My Early Years in Bangkok Part 4
Sooner or later, we all end up as orphans. I arrived back in Ottawa, Canada with a couple of days to spare before my mom died at the age of 93. It has been a comfort to me that I was present when each of my parents passed away. I helped my sisters plan the funeral and visitation. Unlike this Covid era, the funeral was a time of celebrating a person’s life with friends and relatives in attendance.
After the usual condolences, the topic of conversation was when are you coming back to live in Canada. At that time I had been gone for 3 years, was in the middle of an ugly divorce, and I had little thought of returning. Life on the wild side was simply too interesting and entertaining. There is simply no venue in Canada for a person in their 60’s to have the type of fun I was enjoying.
I spent about 2 weeks in Canada and then booked my return flight to Bangkok. On returning to Swampy and catching the airport link downtown I reflected that I was returning home. I caught the MRT up to the Sukhumvit station and walked with my carry on the short distance up to Soi 22 and Queens Park. I was curious to see what had happened to the noob.
I was not naïve enough to think she had not been working and as a result been barfined and changed somewhat due to that experience. I have always thought that if a bar girl spends a certain amount of time in the bar that she becomes a different girl. The old saying that, ‘You can take the girl out of the bar, but you can’t take the bar out of girl’ is often true in my experience.
I grabbed a seat at Denny’s Bar (gone now) across the street from Queen’s Park to celebrate my return to wonderland with a cold beer and a chance to watch the noob’s bar. I was not sure what I expected to see. It was about 8:30 PM and I knew the noob’s shift started at 9:00 so I settled back to enjoy the ambience.
The noob was living with 5 other girls in a one-room apartment. I would consider it cramped and I once asked how they all fit in the bed and she told me the last 2 arriving after work slept on the floor which is normal for life in the village. However, they made the one toilet work and often shared clothes and shoes. They consider themselves sisters.
Sure enough, at 8:55 she walked across the street to the bar and I paid my bill and walked to the bar. A leaping hug and kiss seemed to tell me she missed me, and I ordered a beer for us. We chatted as well as we could with help from Tacky. Jet-lag was sitting in and I was in need of a shower after 25 hours of travelling so I decided to barfine her and we headed off to my apartment.
We spent the night together and subsequently the next 7 years. To this day, we have never discussed her time in the bar while I was in Canada. There is nothing to be gained with that knowledge and perhaps something to be lost.
My wife’s background is typical of many Thai women. Her father died in a motorcycle accident when she was 13 years of age and she finished school after grade 9 as she was not able to afford grade 10 where there is a nominal charge. She worked as a farm labourer as well as construction stints in Bangkok carrying pails of cement in the construction of high-rise buildings. She hooked up with a Thai guy she knew from school at the age of 20 and he fathered 2 children with her in the village. He worked selling BBQ chicken via a motorcycle cart and got drunk on cheap Thai whisky every weekend. They lived with her mother. They never married and he often beat her so eventually they told him to move out. He is dead now, apparently died drunk while riding a motorbike.
She decided she needed to leave the village to earn some money. She left the children in the grandmother’s care, and then left for Phuket to work as a maid in a resort. While there, she met her second boyfriend, married, and had her 3rd child. They lived with his family who were fairly well off by Thai standards. The problem was the husband cheated on her and she forgave him the first time, but not the second. The mother-in-law begged to keep the girl as she had had 4 boys and had always wanted a girl.
She left her daughter and returned to her mother’s house and her 2 previous children. Her future looked bleak and she was fed up with Thai men and at the age of 27 was willing to try something completely different. The village gossip said there was money to be made in the bars of Bangkok and she left the village with a borrowed 3K baht and a phone number to call when she arrived in Bangkok.
That was when we met. I guess it is the teacher in me as I usually want to know how smart a person is. Language was a barrier, so I resorted to mental math such as what is 247 + 129. It turns out she was smart and quick with the answers. It turned out she had done well in school despite the fact her mother was illiterate and of no help.
After about 3 days of barfining, I made the decision to buy her out of the bar for the usual 10K baht and we lived together on Soi 22 for the next year. Life was good and over the next 6 months she progressed quickly in learning to speak English. We partied a lot and lived well. Then one morning she told me something I had already figured out, “I think I am pregnant”.
I thought, no use thinking, and off to the Cabbage and Condoms abortion clinic we went for an ultrasound. Sure enough, there was a little speck. I asked her what she wanted to do and we played, ‘Up to You’ for the next 5 days until one day, we left the apartment and I sat down on the curb and stated that we are not moving until you make a decision. After about 10 minutes, she asked, ‘If I keep the child, will you stay with me?’ I answered it is our child, of course.
After reflecting on my decision, and being 63 years of age, I texted my buddy and asked him to meet us at Queen’s Park for a beer. We met at the bar, and I tentatively told my best friend that my girlfriend was pregnant. I expected, ‘WTF, how could you be so stupid!’, but my friend replied, ‘Children are God’s gift to mankind.’ And 7 years later I understand the wisdom of his words.
There is lots more to tell about the next 6 years before Covid arrived and if there is interest I will relate the my story of living and loving a Thai girl, having a child at 63, getting married (civil ceremony only) and the trials and tribulations of getting your Thai lady permanent residence in your home country.