For more than 20 years, I had a recurring dream. In this dream, I was standing alone on a dirt road. The road was brown and along the road were brown wooden structures. There were no other people in my dream but I knew that inside these buildings were the objects of my yearning. They were also brown. “This is not a dream”, I would tell myself. “It’s real and I really am in Thailand this time”. It was a profound feeling of excitement to be back in Takhli. But, sadly, I would awaken into my encumbered life, where a wife, children, and career would keep me grounded for such a long time.
In 1968, with the war in Vietnam raging, my government wanted me to go to Asia to help out. With great good fortune, my assignment was Thailand. As a 23 year-old virgin basket case, I landed at Don Muang with the titillating knowledge that this may be the one place on the planet that even I might get lucky. At Don Muang RTAFB, where I would be stationed for my first month, I met Sgt. Bell, who regaled me with unbelievable stories of sexual adventure. He really was a ‘hansum man’ who had a way with the ladies. He pitied me and said he could arrange for my condition to be cured. “We have a date with two beautiful ladies”, he told me as the bus rattled past the rice fields into Bangkok. He told me that they were bargirls and then defined ‘bargirl’ for me as I had not yet experienced Thailand’s nightlife. When we arrived at their modest home, I was introduced to a stunning young lady with full lips and large breasts. This angelic creature gave to me a full night of therapy with great generosity, grace, and good humor. She even laughed when the neophyte got confused in the bathroom and was caught pissing in the bathwater.
Now set on a path of debauchery, I spent the next several months in Takhli meeting as many bargirls as possible, giving no thought to a permanent relationship until I met Noy. On the first night of my R & R in Bangkok, I was returning to my hotel when I saw a place that looked promising, but before I got through the door, I met a very cute and engaging girl who agreed to keep me company for 40 baht. I never did get inside the Thermae Coffee Shop until much later. I told Noy that I was very tired, just wanted to cuddle and get some sleep. So she woke me up for boom-boom six times before sunrise. We were inseparable for the rest of my R & R in Bangkok. When I returned to Takhli, I wrote a letter asking her to take a train up to stay with me. I wrote the letter in Thai not being sure that it was correct and understandable. When she got off that train, it was one of the happiest moments of my life. We lived in a nice apartment off-base for the remainder of my assignment until it was time to say our sad goodbyes. Our last moments together were in a bar in Bangkok singing ‘Hey Jude’ to each other.
It felt strange to be back in the states. I missed Noy and Thailand terribly. We wrote to each other and her registered letters made my heart soar until she finally gave up and wrote that I didn’t love her. For two years, getting back to Thailand was all I could think about but it was just not possible and I didn’t have the money to support or even help her much. So, life went on, and all I could do was dream.
It would be 25 years later, after quitting my job and getting divorced, that my dream became reality. It was a nervous and bewildering return to a far-away land that been calling to me for so long. I arrived with no itinerary and picked the Miami from a long list of hotels at the airport. The taxi driver was a bad one who stopped at a bar where a man opened my door and jerked on my arm. I finally got to my very depressing room where the bellhop gave me the “you want lady, you want ladyboy, what’s the matta you” treatment.
It took three days for the jet-lag to wear off and I ambled over to the Ambassador Hotel for a couple nice cold four dollar Singhas. As I walked down Sukhumvit, I stopped and breathed in the warm, pungent night air and felt an intense wave of deja vu. I looked around and behind me was the Thermae Coffee Shop! This was the exact spot where I had first met Noy but the year is 1994 and I am 49, not 24. This still seems mystical to me as I had no conscious memory of hotels or streets from the past and the modern Bangkok is a very large, confusing city. Anyway, the massage parlor there hadn’t been torn down yet so I went up and had a very enjoyable time in strangely familiar dark green room with a tub, table and a beautiful lady. After a two year drought, Thailand had once again provided therapy.
This first trip back and my second trip were fun but the true ending of this story is the third trip in 1997. I was coming to Thailand to see a girl in Chiang Mai that I had been corresponding with. She was, ostensibly, a nice girl, as I had mentioned the possibility of a trip to the beach and she wrote that “we don’t know each other well enough”. This communication fueled my desire to get to my hotel in Bangkok ASAP, shave, shower, and beat feet to Thermae to find a girl for the night. I found one and we are still together.