An Isaan Girl named Arun

By Graeme (from Pattaya)

Sometimes you meet an Isaan girl who is the antithesis of the perceived norm that applies to these northeast Thai girls. Arun, (Thai for Dawn) is just that. I first saw her in June 2015, in a bar, playing pool with an Italian guy. The bastard, I thought, I was so jealous.

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She was tall – 5ft. 7in. – with thick, long, black hair, almost black skin, and with a figure that had me drooling. Statuesque might be the best way to describe her, with larger than normal breasts. She had a diamond in her left molar that flashed when she smiled at the Italian guy. Little did I know back then that she didn’t have a lot to smile about.

I asked one of the bar girls about her. She said ‘she just come today’.
‘She come tomorrow?’ I asked.
‘Yes’ she said. ‘Start at six o’clock night time.’

I was there at five forty five! She was there also, talking to a couple of the other girls, but crying. I wanted to be ‘The Knight in Shining Armour’. Why was she crying? Reasons flooded my besotted brain. Maybe the Italian guy, the bastard, abused her. Maybe the mamasan won’t let her work in the bar. Maybe her mum has died, and on, and on. I didn’t want to break in on the rather deep and emotional conversation that was going on, and so I waited, and waited, and, eventually, she noticed me. I smiled, and she sent a diamond tipped arrow, shaped like a tooth, straight into my heart. Oh, that smile…

We talked and things were not what they seemed. She didn’t work in a bar and she didn’t go with the Italian guy (who turned out to be a nice bloke). She was down from Surin, an Isaan girl, (had to be either Buriram or Surin with skin that colour – Thai with a lot of Khmer) and was supposed to be staying with her girlfriend, and looking for work. The problem was that her girlfriend was not around. She’d disappeared and left Arun with nowhere to stay!

Jomtien beachJomtien beach; just to the south of Pattaya

To this day I do not know why I did not say ‘come and stay with me’. Unfathomable; but I like to think it was my noble self saying that I would not ask a vulnerable Isaan girl in distress such a question at such a vulnerable time. She gave me her telephone number and I went on my way promising to call her next morning. She said she’d find her girlfriend and stay with her, or one of the other bar girls. I didn’t sleep much, she rang me about midnight just to say hello… why I didn’t do something then I’ll never know.

Next morning I rang her. She was down at Jomtien beach and so we met; she’d told me she’d stayed the night in a 300 baht room in Soi 2 and I wasn’t going to be stupid a third time.

‘You can stay with me tonight’. ‘Okay’ she said, and with that we picked up her bags and finished up in my condo.

Arun; the nicest Isaan Girl I’ve ever known

Arun was married to a Belgian guy, a bus driver from Brussels, who she had wed in Bangkok a few months earlier. He had gone back to Belgium a few weeks ago leaving her to arrange a visa to join him in Belgium under a ‘Family Reunion’ visa for six months. The rub was that she was illiterate! She could not even read or write Thai! She could not even read a street sign in her own language. She could, laboriously, sign her name but that was it. The second thing was that the husband is a tight-arse who sent her so little money that she could hardly afford to pay for a visa, let alone apply for one.

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She has two children; a five year old daughter who is being looked after by one sister and a seven year old son who is being looked after by a second sister… typical Isaan girl. Both parents were dead and she owned nothing but her clothes. It seemed to me that the marriage to the Belgian guy was a ticket out of Thailand, a ticket out of the Surin jungle and out of poverty. The Belgian guy was going to take her and the children to Europe and to ‘a new life’. She said to me ‘I am 35; this is the last chance I have’. That was so sad.

She stayed with me for about a week. Her self-esteem was so poor but her determination was certainly not lacking. She went back to Surin and then returned with her jewel of a daughter who also had a typical Isaan girl appearance, just like her mum. They were wonderful together and we had lots of laughs; the daughter had never seen the sea before. The stayed another week then went back to Surin.

During her visit we filled in the application for her visa and paid the application fee, which the husband had reluctantly sent her. With all the appropriate documentation we emailed it all off to the Belgian embassy in Bangkok and awaited notification of an appointment. When the day arrived she returned back to me, from Surin, and off we went to the embassy in Bangkok. I’m funding most of the travelling expenses at this point, it isn’t a huge amount but it’s enough and I felt resentment that her husband was not paying for his wife and family. I resent that big-time; a couple of my friends know what’s going on and they both say, independently, ‘what a cunt’.

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We get to the embassy and I hang around in the waiting room. Arun goes into the interview room but she’s back within a couple of minutes. ‘Lady want to see you’. The upshot of that is that there are forty written questions and answers to be filled out - and she can’t read or write! So I end up taking an oath to write her answers truthfully and promise not to put a favourable ‘spin’ on things; we spend about an hour filling in the forms. She hands over her passport and we get the bus back to Jomtien. A few days later the Isaan girl goes back to Surin and then she has to wait, and wait, and wait. She waited three months.

In the meantime her husband gives her a hard time about the money that she has spent and complains about the amount that he is sending her monthly - sometimes as little a 7,000 baht. Two children to feed and clothe on 7,000 baht - I send her whatever I can afford. She doesn’t say much, this Isaan girl, because she’s very proud but I know she’s grateful. Then her husband cannot call her for a week because he ‘loses his phone’… then another five days because ‘the internet is down’ in Brussels? I don’t think so but I keep my lip buttoned, I hate what I’m hearing but what can I do?

Then the embassy advises that the application has been declined and the husband goes ballistic. ‘A waste of money’, he says. ‘You’re stupid’, he says. Then some papers arrive from the embassy giving the reason for declining the application. It’s in Dutch so I get it translated and it says that the husband has not supplied the correct information regarding his income – nothing to do with Arun’s part in the application. What she/we had done was 100% right, the cunt had cocked up. Next, he says ‘I not pay you any more money because I not boom boom you.’ Then, another time, he says ‘I find new wife in Belgium. You find new husband in Thailand’ and she phones me in distress.

‘At last’ I think, ‘now she will see what he really is’ but no, the pull to get away from poverty is too strong. He says ‘I’m sorry’ and it is all back on. Oh I think, ‘the poor girl’ it will happen again. In the meantime she works, on some days, for 200-300 baht a day selling food for a friend in the markets, about the going rate for an unskilled Isaan girl. That is if the friend has made enough money to be able to pay her. She waits for some money from her husband so she can go back to Bangkok and back to the Belgian embassy to make another visa application. In the meantime the husband sends her a pittance for her to live on and she is still filled with hope. We talk almost every day, but I really worry about her, more than I’ve worried about any Isaan girl. I wait and hope.

Editorial Note: I think you are too quick to believe what you are hearing, and far too quick to write off your fellow westerners as bad people. It is unlikely that you've been told any truth about the money being sent to her, your average Isaan girl in Jomtien/Pattaya will lie constantly to gain sympathy, and it is unknown what sort of man the Belgian guy is. What is known is that 1. your lady friend is sleeping with other men, 2. that you have no problem shacking up with the Belgian guy's wife, and 3. that you resent him!

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