Down And Out In The Big Mango

  • By admin
  • October 17, 2019
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As a traveler, my worst concern has all the time been that I'd discover myself on some lee shore, removed from residence, useless broke, with no cash, no traveler's checks and ineffective bank cards. And to prime all of it no air ticket residence or mates to lean on. It's a nightmare that doesn't bear fascinated by. It's by no means occurred, however I dread it and to cowl such a disaster I all the time journey with an emergency fund of final resort within the type of three gold cash, Canadian Maple Leafs, stashed in my belt.

As a author, I've all the time been eager about coming throughout anybody who had skilled such an occasion. I've met just one. He was sitting on a store entrance step some fifty meters from the Nana Skytrain Station on Bangkok's busy Sukhumvit Highway: common for a farang in that infamous a part of city and he barely registered as I descended the steps to the road. However as I handed by him, my eye caught the crude cardboard signal stating:


A tin cup stood by the signal. I paused in my stride. I put him round fifty 5. Wearing a khaki shirt, shorts and a large rimmed bush hat, he jogged my memory of {a photograph} I'd seen of the movie director, Francis Ford Coppola on location for the film, Apocalypse Now. He returned my gaze with a sheepish smile. It was two within the afternoon and 39 levels within the shade. Now, a farang, pan-handling the streets of Bangkok is losing his time. As Thais firmly consider that farang are wealthy, all farang, he may anticipate little pity a lot much less cash from the amused throng passing him by. In fact, the signal, being in English, was geared toward overseas expatriates and vacationers and the Nana space does teem with them. Even so, I put his probabilities of success as rather less than an ice dice in hell on a highly regarded day. I picked up the can: it contained a fifty baht observe and a few cash. I tossed in one other hundred. "Would you want a beer?" I requested him. He smiled broadly, grabbed his pack and got here to his toes. We shook fingers. His title was Alain and he was from France. I discovered a bar shut by, took a desk and ordered a pitcher of Chang beer. It was a quiet, nicely air-conditioned place and we have been the one patrons. A fairly service woman introduced the pitcher and stuffed the glasses. Alain drained his in two lengthy pulls. "Nectar," he stated, with a smile. "Thanks."

"So, what the hell occurred to you?" I requested, refilling his glass. "It’s a lengthy story," he stated, wiping his face with a napkin.

I suspected a lady was concerned someplace within the mess he'd discovered himself in and I used to be keen to listen to about it. "We now have time," I stated. "Inform me."

He took a protracted draught of beer, settled again in his chair and closed his eyes; he appeared very weary. I observed the heavy beard stubble, the matted hair and he smelled tough. I made a decision to attend for my story. "Are you hungry?" I requested.

"I’m," he replied. "Very."

From the bar menu I ordered for him khao phat gai , fried rice with hen, nothing for myself; I settled for the beer. Usually, I by no means drink earlier than sunset, however I used to be within the temper and this Chang was happening like chilly, recent cream. Alain ate like a Frenchman, with measured gusto. His plate cleaned he went again to his beer. "When did you sleep final? In a mattress?" I queried.

He shook his head. "I can't bear in mind." He appeared nicely and actually bushed, and I sensed a bit of disorientated.

"You're drained, Alain," I stated. "You want some sleep. I'm going to get you a room." I ordered one other pitcher.

"You’re actually very sort," he stated. "You don't know me in any respect."

"True," I stated. "However I've all the time dreaded ending up like I discovered you. I actually couldn't depart you there. However the value is you inform me your story. We are able to try this tomorrow, after you've rested. Is {that a} deal? "

"That's fantastic," he stated, smiling. "It's a deal."

Again on Sukhumvit, I bought for him a shirt and a few shorts and underwear from a market stall. Then, I booked him within the Bangkok Inn Guesthouse and organized to fulfill within the foyer at midday the next day. I went again to my lodge feeling good about myself. I'd performed the Good Samaritan and carried out the respectable factor. I'd made advantage and pursued good karma. I showered and adjusted and got down to attend to unfinished enterprise after which meet a beautiful Thai girl, my future spouse, for supper.

Usually up at first mild, I slept within the following morning and was late for our rendezvous. Alain was ready within the foyer studying the Bangkok Submit. A special man, he'd bathed and shaved, his thick auburn hair was washed and brushed again and he was carrying the garments I'd purchased for him. He smelt clear and of fantastic cologne. "Paco Rabane," he grinned once I commented. "I’ve a bit of left. However, it's virtually gone."

Sleeping late, neither he nor I had taken breakfast, so I steered an excellent lunch was so as. We dined on the Meals Middle on Sukhumvit. Then, we repaired to a resto-bar on Soi 7 I usually frequent that serves respectable wine. We took an outdoor desk in shade and relaxed in seats of nicely cushioned wicker beneath a fan. I ordered a bottle of Italian white on ice. I put Alain comfy by telling him of myself, my work, my residence in Canada and the guesthouse I used to be constructing close to Chiang Mai. He spoke glorious English in a cautious, circumspect method with a robust accent. He was from Bretagne and fifty 9 years outdated. He'd taken early retirement following a profession in civil engineering that had taken him world huge, working freelance, with excessive remuneration and paying little taxes. He'd labored 5 lengthy years in Saudi Arabia, hated it (no, wine, no ladies !!), however made huge, tax free, cash.

"I can't complain in regards to the cash," he laughed. "However I couldn't stand the place. Each few months I'd take an exit visa and get again to France to take care of my sanity."

Although an engineer, he had many pursuits and over time had taken college programs on such numerous disciplines as historical past, political science, philosophy and social anthropology; he was clever and exceedingly nicely learn. I felt that Alain had mirrored usually on the that means of life and why males are born. We had a lot in frequent. And the wine had the specified impact and we each grew to become more and more expansive. We mentioned many issues, however primarily we spoke of journey, South East Asia and Thailand. We talked of girls, Oriental ladies and particularly Thai ladies and the hypnotic, Siren like, allurement they’ve held for Western males since sixteenth century European sailors and adventurers returned residence with tales of their fascinating magnificence. He was additionally conscious of the risks of involvement; like me, he knew the tales and we shared some.

Alain first got here to Thailand after the demise of his spouse. She'd died of ovarian most cancers leaving him with a daughter, Lisa, who had graduated from college with honors as a medical physician a number of months after her mom's demise. Grief stricken, and on Lisa's recommendation, Alain selected a 12 months of journey and Thailand was on the itinerary. He got here for 3 weeks and stayed three months. He returned once more the next 12 months for 4 months. He favored Pattaya and star
ted spending the European summers there. Then, Lisa got here throughout pictures of her father with younger Thai ladies which led to a bust up.

"She known as me a intercourse vacationer and hasn't spoken a phrase to me since," Alain chuckled. He took {a photograph} from his pocket and slipped it throughout the desk. I picked it up. It was knowledgeable studio portrait of a Thai girl, a really stunning girl, with an excellent smile. "Kab," he stated. "She could be very pretty," I stated.

"Sure," he smiled. "She was." He fished out extra snaps of her. Some have been with Alain, others with a small little one, a woman, and others with Alain and the kid. They appeared a cheerful household. However this was the girl , I used to be certain of it.

"The place did you meet her?"

"In a Jomtien bar, an excellent bar." he stated. "I'd began to favor Jomtien, the city south of Pattaya as a result of it was quieter, much less raucous. I had a candy house there close to the seaside and fairly cheap. The bar was on a close-by road. I'd dropped in for a number of beers and to look at some soccer, "he smiled. "Chelsea and Liverpool. She was working there. She was the supervisor and mamasan. It was a quiet evening with few prospects and she or he was going to shut when the sport ended. She spoke good English and appeared so pretty in her again enterprise swimsuit with shirt and tie. Her determine was very good. I purchased her a drink. She invited me to pick out a woman. However they have been a uninteresting bunch of bargirls, non enticing. However she was. "

"So, you hit on her," I stated.

'Sure. She appeared shocked.' I'm thirty six, 'she stated.' I'm outdated. ' I informed her she was pretty. Sure, I bar-fined her. She put the cash within the money field, despatched the ladies residence, closed the bar and got here again to my place. " He smiled. "And I by no means noticed the ending of the soccer sport."

"And that was the start?" "Sure. I noticed her once more the following evening and once more bar-fined her. Inside per week she'd stop the bar and was residing with me. I made a decision to improve and signed a lease on a furnished home with three bedrooms, a house health club, a pool and beautiful backyard.I paid for every thing, in fact, and gave Kab 8,000 baht a month to spend as she wished.I additionally set her up with a market stand promoting garments and sneakers; it made a bit of cash on prime of her allowance and gave her an curiosity. " I smiled.

"She should have favored that?" "Sure, she did. However quickly sufficient my time was virtually up. My visa was expiring and I used to be as a result of fly residence to France, however I didn't need to go. I made a snap determination and let the ticket expire. went all the way down to Penang, Malaysia and bought one other visa for a 12 months. "

On his return they traveled north to Issan the place he met her household in a distant village. He refurbished her guardian's home and acquired her father a Honda scooter. Kab's daughter, Fon went again with them to Jomtien for the varsity holidays. Life appeared idyllic and he privately debated whether or not he ought to ask Kab to marry him. A month later a debit card was declined at an ATM. As he used 4, he thought little of it. He'd skilled ATM laptop glitches earlier than and so they usually corrected themselves. However this didn’t. Two weeks later a second card was declined. This time he was involved and aggravated. He saved observe of all withdrawals and was nicely conscious of what the balances must be and he knew he was nicely within the black. He composed handwritten letters to each French banks asking for explanations and posted them registered mail. Then, in fast succession, his remaining two playing cards failed, the final one whereas he was in Bangkok visiting mates; he now had critical issues. Unable to make headway by e-mailing and telephoning the banks, he wanted to fly to France. Sadly, Alain used solely debit playing cards and had no bank cards. However, as a cautious man, he had a reserve of money that might buy his ticket.

"I can interrogate my financial institution accounts on the web." I informed him. Might you not try this? "

"No," he stated. "You must repair it along with your financial institution personally earlier than leaving residence. I uncared for to do it. You possibly can't organize it from abroad."

Alain headed again to Jomtien the place any anger he held for his banks and their system quickly dissolved into shock. Kab was not residence. He phoned her, however her telephone was useless. Getting ready to bathe, he observed her rest room articles have been gone. And within the bed room an extra shock; her whole wardrobe was cleared out. She'd left him. At his desk he discovered the locked drawer the place he saved his private issues had been compelled and the reserve fund, 50,000 baht, was gone. He realized now that the debit card downside was not a financial institution laptop glitch. Kab was the issue.

"However I don't understand how," he stated. I by no means let her use the playing cards. I by no means disclosed the pin numbers, nor did I ever write them down. The numbers are in my head. Solely I do know them. "

I couldn't start to think about how he should have felt. Cleaned out by a lady he had cherished and trusted. He wanted assist badly. His French mates in Pattaya have been discovered wanting. "Ingesting buddies," he described them bitterly.

"What about your daughter, the physician? She would fly you residence, absolutely," I stated.

He laughed. "She would, little question. However I might by no means dwell it down. Might you think about the triumph, the contempt? I'd bought what I deserve, the wages of a intercourse vacationer. I'd be below her thumb for all times. , Lisa was out. My solely hope was Sacha, my brother. However Sacha is on a six week lengthy canoeing trip in northern Canada: he's not contactable. And he gained't be residence till the tip of this month. "

"What about mates in France?"

"I do have them, however I couldn’t stand the disgrace, the humiliation. They would want to understand how I bought into this mess. And it wouldn't be lengthy earlier than Lisa would get wind of it. No, Sacha is my lifeline . "

Along with his hire due, Alain moved out, ditched most of his issues and moved to Bangkok. His plan was to pan-handle enough cash for meals and if attainable lodgings till the time his brother can be again in France. He labored the Khao San Highway and the backpackers earlier than transferring to Nana. It was exhausting and humiliating, however labored to some extent as some days he picked up sufficient to get a dormitory room in some tough dwelling. He was doing that once I'd discovered him.

Two days later, in an act of belief, I put Alain on an Air France flight to Paris. He promised he would refund me when he bought residence. And he did. Two weeks after he left a deposit overlaying the ticket value arrived in my financial institution. He adopted this with a letter thanking me for my assist and belief.

Nearly a 12 months handed earlier than I heard from him once more. It got here within the type of an e-mail; he was again in Thailand, in Jomtien and invited me down. I bussed down the next week and we met for lunch on the Pattaya Beer Backyard. Alain, immaculate in ivory slacks and a blue tropical shirt and loafers and exuding the acquainted Paco Rabane, appeared the image of well being and contentment. He gripped my hand vigorously. "Good to see you. Wine or beer?" h
e grinned.

"Wine," I replied. "White."

"And pizza?"

"In fact."

He ordered the wine, a fantastic white Wolf Blass from Australia to be adopted by a big all dressed pizza. We made small speak and bantered usually on many issues. He had healed the breach together with his daughter and so they have been again on talking phrases. However he'd discovered France chilly and depressing and the individuals, in distinction to Thais, as disagreeable because the climate. He'd been again in Thailand for 3 months and glad of it. However, impatient to know the endgame of the Kab affair, I modified the topic. "What occurred about your cash?"

He paused, drank a bit of wine. "It was devastating," he stated. "My financial institution statements confirmed Kab had withdrawn enormous quantities of cash, some days the every day most on the playing cards. I couldn't consider it. Inside a month she'd virtually emptied the accounts."

"However how, if she didn't have the pin codes?"

He chuckled. "Oh, however she had the pin codes. However I by no means gave them too her." He refilled the glasses. "It took me some time to determine how she'd carried out it."

Intrigued, I stated nothing, sipped wine and waited.

He gave me a protracted smile. "She used the kid," he stated.

"Her daughter?"

"Fon. Sure, she used her."


"Every time I went to a financial institution ATM to make a withdrawal, I'd usually take Fon with me. Afterwards we'd possibly take a stroll on the seaside and I'd purchase her ice cream. I loved the woman and having her come And generally, on the ATM she'd ask me to raise her up and watch me work the keypad and out would pop the cash. This was magical to her and made her snicker. Generally I even let her push the buttons. can guess the remainder. "

"Fon then informed her mom the pin codes," I stated. He nodded.

"Christ," I stated. "You're optimistic?"

"It's the one legitimate rationalization. I saved the numbers in my head as all of us do. I by no means wanted to jot down them down. However I foolishly gave them to the child. It was a sport to the kid, however critical enterprise for Kab. Arriving residence, Fon provides her mom the pin quantity as a part of the sport. And on the first alternative once I'm not round, Kab takes a card and makes a giant withdrawal, 10 to 15,000 baht: some huge cash. consider she introduced Fon down to stick with us only for that function. "

I assumed I'd heard all of the tales, however this was a brand new one, utilizing a baby in that approach; positively one for the archives. Alain by no means disclosed to me how a lot he had misplaced which leads me to consider it was a really heavy quantity, many thousand Euros. But, he remained cool about it and displayed no bitterness. Looking for Kab and retribution didn’t enter into his thoughts. He little question realized it will be a waste of time. He'd moved on. The pizza got here and was promptly devoured and a brand new bottle ordered. As we drank, he introduced that he had a brand new girl. "She's out of your territory, Chiang Mai," he stated. "Her title is Sunisa, nickname Kung. She's a schoolteacher. You’ll like her."

I met Kung that evening and favored her instantly. She was forty two, divorced with an grownup son and daughter. She had a beautiful condominium, low rise and spacious. We sat out on a balcony terrace that neglected the bay and loved a fantastic meal consisting of many Thai dishes washed down with copious quantities of wine from France. Kung was small with an athletic, shapely determine and a pleasing clever face. I loved watching her going about her home enterprise and fussing over Alain and myself. I discovered her very enticing, although not even near the surreal fantastic thing about Kab. However then Alain wasn't searching for that anymore.

I returned to Jomtien 4 months later for Alain and Kung's weddings: there have been two, a Buddhist ceremony and a Catholic one. And 6 months after that they got here north to Chiang Mai for mine. We communicate and meet usually. We now have a real and lasting friendship ..

Alain's story illustrates how a form, respectable, trusting, however silly, man can usually be taken benefit of, in his case, by a ruthless girl. It additionally serves as a lesson to vacationers particularly in South East Asia and particularly male vacationers in Thailand. In sultry climates, within the languid seductive ambiance of the tropics there’s a tendency to drop one's guard. I'm tempted to say: belief nobody, however that might be unfair and make for an un-enjoyable journey expertise. However a person ought to maintain his wits about him and take smart precautions. Lastly it’s a story of belief and having religion in a fellow man. I took an opportunity, supplied a serving to hand and was nicely rewarded for it.