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balance (2): brrrrr rabbit

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

brrrrr rabbit

first thing this morning ot ran to get some fresh sheets and a thick quilt from the reception desk, and i took a very long, very hot shower. we were still rather snippity with each other, so he ventured off to visit some friends from ko chang (the ex owner of the jah bar who wants me dead, in fact... and co.) and i sipped a cappuccino in a quaint little cafe which was humming old jazz. we both resolved to have a better day, and it was almost possible for a few warm day hours.

we rented a motorbike and went to visit the hot springs, which trickle down a woodsy mountain about 7k out of pai. we passed several elephant villages and some breathtaking views. the hot springs were steaming and boiling and smelled like sulfur. we dipped our toes in and relaxed. at least we had fresh air and nature.

back in pai, we paid a visit to another friend of o’s (funny how he has friends absolutely everywhere). he was an older sort of hippie guy named ‘ed’, who had made his own teepee and set up shop in it selling handmade silver jewelry and didgeridoos. he rolled a cigarette and we settled back. i expected o to do the talking in thai, but instead he dozed on a mat, leaving me in very awkward silence with our very quiet host. i perused the various native american art scattered around the teepee. i commented on the jewelry. i felt ill. really ill. o finally came around. i wanted to escape but sat politely through the next hour as our host poured us tea and put on chillout music. he and o chatted- i listened. ed mentioned (not realizing i understand most thai) that he didn’t much like farangs, and had no desire to spend time with them, which cheered me up immensely. as did o’s equally unaware response that it was too expensive to travel around unless you had a farang to take you..... ugh.

i am under no illusions as to the nature of ot’s and my relationship, but i do wish he would stop pretending otherwise. thai and farang relationships are funny things. for most people they amount to nothing more than a shared curiosity about each others’ culture and a mostly sexual short term fling. the ones that last longer- i dunno. it seems a lot of westerners come to thailand in search of something they can’t find at home. we are missing something in the west. a certain guileless simplicity. puppydog affection. buddhist casualness. lack of pretentiousness and materialism. i admit it, it’s why i am here. i am attracted to the new things that ot constantly shows me, the blissfully laid back lifestyle, the near worship he gives me... but i love thailand more than i love o. i have to keep in mind that this is a holiday romance, and really more of a friendship. and o, though he professes to love me and i feel this is to some extent true, more likely is in love with the lifestyle i am able to give him while i am here. whenever we approach real life- living together, discussing business, talking about the future, certain problems pop up. i dislike taking on the man’s role in a relationship. i don’t like making all the decisions. ot feels he has to agree with everything i say since i am his benefactor. i am attracted to strong, intelligent, motivated men. o is not really any of these things, not in the western sense anyway. the funny thing is, those strong intelligent men i have always met in the past have always treated me like scum, and are partly what i am here to escape. o treats me generally very well. we are not necessarily equal but we are balanced, and we manage to have a good time..... x always tried to tell me that this sort of relationship is just as credible as any other, even with some element of a transaction in it, and i see that he is correct. but at the same time i doubt i could feel truly fulfilled here with o. i can not talk to him like i can to western men. i don’t feel it’s very honest overall, and there is a certain respect missing from both sides. thai culture believes that women are one step below men on the evolutionary scale, and o finds it awkward to discuss anything serious with me. he explained to me that women are only for fucking and family. i am revolted by this concept. thai men also feel more powerful and respected the more women they have strung along, and that cultural trait, though accepted in thai society, will never be okay with me. my intelligence and success will always intimidate o too, and i am sure he wishes i would be more compliant and less inquisitive. i am sure he wants to start a family and live happily ever after in a bungalow in the jungle with a somtam stall. though this does appeal to me in some way, i doubt long term this could ever fulfill me, considering i usually have a new life every six months or so. i have the drive instilled in me by the western world. and hence i keep o at arm’s length (we are still being "friends").... but... but... but i do care about him and i do really want to make his life better, which in turns makes me feel fulfilled too, so who knows. it remains to be seen.... i was shocked to find out a former friend of mine (a girl from france) just had a baby with her thai boyfriend and is planning her future here with him. i find her either very brave and optimistic or very stupid- not sure which is the final verdict.

anyway we thankfully left ed’s and hurried on motorbike to catch the sunset at the hot spring pools. i wanted to go to a farang-style resort but o steered me towards the thai style one, which ended up being not as fancy of course but overall better. it was under an ancient bridge in the middle of nowhere, overlooking the mountains and the valley. just a few concrete pools that tapped into the river, but the surroundings were gorgeous and we had the whole place to ourself. we paid 20 baht to the small, stooped tribal lady and stepped into the pools. it was bliss watching the sun go down and when we stepped out to dry off our skin was silky soft and warm.

i extended the bliss by splurging on massages for us both upon our return to the village. o supplemented it with a trip to the tea vendor. my massage had to be the best ever, not thai style but absolutely perfect. o and i were zombified by the relaxation. we spent an hour or so in silence, wandering through the quaint village.

the cold had set in again already so we headed early towards the bebop bar. i had been before when it was at another location- it is now in a much bigger venue and is more new orleans-style. a geat live music venue. i was surprised to see evidence of the band o plays with occasionally (zuzu) plastered all over the walls- apparently they are quite famous in thailand. we sat at the bar and ordered a sangsom set. the bartender was a friendly long-haired, mustachioed guy from laos. he was talking to a lone french canadian girl, whom i invited over to sit with me. i do not enjoy talking to american girls, but i inevitably get along with french canadian girls very well. not sure why this is, i think they are more honest and less caught up in their image. she confessed to me that she was travelling with her best male friend, and she was secretly in love with him. having just ended a similar relationship, i did my best to dissuade her from him. she commented on another lone guy in the bar who had caught her eye and when she went to the bathroom i invited him over to sit with us. she returned with a look of dismay and i told her to roll with it. they were enraptured with each other for the remainder of the evening. the bar got crowded and we got more drunk- me especially so. o made a snack run and came back with bags of little sausages, peanuts, and chips. i ate the whole lot while he chatted with some new thai friends, and i felt immediately very sick and very very drunk. i begged him to take me home. the french girl gave me a big hug and said she was so impressed by my perspective, that she planned to take every opportunity presented to her from now on, despite how stuck in her ways she felt like being. i was surprised to have inspired her and hugged her back. o and i left, rubbing our hands together before a makeshift fireplace on the way out. we zoomed towards home in the frosty air. he wanted to go visit his friends, so i went to sleep alone. he returned shortly later crying that it was far too cold. we snuggled under the thick quilt, and though this night was better than the previous, we still decided that we had had enough of pai.


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