Thursday 27 April 2006

Danger on the riverbank (part 1)

Pin Khlao, scene of this farang/Thai adventure
Key: Mali = me
Maiyuu = My partner

After spending the night at my drinking hole in Thon Buri, run by my friend Noi ('Mum' to her younger customers) I walked down to the Chao Phraya river, where I met a group of young Thai men fishing.

One of the young men in the group, Kew, was chatty, and wore a cheeky smile.

An older man in the group decided it was time for a beer, and took us to an out-of-the-way place close to a temple.

We picked our way over vacant land. I clambered over stones, large pieces of concrete block.

I had run out of money even before I went to the river, and was actually on my way home. I was in no position to pay.

I should have told them from the outset, but did not. We were all just friends, right?

Wrong. They themselves had run out of money, and thought I could pay for them.

My riverside friends took me to a small shophouse in a soi. A group of men was sitting at a small table drinking, surrounded by motorbikes. They looked rough.

We ordered two bottles of beer. They were friendly, boisterous types, though I wondered why, at this late hour, they were not in bed.

They would all have girlfriends, right? Jobs to go to in the morning?

They welcomed this foreigner warmly, but then maybe they, too, thought I could pay.

I wanted to tell the group that I had no money, but could not. I didn't like the look of Kew's friends at the shophouse.

Kew looked nervous himself, as they were older than him.

But we just laughed, and talked about nonsense.

Finally, I said I had enough money to pay for only two bottles. Actually, not even that much, as I still had to pay for a taxi home.

This annoyed one of the men. Kew persevered and took me home in a taxi. I paid him back when I arrived home.

I must have made an impression on my new friend, Kew. The next night, Kew took a 15-minute ride across town to meet me outside my condo for a drink.

‘Do you live with anyone?’ he asked.

‘A partner,’ I said.

‘We can do things together – go the pub, go on holidays to the beach,’ said Kew enthusiastically.

I told my partner Maiyuu about Kew. He sent me down to the market with two of his gay friends from the condo. They invited Kew up to our room to introduce himself.

Kew declined, which confirmed in Maiyuu's mind that he was up to no good. He suspects my new friend sells his body and that the older guy on the river bank that morning was the pimp.

The next night Kew and I met secretly at my regular drinking hole. He turned up with a kathoey chaperone. I told him that my partner keeps my ATM card. He's had it since the first time we met, years ago.

'That’s over the top,' Kew said, looking disappointed.

‘Do you want to keep seeing the farang, or not?’ his kathoey chaperone asked bluntly. I was sitting in front of them, but she wasn’t bothered by my feelings.

They had just spent B200 on their taxi fare (or so they told me), and I did not have enough with me to pay them back.

Kew decided he did want to see me again, but the next night he phoned just once, down from four or five calls a night previously. The following night he did not call at all.

Maiyuu told me I was being naive. He says I judge people from appearances, and am too easily impressed by Thais.

‘As a Thai, I can tell what people are like.

‘Thais lie more than farang, which catches farang by surprise,’ he said.

The sensible part of me tried to forget Kew, but another part of me likes him because he is a funny, happy, kid.

I admire his ruthlessness in seeking to part me from my money. I once fancied I saw the same quality in the boyfriend, and liked it in him, too.

Kew says he is doing his military service and has another year to go before graduating with a degree in marketing (Maiyuu and his friends reckon that's a lie).

The night we met, he said he didn't know if he was gay or straight because he had never had a boyfriend or girlfriend.

However, he has since revised that account to say that he is straight, which is just as well, as it makes his friendship easier to justify.

now, see part 2

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