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A Thai Girl in Frankfurt

Yesterday, one of those auto-generated “memories” popped up on my phone. It was a photograph of Baccara in Soi Cowboy taken exactly a year ago. I looked out of my window at the light dusting of snow on the terrace of my apartment in Frankfurt and it seemed like an alternative universe.

I am here because of retirement, a broken relationship, and above all, the dreaded Covid! I asked my boss if I could do another year, but company policy was inflexible and I had to go. My long-term plan was to retire to the Philippines but, due to the break up, that was out. So I considered Thailand instead. I have an old friend in Pattaya who owns two condos, one which he lives in and the other which he rents out, but I was put off by all those bureaucratic hoops I would have had to jump through – not to mention two weeks in quarantine. Just to think – had it not been for Covid, I would probably have been in Ted’s rental condo by now, looking out of the window at a pool full of bikini-clad Thai Barbies, and looking forward to a night out on Walking Street.

But even that would have had a downside. I would have been paying rent out of my small pension, and wouldn’t have had enough left over to enjoy the nightlife – especially at Pattaya prices. I have always wondered how retirees manage, given that my recent Thailand budget for a night out was 2,000 baht without a barfine, and 8,000 baht with a barfine. At those rates I might have managed two nights out and one barfine a month. It would have been a case of water water everywhere and not a drop to drink. In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t bother to jump through those bureaucratic hoops, because Ted tells me that Pattaya is a ghost town at the moment.

I decided instead to return to the UK and weather the Covid storm there, and that I might as well look for another job to help pay the rent and to build up some savings for future adventures. I applied for about 30 jobs in total, in the UK, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, and was eventually offered a job in Frankfurt (which probably shows that the Europeans really have moved beyond age discrimination). I had to go to the UK first, where I had to do quarantine, and later, after sorting out some paperwork, I travelled on to Frankfurt.

The irony of the Covid thing is that I had to mix with more people last August and September than I would normally do in a whole year. The flight from Singapore to Heathrow was only about a third full, but the tube from Heathrow to Kings Cross was packed, and the train to Doncaster quite full, though I had a seat to myself. My brother-in-law has a town house in Doncaster where I did the two-week quarantine – what a joke! The only quarantine that makes any sense is the kind of quarantine they have in Thailand, where they pick you up at the airport and take you to an approved hotel (only now, about 9 months too late, is the UK introducing it). By the time I got to Doncaster I had probably rubbed shoulders with about a hundred people. When my quarantine was complete, I flew to Frankfurt on another half empty plane, but the train to Frankfurt Central was fairly full. Then, on day one of my new job, there was a general meeting with about 60 people in the room – socially distanced and wearing masks, but all breathing the same air. I survived that, fortunately, and even survived a month of socialising in that “eye of the storm” period when the first wave of Covid was passing and the second wave had not begun. It was during that period that I met Jeab.

I met her through a well-known online dating site, which I will not name because I am going to make some serious criticisms of it. I signed up to the site, uploaded some recent photographs, and wrote a profile, which was mainly truthful, though I admit I lied about my age, stating that I was 59. It was exciting at first. I scrolled through the profiles, trying to use self discipline and not waste my time contacting anyone under 40. I sent lots of messages and “winks”, but all I got in return were messages that seemed strangely similar, for example: “Greta has viewed your profile and is waiting for you to contact her.” I soon realised that these messages were auto-generated. There was one woman I was really keen on called Kay, and I made several attempts to contact her, even emailing her directly at an address she had put in her profile – but no response. In the end, in desperation, I sent messages to 20 women at random, basically saying, “Is there anybody out there?” At the same time, I did a bit of internet research to find out what was going on. This is what I found: many online dating sites have hundreds of inactive profiles. You can try as hard as you like to contact them, but you will get no reply. Worse, dating sites can buy profiles in bulk to boost the apparent number of people on their books. So maybe that was the reason I was getting no response, or maybe I wasn’t what those Thai girls had called me (“hansom man”) after all. My random sample included women who were not God’s gift either. Not only were they not young, and not beautiful, but they hadn’t even troubled to upload flattering photographs of themselves.

I received only two replies from my random sample (confirming my suspicion that most profiles were inactive and that I wasn’t Frankenstein’s monster after all). One was from Jeab, a Thai, and the other was from a rather stern looking German lady called Helga. Now, you have to believe me on this one: I was not looking for a Thai woman. Indeed, I was rather hoping to get into the European scene again – perhaps a blue-eyed blonde with European-sized mammaries, but Jeab was by far the most attractive of the two, so I suggested a meeting.

At 44 she was a bit out of my preferred age range (18-25) and at 59, I was probably north of hers (if she had known my real age I doubt that I would’ve got a look in!). She works as the manager of a Thai restaurant in Goethestrasse. She has two teenage children, and was divorced from her German husband several years ago. Our first meeting was at a little café a few hundred yards (I should say “metres” now that I’m in Europe again) down from her restaurant and we seemed to get on well right away. She was intrigued that I knew Thailand well, and that I spoke a little Thai, but I could tell that she was concerned that I might be one of those horrible farang sex tourists. So I made a big play of the fact that my first introduction to Thailand was when I was puan jao bao (best man) at my best friend’s wedding in Nong Khai in 2005 and had visited him on many occasions (I didn’t mention my trips to Bangkok and Pattaya). She told me that she gave Thai lessons to supplement her income, but that she wouldn’t consider giving them to one of those exploiters of young Thai womanhood. I briefly considered offering myself as a client, but decided that the best option would be to improve my Thai in the way that I had learned it – through pillow-talk. We agreed to meet up later in the week for a meal, and she promised to take me to another Thai restaurant which was a few streets away from hers.

It was a good choice. Of course, she knew all the Thai restaurants in town through the Thai community and through her job. She knew the manager, the cook, and even the serving staff, and was able to ensure that we got the choicest dishes of the day. We had the full works, including various starters, two bottles of wine, and a dessert. Jeab was one of those whose online photograph did not do her justice. The photograph showed her in heavy glasses wearing a rather frumpy cardigan. But that night, she wore an elegant black dress, cut lowish at the front to give a glimpse of cleavage, and delicately framed glasses that did not detract from her well formed features. Her body-hugging dress allowed me to see that has a beautifully shaped physique without an ounce (sorry, milligram) of spare fat. Thai women really do know how to look after themselves, and I suppose that working in a Thai restaurant ensured that her diet continued to be healthy.

About halfway through the evening I did my palmistry thing. Many years ago, a gypsy girlfriend taught me how to read palms. I found that, though it was useless for telling the future, it was a fantastic way of making a pass. When you read a palm, not only do you make physical contact, but you get into an intimate conversation about her hopes and fears, and above all, her love life. It broke the ice, and soon we were touching, looking into each other’s eyes, and sharing intimate details of our lives.

After dessert, I went for the “kill” and suggested she might like a coffee at my place – but she baulked at this. She had to get home to her children, she said. Though they were teenagers, they would be worried if she was late. Also, she wanted to take it slowly, get to know me first, etc. My mood crashed, and it was only by gulping down a glass of Bitburger that I managed to revive my spirits – I had had it too easy. The last time I had wined and dined a Thai woman was in Gulliver’s (Soi 5, Bangkok) in March last year, and we had gone straight to bed afterwards (or did we go to Nana Plaza next? I can’t remember, but the bedroom action was not lacking!).

Despite her reticence, she seemed keen to see me again, and we met up at the weekend to go shopping. If it had been a Thai girl in Thailand it would have been to buy stuff for her, but in this case it was for me. I was tapping into her knowledge of central Frankfurt to know where to buy some of the stuff I needed – winter clothes for one thing. After shopping, she took me to another little restaurant which served the best fish and chips I have ever had outside the UK (though the tea wasn’t up to much – one teabag in a pot of tea – they’ve got to be kidding!).

I remember thinking that, if she agreed to see me one more time, she was mine, and I could test the bedsprings of my new bed. She did agree to see me one more time, but the message was the same – take it slowly. I was beginning to realize that she was not a “real” Thai any more. Twenty years in the west had changed her, and she was now a typical western women in a cute Thai suit.

Then Germany went into lockdown and we lost touch. I think the lockdown gave us both time to think about where it was going. She was 44 with kids in school, and tied to Frankfurt. She needed a man who would be around long term (in other words, a younger man), and who had plenty of money (so she could stop working two jobs). Apart from a little fib about my age, I had told her the truth about my first divorce and my recent separation, and how they had cleaned me out – so I had nothing to offer her (even less when she knew my true age). On my part, I didn’t want to get tied down to a woman who couldn’t leave Frankfurt. I mean, it’s OK, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life here, and I don’t want to take on two teenage children, so I never bothered to contact her again, and she didn’t contact me.

I consoled myself by reviving an old project. Last year, in lockdown, I began a book entitled, “The Ramakian Code”, which I hoped would be my Thailand masterpiece. It was inspired by “The Da Vinci Code”, by Dan Brown, and tells the story of the abduction of a girl called Nan, which the hero tries to solve by following clues in the Thai “Ramakian” epic. During the recent lockdown, I managed to finish it, and it is now available on Amazon.

I will be making this book available free from 31/1/21 to 4/2/21, hopefully in return for a review. If you do decide to write a review (and I hope you do, as the market for this kind of book is nowhere near as big as it was, and it may help to boost sales), you log onto Amazon and write it there (don’t send it to me because I am not allowed to upload reviews for obvious reasons!).

So what’s next for Bangkok Byron? The Frankfurt job is just to see me through the pandemic. At least I am gainfully employed (even when in lockdown or working from home) and I can build up a “warchest” for my next move. When this Covid thing is over (if it ever is!) I am seriously considering Thailand – though not Pattaya, even though I have an old friend there. It’s too brash and too expensive. I rather fancy Hua Hin. It is quieter, cheaper, and there are lots of expats of my age profile, including a fair number of Brits. See you there, maybe.

The author of this article can be contacted at : [email protected]