Axel (from Prachuap)
I was told that many Thai ladies had HIV whilst working in Micronesia, which did scare me but, anyhow, my travels brought me to Thailand via the Philippines and Indonesia. My contract in the southwest Pacific had just come to an end and I was young, single and loaded with money.
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I had several colleagues that were married to Filipinas but, quite frankly, they seemed just a little too hot-tempered for my liking.
Arriving in Thailand it didn't take long to sense the spirit of the place; the unique culture, psyche and delicious foods. Not that I understood it, but I noticed how different it was from other countries.
I was lucky to meet Noi almost right away, a beautiful Thai woman with long, jet-black hair. She was 2 years older than I. It's funny how we got to know each other; an American guy at my hotel took me to his favourite noodle restaurant for lunch, and there you have it! Noi served the noodles with a friendly smile on her face. Like most non-bar-girl Thai ladies, she didn't speak that much English, but the first time I met her, she said, "I love you," and laughed like crazy. That's how our relationship started...
Paul, the American fella from my hotel, was so happy for me for having met a good girl. He had spent a lot of time with Thai bar girls and was tired of the whole scene, yet he was stuck into it. From that day onward, on a regular basis, Paul and I frequented the restaurant where Noi worked.
Noi was really casual and usually dressed in shorts and a t-shirt. She was a farm girl from the northeast of Thailand. I never saw her put on any makeup, but she had blue eyeliner tattooed around her eyes. As you may already know, Asian women are really attractive even without makeup. They have this beautiful complexion.
In the beginning, we mostly went to movie theatres and restaurants in
her free time. Like most lovers, Noi and I tended to do most activities
on our own. As we got to know each other better we sometimes left
Bangkok and travelled to other parts of the country. In my experience,
Thai ladies aren't that keen on travelling, but Noi was new to leisure
trips and rather curious about seeing new places.
Noi was extremely laid back and easy-going. She was comfortable in her own skin and her emotions were totally at ease. I was drawn to her bubbly personality and laughter. Before meeting her I had never met a person that said "never mind" over and over again. She was genuinely forgiving and pleasant to be around. I found most Thai ladies attractive and many of them charming as well, but Noi was more than that.In a matter of days I had fallen in love with her beauty and carefree personality. What’s more, there was a stark contrast between my western ways and preferences, my big ego and my need to control everything around me, my inability to deal with frustration and anger; and her mental ease.
I really admired Noi and I wanted to be more like her. It struck me several times, during our relationship, that I was totally stressed out about becoming successful and living up to my family's and friends' expectations; I literally put a lot of pressure on myself. All this heavy mental activity made me unsettled, while Noi was at peace with herself
Have you ever seen Thai ladies slap anyone on the arm or leg? I can't stand it. They whack you like you're a naughty little kid. Luckily, Noi wasn't like that. There was one thing that annoyed me though, especially in the beginning. At restaurants Noi would order much more food than she could finish. While I was happy with a single dish, she would get 3-4 dishes. Sometimes they would bring a big fish to the table, but in the end she only had a few bites of it. I didn't like the idea of wasting money and food like that. Years later, I learned that Thais order a few dishes and share it. Had I only known, Noi and I could have shared the meals.
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When people from different parts of the world meet, there are bound to be misunderstandings and occasional disagreements. Either you deal with it like a typical westerner, by getting impatient, frustrated and angry; or you're relaxed about it. I've met Thai ladies that have been softly spoken and easy going, and some that have been downright bitchy. Noi was too casual to get upset about anything, and just smiled and said, "Never mind," with her soft voice. She was the sort of Thai girlfriend that many men back home would kill for!
Noi and I never intellectualized or discussed politics. We simply weren't able to communicate on that level. Even if we had been able to, that would most probably never have happened. Noi only had 6 years of schooling and didn't live in her head like I did. I had mixed feelings about that aspect of our relationship. In a way, it was a relief not to over-analyze everything and complain about the world for the sake of complaining; on the other hand, something that I was accustomed to was missing.
Noi really shocked me at times; she liked to read magazines with graphic photographs from crime scenes. There would be corpses on the floor in pools of blood; I had never seen anything like it and was really put off by the whole thing. Who would read those kinds of stories, and how could it be allowed to publish such photos without even protecting the identities of the victims?
Unlike many Thai ladies that I've met and heard of, Noi was anything but a gold digger. During a trip to Chiang Mai she asked if we could visit a silver factory that made jewellery; all she bought there was a silver ring with a smiling clown on it. In contrast, I've heard of Thai girls that take their so-called boyfriends to gold shops on the first date!
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...but you should always be on your best behaviour. Good manners are very important.
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The more we travelled, the more Noi got into it. I thoroughly enjoyed touring around Thailand with my girlfriend. Everything was so much easier with a native Thai speaker by my side. The Thais do not have a reputation for speaking a lot of English, particularly away from the touristy places. During the trips Noi and I taught each other bits of Thai and English. Most of the time we were just laughing while browsing through her Thai-English dictionary; trying to pronounce and remember the new words.
I'll never forget our trip to Koh Phi Phi; we travelled by bus from Khao San Road, via Phuket. Mind you, this was years before the movie ‘The Beach’ had been released. The island wasn't that developed at that time. When I spotted the rustic, stand-alone yellow bungalow on the pristine beach, it looked so romantic. I wanted to stay there, even though it didn't have any electricity, just for the sake of the experience.
That time Noi did not say "Never mind" or "Up to you." Like so many other Thai ladies she had spent her entire life living in the sticks without electricity, and knew that it wouldn't be comfortable with all the bugs on the beach and without air-conditioning. In the end we spent one night on our private beach, where we played in the water like lovers do. She wore her shorts and a t-shirt while I had changed to my swimming trunks; this is what it's like when the east meets the west! When it got dark we lit a candle in the room. The next morning we checked into a comfortable bungalow with air-con and, unfortunately, in no time we had lots of neighbours… never mind.
Another of my favourite memories of Noi was from our Chiang Mai trip. Whenever we went out I used to ask her to take the hotel key. I wanted to give her some responsibility and let her know that I trusted her. So, whenever we left the room, I would say "Do you have the key?" She always replied, "Have," with her sweet Thai accent.
For as long as I stayed in Southeast Asia our relationship was great. I spent most of my time in Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia. As things turned out I ended up working in Greece and, after a time, we only exchanged letters sporadically. I remember sending her a few t-shirts from Greece and then we lost contact with each other. I'm really grateful that I found Noi; she was one of the most wonderful Thai ladies I could have hoped to meet.
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