Nok was awake before me the following morning, she was putting my things in my suitcase more neatly than I could ever manage. I lay watching her for a few minutes drinking her in knowing my time in this wonderful country was limited. She noticed me lying there watching her and leant over to kiss me. I put my arms around her and pulled her onto the bed. I wanted to stay with her, with all the ladies I had met in Bangkok.
I had to vacate the room by midday and it was getting close to the deadline. I was in two minds as to whether I should take Nok to the airport with me or go on my own. I hate railway station and airport goodbye’s but I wanted to spend every last minute I could with Nok. I said nothing to her about the airport as we continued to pack. I had taken some pictures during my stay that I wanted Nok to have so I had planned to visit a 1 hour picture processing shop a short walk from the hotel entrance. I explained this to Nok who excitedly took the film to the shop for me. I also asked her to order breakfast for us while she was in the hotel lobby. Twenty minutes later there was a knock on the room door and when I answered I was confronted by a giggling Nok accompanied by the lady who, a couple of days earlier, had delivered the breakfast for Tuk, Meow and myself. They both pushed the breakfast trolley into the room where Nok unloaded it onto the table. The lady got another tip and as I handed it to her she gave me a knowing smile. Thankfully the volume of the order was nowhere near the banquet I had enjoyed a couple of days before but nevertheless it was substantial. Nok had a big bowl of tum yum koong and some rice along with some fruit and a flower which I don’t think was for eating. I had some bacon, toast, tea and tomatoes. After breakfast we checked the room for anything I may have left behind. I noticed the Pink Panther toothbrush all alone in the bathroom and decided to leave it there.
In reception I paid my bill and arranged to stow my bag in the storage room for a couple of hours while I made some last minute errands. We collected the photographs from the photo-processing shop and I gave Nok her pictures which she was very pleased with, examining them very closely and smiling. I couldn’t see my tuk tuk friend outside the hotel but recognised a couple of the guys from our barbecue activities over the past few days. I said my goodbyes and wished them all the best with them shouting names of English football teams as I returned to the hotel with Nok. We went to the hotel bar for a drink as we killed time waiting for the inevitable parting.
Nok had undoubtedly experienced the Thailand parting many scores and possibly hundreds of times before but I was a complete novice. I didn’t want to turn into a blubbering wreck nor did I want to appear indifferent. As I drank my Heineken I asked Nok if she would come to the airport with me. She immediately said yes with just the right amount of emotion. Looking pleased I had asked but not going overboard. We sat in silence for a few minutes before I asked if there was anything she needed. She smiled and shook her head. I wanted to buy her a present as we are conditioned to do so in the west but knowing that money would be a more attractive option for her I decided to give her a bonus when I paid her at the airport.
With the time now going past too quickly for my liking I told Nok it was time to go and went to collect my bag from the storage room, I thanked the staff for their service and left a tip on the reception desk. As I passed the excursion desk I glanced across hoping to catch the eye of my nearly friend but she was busy trying to convince a young couple that a cruise down the river by moonlight was a great idea. Nok and myself emerged out into the sunshine to await the taxi I had ordered. Also outside the hotel were a South African couple in their mid-twenties who looked as though they had come straight from Khao San Road. They were concerned as their taxi had not arrived and they were late for their flight. I explained there were taxi’s passing the end of the road every second but they said they had paid at the hotel reception for a taxi and they had just a few baht left. I was a little annoyed when I realised that I may have to share my taxi with this couple when I wanted to make the journey to the airport alone with Nok. Furthermore the South African couple had a mountain of rucksacks, sleeping bags, roll-up mattress mats and gifts. In fact I could feel a rage building. I could always refuse to let them join us but that would be selfish and mean so I hoped the next taxi to arrive would be theirs. I told them to enquire at hotel reception as to the whereabouts of their taxi but as with so many of the youth today they seemed incapable of doing this. I was starting to want to punch the guy in the mouth as his whining voice droned on and his girlfriend was equally annoying due to the fact she made her hair pigtails in a particularly stupid way. A taxi approached the hotel and indicated to pull in beside where we were standing. I was praying it was for them but as God doesn’t exist my prayers weren’t answered, it was my taxi, more specifically it was the taxi I had hired to take me and Tuk alone to the airport. At no point had I ever asked anyone to share it, least of all a couple of whining South African backpackers.
We all piled into the taxi complete with dirty rucksacks on our knees and sleeping bags filling the boot. I sat in the front with a box containing a wooden Buddha on my knee. Nok was in the back clutching a rolled up sleeping bag and I didn’t really care about the backpackers. The journey to the airport was in total silence apart from the driver occasionally trying to make polite conversation. Thank goodness it wasn’t a Porntaxi, that would have been too much.
Arriving at the airport the driver asked me for a tip which I declined to give him. To be fair it wasn’t his fault but I was in no mood to converse with anyone. I deliberately dropped the wooden Buddha on the floor as I got out of the taxi and immediately regretted my immaturity. The South Africans disappeared with their belongings after thanking us both and I turned my attention to Nok. I apologised to her but I think she was blissfully unaware of the turmoil I was experiencing. She probably thought all farangs travelled like that.
I met up with Nok after I had checked in for my flight and we went upstairs to the bar with me hoping I wouldn’t see the South Africans drinking champagne and tucking into canapés and caviar. Thankfully they were nowhere to be seen. I needed a drink after the shenanigans of the previous hour or two. I had mentioned smoked salmon to Nok a few days before and she had told me she didn’t know what it was so when I saw it on the bar menu I asked her if she wanted some. She laughed and said she would “lub” to have some. I ordered some along with a beer and water for Nok. We sat in silence, me thinking of the past few days and the fantastic memories I had. I have no idea what Nok was thinking because she didn’t tell me and I didn’t ask. The smoked salmon arrived on a silver plate and Nok tucked in. She seemed to enjoy it and grinned as I watched her eat. I had ordered some salami and ciabatta which Nok was also keen to try which she did and polished off most of mine aswell as her smoked salmon. When Nok excused herself to go to the toilet I left some money under her handbag.
It was now time for my flight so we stood up to go downstairs and I noticed Nok pick up the money without counting it and put it in her purse. I hope she was happy with the amount I gave her. We then went downstairs where I paid for my exit visa and Nok stood silently watching me. This was the crunch. I looked at Nok, she looked at me. We both had tears in our eyes and we held each other tightly for a few moments. I held my face close to hers and gave her a sniff kiss causing her to hold me even tighter for a brief moment. We then separated, held hands for one last moment as I turned and walked away.
Goodbye Nok and goodbye Thailand.