May, 2015 — Bangkok
I was to stay in Pattaya for another three months, into late March of 2011. By then it had become clear the city was never going to be the retirement mecca I’d envisioned. Not developed enough for my taste. Crowded and messy. Seemed I could never really relax when I went out. So, with the punishing hot season well underway, I decided it was time to depart. Not just Pattaya, but Thailand. I had given the country a try, but things had not worked out. I closed my bank account, packed up all my belongings, and returned to Seattle.
Actually, all I really needed was a some time away to clear my head. In fact, it only took a week of being back in the Emerald City before I came up with the idea of returning to Thailand, this time to live in Bangkok, which would offer a more modern, comfortable life. I still had half a year remaining on my hard-earned Retirement Visa, plenty of time to see if this might work. What the hell.
At this point luck came into play. For my apartment hunting base, I had booked a hotel in Bangkok on Soi 4, not far from the bars and go-gos of Nana Plaza. An area of the city I knew somewhat. What I didn’t know was that just a couple blocks from my hotel, in the opposite direction of the Plaza, was an apartment complex called Siam Court. On my second or third day, I happened to wander by there and saw a sign advertising monthly rates. I walked into the office, had the manager show me a few units, and after a half hour of looking had paid a deposit and first month’s rent on a spacious second floor studio with a partial view of the outdoor swimming pool. Four years later on I am, amazingly, still residing here, although I check out each summer for a month or two back in the states. All because I made a second attempt at living in this country.
For More Details, See: Another Try in the Land of Smiles
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As for Rasamee, when I left Pattaya so did she, to go back home to Udon Thani and work at a laundromat she and her sister owned (and which I helped pay for). But once she found out I was back in the country, living in Bangkok, getting down to see me became a near obsession. I fended her off, wanting instead to meet more women in order to discover what I liked and disliked about them; whether I indeed wanted a girlfriend, or simply casual acquaintances. My years as an IT social misfit had never afforded me the opportunity to find this out.
This meant Rasamee and I were at cross purposes and when she asked for money a couple months later for her son’s college tuition, I said goodbye. Being in different cities this time, the breakup proved more durable. Rasamee ended up going back to the bar in Pattaya for the higher salary she could earn working there.
It was not the end, however. A half year later, in early 2012, she emailed me, saying she’d heard I had a new girlfriend (which was not true) and wishing me well. Not sure where she got that notion from. In any event, I didn’t want to hear from her, a feeling that was reinforced in April when her bar unexpectedly closed down and she had to travel over to Cambodia to find work that payed as well. Once again she ended up needing help and, after initially refusing, once again I opened my wallet. (At no time did we ever meet, though. It was all long distance.)
This pattern continued for the better part of a year: me gallantly coming to the rescue whenever the latest financial crisis hit. After each bailout I’d swear to myself no more, that’s it, only to get sucked into the next calamity. Finally, totally fed up with being on call, I deleted the email address I’d given her, leaving my persistent ex with no means of ringing the fire bell. It was, in the end, the only way for me to move on — severing all communication.
But old habits die hard. For Rasamee’s fiftieth birthday two months ago, I anonymously transferred fifty thousand baht (close to $500) to her bank account. After four years apart and countless experiences with the “fairer sex”, I have not forgotten the hard-working woman who once knitted me a Christmas scarf. How could I?