The End Of A Dream
August 2007 was the last time I had seen her in Chiang Mai – and things seemed almost the same as I remembered back in 2005. She was the same woman I remembered so well and loved without question. Then came the GFC and I failed to travel to Thailand in 2008 and 2009, for obvious reasons – but I was certain that 2010 would be fine to go back in the light of relative easing of financial conditions back home.
I contacted Wan and suggested that I fly her down to Bangkok and meet her in one of the better hotels along the Chidlom stretch. I really wanted to give her a nice break for shopping in Bangkok, as I know how she loves to do that – and I wanted to please her. Of course, you all know that the Red Shirt confrontation spread out around Ratchprasong at that time and much damage was done to Central World and other venues – so coming to Bangkok would not have been a good idea under those circumstances. I contacted Wan and said I would come to Chiang Mai to be with her, as it would be better to avoid the troubles in Bangkok.
My agent was able to transfer my credit to a Chiang Mai property – The Centara Duangtawan – not my first choice, which was Raming Lodge, on Loi Kroh Rd. We had dined there a couple of times and it was a hotel I had always wanted to experience as a guest with Wan. They had no access to Raming Lodge, so I had little choice but to accept their offer at Duangtawan.
The flight over to BKK was OK but it was a rush to make the transit to the Chiang Mai leg that was due to depart around 10 pm. Another reason why I do not like Suvarnabhumi is because of the lack of Thai Airways staff available to give assistance in directing one in transits. My seat companion on the flight to BKK was a Thai Lady returning to Chiang Mai – and even she was confused in making the transit. We just made it onto the onward leg in time. I found that to be a totally-unacceptable experience. I had never had problems such as this in the old Don Muang International and Domestic. Anyhow, the flight up to Chiang Mai was OK and I claimed my baggage and went out to find Wan, who told me she would be waiting for me.
She wasn't there, so I did the walk along the lower level concourse, looking for her – and eventually found her getting out of a songtaew in the drop-off area. Younger sister was with her, along with Phibun, the driver – and a 4-year-old boy child that I was quite surprised to see. He was the product of Phibun and younger sister. Wan seemed decidedly cool and seemed to be bothered that I had one of my Martin guitars with me. That shouldn't have been strange, as she knows I take one of them wherever I go. So, off we set, jiggety-jig, en-route for Duangtawan. By now I was a little jaded.
On arrival at the hotel, I was advised that we would go to have something to eat together – so it was a case of a quick check-in and dump of all the belongings, then back to the songtaew and off to a restaurant – not a good one, I might add. I had eaten well on the flight over and was not at all hungry – but I accepted that they may be hungry and would want to have the social experience of dining together. I ate some food and had a beer but was glad when we were dropped back at the hotel.
By now, it was well after midnight, so we did a bit of unpacking, then showered and fell into bed. We made love – and it was as good as I ever remember with Wan. I felt at peace falling asleep beside her.
Things had changed since my last time with Wan – she told me that she now had a beauty salon with younger sister and would need to help younger sister for a few hours each day. She had not told me about this in advance. The next day I was taken to the salon as we were taking the family to dinner at a good restaurant that evening. At that time, I got to experience the tantrums of the 4-year-old little monster. The meal at the restaurant was good and everyone seemed to be happy – but Mama did not look very well at all. Papa was just the same smiling guy that I remembered – and Wan's daughter was just as pleasant as always.
As it was Wan's usual habit to sleep late in the mornings, rising about 11 or 11.30 am, she would shower and dress to go to the salon soon after – and would not return until around 6 pm. That left me to amuse myself for the afternoon until she returned – so I began to wonder why I had bothered to even come to Chiang Mai. But wait – there's more! On the third day, I began to come down with some kind of a stomach bug and felt really crook – so I took myself off to the Loi Kroh Clinic to see the doctor. He gave me a heap of pills and told me to go back to bed at the hotel and try to rest up. All I could tolerate was Pepsi Cola and perhaps some black tea and dry toast.
The sweats were the worst, along with the diarrhoea – and I really felt like dying for a few days. It made no difference to Wan – she still left each day around midday and returned at 6 pm. By the 7th day, I was well enough to take some light food and I gradually regained my strength. I was asked if I would like to go to a movie on the Sunday, so I agreed and we headed over to Huay Kaew to the cinema complex. OMG – enduring several hours with the little monster was a test I could have done without. Then, after the movie was over, we set off to find a restaurant to have some lunch – Wan, her daughter, the monster and me. What a test of endurance that was. The place they chose served no beer, the menu was limited and there was "Sunshine" that had to be endured. I could have cheerfully choked "Sunshine". When Wan's daughter dropped us back at the hotel, I thanked her for driving us – and I waited until we were up in our room to tell Wan to "Never put me in a situation where I have to endure the bad behaviour of that little monster again". I think she was surprised but I'm sure she got the message.
Perhaps that was what put an end to conjugal pursuits – making love was no longer allowed for the rest of the visit.
In the past, we had always made a habit of driving out to Huay Teung Tau – sharing a few hours relaxing and having lunch on one of the floating bamboo pontoons. It was always very pleasant out there and had become one of the favourite places we visited. Wan's daughter drove us out there in the new Honda sedan that Wan now owned. It would appear that she has done quite well for herself since 2007. But something was not quite the same as it was.
Back in 2005, she had been putting pressure on me to marry with her – but, back then, I was still in the process of having to lodge divorce papers for the marriage to Natalise. Papa understood that and had no problem with it. But here in the present, I broached the subject of marriage with Wan on one evening and was surprised at her response: "I not marry with anyone – not want to answer to any man".
By now, my feelings were to tell her to piss off and leave me alone. Here I was, trying to have a pleasant time with her and make the time with her as pleasant for her as possible – but it seemed to make no difference to her. Still, I couldn't bring myself to tell her to leave, after all we had shared in the past – but it seemed fairly plain that she was almost a different person to the woman I had loved so much.
I always leave a 100 Baht tip for the room lady each morning, wherever I stay. It's only a small gesture to show appreciation for what they do – and if every guest did that, it would make a huge difference to someone on a low wage. However, Wan tore strips off me for wasting money. She said I should be giving it to her. Stuff me, I was already giving her 4000 Baht each day to do whatever she wanted with it – and I was still paying for all meals and for all of her shopping – and for petrol for her vehicle.
The last straw was on checkout day. We had packed up and arranged a late checkout and were sitting in the downstairs lounge, waiting for her daughter to come for us to take me to the airport. I had 20,000 Baht spare and had always intended to give Wan what spare Thai Baht I had. I handed her the bundle of notes – and she took it without a smile or even a "thank you". I would have expected a wai – but that was not forthcoming either. The drive out to Chiang Mai Airport was in silence – and Wan did not come into the airport as she usually did. It was rather cool goodbye-hug beside the vehicle out in the car park. I headed toward the terminal and turned once to give a final wave – but they were in the vehicle and moving off by now. No wave was returned.
I checked in at International and sat in the departure lounge with a million thoughts buzzing around my head like flies around a piece of dead meat. Analysis was pointless – the reality is that she has moved on with life, in a different direction. Still, I was left with the question of "What if I had stayed with her in 2005 – would things have remained as they were back then?" On current indications, I was beginning to believe that all that mattered to her was money and control. If we had bought that condo or project house, back in 2005, I may very well now be a pauper and a candidate for The Pattaya Flying Club. When the boarding call came, I thought to myself that I should consider myself very fortunate to have found out how things really are, without losing anything other than a bit of pride.
Even now, I still think of her – but it is the woman I knew back in 2005. The one I encountered in 2010 is not the same person that I remember so well. I have witnessed her metamorphosis. At least I still have my integrity.