An American Abroad

Bangkok 7

Back near my hotel and in need of a rest, I flop into a British pub. I try to settle into my Burdett (which is better than any guidebook) at a bar facing the street, but am interrupted twice by seatmates who want to chat.
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The first is Vincent, a Londoner who lives in Bangkok and teaches kindergarten. He is sullen, rude, and very drunk, almost past coherent speech. After a few exchanges I return to my book. A young Thai woman is on the other side of him, flattering him with words and touches. I glance up from the pages in time to see one of her arms amorously encircling his neck while the other reaches carefully into his back pocket. She deftly extracts a few bills from his wallet. He’s too far gone to notice. She looks over his shoulder and sees me watching her. I smile conspiratorially. They leave shortly thereafter.

Second up is Paul, an older Welshman who has settled in Singapore with his Thai wife and is back to visit. He stands me a beer after I sing the Swansea football song, which he is surprised I know. He’s actually interesting to talk to: an expat who has no intention of ever returning to the west. He proudly shows me pictures of his four year old son. Then his mobile rings. It’s his wife. I can’t understand what he says, but I can see it’s not good. He hangs up, shaken. “Everything all right at home?” I ask gently. “No,” he says. “My wife found a bottle of Viagra in my kit bag and wants to know what it’s doing there.” “Uh-oh,” I say. “And it’s stupid, because it wasn’t even mine—I was holding it for a friend,” says Paul. “Even I don’t believe that,” I say. He pays his bill and flees.

(Ahead to Bangkok 8)

(Back to Bangkok 6)

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