Today I arose early, had my coffee, checked my emails, and ate my breakfast of cereal and fresh fruit and orange juice, all prepared for me by my new ‘live-in’, the delectable Noo – 5 feet 3 inches of unbelievably cute, Thai womanhood.
Last Friday, after repairs costing over 800,000 Baht and nearly5 months in the shop, I finally got my beamer back, looking like and driving like a brand new car, (my contribution to the repair bill was 5K deductible and 5k being 50% of the cost of a replacement tyre – thank God for 1st class insurance), so it was time to take it for a spin.
So on Monday, Noo and I made a trip to Samut Songkram (aka Mae klong), the smallest of all Thai provinces, nestled between Petchaburi in the south, Ratchaburi in the west, and Samut Sakhon in the north. It is a 200+ kilometer journey, and takes about 2 1/2 hours when driving by way of the southern end of the Bangkok outer ring road (southerly direction) and thence to route 35 which runs through Petchburi, Hua Hin and thence to all stations south.
We met up with Noo’s older sister in Samut Songkram and after she parked her own car outside her home, we all went in my car to the local market.
At first the market seemed perfectly normal, masses of stalls to the right and left of me with covered awnings covering the crowded, central walkway, but after we had been traversing this walkway for a few minutes, I suddenly realised that we were walking along a rail track. I assumed it was a disused line, but almost immediately I recalled having seen such a market on a U-tube video a couple of years back, where all the market holders moved their stalls back, away from the line, whenever a train came through.
I asked Noo if there were any trains on the line and she confirmed that there were two trains a day. I told her that I had seen such a market on video and then started to inspect the stalls at the edge of the line. Sure enough, all the stalls had little metal wheels mounted on their bases, some of them on their own little rails – obviously installed to facilitate quick evacuation. I mentioned that I had seen such a market on video, and barely had the words left my lips when Noo and her sister stopped in their tracks and ushered me into a small pathway between the market stalls. A train was coming.
I quickly set my phone camera to video mode and within seconds, a fully fledged passenger train, travelling a surprisingly fast rate passed by us as the stall holders rolled back their stalls and raised the awnings which hung over the track. It was all exactly as I had seen in the video – this was the same place, for sure. I stuck out my camera in a vain hope of capturing the extraordinary scene, and although not as good as the U-tube video, I have a pretty good recording of the event. Of course no one batted an eyelid – it was all in a day’s work for the market folk and the only one to show any excitement was ‘yours truly’ – Mobi.
We bought a few local ‘specialities’: dried fish and other appetising morsels, and then returned to my car and thence a short drive to a dilapidated, local food shop where we enjoyed the finest Pad Thai I have ever tasted. The place was obviously well known as it was full of customers and also seemed to be doing a thriving take away service.
After ‘brunch’, we drove around the surrounding countryside and enjoyed the local sights, including an ancient Wat almost overgrown by a huge tree, and another which had dozens of life-sized statutes of Thais all in varying Muay Thai, fighting poses.
It was mid afternoon and pretty hot, so we adjourned to Noo’s sister’s house where I was led to a bed and exhorted to take an afternoon nap. I needed no second bidding. I am getting a bit too old for this sight-seeing business in the middle of a hot day in Central Thailand.
After a long sleep, I was awoken and we drove to the local Amphur where I was introduced to Noo’s brother-in-law, a very friendly, high ranking local government officer.
On the way back to Pattaya, Noo told me that her sister was very kind and had helped her a lot when she had no job and no money to send to her children. We took a couple of wrong turnings on the way back, ( I won’t say whose fault it was, but it wasn’t Mobi’s!), which meant we arrived home late in the evening, feeling pretty exhausted.
Apparently, Samut Songkram’s greatest claim to fame is as the birth place of the original Siamese twins.
Last Sunday was Loy Krathong and in all the years I have been in Thailand, this year was the very first time that I have celebrated the festival. Noo clearly wanted to join in the festivities, so we joined the huge celebrations just down the road from my house, at Lake Mabprachan. I have to say that I was somewhat surprised that the event, which was organised by the local Wat, charged an entrance an fee. My previous experiences of such temple-sponsored events were that they were free and it was left to individuals to put donations in collection boxes. Not only were we were charged 40 Baht each to enter, but they charged us another 40 baht to park my car (we could have walked!) and in another, fenced off area, a live Thai concert was in full swing and yet another entrance fee was levied. Remember, this was 100% Thai event. How times have changed!
Noo bought a ‘krathong’, loaded it with a lock of her hair, a fragment of her finger nail and nine baht, lit the candle and incense and launched it on the lake, praying fervently for all the various nuggets of luck that it’s unusual cargo was supposed to bring to her.
I have known Noo for about two months and she has been living with me for five days – not yet a week. She is a lovely, petite lady, 30 years of age and hails from Nong Kai where she has two young children who are being cared for by her parents. The first time I ever set my eyes on Noo I was quite smitten with her, but I initially decided against having a relationship with her due to the encumbrance of her two young children. But I have always had a gut feeling that she was indeed a very nice girl, and the past few days have already confirmed that in spades. She is a generous, loving lady, who is very honest and open about her life and her feelings and I just know that we are going to be together a very long time. I think I may have finally found what I am looking for.
I know the cynics out there will predict an early demise to the relationship and they may well be right. But I have such a good feeling this time. Noo makes me happy in so many ways, including in bed. She is kind, hard working around the house, and not demanding. She is not moody nor of a controlling mentality, like so many of her contemporaries. She is also exactly how I like my ladies to look and she has a good dress sense. If I could have written down the qualities I would look for in my ‘ideal Thai Woman’, Noo would be right up there at the top of the list of all the ladies I have ever known.
So what happened to Wan?
On Thursday, 11th November she took a bus back to Roi Et so that she could attend the school meeting for her son on the Friday. When I dropped her at the bus station in Pattaya with her bags, I noticed that she seemed to be taking a lot of things with her. Upon my return home I checked if she left anything and sure enough every single item of her possessions had been taken with her. When I confronted her about this a couple of days later, she was quite evasive, telling me that she needed to ‘wash everything’. I seemed to me that at the very least, she was ‘hedging her bets’ in case she decided not to return.
The usual delays on fixing her return date then ensued. She had so much work to do in her house, her garden, her dog and other business to take care of, including getting her car serviced. Some days she didn’t even bother to call me and I finally concluded that the only point of the relationship as far as she was concerned was to get some money from me to pay her bills. When she stayed with me she was clearly unhappy and couldn’t wait for an excuse to return to Roi Et and her family.
All these thoughts led me to stray from my sobriety. There were three occasions, (not consecutively) when I drank a lot more than was good for me and I suffered on the following day. I went back to my ‘whore virgin’ with the butch sister, but something about her turned me off. I also frequented a number of bars, both regular and ‘short time’ and had a lot of fun with a lot of willing, female accomplices.
After my 3 bad binges, I have been drinking occasionally, but never to excess. I have succeeded in drinking in moderation – maybe 4 or 5 small beers and then back home to a ‘booze-less’ house. As I have stated so many times, I only seem to drink to excess when I am unhappy – when something is bothering me a lot and I need to forget, or to take the pain away. My 3 binges were provoked by dilemma with Wan, and also because I had irretrievably lost the opening chapter of my new novel. I know all this is just an excuse and anyone in AA will tell me that I am fooling myself, but the fact remains that now, with Noo, I am happier and more content than I have been in a very long time and I feel no desire to drink unless I meet up with friends for a few beers around the lake. Yesterday I went to Pattaya and had lunch and a couple of beers while I waited for Noo to take care of some personal business. She took longer than planned, so I had another 2 beers. After 4 beers I felt completely full up and had no desire for any more drinks – beer or any other alcoholic drink.
I understand that all accepted wisdom is that sooner or later my drinking will get out of control and I will be back to square one. However, the more I look at AA and the methods they use to keep people sober (i.e. a strong belief in a Higher Power) the more I become convinced that this particular ploy may never work for me. I have never denied the existence of a ‘Higher Power’; indeed I find some of the chapters dealing with this in the AA ‘Big Book’ very compelling, and more than ever I am a firm agnostic – leaning towards acceptance that something out there has ordered up this universe and has overall control over its development. I also accept that by becoming more ‘spiritual’, working through the ‘moral’ tasks as set out in the 12 step programme can be a huge aid in the alcoholic’s fight to stay sober. Where I have a problem, is this concept that there is a God out there who knows me personally, and that if I ‘Open my heart’ to him/her, I will be actively helped in my desire to stay sober. I truly believe that this is just a ‘crutch’ that helps many alcoholics to sobriety. Without this ‘personal God’, there is no hope for them and nothing to hang on to, so for them, it works, but for me, I just do not accept the concept of a ‘personal God’ who I can turn to and speak to and pray to.
I am a subscriber to “good Morning Pattaya” an AA email service that sends me copy of the AA ‘daily reflection’ which invariably is of a religious nature. Frankly, when I read this stuff, I inwardly shudder. It seems to bear all the hallmarks of deluded religious zealots, albeit well meaning and with the the finest of altruistic motives.
Tomorrow I shall return to my novel. I have now got the angxt I that felt at the loss of my first manuscript out of my system and I will start again. I can never re-write what was in the original document, so I have decided to start again and take a totally different approach the the chapter, and indeed the whole novel. I have been inspired to do better by my ‘author of the moment’ one of the finest thinkers and creative writers of the 20th Century; Jean-Paul Sartre.
So who knows? Maybe the loss of that first draft will lead to bigger and better things. Maybe, after all, there is a “higher Power” out there, directing my destiny!