem was it involved a sizable cut in my pay package and no more telecommuting. That last part was really painful as I had been telecommuting during all those trips to the Philippines to visit my then-girlfriend Jane and mostly hiding it from my management and other departments with the help of cooperative co-workers. So I was able from late 2006 to early 2009 to make a half dozen trips to the Philippines as well as several trips within various Faranglands, yet keep the fires burning on the job well enough to get the raises and the bonuses. But one day there appeared a new management regime and they were hands on bean counters and control freaks. Anal retentive bastards, all of them. Every last thing had to have a metric. Well it was not really a surprise, my co-workers and I started seeing the writing on the wall, it was just a matter of when the axe would fall. Unlike many I know, I actually had some money saved, I had a home redecoration project which was months from being completed and overall the timing was just bad along those lines. So it was surprisingly easy to say no to the relocation offer, even with the economy going down the toilet that year.
I planned a long Southeast Asia trip for late 2009 to early 2010 following the completion of the home redecoration project. Several countries on my itinerary. I may write about those someday. But yes, dear reader, I know which stop you want to ask about. Yes I had to return to Bangkok, no trip to the region would be complete without that.
After several weeks on the road and in the air, I arrived in December, 2009. My traveling friend Jerry and I were staying somewhere near Sukhumvit and of course we gravitated to Nana Plaza. And a few other places of similar repute of which much has been written by Stick readers.
But after a few days of that, curiosity killed the cat: I decided I had to track down Nat. I texted her early one afternoon, letting her know it was me and I was there in Bangkok, call me. Fortunately, her phone number had not changed. Wow, how often do you find a Thai girl who doesn't change her number? She called back very quickly and we arranged to meet at the Asoke BTS station within the hour. How often do you find a Thai girl ready to meet so quickly?
Come meeting time, I didn't see her at first so I searched the station high and low and was starting to wonder about her when suddenly I saw her near the far end of the platform. I walked up to her. She gave me a brief hug, a platonic shoulder to shoulder hug. It was accompanied by that big smile.
"Sawasdee khrap, khun Nat!"
"Sawasdee ka, khun Arthur!" Big smile, thousand watts beaming. The years melt away.
"Sabai dee mai khrap?"
"Sabai dee ka!" That smile. Just as I remembered.
Some small talk. And then, "I have something to tell you."
"I have boyfriend!"
I expected that: after all, it had been more than 3 years since I last saw her. Heck, I was delighted that she remembered me at all. Well there's more to that as you shall see, but one cannot expect a Thai girl to remain still. So I replied with a smile, "Good for you!"
She smiled back. "You never called."
I had been with Jane and I had decided to put Nat on ignore so I had not been in any kind of touch with her since early 2008. Hence I deserved whatever oppobrium she wanted to summon. I mumble something with an apology mixed in. Which was greeted with another smile.
I asked, "Are you hungry?" Not a bad way to apologize.
"Oh yes, ka!" Is a Thai girl hungry? Does the sun rise?
It was still early afternoon, just after the lunch hour so we found a Thai restaurant a few blocks away and got seated. During the conversation that followed she told me that the boyfriend was from elsewhere in Farangland, that she had already visited him in his hometown and that she was going to return there in a few months. I said congratulations, I'm happy for you. Really I was. She was still the nice cheerful girl I knew so I was glad someone was going to take her with him.
Then she dropped a bombshell on me: it was me she liked much more than that guy and she wanted to know what happened to me, why I had stopped contacting her. She had known that guy awhile too, in fact, she may have met him before she met me. I was gobsmacked by that one. Totally. Had me thinking back to that first weekend I was with her when she paid her own barfine to take me to Pattaya to visit her sister. How many girls pay their own barfine to be with a particular guy? I'm sure it happens, but you know it's not common.
When we finished eating, she invited me to her apartment. Same place she said. How many Thai girls never move for at least 3 years? This time we were there during the day and I figured out how to get there on my own. Same friends, even. They even remembered me!
"Why you not call Nat?" "Why you not come back?" "Where were you?"
Well I'm here now, this jai yen farang is back. I smiled. They all wai'd me. Cool.
In the apartment, she has pictures on the wall of herself and her boyfriend. I looked closely at him. He looked like a decent fellow, near in age to me, nothing out of the ordinary about him. She pulled out a photo album with a few dozen pictures from her trip to his hometown. I can see she got around. Somewhere in there are a couple of pictures of her playing in the snow. What a novelty that was for her: the sheer joy of it showed in her face. There were more pictures of the two of them, in some of these I recognize the bar I met her in and by the dates on the photos, I figure out the chronology. This fellow had apparently given her some of the gifts I noted in Part 4 yet she was still working in the bar and had gone with me. Well it's about the money you say… I sure hope he understood that.
Somewhere in this clutter of pictures, in a prominent place on the wall, there was a picture of the two of them sitting together taken at a slight distance in the midst of very beautiful scenery. A very romantic picture. I was gobsmacked again as I recognised this place straightaway, having visited there on one of my holidays years before so I knew how beautiful it was there. I became quiet and wistful. Very quiet. Very wistful. Sitting there looking at that picture. The small talk faded in the distance. I started wondering again about her and me, wondering if that should have been me in the picture.
Five o'clock rolled around. I had promised Jerry that I would have dinner with him one last time before we parted company for awhile. My good friend Thomas just happened to be in Bangkok on temporary assignment of a few months duration, he normally lived and worked elsewhere. He and his Thai wife Nong had been notified a few weeks back that I was visiting. On which Thomas had firmly told me I was staying with them and we had scheduled that night after dinner as the time to meet.
Time to go. Nat and I gave each other a good hug. This time, she puts some somtam spice into it, hmm. Seeing that I was staying in Bangkok for several more days before moving on, I promised to call her again. Another smile.
A few days later, Thomas announces late in the afternoon that we are going to a Christmas party being thrown that night by some expats he knows and their wives. I have a long pair of slacks I can get away with, but no dress shirts so I have to borrow one from Thomas. A bit awkward for me as he outweighs me by about 7 kg, but we make it work with Nong's help. However I have a small problem, my hair has gone to that unruly stage that absolutely requires a cut, only I've been putting it off too long. I remember Nat is a hairdresser by trade; that gives me the idea to call and ask her to cut my hair "like now!"
"No ploplem! Come here, I cut hair!"
It is good I now remember how to get there. Thirty minutes later I am knocking on her door and she has a chair and some towels ready for me. She does a fabulous job on my hair, I looked quite the insouciant rake afterwards. I ask about payment. She just gives me another close hug and says, "come back". That thousand watt smile again…
Expat parties are not Nong's style so she gives her OK for us to go without her. Thomas explains that "she trusts you". Or she would have gone and then made noises at Thomas about leaving earlier than he would like. I have known Thomas for many years and met Nong a few times and I have never given her any reason to believe I'm a player. Or worse yet, a monger. She is definitely not that kind of girl. Unfortunately, all her sisters are spoken for and she doesn't appear to have any friends that I would want to be fixed up with. That Thomas makes no attempt along these lines doesn't surprise me. Oh well.
That night when Thomas and I are away from prying ears, we discuss Nat and I give him the complete lowdown. I would trust Thomas with my life. Though we knew each other long ago in Farangland and we have not seen each other often since, he is still that kind of friend. So I tell him everything. Thomas is not surprised. He has lived in Asia a long time and there is little about Asia and Asian women that would surprise him now.
To be continued…