A Happy Ending
I’m very saddened to learn there will no longer be a “Stickman Bangkok,” to get my weekly dose of Thailand news and more particularly, information on my favorite city of Bangkok.
I’ve been an avid reader of Stickman since 2011, prior to arriving in Thailand. The wealth of knowledge I have attained from this site during that time was invaluable and helped guide me for the year I lived there. From the weekly updates to the readers’ submissions, I eagerly read them all over the years. The insight gained also helped me avoid the pitfalls that many Westerners like myself fall into in relationships with the local females. I’m not sure why I never contributed a single submission, so it’s a case of better late than never, I guess.
My first trip to Thailand was back in December, 2011, two weeks before Christmas and the height of the tourist “high” season in Thailand. I was 31 years old, recently divorced and in need of some self-discovery, juvenile escapism and maybe a bit of mischief. I needed to find my heritage and embrace the ancestral roots I had long disregarded. My plan was to meet some relatives in Udorn Thani with whom I’ve never met but only heard of through stories from my mother and maybe indulge myself with some of the seediness of my mother’s home country. But most of all, I needed alleviation from my hectic life back in the States. 2011 had been a rough one for me, a tumultuous year of change.
After being honorably discharged from the U.S Navy back in March of that year, I also began a new career path which just happened to coincide with a divorce from my then American wife of 5 years.
I guess before I continue my first ever submission (and probably last), an introduction is in order. In case you’re wondering, yes I am half-Thai or lukkreung as the Thais say, which translates to “half-child.” A by-product of a marriage between an American airman stationed in northern Thailand to a local Issan girl during the tail-end of the Vietnam war. After the war, my dad continued serving in various Air Force bases throughout the region, while my mom and my 6 other siblings followed suit. Eventually I was born in Clark Naval base in Okinawa, Japan. It was interesting times during those early years of my life. Growing up in places like Japan and the Philippines left a lasting impression on me which I think planted the seeds for worldly curiosity in my mind.
When we moved back to the States, the culture shock for a young boy who had grown up overseas was a factor. Nothing more embarrassing than having a whole cafeteria of children making fun of you for bringing your mom’s stinky larb moo wrapped in aluminum foil for lunch while the other kids had their little peanut butter sandwiches nicely stored in their shiny lunch pales. Or the awkward times when friends would come over and inquire about my mom’s large Buddha shrine complete with burning incense, little troll dolls, stuffed animals and other random Thai weirdness. Though embarrassing then, I now reflect on those memories with much humor. I’ve come to be extremely grateful for having the opportunity to grow up in such a colorful environment. To this day, our family Thanksgiving dishes still include rice and a few other Thai dishes to go along with dad’s bland turkey. (Yes, my dad has been married to my Thai mom for more than 40 years and they are still happily married.)
As I grew older, I assimilated in to American culture and thus began disregarding my mother’s. Although she tried teaching me more about her native homeland, being a typical immature teenager, I didn’t care to learn about her foreign culture. I even began refusing to eat her Thai food which she would slumber all day making for me (her Thai food is amazing) in favor of burgers and other fatty American garbage. Me and all my siblings did this and I think our behavior saddened her deeply. One of my biggest regrets in life…
Back to my first arrival in Thailand. It had taken 31 years but finally here I was in Bangkok, armed with the latest copy of “Lonely Planet” and feww inhibitions. For the uninitiated like myself, Bangkok is a sensory overload. From the unsettling sights of middle-aged men parading around with brown-skinned beauties half their age to the cacophony of sounds from the congested traffic, it was quite an adjustment for me at first but I quickly adapted to my surroundings. Thailand was exactly what I needed.
My first few months in Thailand went exactly like one would a expect from a newly single 31-year old male in the “Land of Smiles.” I became a frequent visitor to places like Nana, Cowboy and Patpong. A lot of crazy booze-fueled late nights on Sukhumvit Road with random women became my daily ritual. I started hanging around people I would never have associated myself with in the west simply because we shared the same indulgences. These guys were mostly sad, bitter creatures who not only resented everything about Thailand but who also embraced the fruitlessness of their lives with open arms. Hanging with them started to take a toll not only on my health but my professional life as well. I remember reading a Stickman submission back then about a guy knocking up some bargirl and it seemed like he was having a rough go at life. Wasn’t a particularly good submission as there are hundreds of stories like that on here but for some reason that particular submission had an impact on me because the guy was around my age and seemed really desperate. I didn’t want to end up like that dude so I decided then and there a change was needed. I cut back on the drinking and partying with other falangs. Avoided the naughty areas and tried to focus more on work. It was during this time of recovery that I met my now wife Rae.
Rae was a single mother who worked as a bartender at an American-style pub on Sukhumvit which I would frequent on my lunch breaks. She was charmingly beautiful and was always nice to me. I was infatuated with her the first day I met her but always believed she was out of my league because she wasn’t like other Thai girls (I can hear the collective groans from expats, ha!) that I met in my short time in Bangkok. She spoke good English, was soft-spoken and never overly flirtatious. Soon I began walking her home every night after she got off work and we would have a lot of long conversations as we walked along Sukhumvit. Finally, after a month or so of constantly asking her out she agreed to a real date with me. The relationship soon blossomed and we moved in to a small apartment together. Nights drinking and mongering in places like Nana and Soi Cowboy were replaced with trips to Tesco Lotus to pick up groceries or dinner and movie at Terminal 21. Some normality and substance returned to my life. I enjoyed her company tremendously and she seemed to enjoy showing me parts of Thailand and aspects of her culture that I would otherwise never have known about had I continued with the self-destructive naughty-boy lifestyle.
After a year, I had to return to America and say good-bye to Rae. As she dropped me off at Suvarnabhumi Airport with tears in her eyes she said, “Please don’t go and gone, na.” She expressed it with such compassion and sincerity it broke my heart. I knew then and there I had to marry this girl and bring her to America.
Now, years later, we are happily married and living comfortably together in suburbia, America. It hasn’t been perfect but she has adopted to western life surprisingly well and tells me she has no desires to move back to Thailand. She works at a Thai restaurant (of course!) and is currently taking night classes at the local college to better her English skills. As I write this, she is currently planning our weekly “Game of Thrones” theme night party with our friends and family. Our life might sound dull to some, but I have never been more happy in my entire life.
After reading many horror stories on this site regarding Thai and falang relationships, I began thinking I must have been extremely fortunate to find Rae. I think maybe one of the reasons we worked out is because we are close in age (she’s 3 years younger) and have similar interests. Me being half Thai probably also helped.
I hope this submission’s optimism gives hope to Westerners out there looking to have a positive relationship with a Thai lady. I truly believe if you look in the right places and away from naughty areas you will find some really amazing Thai women.
Thank you, Stick, for being a voice of reason during my time In Thailand and for advising me in 2013 that an investigation was not necessary in regards to Rae after the information I provided. Also, thanks to all the contributors who submitted your stories over the years. Most submissions have been informative and entertaining. This website is a goldmine of knowledge for those with an interest about life in Thailand and it’s disheartening to see it go. I wholeheartedly believe that if I didn’t follow the advice on this site during my dark days in Bangkok it would have never lead me to meet Rae and I probably would have taken a much more self-destructive path.
Of all the stories submitted here, at least this one has a happy ending.
The author cannot be contacted.