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Escape to Thailand

05/07/2013

Introduction and some excerpts from “Escape to Thailand” being published next week.

Introduction

Names have been changed, but Escape to Thailand is a true biographical account of an English expat’s experiences, frustrations, and hopes on moving permanently to Thailand. It is not fiction.

Following a bitter divorce and a forced early retirement from his job, Derek struggles with making the final decision to leave England for good and settle for the rest of his life in Thailand. We begin to understand the turmoil going on in his head when he realises what he is leaving behind in the land of his birth. We see from his questioning that he is still unsure whether he is doing the right thing or not.

He explains in his own words how he felt about some of the cultural differences that awaited him and how he coped with them. He compares them with the very different experiences that some of his expat friends encountered. Culture shock is not the same for everyone.

We see him getting to grips with his new life but is he really settled here? Are there going to be some unpleasant surprises in store for him? Who is wearing the trousers? Was he seeing only the acceptable parts of Thai life.

Escape to Thailand is biographical and not judgmental. It leaves the reader to consider and try to understand the way events were unfolding. The problems of Thai and western relationships, even if they seem to be surmountable in the short term, are brought out in Derek’s true account of his early days in Thailand.

With many glimpses into the lives of ordinary Thais, the biography becomes a “fly on the wall” experience for the reader. Seeing what the average tourist or visitor rarely sees.

Chapter 1

Get off this plane now.

But it was too late. Thai Airways Flight TG 911 was preparing for take off. Rather an unfortunate flight number given the events in America in 2001.

The 747 jumbo let loose the power of its four engines with a roar. With the brakes released all 340 or so passengers, including me, were forced back into their seats as we gathered speed down runway 2 at London’s Heathrow Airport and started the ascent into the mid morning sky.

Thoughts of what would be awaiting me after 3 hours in the airport lounge and 13 hours of flying time were beginning to worry me. Had I really thought my situation out properly?

I gulped down yet another complimentary double scotch and hoped these would help me relax on what I was beginning to think would be a boring and tiresome flight into the unknown.

I was embarking on a 12000 mile round trip for a blind date with a young woman, much younger than me, that I had met on an internet-dating site. She had invited me over to Thailand on two previous occasions. I declined them all. This time, for reasons I was still uncertain of, I had decided to take up her offer. But was I thinking straight?

After 16 years, like so many other marriages it would seem, mine had suddenly hit a brick wall. With a divorce finalised and a major slice of my working life completed, I was facing a financial and personal crisis that I could not see my way around.

The only matter that remained following the divorce was the sale of the matrimonial home, and this was becoming a very protracted and tiresome issue. I was lucky to some extent, as the house was large enough for both of us to lead separate lives. I lived in the self-contained granny annex, which became my sanctuary after the decree absolute. She lived in the main house. I was able to lead a near-normal life, returning home late into the evening after a long day at the office. Like many fathers, I saw my young son only at weekends.

…..

Surfing the net one day, I stumbled on a travel site about countries in the Far East. It was most interesting. There was a clip of people enjoying what seemed to be a very stress free and happy existence. No worries, no stress, everyone appeared to be living a life without a care in the world. How I wished my life could be like that. Why can’t everyone live in that sort of harmony? Totally different from my situation: sitting in front of a computer, not knowing what the future was holding for me, nothing to look forward to. I surfed a bit more in my boredom. Then, somehow, I got onto a Thai social networking site and started chatting with some people. I started feeling less lonely, that someone out there was caring enough to talk to me.

A lady called Tasanee was on line. Obviously Thai, but I had no idea how you would pronounce her name. I laughed aloud when she wrote that she also had a nickname and was called Toy by her friends. We have nicknames in the West, of course. I had one in school but I’m not telling you what it was. Apparently, in Thailand everyone has a nickname and they use it in place of their given first name, which is really only used for official documents.

That was my first contact with Toy and the first time I had laughed aloud for a very long time.

…….

A year or so later, I found out that it was Kanya, who was now in high school and preparing for university, who had encouraged her mother to “find a new husband for yourself and a father for me. Let’s be a family together again.”

My ex-wife promised me that I could see my son over the Christmas and New Year period but she changed her mind at the last minute. Now I could see him only on New Years Eve. She had a party to attend and did not want to miss it. I would be the baby-sitter.

I had been divorced for three years when Toy suggested for the third time that I visit her in Thailand. Having experienced the saddest days of my life, I accepted. I had to do something positive. Where was my life leading?

I booked a ticket for 10 March. Her fortieth birthday was on the fourteenth and I was determined to celebrate the event with her and, in some small measure, repay the consideration she had been showing me during our chatting and messaging. I had no idea how birthdays are celebrated in Thailand but I was resolved to make it a happy occasion for her.

But now, Thai Airways flight TG 911 bound for Bangkok was airborne and I was securely strapped into my seat.

I started thinking whether I was taking a big chance on this blind date. Would others have booked and paid for a long haul flight to meet someone they had never met face to face and had never spoken to? Had I completely thought this situation through? Was the nastiness of my divorce clouding my rational thinking?

And that was when the voice inside me kept saying:

Get off this plane now.

 

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