An Ordinary Life – Part 5
An Ordinary Life Part 1 — Setting the Scene
An Ordinary Life Part 2 — The Bad Years
An Ordinary Life Part 3 — Her Point of View
An Ordinary Life Part 4 — Aftermath: The Effect on Family
This is Part 5 — Aftermath: New GF, Good or Bad?
A reminder of the characters in the story.
|Ian||Yours truly; in my late 50s; an honourable man, but apparently a complete bore|
|Dawn||My ex-wife; a Thai national; 3 years younger than me; a "good girl"; a university graduate|
|Peter||First born son; just turned 21|
|Paul||Second born son; just turned 18|
|Mary||I don't have a daughter but if I did she would have this name|
|Mitch||The husband Dawn should have chosen|
|Udang||My current partner; pronounced "oo-dung"; Thai national; 21 years younger than me (!)|
|John||Udang's son; 15 going on 16|
A quick note to anyone scouring these pages for child molesters and to our friends in the national security agencies who are no doubt reading as well: I use the terms girls and ladies interchangeably. I do not mean ladies are over 18 or 21 and girls are not. When I say "girl" it's a general expression and not a reference to age. I have no interest in underage sex. At my age I get along better with the girls in their 30s than those in their 20s because they have some life experience and know I'm a decent guy. In their 20s the girls are generally naïve; they think they'll meet Prince Charming — a great guy with a heart, body and income to match. I rarely engage in activities with someone in their 20s and I'm not looking to have sex with someone in their teens — not 19, not 18 and definitely not younger. Besides, the words "jail bait" scare me. I can't imagine how bad it would be to rot away in a jail in South-East Asia — or a jail anywhere for that matter.
After 20 years of a bad marriage I've found a new partner. Yet I often ask myself whether she's good or bad for me? You can see I've promoted her from girlfriend to partner so I rate her highly but I also realise I'm a bit like a moth drawn to a flame. Emotionally it's good to be in a relationship, financially it's not; so I'm not 100% sure about it. I trust Paul's judgement — not because he's worldly or experienced but because he has complete integrity. He met Udang and said to me "I don't know Dad, I think she's a typical middle aged Thai woman." Ouch. If you read Part 4 you'd know that's a damning assessment coming from him.
In 2013 I went to Bangkok on several holidays and met two ladies. One didn't last long but was a very naughty girl. I couldn't have met anyone better to shake me out of my misery — think Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye. She doesn't feature in this story but she was wonderful for me. After three weeks of sex with her and a few others, as far as the marriage was concerned, I was "over it" and had "moved on". Maybe I should have done that earlier but I wasn't mentally ready.
The second lady I met was Udang. I wasn't looking for a new relationship; in fact my plan was to holiday in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, maybe Laos and Burma, meet multiple women, choose the one I got along with best and pursue that relationship. I've always enjoyed Malaysia and Indonesia, I seem to have an affinity with the women there and the generally better level of English is good for me because I'm linguistically challenged. Considering I was married to a Thai lady for 20 years my level of speech is incredibly bad. After living in Indonesia for seven years I'm being generous if I say I speak market Indonesian. My pronunciation of other languages is good but my vocabulary is poor — I think I'm memory challenged and getting worse as I get older. Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Burma all appeal to me because I haven't been there before. They have the allure of the unknown which is something I like.
The only country I visited up to that point was Thailand and Udang swept me off my feet, which took me by surprise. I felt she was special and wanted to spend more time with her. So much for my original plan. But maybe she's playing me too, it's hard to tell. Sometimes my gut says "run" and when I read some posts on this site that feeling grows. But there is something about her that makes me want to stay.
Udang was on the fringe of being a bad girl, but she's not innocent. She worked as a hostess in one of the city's naughty bars. It wasn't her job to sit with the customers, talk to them, get lady drinks and be barfined. Her job was to bring customers in the front door. It wasn't a big bar that had girls outside wearing skimpy outfits who drag customers in the door. It was a small bar where you'd go to sit, have a drink, chat up a lady or two and probably move on to a busier, more fun place later. Udang dressed to kill; she's attractive and asked potential customers to come in, she would never drag someone into the bar (in jest or otherwise).
We've all heard it before — the bar girl's lament. Cue the tape:
I was married young;
I had a baby;
My husband was a bad man;
He was lazy / drank / gambled / cheated (take your pick);
I left him or he left me (in the latter version he left for another woman);
I had nothing;
I don't want to do this work, but I have to support my family.
There are variations. Maybe they weren't married and she had the baby out of wedlock. But the crux of the story is always the same — she's a good girl caught in a bad situation. The implication is you'd do the same in the circumstances. I've heard it a thousand times before and I'm immune to the story. I can insert the words "really", "oh no" and "that's no good" at the right time on auto pilot all the while deciding if this girl has the potential for ST or LT. I'm not a super hero blessed with a special power, I'm sure you can do the same.
We all have a "type". Mine is slim, petite Asian ladies. I'm not a fan of the current trend for big butts. (Kanye can keep Kim K.) I like small butts and as a euphemism I say that I like slim hips; it follows there's a cute, little butt behind those slim hips. I like something to play with up top, too, but a lot of Asian women aren't built that way. Given a choice between big hips and chest or small I'll go for small almost every time.
I guess I walked in to the bar on a quiet night because Udang joined me for a drink; she would normally escort the customer in, make sure he had company and head out to bring in the next guy. I sat down with her on my left and another girl on my right. Udang is nearly physically perfect for me. The other girl had, um, large mammary glands; she was maybe big boned but not fat or unattractive, it was just that Udang was ideal. The next hour or so was amazing. I spent all my time looking at Udang who speaks good English, not perfect but much better than average. The other girl spent her time rubbing my crotch and not very subtly encouraging me to play with those melons, so Udang was really something to divert my attention from that. She told me her story and for the first time I wasn't immune; there was something about her I just couldn't define. I was so focused on her face that I didn't even notice her hair; the next time I met her I was surprised she had long hair, I thought it was short because during the first meeting all I took in was in her face. The night I met her I was on my way to meet and bar fine that first entertaining lady I mentioned but I couldn't get Udang out of my mind. (I'm a guy, I still went to the other place and bar fined the girl).
When I said we all have a type that applies to the girls, too. After spending time with Udang I found out her type. While it wasn't her job to be bar fined she did pretty well. She generally went for guys who were in town on a business trip and therefore stayed in the best hotels. I was an exception because I was on a personal trip staying in a modest hotel. Guys have taken her on several overseas holidays and when she told me about them I realised she's only flown business class. She thinks getting an amenity pack on a flight is normal. Boy, is she in for a surprise when she travels economy. She has the story, the bar girl's lament, but she tells it as a factual story — no recriminations, no frustration, no anger, just the Thai man "was no good for me so I left him". And when she told me of the foreign boyfriends she was always complimentary about them. The relationships ended because the guy's kids were against it, or he was in a divorce and a relationship would have made it difficult for him, or the divorce meant he couldn't send any more money. In every instance she would comment on the good things they did for her and how much they helped her; she didn't have a bad word for any of them.
She wants her lifestyle funded and I'm sure guys told stories to get away. For example: "I'm getting divorced and my wife filed an injunction so now her lawyers have to approve every withdrawal from my bank account." Sure, I believe that. More like "I had no idea a girlfriend in Thailand would cost so much and this is a polite way of saying it's over." But mine is not a story of a Thai girl who did me wrong, like the now famous Ides of March — I'm going in with my eyes open; although I'm a little worried I fall into the category of "my girl is different".
However, I'm now committed. I've bought into the story and I want to improve things for her. She wants a better lifestyle for herself but her real motivation is John — she does everything for that kid. And of course he isn't allowed to know the lengths she's gone to for his benefit; he will never know she worked in a naughty part of town. She's now relocated him from upcountry to Bangkok where he goes to school. They stay in a small house I rent for them and visit from time to time. She's introduced me to her parents; when a Thai girl does that she's that's virtually telling them "this is the guy, I hope you like him". She says she's never been married but I'm not sure I believe it; the shame of an upcountry Thai girl having a child out of wedlock is a bit hard to believe. She has a brother but I wonder if he is really the husband, which is not an uncommon story. I'm not saying that's the case I'm just saying I recognise it's a possibility. One of the things you read is that a Thai will not bring someone to stay in their place because it would be too scandalous for the neighbours and they would lose face. I spend my holidays in the house with her and John; I doubt anyone else would go there. She goes back to her hometown to see her parents a few times a year but not for extended periods. If the brother really is the husband he certainly isn't close. If he exists then maybe he, like me, is just a convenience?
Udang and Sex
In an earlier post I talked about Dawn and Sex, so this is a similar outline. I said that Dawn seemed to like it even though the frequency dropped a lot throughout the marriage. I don't think Udang likes it much; I think she has sex because she sees it as her duty. When I first met her and told my friends back home about her I said she's the sweetest thing you'd ever seen when she smiles; I also said she was sweet in the bedroom, too — not many credentials there. And while the sex isn't great there is just something about her I like. I agree with most of what Professor wrote in Why Rent When You Can Buy.
However, this very characteristic has its advantages. Udang knows that men like sex and it's important to keep a man happy. She has no problem if I go for ST with someone else — she even encourages it! I think she's happy because it means less work for her. In our first few weeks together I came back to her bar after visiting a place nearby. She asked me what I did and I said I was in another bar and had a drink with a woman who was just my type. To my surprise she said I should go for a ST with her; she said "what's the problem, it's only an hour, I can wait". Huh? A few months later she was having her nails done in a salon that had massage girls outside or next door. It was late so I went back to the hotel and when she came back she again asked what I did. I said I just came back to the hotel to rest but mentioned one of the massage girls looked OK and was a bit naughty when she spoke with me. She said I should have gone for a massage with her; she said if a girl is flirting with me I should flirt back, no problem. On one trip to Bangkok I was a bit bored and decided to go to Pattaya for one night. I hadn't been there for 25 years and was interested to see what it's like now. She not only told me to go ahead, she spent time messaging me when I was there asking if I'd found a girl yet. When I told her I had and was bar fining her for the night she said "Have fun. Just remember to come back to me."
I've hit the jackpot; she has sex with me when I ask and encourages me to go for ST with others. I know I pay for it but I'm lucky. I had a friend in Singapore many years ago who said, when talking about sex, wives, mistresses and girlfriends "You always pay for it. One way or another, you pay for it." As the years have gone by I've see the wisdom of that remark.
The genius of Udang's approach is she knows this kind of sex is only physical. There's no emotional attachment in a ST or LT hook up. The girl's attractive and available; you want her; she wants your money; everyone's happy. She's not a lover; she's not a threat; she serves a purpose and that's all. Udang knows it and isn't concerned. Her only concern is that I come back to her. And why wouldn't I? She loves her son; she takes care of her family; she's easy going; she has a happy and positive disposition; she's good to be with; she's genuine; she doesn't (seem to) lie; and she gives me freedom. What is there not to like?
She has a quiet demeanour, she's not a party girl. She didn't like her hostess work, she saw it as a chore not something she enjoyed. She said to me early on that she's happier staying at home or watching TV than going out. She doesn't go dancing or drinking. Eating, yes, but that's all. Udang doesn't cook much which is perhaps sad, but there's so much quality and variety of food to eat in Thailand, generally at very reasonable prices, that it's not unusual to find people who don't cook at home.
Like many before her she came to the big city to support her family. As a high school graduate she had a string of low paying jobs and couldn't earn enough to both support herself and send money home. She's now 37 and worked in the naughty part of town for 3-4 years before I met her. It's hard to believe she's that old because she looks 10 years younger. I only believed her age when she told me she had a son who is now coming 16 and showed me her Thai ID. Because of me she doesn't work any more — I'm sure of that. I may have sneaked a look at her phone (which is a bit like finding an opened letter) and read messages of other men who visit. Sometimes they say they went to her bar looking for her but the other girls said she's gone away to look after her son. Or she'll answer a message saying she can't meet them "this time" because she's busy with family; this includes periods when I'm not in Bangkok. Over time I've built faith that I'm the only one on the current dance card but I also know she hasn't completely cut ties with other foreign men; after all a Thai girl needs a backup plan, right? I understand that. I've seen the number of foreign men drop off her phone contact list over time and there are no messages to or from her arranging meetings or asking for money.
The best way to describe Udang's personality is "aloof", she doesn't give the GF experience. She won't kiss, cuddle or hold hands. She won't say you're a handsome man, tell you she loves you or call you teeruk. She presents herself on her terms and most of us want more than that — we want to be fussed over. That isn't her. Early in our time together I saw a few guys on her phone wanting a relationship after they left Bangkok. She was polite with her responses but not fawning. It didn't take them long to lose interest. She doesn't put herself "out there" and not many men have the interest to accept her position — maybe I'm the only one who's so emotionally damaged that I'm willing to accept so little. But it gives me confidence that potential suitors won't last long because there are easier conquests available. I think I've met a nice lady and want to put in the effort; other guys see someone they want to nail but when the effort becomes a bit much they look for an easier target.
While the relationship may be real I am also cautious. She has cost me a lot and it's going to be more difficult to manage with Peter & Paul going to college. If it's too much I'll cut my losses and walk away. As long as I keep that mindset I think I'm OK. I would like to stay with her at least until John finishes high school. By then I would have had a positive impact on John's life. If we split up after that she'll look back and say I did a lot for her. But I also think she knows she's coming to her use by date and can't go back to the naughty lifestyle when she's 40. Perhaps she settled for the best guy available at the time.
John is an important factor for me, too. I would balk at the relationship if he was young, say under 10 years old. I know I'm being used to support them — she's been up front telling me that. I'm not far away from retirement and I won't be able to look after a kid who's young now and will need money when he or she comes to high school and possibly university because there's a timing problem — my income ends just when they need money the most. I could not walk into that situation.
Before she stopped work Udang wasn't in good health. She would often say she was sick or felt weak and had to go to the doctor. It was always something minor — a sore throat, a cough, a cold or feeling run down. Every now and again she'd go home drunk because some guy at the bar was buying her drinks. Unsurprisingly her health has improved since she stopped working. Now instead of going to bed between 3 AM to 5 AM she goes to bed between 9 PM to 10 PM and gets up at 5 AM to get John to school. She knows she has a better life now and so do I.
However, if it all goes wrong I accept the damage was self-inflicted.
Thai Dating Sites and Validating the Relationship
In April 2014 it was coming up to a year with Udang, things were getting more serious and I felt it was time to make a decision — commit or get out. I didn't get to act on my original plan of meeting ladies in multiple places so I was concerned I could be settling for too little and missing out on my ideal woman who was "out there somewhere" so I decided to test the waters of Internet dating to see if there was a spark with anyone. Because I don't live in Thailand it was always going to be a tough ask but I figured a one month membership in one site wouldn't do any harm. It was an interesting experience and I agree with the advice summarised here (not by me). There are only two things I'll add. First, I met a surprising number of Thai women (4 or 5) who said they lived in Africa, daughters of Thai women who married African men; several were from Benin & Ghana and they all seemed like nice girls. They weren't right for me but they were different to the girls who lived in Thailand; they seemed more genuine — or were they just really good liars? But the times they were online matched an African time zone. Second, I met a number of women who were only interested in berating me. The very first woman I tried chatting with started by furiously telling me I was bad man because I was married; interesting because there was nothing in my profile to say that and I was careful to hide my identity. I met a few others who had a similar bad attitude. I couldn't figure out why they bothered being on a dating site. I guess it takes all types …
I only met one girl in Thailand where we shared a spark and if I wasn't with Udang I might have tried more than chatting with her. But she had a three year old son and as I said that situation doesn't make sense to me. The result of my short experiment was I didn't find anyone who was better than or even equal to Udang. I even see John as a positive because he only has three years left in high school; he hopes to go to university and if he does I'll help.
When I visited Thailand I also tried Tinder and give it a big thumbs down. I'm an older guy and that probably affects my experience — I guess most girls see my profile photo and swipe left. The ones who swipe right tend to be relatively unattractive ladies who provide outcall massage services; I also see there are quite a lot of ladyboy profiles. Perhaps Tinder is good for younger people to make a match but it didn't work for me.
Gratuitous Advice About Phone Chat Apps
One thing about the phone apps for chatting is they'll also help you see what your friend is doing, and you can do this using your own phone without having to sneak a look at hers. The most popular apps are LINE, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. I'm not a Facebook guy so I can't offer any advice there. I know Udang uses LINE for Thai friends and WhatsApp for foreigners so I don't have to worry too much about LINE. Still, when you send a message using LINE it tells you whether it's been read and the time it's been read; if it's not answered after a while then you have to wonder why not. There can be good reasons but if it happens a lot there's a red flag.
WhatsApp recently introduced the same function. It has two tick marks on a message; one tick means it has been sent from your phone; two ticks means it has been delivered to your friend's phone; when the two ticks change colour (mine turn blue) it means your friend has read the message. WhatsApp also shows you whether your friend has the app open right now (their status shows as "online"). It shows you when they are typing a message to you (their status shows as "typing"). If they're typing to someone else their status on your phone remains as "online". If someone is "online" but not "typing" the chances are they are chatting with someone else. Think about it, why would they have the app open but not respond to your message? Do you think they are looking at the elegance of what you've just written? I doubt it. Chances are they're chatting with someone else.
WhatsApp also shows you the last time your friend was online. I use WhatsApp a bit like a detective service. When I send a message to Udang I look to see if she's read it and when she was last online — does it match the time I sent my last message? If I know she read my last message and the last time online is later than that I interpret it as a red flag because it means she's been online with someone else. (Apologies if that's not clear, what I mean is this: say I send a message to Udang at 8 PM; let's say she reads it at 8:30 PM and I see that as her last time online; later on if I see her last time online was 9:30 PM but there's no new message for me then I know she's been online with someone else; she read my message and closed the app at 8:30 PM; she hasn't sent me a new message but the last time she was online was 9:30 PM — either she received a message from another person or she was online chatting with someone else. It doesn't mean she's done anything wrong, it's just something to note. If it happens a lot then there's reason to be concerned.)
WhatsApp is a very handy tool. Not only has it kept us in contact when in the old days we would have relied on phone calls or drifted apart, it has also allowed me to check her activity and get a good idea of whether she's telling me the truth about chatting with other people. I've seen, particularly over the last 12 months, that she's online with me and rarely with anyone else. So I'm well grounded when I say that I believe she doesn't have other boyfriends. And from sneaking a look at her phone when I'm in Thailand I know she isn't talking to farang guys using LINE, in fact she doesn't use it much at all. While I don't use Facebook I've only seen a Facebook message on her phone once.
Udang is 21 years younger than me — happy days! As a guy going around for the second time this is perfect. When you choose a partner first time around you're both likely to be mid 20s to 30s — there won't be much of an age gap. But when you're older there are good reasons to choose a younger partner. Consider this:
Guy's Age Lady's Age Comment 40s 20s Not common; most ladies in their 20s want a partner close to their own age 50s 30s The guy most likely gets an attractive partner who provides lots of "fun"; the lady has almost certainly had some hard times and gets security 60s 40s If you're lucky the lady still looks good and you can still have fun 70s 50s The lady is probably strong enough to look after you as you get older 80s 60s Ditto; although there are good odds you won't be together if you don't share the same nationality
And when you're gone, assuming you're a decent person, you've left her a stash of cash to take care of herself — a thank you for all the effort she's put into looking after you. It's only fair.
To summarise I think Udang and I are both emotionally scarred. She's not looking for love but for someone to take care of her. I like the idea of being in a loving relationship but I'm willing to accept being with someone who I think is a good person. We have a partnership of convenience; we both put in what we can and take what we need. It's not star stuck love but it's practical.
Part 6, titled Some Other Thoughts will follow soon. It's a reflection on the entire story and contains some thoughts about a variety of other topics, including an observation about the price of services in Thailand today.
90s 70s Do you care? You're probably dead anyway