A Bit Of A Tale
Maybe keep this really short…….
Visited Bangkok with new wife to escape Mayday long weekend / shutdown in Singapore. 3 days. Marriage brittle and failing even on ‘honeymoon’. Walked away with the thought that when it goes bad I’d come back here.
Once it had, started experimenting with Internet dating. Useless in the West. Most just wanted a free dinner. Most got it….
Thinking about BKK again. Discover Stickman. The reader’s pieces were fascinating.
So turn to Thai Cupid. It was interesting. Flipping around ‘smiles’ on Thai Cupid seemed like the national pastime. Some interesting. One girl/guy said, “Don’t take it seriously, it will break your heart”. So I didn’t. But not looking for young girls here, women. Late thirties and on.
You are on Skype everyday afternoon after work with a girl you like. She always seems to be there. “Please come and see me” all the time.
I watched it all with a hard eye. While on cam, conversation was all on text. She was in a kind of Internet cafe type set up. Who was just off cam coaching? Then I gradually met the older one. The ‘cousin’. She had the English and was helping. After weeks of this I even knew the name of the loping dog that slept under the wooden sofa.
Ok…I’ll come up.
Pay for you to meet me in Bangkok. Take you out to dinner, if it doesn’t work, goodbye and good luck, no hard feelings. No, she couldn’t meet me in BKK. I would have to come to Phetchabun. Negotiations follow.
In the end I was met at the airport by a small party headed by The Cousin. My introduction to the SEA thing of a small party all requiring dinner and accommodation. Girl doesn’t speak English at all really. A night in a hotel, it was actually good. After a dinner at a truly surreal place near the airport (anyone else know the illuminated towers of stallions?) back to the hotel. My room this side, yours that. They all file off and New GF just straight into my room. Ok. We negotiate the glass box shower arrangement and settle. Suddenly she’s on her knees on the bed…saying her prayers. Ok. I arrived here 5 hours ago and I’m sharing a bed with a Buddhist nun.
Next morning the party regroups around the pool. Hazy red sun low in the grey sky. Dickhead pays the bill and is ushered into the waiting minibus. We are driven to Phetchabun by the avuncular Mr. Singrit. I’m watching the road signs wondering if I’m being kidnapped. Surely not by a group of 3 women and a 2-year old who has an alarming open sore on her face.
Whitchian Buri, if you haven’t been there, is a shithole.
But with good soil, red soil….they grow that cassava stuff for sugar.
But it is genuinely notable for having the world’s worst hotel. Truly. Tragic. Yes, it has a pool. Which is the only one in town and totally owned by the local kids. The hotel was never really finished, so the shell on the other side of the pool is shut with a wire fence. Actually, this side doesn’t seem to be really finished either. Perhaps they didn’t connect the drains? The bathroom would make you gag.
But, being experienced travellers, we take it in our stride and end what has been a very long day.
Then the band starts.
The band uses the hotel foyer steps as a stage. From 10 PM pounding 60’s rock covers echo down the deserted tiled halls and stairwells…..I’m just running out of words to describe the exhaustion, frustration and loathing I’m experiencing at this point. These dudes know every crap record released up until 1975 and are going to play the lot. With extended soloing just to keep the excitement happening. Sometime before dawn I just pass out. In the morning I just want to go straight back to Bangkok. Not possible. Find another hotel. We leave. I still have the pix of her trying to stop me from taking pictures of it.
Another hotel be negotiated via mobile phone with The Cousin. We get taken to another place. It’s ok. Clean, quiet, but way out on the highway. Can’t walk to town from here. (Actually this was the third option. The second option was an arrangement of cabins surrounded by stagnant ponds covered by clouds of mosquitos. Perhaps not.)
Things settle a bit. We get a bit used to each other, she has a little English, we just hand the translate backwards and forwards on the phones. I’m not enjoying it here. We don’t seem to be going anywhere, I’m just in this room while she goes to her day job. She sells noodles from a roadside stand in the country. The noodles are excellent. The day seems to be always just driving a few kms and back to The Cousin’s. I’m a bit baffled why we can’t ever go anywhere. I propose hiring a car and she can drive us to the mountains, anywhere for the weekend. Nope. Her mobile rings a lot. They don’t seem to be happy conversations. She moves into the room, I see where she is living and, yeah, I’m shocked. Maybe not ‘shocked’, but quietened. Basically, she’s living in the back of a garage.
The noodle stand. We go to the market each afternoon for the next day’s supplies. Hot, dusty, red late afternoon sun. Heavy expat dudes in Union Jack T shirts off their faces outside the bar across the road. Chicken carcasses are slashed up, you buy what you need. The baggied meat is chucked in the back of the car and it is left there until the next day.
Back again at The Cousin’s….Internet cafe in the garage, morose and silent Norwegian husband who always has a beer on the go.. He seems to have a Norwegian mate, I just assume fellow expats. At the other end of the verandah there are always a group of women. The Cousin is running the country Internet cafe. Getting the picture here?
We go to a wedding. On the way I’m taken to visit another couple, we share a first name and nationality so it assumed there will be an instant bond. They are also guests. My take is that this guy is headed for trouble. The house is new and full of silent Thais. He’s sitting out the back with an esky of cans and getting lit up. Apparently he didn’t know the wedding was on tonight, so I’m treated to a rant about effing Thais and their bullsh*t. The wife has good English and sits it out. The wedding was great. A real country do. The food was drop dead fabulous, the real thing. I sat and talked to the people…It was good. Then the guy starts trying to pick people, wanting a drinking competition. The older guys laughed him off. Then he started talking about his Thai wife sexually. The whole place just goes quiet. Time to leave.
Life can be very cheap there. And this boasting guy, humiliating his wife publically, sometimes I wonder whether he’s had the accident yet.
…..anyway. We are kicking along sort of ok. I’m not here for culture or scenery, so just relax and go with it. Back and forth to The Cousin’s in this nearly blown up car. Green mango is good.
Until one morning there is a big discussion going on around the verandah table with GF at the centre of it. A rent book is being passed around, she’s trying to avoid the discussion and the rest are looking shocked. And looking at the farang. What’s happening?
The cousin looks at me carefully. I’m given a short intro chat that there will be no hard feelings if I get up and walk away right now.
Here it is: GF is seriously in debt to local loan sharks.
Oh. great…..so that’s why you are here, dickhead.
She does owe a bit. About 140K baht. She’s borrowed from one to pay the other and so on. And now the guys on the motorbikes are circling the Internet cafe and they are all scared. This is why she can’t go anywhere. Cousin has guaranteed to cover and holds her hostage. Interest is accruing by the day. Will the farang come good?
I groan. Ok. Here I am stuck in the sticks of f**king Thailand with a girl I can barely speak to that has gotten into debt and the local marriage service is being held hostage for it. By the ‘maffia’. Is this a con? Well, the Norwegian mate got a wife out it…we went to the wedding.
I think they were genuinely scared about it and really desperate for an out. If it was an orchestrated con, then there were a lot of players acting perfectly.
So…get out.. So, with The Cousin, we cut a deal with the loan sharks. Cousin is a total queen bee, knows everybody. She can tell them that she has a farang who will pay. So long as the interest stops today. They want an extra payment for this. I refuse. Also, I will have to access cash from back here, payable at the end of the month.. I am going to make sure that it is in everyone’s financial interest that I get home safely. Deal is done after a lot of talking. GF’s mobile stops ringing constantly.
We are allowed to go back down to BKK, but she has to be driven straight back from the airport. I get a quick kiss goodbye, “Don’t forget me” she says, and walks straight out back to the waiting bus. I get taken to a hotel because the flight is delayed 9 hours. Then a long way home.
Yeah, I paid. No, the screen didn’t go immediately blank.
Couple of weeks later I said I would be back up.
Then she finished it, telling me she owed much more. Obvious BS, but I was ok to let it go.
Why pay it? Many reasons why. Would you want it on your mind what might have happened to her for the rest of your life? They could throw acid in her face, make her one of those beggars you see on the streets there. Actually, I admired her front….I hope she got away and maybe it meant something better for her. Maybe they read me right and took me. Whatever was the truth of it…..I didn’t do any damage and it didn’t ruin my life either.
Last detail. Through all of this I actually got injured and was briefly hospitalised. She really looked after me, drove me to the hospital each day to have dressings etc. So it was a fair swap.
She’s still on the dating site, probably always had a Thai boyfriend locally and still fishing. Taught me a lot.
So…..for any of you guys on here, reading Stickman and wondering about trying your luck on a Thai dating site. I’d have to say don’t unless you are prepared to treat it as flirtatious entertainment.
If you want to meet someone, go there and do it on the ground. Always set the rules…..meet and leave if its not ok. I was ‘groomed’, then taken to a distant place and effectively made responsible for the situation. I have often wondered if The Cousin wasn’t the loan shark herself. She certainly knew how to deal with it.
If you are using a dating site, run a lot of searches to see if there are women geographically close and all have similar pics. If yes, you are dealing with an ad hoc marriage agency. Always remember, their lives DO NOT look like the pictures.
If you go….Be good to everyone you meet. Be generous but not stupid.
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