Middle-Age farang males vacation in Thailand for the beaches and the temples. A friend sometimes suggests a visit to the Last Babylon. In Pattaya the man meets a girl. Past and present are unimportant. She is something out of a dream and they spent an idyllic vacation on Koh Samet.
The disgust of fat western women rivals the envy barely hidden on these obese cows’ husbands. The two make love five times a day, mostly to make up for years of abstinence. Upon their return to Pattaya, she doesn’t seem to mind accompanying the farang to go-gos. Love so blinds the western male that he can’t see that she doesn’t trust him out of her sight.
This has to be paradise and two weeks into the honeymoon his beloved says, “I want see my family. You come with me?”
It seems like an innocent proposition and he agrees to this journey to Ban Nok.
Hearing your plans his bar friends exchange a knowingly glance.
“What’s wrong?” You really want to know.
“Nothing.” They smile like the farang had brought a blind donkey “Have a great time.”
He rents a car for several days and leaves Pattaya for this great adventure. Ban Mai-mee-tee-nai is not on the map. He asks his sweetheart for directions. She is about a minute from a semi-coma and points north. “Isaan.”
The mythic plateau of Northeast Thailand has figured into his friends jokes about the sick buffalo, blind aunt, feeding a host of hundreds and drinking lao whiskey with toothless rice farmers till dawn.
Leaving Pattaya the farang realizes that he don’t know what he has gotten himself into and his tilat isn’t explaining either, because she scrunched against the door in a state of exhaustion.
Oblivion comes easy are two weeks of making love to a Viagra-crazed farang.
The highway turns into a two lane road. At one point his darling opens an eye and indicates a dirt road. By the time the car hits the first pothole, she has lapsed into another coma.
The electric lines disappear and dry fields stretch to a hazy horizon. Buffalo laze in a torpor.
No cars. No people.
Crossing a bridge over a muddy creek and his girlfriend opens her eyes. “We here.”
“My home.” She beeps the horn, as the car pull into a forested complex.
A horde of Thais surge from several wooden houses. He haven’t seen any place this ramshackle outside of a National Geographic magazine, but everyone is all smiles. He smiles back. Kids pull on his leg. An old geezer man greets him with a bow. The farang gracelessly effects a wai back as directed by his girlfriend. Everyone chortles at his clumsy gesture. Food appears out of nowhere. Everyone sits down and eats on the ground. The westerner thinks this isn’t too bad, until his legs cramp up and everyone laughs at his uncomfortability.
His girlfriend’s ‘brother’ gets him a chair dating back three centuries. The heat is stultifying.Sweat pours from his skin. He is offered beer with ice. The farang disdained drinking it before. Now it’s perfect. More food is eaten. Some of it he doesn’t recognize. He tastes a little. Your mouth is on fire. He drinks more beer. Soon it’s gone.
“Need more beer.” His girlfriend holds out her hand.
The farang reaches into your pocket. Hss girlfriend grabs 2000 baht and jumps on a dilapidated motorcycle. “Be back soon.”
The remaining crones clear the food and he is left to drink lao whiskey with the male family members. They insist on his drinking this villainous concoction, even though he passed triple the legal limit for DWI an hour ago. His girlfriend hasn’t shown up and the man peak his ears for the sound of the motorcycle, only to hear the buzz of the early evening’s mozzies.
Several hours later the man wakes on the floor of a house with three men downing a plastic bag of lao whiskey. His GPS is off line. His wallet is still in his pants. Thais are very honest. Female voices babble under the floor. Nothing they say makes any sense. The man climbs over the pile of drinking men and descends a vertiginous set of stairs to the ground.
Over head stars blaze in their billions. A fire burns in the yard. Some of it is plastic. His girlfriend sits with a gaggle of women. She smiles at him. He smiles back, wishing a doctor could shoot him with an injection to get rid of his growing hangover.
Footsteps sound behind him. The men carry down the plastic bags of lao whiskey. The farang protests against being offered a glass. His girlfriend frowns. The lao goes right to his stomach and he rushes into the bushes to heave like a Girl Scout drunk from sherry. Everyone laughs and that’s the last sound he remembers before waking to roosters crowing in the dawn.
His girlfriend is asleep and so is everyone else.
He tries to go back to sleep, but his feet have been gnawed raw by mozzies hungry for a new taste of blood. Soon dogs are barking and the sky is getting light. A loudspeaker crackles to life. For the next hour a man rants in Thai. No one stirs from their slumber and the westerner wishes that he could click his heels like Dorothy in THE WIZARD OF OZ to transport himself back in his hotel.
Air-con. Cable TV. Swimming pool. Mobile phone service. Western food. Chairs. Beds. Beaches. bikinis. Go-go bars.
Of course his girlfriend doesn’t respond to any hint about a return to Pattaya other than to say that tonight is a big party, which ends up a repeat of the first night only with more family members. Everyone is having a good time, since no one has put a hand into their pocket since his arrival and the farang mentally calculates that he could have flown to Bali for the price of the last two days ie bar fine, car rental, and expenses.
And his girlfriend hasn’t as much as kissed you, as she has reverted to a village girl.
Food, friends, family, everyone having a good time. And she knows how to play a man, farang or Thai, because at the night’s end, she comes up to him and says, “Everyone like you. Me, I love you, because you not make face.”
“Yes, make face same dog, because you spend too much money.” She sneaks a kiss and everyone laughs. The farang too and he decides to stick it another day.
On the fourth day the farang wakes up and packs the car. Everyone waves good-bye, except for the three family members joining him for the voyage south.
Back in Pattaya the farang drops off the relatives. They get out of the car without a word of thanks. He delivers the car three hours late for a half-day penalty. At the hotel the westerner is glad to be back in civilization, although his girlfriend cries, “I miss my family.”
They make love for the first time in four days and she cries throughout the labor. The farang feels like he's having sex with a war widow and almost stops, except those years of abstinence have created a monster and he completes his mission, after which the farang leave the girlfriend in the hotel room watching TV to meet his friends. She is on the phone to a family member. She barely notices his departure.
Later night the gang at his favorite bar ask, “How was it?”
“It was great.”
And they nodded in unison because they’ve said the same thing too.
And it's all true, because they've never experienced anything in years.
Bannok loves farangs.