Well it’s time to lay it all out in my blog and see what you folks think, so today I will tell you all about Wan and her background.
The only thing I ask is: please do as I do when I read blogs or statements written by people on the net. I take them at face value and assume they are telling the truth, and the facts that they present are correct to the best of their knowledge.
Of course this may not always be the case, but to assume that a particular writer is being economical with the truth, or to immediately assume that he/she is being lied to and cheated is simply opening a cynical can of worms that gets you nowhere. In my opinion it is better to accept the facts as presented until such time as they prove to be incorrect.
I met Wan about two weeks ago, and yes, of course, I met her at a bar. But here’s the thing. Wan had been brought to Jomtien that afternoon by her Aunt to work in a bar which was owned by a friend of her Aunt’s; a katoey who lived in the same village in Isaan.
The bar was one of my regular late night-haunts, situated in one of the Sois off Jomtien’s beach Road, and was a large place with many tables and chairs and was chock a block full of Katoeys together with three or four ‘genuine’ ladies who made up the staff complement. It was a cheap, fun place that played an incredible selection of eclectic music, much of which I hadn’t heard for decades.
I wandered in there one night at around o0ne o’clock, ordered a beer at the bar (only my third of the night), and one of the young ladies sidled over to me to chat me up for a drink. I was about to indulge her when I caught sight of a lady, dressed in a very unflattering, frumpy dress that was flapping around her ankles, and who appeared to be in a state of some distress. Tears were streaming down her face. She was accompanied by two of the working girls, and they were leading her towards the staircase that led to the ‘dormitory’ above the bar.
I asked the girl sitting with me what was going on, and she called out and told the girls to bring the distressed lady over to me.
“New girl, just arrived today”, she told me.
I wasn’t very interested in a distraught, tear stained lady, dressed in clothes that looked like they had been in her broom cupboard for forty years, but being the decent guy that I am, I didn’t have the heart to send her packing, and said ‘hello’, with a smile.
She looked at me with a frightened look on her face, and said nothing. I told her to sit down, and asked her name. She was Wan, and the first thing about her that surprised me about her was her good, grammatically correct English.
I bought her an orange juice and asked her why she was so upset. She told me she had just arrived from Roi Et in the late afternoon, was exhausted from the twelve hour journey and was terrified of working in a bar and wasn’t sure she could go through with it. She said she had never been in a ‘girlie bar’ in her life, and even during the brief time she had been there with the other girls, their behaviour and language had shocked her.
I reassured her that she would soon get used to it and suggested that she get some sleep, for I could see that she could barely keep her eyes open, whereupon she started crying again. She told me that all the girls and katoeys slept together on the floor of the large room above the bar, and there wasn’t even a single fan there to cool the room down. She said she was terrified of sleeping in such a place and amongst such company.
I too was feeling sleepy, and after a while I said to Wan, “Look, would you like to come home with me. I will pay the bar fine, but I don’t want to have sex. I just want you to have a decent night’s sleep in a comfortable bed, and tomorrow you will feel a lot better.
She looked at me with wide, incredulous eyes. “Really? You mean it?”, she asked me in English.
“Yes, really”, I replied.
“Because I feel sorry for you”.
“Oh Mobi, you have a good heart.”
“No Wan, i have a very black heart, but I just don’t like to sleep alone”
For the first time Wan smiled, and her face lit up. I realised that while she was no great beauty, she was quite pretty, especially now she had stopped crying and was even giving me the occasional smile.
I took her back to the condo, and she collapsed on my bed and fell into a deep sleep.
The next day, and in the days that followed she told me all about herself and what had happened to her.
Wan was thirty one, and came from a small village, about forty kilometres east of Roi Et City.
When she finished school she used to work by making clothes at home and then travelled with her cousin to Chatuchak market in Bangkok on weekends where they would set up a stall and sell them.
About seven years ago she met an Englishman in Chatuchak market who started to ‘chat her up’. One thing led to another, and they became lovers, eventually getting married in Bangkok.
Her husband, Pete, was a “white van man”; a self employed builder/decorator and he flew back and forth to Thailand to be with Wan, as his money permitted.
After a while, Pete obtained a visa for Wan and took her back to England where they set up home in Oxford with Pete’s aged mother who had a house there.
It was after they moved to England that Wan’s nightmare began.
Pete’s behaviour to Wan and to his own mother was appalling. He was a heavy drinker, and every night he would come home, get drunk and then start shouting at Wan and his mother, and abuse them both in the foulest language. He would complain constantly to Wan about the food she cooked for him. It was either too hot, too cold, or just generally no good, and he would often hurl the plate across the room at her.
She would never see him on weekends, when he would spend the two days with his friends, mainly getting drunk in the pubs of Oxford.
He never gave her any money for herself, and soon after she arrived, she had to work at home for many hours a day, wrapping charity Christmas cards just so that as she had some money to spend on essentials.
Wan was obliged to walk over two miles to the nearest shops as Pete never took her, and remember that this was a Thai girl, first time out of Thailand and completely unused to the vagaries of the English climate.
Her ‘Living Hell’ became instantly worse, when one day she discovered she was pregnant. She had been in England about a year, and as soon as her body began to fill out, Pete’s behaviour grew even worse and he would abuse her on a daily basis, referring to her as a ‘Thai Prick’ amongst other disgusting epithets.
After the baby’s birth, things failed to improve, and he made her sit with her son in the back of his van when they had to go somewhere, such as the clinic. Wan remembers how he made her lie on the floor whenever a police car came near them, as it was illegal to put a woman and baby in the back of van without any proper, secured seating.
But for most of the time, she had to walk, pushing her baby in the pram – often for miles – in the cold, wind, rain and even snow.
Pete spent less and less time at home, but when the baby was a few months old, he decided to take them all to Thailand for a holiday. They went to Phuket, and every day Wan was forced to stay in the hotel room with her son while Pete went out to the bars all night and had fun in with the ladies of the night.
Then in January 2005, Wan’s grandmother died and she had to go back to Thailand to help sort out things and to attend the funeral. It was agreed that she would go first and Pete would follow later. In the event, Pete did follow but stayed in Bangkok and refused to travel down to Roi Et.
Suspecting nothing, Wan took a bus to Bangkok and found her husband shacked up with another woman who he had met in Bangkok. Wan was devastated, for in spite of his harsh treatment of her, she never dreamed he would do something like this, especially when she had a young baby to look after. They had a huge row, and Wan returned to her mother’s home in Roi Et.
Later she returned to England as she did not know what else to do, and Pete eventually followed, minus his wedding ring and with some marks on his wrist indicating he had been through a traditional Thai marriage ceremony.
Things went from bad to worse between the two and there were terrible fights every day. Pete’s mother was also distraught at her son’s behaviour, and told Wan that she wished he had never been born.
Pete started to became violent, so on advice from a friend, Wan went to consult a lawyer about what could be done to restain him, and when he found out, Pete became even more violent, accusing her of involving the police in his life. He absolutely terrified her.
So Wan settled into a life of misery and despair, and was totally intimidated by her husband into accepting the status quo.
Finally after nine months of sheer hell, Pete’s mother succeeded in persuading her son to let Wan and the baby go back to Thailand. She gave Wan twenty thousand pounds of her own money to start a new life with her baby son in Thailand. In September, 2005 Wan came back to Thailand to live.
Her mother-in-law’s twenty thousand pounds was changed into one million four hundred thousand Baht and Wan went back to her mother’s village, bought a small, second hand car, then a piece of land next to her Aunt’s house upon which she built a lovely two bedroom house for herself and her son to live in.
Next she went to Bangkok and bought some clothes at wholesale prices in the markets there and took them back to Bangkok and opened a little dress shop.
At first the business was quite successful, but as soon as the recession hit, her business dried up. She was forced to close no less than three times, but each time she doggedly tried again before her remaining money dried up completely .
Desperate for money to feed her and her son and pay his school fees, she reluctantly mortgaged her house, borrowing forty thousand baht from a local bank, frantically hoping that something would turn up before the money ran out.
Late last year her husband contacted her and asked her for a divorce as he wanted to get married again. She agreed to this and asked him if he could help out a bit with her son’s expenses. Pete was now living in nearby Roi Et city with his new girl friend. He had bought his new lady a house and a car and demanded to have access to his son, but he refused all entreaties to help out with any financial contribution to Wan’s family.
I told Wan that she should have engaged a lawyer in England to seek a divorce settlement, and it may not even be too late to go to court in the UK and sue for child maintenance. (Her son is a UK citizen with an English passport.) But she is just not interested. She bears no resentment and wants to get on with her life.
So at the end of her tether and not knowing what else to do, she agreed to accompany her aunt to Pattaya to see if she could earn a bit of money to pay her expenses. She had already borrowed ten thousand baht from her mother, who was in no position to lend such a large sum.
The forgoing story, while not typical, is just another of the thousands of genuine ‘hard luck’ stories that drive innocent village girls into the sex trade. Some take to it, like duck to water, and thoroughly enjoy their life in the flesh pots of Bangkok Pattaya and elsewhere. Others find a way to tolerate their wretched exisitance and search desperately for the right man who will take them out of it all. A few positively hate it and never manage to adapt to this way of life.
Through the years I have seen many a girl come down from the provinces to work in a bar – some very pretty – only to pack up their things at the end of the month and make the sad journey back home, even poorer than when they left, but unable to make the required transition into a ‘lady of the night’.
I often used to wonder what became of these poor souls, as most of them had starving mouths to feed back home.
There is no doubt that Wan was one of these, and she told me that she was so shocked at what she had seen and heard in just her few brief hours in the bar, and could never go back, no matter what. Apart from anything else she was terrified.
I took pity on her, intending to let her stay with me for a few days, before putting on a bus back to Roi Et with a bit of cash in her pocket, but it didn’t work out that way.
Wan is a lovely, kind, intelligent, sensitive girl, with a wonderful manner and sense of humour. There is not an ounce of malice in her whole body. I have never seen her angry about anything and since she has been with me she has never been moody or talked bad about anyone or anything.
She even tells me about her husband in a very matter of fact way, with virtually no emotion, and insists that she no longer bears a grudge and has put it all behind her.
When she smiles, she is positively beautiful, and she lights up the whole room.
I have been angry a couple of times, but not at her, and on each occasion she cried. I tried to assure her that I was not angry with her but she is such a sensitive soul, she can’t stand it. I felt so guilty, and I now try to be on my best behaviour at all times – not easy for a drunken old sod like me.
She is without doubt the nicest girl I have ever had a relationship with, and I mean ‘nice’ in the real sense.
Everything she says and everything she does is ‘nice’. She has only been with me a short time, yet she is more solicitous of my health problems – particularly my diabetes – than any woman has ever been before.
I know that some of you cynics out there will insist that it is just an act she is putting on, and when the time is ripe she will wheel out her demands, but if you spent just a few hours with her, you would know that what I say is true. I can feel it with every bone in my body.
So we drove up to Selaphum, some forty kilometers east of Roi Et city on Sunday, and I met her family consisting of her seven year old son, Jasper, her mother, two aunts, and a niece – all females you will note. Wan lives in her own house with her son and her mother and aunts all have their own houses in the same area of the village.
The house is even better than I was expecting. The walled garden, complete with front gate and driveway is full of flowers, fruit trees and shrubs, which Wan has grown herself, and there is nice little lawn, with two little puppies scampering around to complete the impression that much of this garden took shape in Wan’s imagination when she lived in rural England.
The house itself is quite roomy, and there are a lot of little decorative touches which one rarely sees in a Thai house. There is large, tiled, well furnished lounge, two good sized bedrooms with air conditioning, a kitchen and large western style toilet, complete with hot water shower.
It is a very pleasant home and I will have no problems staying here until next Saturday when I will return to Pattaya with Wan, Jasper and Sherry, (Wan’s niece who is on summer holiday from university). They will stay with me for a week or so and enjoy the delights of Pattaya and its environs.
I haven’t been so happy for a long, long time. Wan’s family are all lovely, thoughtful, polite people, and the village is clean and mercifully free of noise and drunken men. At night the only sound is the birds in the trees and the occasional gecko.
The first night I was here I got a little drunk, as I was exhausted after my long day at the wheel and over-did the beer a bit. But it was only four bottles. On Monday I just had two bottles and slept like a baby for over ten hours. Today, as yet, I haven’t had a single beer and I don’t feel like one.
On Monday a car load of us went to Yasuthorn to do a bit of food shopping. Then we all had lunch at an MK restaurant in a large Big C complex.
If my largesse on the day out was the proverbial ‘farang cash cow’ spewing out some money, then the cynics are probably correct. But it really didn’t amount to much and I was happy to do it.
Today, I drove Wan, Jasper, Wan’s mum and two friends from the village to Chedi Chai Mongkol temple in Nong Phok District. It was about a ninety minute drive, and was well worth it.
It is a very stunning place, situated at the top of a sort of escarpment, and there is a wonderful, scenic view of the countryside below.
It has only recently been completed at a cost of over three thousand million Baht and is the largest pagoda in Thailand; one hundred and one (Roi Et) meters long and wide, and one hundred and nine meters high. It is beautifully adorned in gold and is truly inspiring.
This place is the very heart of Issan Buddhism. There was a lot of walking and climbing involved, but I didn’t mind at all, in fact I seemed to have more energy than Wan.
On our way back we stopped at a roadside Issan food place and had delicious barbequed chicken and fish (Issan style) with ‘som tum’, fish salad and sticky rice. Better than eating at a five star Bangkok restaurant, and all for three hundred Baht.
I love having family around me, and Jasper is a loveable little rascal. We have spent many hours together playing silly games. I feel so content and happy and I know that Wan is also very happy.
I have no idea where all this is going to lead to, and for the moment I am just taking it day by day and enjoying myself.
Some difficult decisions will have to be made soon, but in the mean time I’m not thinking too much about it.
Wan told me from the very first day that she could never leave Jasper at home and live away from him for very long, unlike many Isaan women.
It does beg the question as to why she went to Pattaya in the first place, but she was clearly desperate. She also wants to live in her house, and keep Jasper in the local school.
I like it very much here, but could never live here permanently. I would be very happy to spend the occasional week or two up here as I like to get away from it all sometimes, so coming up here would be as good a place as any.
But live here for good?– no. Not yet anyway.
So I don’t quite know where this leads us.
Maybe God will find a way. We’ll see.