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Stories in DB: 53717
Comments: 538711

Monsoon

Categories Fiction, Asian, Teen

Author: Jason Samson

Published: 12 June 2019

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The constant drone of the aircraft’s engines filled my ears. One of my legs ached and the other was numb. I shifted sideways in the seat, trying to fold them up slightly differently so as to encourage the blood to start circulating again. My knees pressed against the back of the stool in front of me. Some of us had woken and lifted a few blinds from the windows and sun streamed into the cabin. It was probably a shaft of sunlight that had woken me. I looked around the aeroplane at my fellow passengers, most of them arranged at awkward uncomfortable angles, deep in slumber on thin pale yellow airline pillows and under thin pale yellow airline blankets. I raised my backrest as much as I could without trapping myself against the reclined chair in front of me, and then lifted my own blind to look out at the bright blue sparkling ocean stretching out to the whole horizon beneath us. I had no idea what the time was nor where we were nor how much longer we had to fly. It was my first flight on an aeroplane and my first trip abroad and excitement welled inside me. My name is Steve and I was on my way to Thailand!

My uncle Roger lived in Thailand with his Thai wife. He sent regular letters describing a very sedate peaceful life in a tropical paradise and sometimes there were pictures of him and his wife Nin. Roger had prematurely white hair and looked older than his 50-odd years. Nin was a short plump Thai lady who always seemed to be smiling. None of the family had actually met Roger in years and no-one had ever met his wife and Roger was beginning to leave heavy hints about how everyone was welcome to come visit them. For some reason he never contemplated them visiting us. The hints in his letters had gotten louder and louder and, in the spring, he had outright suggested that I spent a gap year before uni with him in Thailand! At first everyone had dismissed the idea, but the seed was sown and soon it was accepted that I could spend my summer holidays in Thailand visiting Roger! I just had to finance and arrange it.

The family’s disdain for Roger’s seedy life choices only became apparent to me after it was agreed that I would go. I hadn’t thought about it much before, but Nin was possibly a mail order bride? This was just becoming a thing in England and uncle Roger could have been an early adopter. My uncle Sam was over for a barbecue one spring evening and, after dad and he had had a few beers, started teasing us about how Roger was going to lead me astray. Mum was riled and I was scared that suddenly the trip was off.

What actually ended up happening was dad took me aside a few days later and tried to teach me the-facts-of-life. I was mortified, it not being a conversation any kid ever actually wants to have with parents. Dad seemed equally uncomfortable but he had promised mum he’d talk with me. I’m not sure what exactly he had promised mum – probably rallying along the lines of Nancy Regan’s just-say-no campaign – but dad took a more pragmatic approach and tried to scare me off ever touching a Thai girl with fear stories about the risks of sexually-transmitted-diseases and giving the impression that Thailand was full of hookers and girls wanting to find rich husbands. If he had meant to scare me he failed: he actually made me excited about the potential prospects ahead. With only the films Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now to guide my imagination I was looking forward to a very seedy baptism indeed!

And now it was June, 1997, and I was sitting on a plane on my way to Thailand for the adventure of a lifetime! I was so excited. A stewardess passed through the cabin and I beckoned her over to ask if we were nearly there yet.

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The oppressive heat and humidity hit us like a solid wall as we got off the plane in Phuket. We had to go down the steps and cross the apron to reach the shock of the cold air-conditioning of the small terminal building and it was one of the hardest short walks I’ve ever done. I felt dizzy by the time I reached the sanctuary and shelter of the building. The queue for passport control took forever but I got my first ever stamp and I examined it excitedly. By the time I got through my luggage was already lapping on the baggage carousel and I quickly headed through the exit to the arrivals lounge.

Here I saw uncle Roger and auntie Nin immediately. After much shaking of hands with uncle Roger and a chaste one-armed hug from auntie Nin I nervously fished around in my rucksack for Nin’s present that I had been entrusted to carry. It was a very elegant and expensive but also very dainty gold watch that my mum had selected as a present from the whole family. A belated wedding gift I guess. Nin became ecstatic, tears of joy running down her cheeks, and I got a mite tighter fonder second hug from her. She barely came up to my chest.

And then it was time to spill out of the terminal and into their little white Suzuki jeep parked outside. Mercifully there was a covered walkway out into the centre of the carpark which kept the sun at bay but the hot sticky air still pushed back at me as I threaded my way through the foot traffic out to the jeep. Luckily the jeep was a hard-top with air-conditioning and, after the very uncomfortable five minutes in a hot oven the temperature plummeted as we headed out into the afternoon traffic.

There was an incessant rumble as we drove because the roads were concreted in sections and there was a slight bump as you passed from one section to the next every two or three seconds. The road was swarming with mopeds and strange little open mopeds-with-side-cars called ‘tuk tuks’ and minivans. We seemed to be overtaking and undertaking in equal measure, zig-zagging between mopeds with whole families on and tuk tuk taxis. The roads were lined with shop fronts and house fronts with flat tin roofs and there were thick black rubber power-cables criss-crossing between buildings and pylons everywhere. People sat around everywhere and small children weaved along the roadside. There was just so many people! It was a shock to see that much humanity.

Uncle Roger veered off the high-road suddenly and took us down a smaller backstreet and around the back of the houses. As we came to a stop auntie Nin jumped out and opened some impressive white steel gates and the jeep pulled into a bare paved back yard. We had arrived.

Uncle Roger and auntie Nin – I’m going to start calling them Roger and Nin from now on to save on the typing – lived in one of the many combined-shop-and-home units along the roadside. Theirs was markedly better tiled than many of the neighbours and they had air conditioning. The shop part at the front was not actually a shop and instead furnished as a living room. To this day I’m unsure what Roger and Nin had for any kind of income but they seemed to live quite well. I never saw them work in a conventional sense. Roger and I sat down in the living room with the big shop show window looking out into the hustling bustling street, and Nin brought us out nice cold bottles of water and then disappeared. Roger looked me over expectantly and asked what I thought of it all. He grinned at my discomfort and unease at my sensory overload and said I’d be used to it in a few days. He let me rest a bit and so, as suddenly as I’d arrived, I was alone in a strange house in a strange land and I felt lonely. The flight had messed with my body-clock and I was actually quite tired so I slipped into a merciful sleep.

That evening I was poked awake by a giggling Nin. She talked with a charming broken English, missing lots of words but still very easy to understand and communicate with. “You wake now” she barked and giggled again. I got up and stretched. Then we headed out, the three of us, for an evening meal.

It was very dark out but there were lots of very yellow dull street-lights and lots of traffic. The air was still very warm but it was much more comfortable to be outside in the evenings. A tuk tuk pulled over in front of us and we ambled onto the bench in the big side-car. The tuk tuk took off again, straining under our weight, as Nin and Roger chatted amicably with the chauffeur in Thai. It seemed Roger could talk passable Thai. Nin linked her arm through mine, perhaps partly to make sure I didn’t fall off the end of the bench into the traffic, but mostly I think to make me feel part of the adventure. It was a cheerful group that got dropped off at a nearby restaurant just a minute or so later. We were so close to home we could have walked, but I quickly learned that it was the done thing to hail a passing tuk tuk for even the shortest of journeys. Roger led the way in and Nin followed behind me.

The restaurant was a large open-sided terrace with a big pitched roof spread over it. It was like a house without walls. We sat on comfortable low sofas with a low table between us. Roger and Nin took one side and I sat across from them. Roger was trying to explain how everything worked in Thailand, from the tuk tuks to the restaurants to the shops and markets I hadn’t seen yet. Coming from England where tipping was the exception even in cafés to a land where everything seemed negotiable but you were expected to tip and haggle at every turn seemed daunting.

The waitress was gorgeous. Drop dead gorgeous. I was quickly noticing that all the young girls were thin gorgeous things and all the middle aged ladies were plump ugly things just like Nin! I was kind of unsure how the pretty young things turned into plump ugly things but there didn’t seem to be any in-between states. I would search my whole holiday for a glimpse of the missing-link thirty-something Thai lady but never spotted one!

The food was hot. Roger had taken care of ordering and at first I thought he was trying to trick me, but with time I began to get used to it and came to accept that all Thai food is quite spicy. That first night I tried lots of different small dishes but mostly ate a very good massaman curry. Massaman curry is, on a Thai scale, mild. Its a kind of spicy soup stew mix with whole potatoes in. Its absolutely delicious.

Roger had ordered us tall big bottles of Singha beer, a very popular Thai brand, and we got quite drunk. Alcohol is quite expensive in Thailand, approaching English prices, and the food probably cost less than the beer. As Roger settled the bill I stole a glance at it and was surprised by how cheap everything was and it began to dawn on me just how far my spending money I had converted to Thai Baht in England was going to take me. We left a tip and left. A short tuk tuk ride brought three very sated people home for a nightcap and bed.

My bed was in a very western-feeling room. The whole house was kind of western furnished, but with tiled floors and glass tables. It was actually nice to have cool surfaces. No carpet anywhere. I kind of wonder how icky carpet would get in such a warm wet climate.

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I awoke awkwardly early, my body clock still way out of sync. My first full day started with a breakfast of sliced fruit and yoghurt in the tiny kitchenette in the house. It was clear that Nin rarely cooked at home, although there were some stocks of things in the cupboards.

As I said, I have no idea what Roger and Nin did for a living. Certainly when I was there they weren’t working. They set about entertaining me.

The first trip that first morning was to a large market. There was a sea of market stools spread out under a large rusting corrugated iron roof. Many pitches were just cloths spread out straight onto the ground with bowls and bustles of chilis and fruits and nuts packed on them. Other stalls were trestle tables stacked with t-shirts and shorts and belts and things. The market was bustling with natives and I was one of the few tourists. As Roger explained, June was early wet season and the market would be full of tourists during the dry season December through April. I had simply come at the wrong time of year? Roger shrugged it off, saying Thailand was paradise all year round and the tourists didn’t know what they were missing.

Roger told me to look over the stools and, if I saw anything I liked, I was to just make a good note of the stall and how it looked. Then I was to describe everything to Nin afterwards and she’d go back and buy it. Apparently if I tried to haggle, or if the market stall owners knew that Nin was with me, we’d get a less stellar deal. Everything was negotiable in Thailand.

That’s a lie. Straight after the market, where I had gotten a pile of t-shirts and shorts and a good pair of sunglasses and a straw hat, we went into a normal shop. Apparently in normal shops there is no haggling and the price on the shelf is the price you pay, always. I was actually comfortable with that concept, and comfortable with the shop’s air conditioning too, and was a bit reluctant to leave and head out back into the hustle and bustle of the high street.

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That afternoon Roger took me out to ‘see the town’. Nin came with us. I wasn’t quite sure what he had in mind but we were quickly in a part of town that was just one long interconnected chain of bars! Now this was what I had imagined uncle Sam had alluded to...

Go-go bars are bars full of scantily clad young ladies. Their asserts are on full display with nothing left to the imagination. As we passed along the street the girls would try and catch my eye. Nin had her arm linked through Rogers and I trailed behind, the siren of the blushing waving girls in the bars we passed making me stumble and become disorientated. I didn’t know which way to look. On every side I was being bombarded with eyefuls of beautiful young bodies available for hire.

We stopped at a normal bar; that’s to say a bar without girls. We were the only customers but the barman, an old white bloke with a strange accent I think was German, seemed to know Roger and Nin well and we sat at the bar chatting with him. Roger introduced me to Otto. Apparently Otto owned this bar and quite a few of those we had passed with the girls. Technically, apparently, a foreigner can’t actually own property in Thailand but Otto, predictably, had a Thai wife and her family held the deeds and Otto held the real control. If he was a local small-time mobster he was very nice about it.

Sitting down and getting comfortable I began to get excited at all the flesh so enticingly close by in the surrounding bars. There were very few ‘johns’ about and the girls were underutilized and scanning me regularly, hopefully, expectantly. I figured it was just a matter of time before I built up the courage to visit with one of them. It was a strange feeling, to have prostitution so on-display and straightforward and it was liberating to be so far from home. I had a feeling that Roger was fine with it and I just had to build up the courage to make this happen.

Another middle-aged Englishman drifted into the bar and I was introduced again. Soon this Englishman was chatting with Roger and Nin and I was left out, staring across the bamboo bar at the girls in the next bar across. Otto slipped around the bar and came sat beside me with a beer of his own.

“You know, the girls won’t come to this bar” he told me quietly. He started to explain how the system worked. I just had to go sit at one of the other bars and hostesses would hover around me until the conversation drifted around to what I wanted to do. I could be very direct. Once negotiated, I would pay the barman and then be led away to one of the rooms tucked off to the side. It was low season and a lot of girls had gone home to visit their family. But the girls who were left were desperate for business. “Very safe, very safe” he kept repeating, “Police leave us alone”.

When I didn’t make any move he whispered conspiratorially “You like boys? We have boys too! We even have boys who dress like girls...”.

Although everyone seemed so comfortable with buying sex – Roger even had Nin with him – I was feeling extremely awkward and nervous. Faint, even. But no matter how slowly I sipped my beer I was running out of beer. I looked down forlornly into my empty glass. “You want another beer?” Otto asked cheerfully. I nodded. “Sorry, barman not here!” he exclaimed, sweeping his arm out over the empty bar. Duh, the barman was sitting beside me. He didn’t show any sign of moving back around the bar. “Perhaps you try another bar?” he grinned broadly. I had been outsmarted. I got up and stretched and Otto stood beside me, one arm pressing hard on my shoulder as he spun me around and gave me a shove off back down the row of bars.

Walking alone along the the path between the bars made me a target. Every girl was staring at me, trying to entice me. I got half way along the path and I swear it was getting narrower, the girls much closer, all saying “hello” and “hi” and trying to get my attention. I felt the heat on my cheeks and the sweat running down my spine. I scanned the girls. Somehow their obvious availability was intimidating and off-putting; a shy nervous first-timer like myself was going to get eaten alive!

And then I saw her. She was noticeable because she was the only girl not trying too hard to get my attention. She was even on the far side of a bar, apart from the other girls. She looked inexperienced and shy and beautiful and I felt my leap at the sight of her. Two out-of-place young scared people in a world surrounded by scarily overt sexual tension. Subconsciously drawn, I turned sharply and approached her bar.

As I got to the bar the other girls parted so I could slip onto a bar stool. There were about ten girls milling around me now, purring, trying to get me to appraise them. There were no other customers at all in this bar. The quiet girl stayed on the far side of the bar. I looked up across the bar at her and she saw me looking and cast her eyes down. I felt such pity.

The barman, who spoke excellent English, noticed my gaze. He went over to her and said something rough and she steeled herself and came around to my side. The other girls seemed to resent her somehow, them all being cheated out of a john and all. The girl slipped into a barstool beside me, becoming the only girl sitting down. “You want to buy Kohsoom a drink?” the barman asked expectantly and I nodded. To my horror I saw him popping a cork on a large chilled bottle of something bubbly and I suddenly had the sure knowledge that this was going to be an extremely expensive afternoon.

“Hi, I’m Steve” I said to her, offering my hand. “Hi Steve, I’m Kohsoom” she replied in good English. As soon as we held hands the other girls drifted back to facing the path again, leaving Kohsoom and I to drink and chat. Kohsoom didn’t let go of my hand. Almost immediately she had put my hand, palm down, onto her silky smooth thigh and pinned it in place with her near hand as she took a sip of her cocktail with the other.

The barman drifted away too, leaving Kohsoom and I to get down to business. It was weird but her shyness actually made me braver. It was obvious that she was just as for-sale as all the other girls but her demur made me see her almost as an equal and I tried to get her comfortable by talking to her. She kept asking questions about my life and where I came from and what I was going to study and everything. She kept diverting my questions back about her life and future. She seemed to come out of her shell a bit.

The barman came back and pointedly suggested I buy Kohsoom another drink. I guess its bad for business to occupy a girl without paying for the privilege. I accepted. Kohsoom confided that it was non-alcoholic and actually quite nice. She was talking quite quickly and quietly and nicely now and we joked about how seedy this place, Patong Beach, was.

Although we had only been talking for perhaps half an hour the bars were already getting more lively. I was no longer the only punter and the other girls were less openly trying to get some action from me. There were now a steady stream of johns strolling down the path between the bars and the girls reverted to trying to lure them instead. One of them, a talk ugly sun-burned tourist, came and sat on the stool beside me. Suddenly all the girls jostling to be around him were rubbing their back up against me. Kohsoom giggled and pointed out that there was much more space around the other side of the bar island, which was completely empty. We decamped and retreated and were now standing alone on the far side of the bar, looking across the ring of counter and out onto the street.

Kohsoom was standing very close to me now, her bikini-clad bust – all the girls were only wearing bikinis – brushing against my arm as we talked. She knew what she was doing. Soon one of her hands was stroking broadly up and down on the inside of my thigh as we talked innocently about the weather. Apparently it would start to rain any minute now; it rained every afternoon in Phuket this time of year. “Perhaps we should go somewhere drier?” I asked suavely. “I thought you’d never ask” she replied relieved, “I’m already wet!”

Our relationship taking a new turn, Kohsoom coached me in how to ask the barman to ‘release’ her from her bar job being a hostess. She even confided in me the going rates and explained how to haggle. That was for future reference, of course. She seemed okay with letting me pay normal rate despite my inexperience and her sure knowledge I would have naively paid her ridiculously high opening bid. Kohsoom deftly signalled to the barman, who had been attending to the other johns lined up on the other side of the bar island, and I paid for a full hour of ‘everything’, which was the top price tier. Even with the drinks, this wasn’t actually all that much. A quick bit of mental arithmetic intruded into my brain as I calculated that I could easily afford to visit Kohsoom daily.

Kohsoom linked her arm through mine and led me away. It was hard to reconcile the shy lady who had first caught my eye barely an hour earlier with this consummate courtesan leading me away from a go-go bar on Patong Beach. Behind the bars there were some huts, barely hovels, where the girls lived and slept and entertained their johns. Kohsoom led me to a second row of huts behind the first row, this row even more dilapidated and down-run. Perhaps Kohsoom was a second-tier prostitute?

The hut was actually very clean and tidy inside. It was just one room, with mats on the floor and walls and a mosquito net over the mattress that was laying directly on the floor. There was a small dim lamp on a small low beside cabinet. As we ducked in through the door it began to rain, lightly at first, but quickly a downpour. Kohsoom laughed and said I might have to stay for more than an hour. She shut the door behind her and, in one quick motion, removed her bikini top.

Of course I had appraised her body the moment I first saw her an hour ago. But somehow, now she was topless, I got caught up staring and drinking in her appearance all over again. She was short, like many Thai women, but slim and youthful looking. Her tight little tummy and slender arms and legs had not an ounce of fat on them. Her breasts were large, if not nearly the largest of the girls at the bar. They were quite pointy. I had a healthy urge to explore and caress them, these two firm gravity-defying pyramids of flesh. But it was really her face, her hesitant shy look, that had drawn me to her and somehow that look had past and now she was just as confident as the other girls. Somehow that was less attractive. I guess perhaps that’s the hard business face of a girl prepared to sell her body for money?

My shyness returning, Kohsoom moved seductively towards me, her hips swaying. She pushed down on and stepped out of her bikini bottoms as she walked, leaving them deposited in the middle of the mat of this tiny room. I suddenly bumped into the edge of the mattress, not conscious before that that I had been moving backwards as Kohsoom advanced on me. “Its okay,” Kohsoom purred, “I can tell its your first time with a girl”. She smiled a sweet smile that spread to her twinkling eyes and I felt a lot better. She put her hands on my shoulders and pushed me down onto the mattress. And then, slowly, she undressed me.

She surprised me when she gently nestled down beside me. I had been expecting her to just grab my hard cock and start pumping, or something. Instead she slipped onto the mattress beside me and cuddled. The warmth of her body against me was really comfortable. A finger tip gently caressed my chest as she looked into my eyes and studied me as I studied her. She was so beautiful again. Such perfect skin, such symmetrical face, such small dainty features, such deep warm eyes. Perhaps all girls look extremely beautiful when seen at such a close intimate distance? Kohsoom was gorgeous again. I wanted to kiss her. But somewhere, in the back of my head, a little voice was telling me that she had just sucked some other john’s dick. That wasn’t a thought that could be ignored. Kohsoom looked puzzled, as though she could tell that I had had a sudden change of heart. “Sorry” I smiled awkwardly, “I’m not used to this”.

“Me neither” Kohsoom said quietly, almost to herself, as she skirted down and engulfed my throbbing cock.

The ecstasy was total. Within seconds my mind was blank, unable to focus on conscious things, as the extreme new sensations seeped from my crotch up through my body. My whole body began to tingle. Just a few seconds of attention was enough for my hair trigger: it was about to happen.

Kohsoom, her mouth clamped around the head of my dick, looked up questioningly at me. She grabbed my base and held it tightly, extremely tightly, and took her mouth off of my cock. She smiled a big grin and with laughing eyes said “You too fast! Sorry!” apologetically. Was she worried I would spend my, eh, _money_ too quickly?

Under her unrelenting tight grip my near-orgasm abated and and slowly calmed down. Then Kohsoom gently stroked and tugged on me, bringing gentle waves of euphoria over me but keeping my orgasm at bay. She seemed both amused and pleased.

“Do you ever play with yourself?” she queried thoughtfully. The question came out of the blue. Somehow, it wasn’t spoiling the mood. She seemed to genuinely want to know. I was embarrassed to answer, but I nodded reluctantly eventually. She smiled again. “Good” she said softly. Then, after a pause, she carried on “How many times can you come?”. Now that was an extremely technical question, and one I wasn’t quite sure of the answer to. I shrugged, wondering why she was asking. It wasn’t exactly romantic mood-setting lovey-dovey pillow talk. “I will let you finish in my mouth now” she explained authoritatively, “if you promise me to get hard again after.” She looked at me expectantly as though we were doing a deal. “Or we can just take it slow” she said more quietly as though that wasn’t her preferred option. I nodded. “Which?” she asked me to clarify. “I promise I’ll get hard at least three times” I replied in a strained voice in a sudden sweep of bravado. Kohsoom just giggled excitedly and beautiful small dimples teased the edges of her mouth as she did so.

Kohsoom knew what she was doing. Taking my cock in her mouth again, she was soon sucking on me as she pumped the base of my cock with one hand and tickled my balls with the other. And in no time at all I was shooting burning hot cum into her tight little mouth and she was swallowing it all. She never let go of my dick as she continued to suck and play on it, preventing it from going down as she looked me full on in the eyes.

Then she jumped up and stood over me, bending over to open the beside draw. Looking up I could see her large breasts and glistening pussy just up out of reach, swaying above me. I instinctively lifted my head from the pillow and kissed the nearest nipple and Kohsoom shrieked playfully and giggled some more.

Kohsoom returned back to my cock with a condom. I’m eternally relieved she did this because I wasn’t able to think straight and wouldn’t have asked her to use one. She slipped the condom over my cock which was still achingly hard. Slowly she lowered herself onto my cock, impaling herself. It was heaven. Again, strange new sensations emanated from my crotch and swept over my whole body as my eyes stared greedily at Kohsoom’s upright torso rising and falling on our joining. Then she sat down fully on me, sinking right down to the base, and started rocking her hips backwards and forwards. She put her hands down onto my chest to steady herself and crunched her eyes closed and panted sexily. Her eyes flickered open and she looked at me with intense longing before they snapped shut and her brow furrowed and she gasped and signed and shook.

Suddenly she was back to sawing up and down on me, her breasts swinging wildly to her rhythm, and I felt the familiar sensation building in my balls and surging up as I again orgasmed for her. This time my first ever time in a woman. I was no longer a virgin!

Kohsoom felt it and opened her eyes and locked them on me. She seemed pleased. She slowly lifted herself off of me. She pulled the condom off of me and tossed it straight into a small bin by the door like a basketball star. Then, without hesitation, she put her head down and licked and sucked all the cum off my dick again.

Soon I was getting hard again from her attention, and she cooed and giggled. “You are a man who keeps his promise!” she teased me playfully and holding out her hand with three fingers up. Then she got up, standing straddling me again, and reached for the beside cabinet draw. She wriggled to give her breasts some life and they swung pendulously above my face again. I think she was deliberately lower this time and I got the message, lifting my head to suckle on the nearest nipple. She took her time getting the second condom and let me play.

The second condom on, Kohsoom quickly sat back down on me. She smiled. “You had a good first time?” she asked inquisitively. I guess no man is ever going to say no to a question like that in a situation like this even if they had secretly not enjoyed it. I was still unable to speak properly and just nodded, my whole body glistening with sweat just like hers. “You want to try another hole?” she asked, almost excitedly. I wasn’t sure what she meant exactly, but she quickly demonstrated by getting up off me, releasing my cock so it slapped my strained tummy muscles with a smacking sound. And then, holding my glistening condom cock upright, Kohsoom slowly gently sat back down on me, pushing me up into her arse.

This was a completely new sensation. It felt much tighter, and even warmer, than her pussy. She moved downwards extremely slowly, taking me all in. Then she just sat there smiling, not moving. She looked at me appraisingly. “Give me your hand” she ordered me, but with a kind tone. I had had my hands resting gently on her hips and now I held one up for her. She took it in hers and held it against her pussy. Taking just one of my fingers, she started to explain and show me how to touch and finger her pussy. She guided me to her clit and taught me how to rub it and how to tease it and how to let it rest. Suddenly her enjoyment was important to me too. I was doubtless a hopelessly inexperienced lover but I was enthusiastic and did my best to follow her instruction. Slowly she had started rocking her hips again and the extreme sexuality of the moment was building into my third orgasm of the hour. She lent back slightly, moaning as I fingered her and touched her clit as one of her own hands snaked down between my legs to tug gently on my balls. And then I spent.

Kohsoom jumped off me again and quickly whipped the condom off and threw it into the bin. After she had cleaned me up again she snuggled back down beside me, letting my cock deflate. I was relieved I wasn’t in for a forth erection; despite a beautiful young girl wriggling against my side I stayed resolutely limp and rested. “Thanks, that was nice” she whispered quietly into my ear. Its what a john wants to hear, probably.

We slipped out when the rain stopped and, as I threaded my way between the bars, the girls ignored me. It must have been obvious that I was sated and used up. Roger and Nin were still sitting at Otto’s bar and, whilst they didn’t say anything, everyone smirked and grinned knowingly. We left shortly after that and as soon as we got home I had a through shower and collapsed exhausted on my bed until I was awoken that evening to go out for dinner.

That night I dreamt vivid exciting dreams reliving Kohsoom’s ministrations. I was in love.

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The next afternoon I returned alone to Patong Beach and headed straight back into the same street of go-go bars. I had been in Thailand for only 48 hours now and I was already comfortable hailing tuk tuks and walking into go-go bars. I had grown up and found my feet very very quickly.

Of course there was just one hostess on my mind that day: Kohsoom. And of course I was setting myself up for a big disappointment: as soon as I reached her bar I saw that she was standing beside another john! The man, a particularly ugly old man, was pawing and squeezing her breasts as they talked. Kohsoom must have felt my angry gaze because she looked up at me and quickly shock her head and turned her attention back to the podgy man perched on his chair lewdly lost in her cleavage.

The barman came over and welcomed me back like he recognised me. He then looked across to check on Kohsoom and said she was busy, and asked if I would wait an hour. He then looked again and smirked and said perhaps I only needed to wait half an hour. And then he gestured at the girls standing around me and wondered if I might find other company agreeable.

At first I was angry at Kohsoom, but that quickly became anger at myself, anger at my stupidity. Obviously Kohsoom was a working girl. Obviously she had just as many customers as the other girls. I saw her leading her john away towards her hut.

A girl beside me tried to get my attention by asking if I saw anything I liked as she thrust her ample blossom in my direction. I felt a tingling of arousal in my balls as I looked around wildly, angrily at the ring of girls surrounding me. They all looked so alike. I grabbed the wrist of the girl nearest me and growled “you can stay” and so she stayed as the others dissipated. My new girl looked at me thoughtfully “You really like Kohsoom?” she asked. And before I could answer, or even think of an answer, she said “You really like me too. I really like you good.” and my anger was replaced with a distancing coldness as I turned off my emotions and focused on the business transaction of exchanging money for sex.

The girl, whose name I never asked, was excellent at blowjobs. She blew me twice in her little hut on the front row and I left sated and happy. But I wasn’t really content. She had taught me how fake the emotions I thought Kohsoom had shown me, had reciprocated, were. I went back to the house a resigned and broken heart, arriving long before it even started raining.

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I had only been in Thailand three days and I had already paid to lose my virginity. The euphoria of the hour with Kohsoom was overwhelming and beating out the nagging dirty feeling but I wasn’t quite ready to return to the go-go bars for more. I felt a bit lonely and isolated and wanted to find and do something else. Roger and Nin were already letting me do my own thing and I basically had the daytimes to myself. They would make polite conversation at breakfast and dinner but let me explore alone during the day. And, on the third day, that exploration had to be something new; no more go-go bars for me.

I had a tourist streetmap that Nin and I had picked up from a desk at the restaurant the night before which I studied. Nin told me that all the hotel foyers would have stacks of brochures and fliers for tourist activities like scuba diving courses and elephant rides. So I decided to go explore the tourist beachfront and hotels and find some tourist information.

The tuk tuk ride wasn’t much further than the go-go bars; the bars were strategically close to the beachfront and soon I was standing alone on the baking hot beach.

The sand was too hot to stand on barefoot and I didn’t want sand in my sandals so I kept to the paved promenade. There were lots of bone-white tower-block resort-type hotels with pools and staggered balconies and neat regimented deckchairs in front of them and some deserted discotheques and bars nestling between them. Because it was mid-day and because it was off-season there weren’t that many tourists around but there were a smattering of pensioners and even a few families with small children. What I couldn’t see were many people my age.

As I got to the very far end of the promenade I came to a beach bar that felt different. It was called the Bamboo Bar and Bed, and, true to its name, it was made from bamboo with a thatch of reeds. It seemed dwarfed by the big concrete hotels beside it, pushed into the corner against the rocky promontory where the beach ended. Here, though, there were a handful of people my age lounging in the bar area!

I approached quietly, apprehensively, feeling as though I was intruding. But the wizened old Thai man behind the bar looked up happily and asked me what I would like to drink. I asked for a Singha and tried to sound confident; I knew the legal age for drinking in Thailand was twenty and I didn’t feel so sure of myself without Nin and Roger to protect me. He served me but there was a twinkle in his eye like we were sharing a secret. Perhaps I was paranoid. I took the glass and sipped it quickly to claim it.

The barman, Aat, was the owner of the Bamboo Bar and Bed and, like small business owners the world over, took customer service seriously. He quickly got me included in the conversation with the other patrons who were all backpackers.

There were five backpackers at the bar. A stunningly stacked Aussie girl, Natalie, and a tall blonde Dutch boy, Lucas, had met just a week before in Bali and were heading north, hoping to reach journey’s end in Bangkok in a few weeks. They had met at a hostel and fell in love and left their friends remaining in Bali so they could travel a while together. They were a sweet young couple. Sometimes you meet people who you instantly like, and those two were like that for me.

Jason, Damien and Linda, on the other hand, were three English backpackers who were on their second summer of backpacking; the previous year they had travelled through Greece together and now they were tackling Thailand and they oozed experience. I couldn’t quite work out who was sleeping with whom in that little group. Linda, the most talkative of the three, was describing a beach just a few hours north that they had been to before reaching Phuket. Natalie and Lucas were making excited notes in their Lonely Planet book. Aat, who knew the trails, was giving tips on which hostels to stay at and how to best travel north. I was very envious.

The Bamboo Bar and Bed was a regular rest stop for backpackers exploring Thailand. It offered cheap and basic accommodation and a nice communal dining atmosphere. I was getting hungry and, when others spoke about eating, I decided to try and invite myself to join them. There weren’t any menus in a conventional sense but rather Aat listed the two or three options available that day. When the others all choose green curry I went along with them and ordered the same. Aat went off to rouse the cook.

You could just see the kitchen area off behind the bar as the bamboo and rush screens did not complete hide it. I noticed there was chicken-wire instead of a roof, which I later learned was to keep the monkeys out. A petite little girl busied herself making our green curry. Soon the sweet spicy aroma washed over the bar and made everyone’s tummies rumble.

We sat down on benches at a long table and, the bar now being empty, Aat joined us and sat at the head. Natalie was sitting opposite me and had her arms crossed, elbows on table, with her ample bosom flopping and flowing out over them. She simply looked like she was trying to take the weight off her back but it was extremely distracting and I didn’t know where to put my eyes!

The girl from the kitchen brought through a large cauldron of green curry and some bowls of steaming hot rice and these were passed along the table and we all helped ourselves. The food was absolutely fantastic; the best, and most authentic, curry I had yet had. Then Aat looked around to scan for other potential customers approaching; when satisfied that we were alone he said something to the cooking girl and she sat down with us at the foot of the long table between Natalie and I. The old man Aat was holding court over us young explorers. It wasn’t such a long table that we couldn’t all talk together.

Aat was lamenting that he would be closing the bar for a couple of weeks, taking the opportunity afforded by the low season to go inland and visit family. Apparently there was another good but less-spectacularly-situated hostel nearer the town centre where the trickle of passing wet-season backpackers could stay. As the threesome were heading south and as Natalie and Lucas were heading north Aat wanted them to pass this information on to any backpackers they passed heading for Phuket.

Aat looked up at the girl on the end beside me thoughtfully. “Pakpao, have you thought what you might do?” he asked her kindly in English, as though it had just occurred to him that he had some responsibility for his employee.

The girl glanced rapidly around as though put on the spot. She shook her head.

Natalie cottoned on to the fact that the cook, Pakpao, understood some English and started to ask her for her recipe and Pakpao, who it turned out spoke very good English, started explaining enthusiastically.

After lunch the backpackers got up and drifted back into the bar area. The girl looked at me awkwardly amused as I made the faux pas of gathering the dishes. I wasn’t keen to leave and none of the backpackers actually seemed to want to go exploring Phuket. I was beginning to get the impression that backpacking involved moving from one hostel to the next and not seeing or doing anything in-between. It was as much a social exploration as a location one. But it was a very hot and humid afternoon and perhaps everyone was waiting for the evening.

Now the girl, Pakpao, was standing with Natalie in the bar. Conversation had moved on to all kinds of topics and Pakpao had started asking everyone about their onward journeys. Mostly she was asking Linda the sensible questions about accommodation at the beach to the north that Natalie and Lucas weren’t thinking to ask.

Natalie, as I’ve hinted, was a stunner. She was quite tall, quite tanned, quite skinny and with ridiculously oversized breasts and a beautiful smile. Her breasts were like two large melons attached to her thin frame by far less skin than ought be necessary. They didn’t sag. She was legs up to her armpits and tits the rest of the way. She was gorgeous. Linda was also pretty, although not so tall and no so busty and also slightly burned. But its funny that, assuming the girls were taken, I wasn’t thinking about them in potential-partner terms.

Linda wasn’t letting Jason and Damien get a word in edgewise so the two boys drifted to my end of the bar and started asking me about my trip. They were surprised I wasn’t a backpacker myself. I told them a bit about my background and about how I was basically just going to hang around in Thailand for three more weeks with no solid plans. They suggested I go backpacking. I liked that idea.

We were drinking a lot and, mindful that I was listening to them all moan about the price of trains and buses, and mindful that my spending money didn’t have to get me to Bangkok or Bali and back, I started buying everyone drinks. I began to feel like part of the crowd. Backpacking was something I was now determined to do.

Aat, artfully keeping everyone involved in the conversations, now he filled a lull by asking me what my plans were. He could perhaps tell where my mind was going with all the powerful suggestions floating around. I announced that I planned to backpack and the news was greeted with cheers and toasts.

Aat started talking seriously about how I shouldn’t backpack alone. Picking up on this, Linda tried to invite me to join her party heading south, but I detected the slightest trace of unease to the idea from Jason and Damien and was careful not to commit to that. I was no wiser as to who was sleeping with whom in that threesome, but Linda was beginning to hold my gaze each time I glanced in her direction and I think the boys were getting a bit wound up. Lucas also invited me to join Natalie and him heading north to find the mystery beach but again, although the invitation seemed genuine, it felt like I was going to be gooseberry so I was non-committal. And then Aat solved everything by suggesting that Pakpao accompany me north as a guide. This would neatly solve her dilemma while Aat had the bar closed. I suspected Aat had been secretly interviewing each of us to determine which group to send Pakpao off with, and somehow I had won. My backpacking adventure was on!

The rain came and we stayed in at the Bamboo Bar and Bed. The rain stopped and we remained. Pakpao cooked a red curry for supper and we ate it together again. Petite little Pakpao joined us as the table and started listing the equipment I needed to buy; I didn’t even have a rucksack. It was decided we would meet the very next day to go shopping together. That seemed to be part of being a tour guide duty.

Everyone was beginning to feel extremely inebriated yet the night was still young. Aat lit a bonfire in a fire pit on the beach and we sat around it on mats and cushions and tried to sing hippy songs as he strummed an old acoustic guitar. A few tourists headed over and tried to join in.

It wasn’t until I got home late at night by tuk tuk that I realised guiltily that I had promised and planned a lot without talking to Roger and Nin first.

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I explained myself to Roger and Nin at breakfast. They didn’t seem worried that I hadn’t come home for dinner the night before and they didn’t seem worried that I planned to leave them and go backpack northwards. They brushed away my apologies. They actually seemed excited for me. Relieved, I headed off to the Bamboo Bar and Bed to meet up with the others.

Aat was leaning on the empty bar counter and the others were all eating pancakes for breakfast when I arrived. The backpackers all looked the worst for weather; they all looked as hung over as I felt.

Pakpao seemed alert and excited. Aat told Natalie, Lucas and I that we were in good hands. Apparently, Pakpao had helped other inexperienced backpackers make it to the next hostel before.

Natalie suggested a morning swim and Lucas, Linda and Pakpao joined her. I admired the girls running down and splashing in the surf in their bikinis. Natalie had her dark brown hair in a single long plait that went up and around her head, framing her face with its bright blue eyes and gentle brush of freckles. Her skin was tanned like leather and her spherical breasts seemed almost over-large on her skinny frame. Linda was rather redder, less used to the sun, with lighter brown hair down to her shoulders and a respectable bust on a heavier frame. Pakpao was small and lithe with not a bit of fat anywhere on her little brown body; she was wearing a very sporty-cut bikini and swimming shorts that gave her an athletic appeal. You could clearly see her nipples pushing against the fabric as her little breasts were squashed and held firm by the tight top.

It was such a study in contrasts. As Natalie walked her big breasts jumped and jiggled, her top unable to restrain them. It was inconceivable that she could safely run. Linda looked like the girl next door on holiday and, if not beside Natalie, would have been quite okay to rest the eyes upon. And then little chocolate Pakpao, definitely a woman and not a girl, was so short she made the white girls look like giant amazons.

As soon as the girls and Lucas had jogged down to the water’s edge Jason and Damien came over and leaned in conspiratorially close to me. It didn’t take all of five seconds to find out what was on their mind; they were wondering how exactly the go-go bars worked. They knew what they sold but not how to buy. I admitted that I knew, claiming it was second-hand knowledge of course, and gave them a crash-course in the procedure and prices. They actually checked their wallets and considered their options before leaving in the direction of the bars.

Now I was alone with Aat. He didn’t ask what we had been whispering about but I still felt embarrassed and awkward. I went back to watching the others splash and play on the beach and tried not to stare at Natalie’s enormous knockers.

When the swimmers returned Pakpao told me to put swimming trunks on my shopping list. Linda looked around for the boys but I told her they had gone to explore the town. She offered to tag along with Pakpao and I while I got equipped for my first ever backpacking trek and we gladly accepted.

Walking into town between Pakpao and Linda was a fun teenage experience all in itself. Pakpao was dressed in a tight t-shirt and jeans and a baseball cap. Linda was still wearing her blue bikini with a colourful shawl tied around her waist. She didn’t seem to think she was under-dressed. We were soon joining a trickling stream of tourists weaving through alleys of market stalls with sellers shouting out at us “Very good price! Very good price!”.

Pakpao led us from stall to stall, knowing which stalls where we should visit. Linda had lots of opinions on which rucksack I should buy, but I secretly looked to Pakpao to point out the one I should actually purchase and then it was just a case of getting Linda to complement it so she could think it her choice. Linda was an aggressive haggler and the stallholders seemed offended at first by her low bids but soon accepted a bid under half what they had opened with. Once we had a rucksack and some simple t-shirts and a mosquito net we went into a normal chemists to buy my own supply of suntan lotions and insect repellent and first aid kit. Then we headed back out to find a torch and the last of the supplies. All in all, my rucksack was tiny and light compared to those trekking the whole length of the country.

We returned to the Bamboo Bar and Bed with my new kit and everyone there looked it over and offered opinions. Josh and Damien had returned and looked like they were waiting for a chance to tell me how their mission had gone. It was hard to judge from their suppressed excitement whether they had succeeded or not.

Natalie helped Pakpao in the kitchen making lunch. Natalie had insisted on helping and Pakpao didn’t seem to mind; it was as though Pakpao was part of our gang now and not a servant.

That realisation made me aware that we hadn’t discussed fees with Pakpao. How much would she want for being our tour-guide? I kind of felt it was my responsibility to pay for her as Natalie and Lucas were on a tight budget and it was really me she was helping most. I wondered if I had to pay Aat to ‘release’ her like a girl in a go-go bar, but that seemed ridiculous; it was hard to judge the relationship between Aat and Pakpao but it seemed Aat felt almost fatherly towards her although I didn’t think they were related or else Pakpao would surely be accompanying him on his trip to see his family? I resolved to ask Aat how much I should pay Pakpao, and I was pleasantly surprised at his answer; it seemed having a backpacking guide was about as expensive per day as eating out at the kind of restaurant that Roger and Nin took me to. I decided not to bother asking Natalie and Lucas to contribute.

After lunch Aat suggested that we head north and gave us the address of the next hostel we should head to. Natalie and Lucas went to gather their stuff and Aat slipped away to arrange a bus. Jason and Damien nudged me into a far sofa as far away as from Linda who was obliviously watching the surf; then, in excited whispers, they described their predictable escapades in the go-go bars of Patong Beach that morning. It was weird how unaffected and unenvious I was; my own exploits seemed so long ago and my mind was too full of the impending adventure to dwell on Kohsoom’s delights or the tales of others.

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The ‘bus’ that Aat arranged was actually an old pick-up truck with bench seating squashed under a canvas roof in the flat bed back. The cab was adorned with a crazy collection of chrome badges and ornaments but the back was business-like and uncushioned. The rucksacks went in first – Pakpao had a small bag of her own – and then we climbed aboard, Natalie and Lucas on one side and Pakpao and I on the other with us boys on the end, gripping onto the scaffold frame for dear life.

We swung by Roger’s house on the way and I ran in to tell them that I was leaving already and apologise again. They looked the van over and talked to Pakpao and the driver and the driver’s apprentice who was sitting up front. Then Roger pulled me aside and thrust a wad of Baht banknotes into my hand. I didn’t want to count them in front of the others but I could tell it was nearly as much as I already had on me. I felt a bit loaded down and vulnerable carrying so much cash.

And then we were off, driving up the coast road for about an hour to reach the first stop. Travelling in an exposed wagon with the searing heat of the sun straight onto my right thigh was very uncomfortable and I was relieved when we arrived at our destination, which was a lone beach bar on a small sandy cove sounded by mangrove swamp. We were already in the jungle!

Pakpao helped me pay the driver and had saucer-sized eyes when she saw in my wallet. I felt super embarrassed at my wealth, which in western terms wasn’t actually that much. It might actually be borderline ‘much’ for a teenager but it was surely only a casual spending money amount to a grown-up.

Pakpao then led us down a few hundred yards of sandy track from the road to the bar.

The beach bar was deserted and Pakpao had to shout loudly to rouse the owner from a nearby hut hidden behind some rushes. A small old man and his wife and a small child all came into view to see what was happening. The man seemed to recognise Pakpao and soon they were chatting amicably. The man left to start a diesel generator to power the lights and beer chiller and the rest of us gathered at the bar and Pakpao pointed out the guest rooms spread out among the mangroves, linked by slender plank walkways. Apart from the hum of the generator this felt like a Robinson Crusoe paradise on a desert island.

Pakpao led us to show us the rooms. Each was a detached wicker hut with a mattress on a mat floor. There was a single naked electric light hanging from a cable from the apex and a mosquito net and no other furnishings. Pakpao made a point of checking each bed ‘for surprises’. No scorpions were found. The first bedroom was for Natalie and Lucas; Pakpao asked unsure if they wanted to share but they both reddened and consented hurriedly. Then the next was my room. Natalie asked Pakpao where she was sleeping, and Pakpao replied “There is a shack for staff”. Natalie stood back, shocked and hurt. I too was hit by guilt. Natalie immediately looked at me as though imploring me to say something. “Pakpao, you are not just staff, you are also our friend now. You can have a room like ours. You are one of us. Its included, my treat”. Natalie looked like she could hug me. Pakpao looked embarrassed but pleased. Lucas looked like he wasn’t following along too closely; doubtless his mind was thinking about sharing a single mattress with Natalie. I wondered what the sleeping arrangements had been back at the Bamboo Bar and Bed.

We sheltered in the bar while it rained and then we walked in the surf as the sun went down. Natalie and Lucas held hands and Pakpao and I walked behind them, giving them a respectable distance. Pakpao thanked me shyly for the room; it seemed a big deal to her. I tried to shrug it off. I stopped to pick up some perfect seashells and Pakpao started helping, pointing out better ones until I had a handful to bring home. The beach wasn’t very long and we soon had to turn around and make our way back to the bar end.

Dinner that night was another curry. I had had curry for lunch and dinner every day since I’d arrived in Thailand and I was really enjoying it. This curry was the spiciest yet, but it seemed my tolerance was building. Lucas looked a little uncomfortable but the Singha beers were chilled now and he soldiered on. It was only when we finished that Pakpao laughingly reminded him that “if it burns on the way down, it burns on the way out...” and he looked hopelessly panicked. Perhaps Natalie was going to have second thoughts about the sleeping arrangements.

After the sunset we sat in the bar lit only by some fairy lights and the glow of the backlit beer cabinet. Natalie and Lucas were getting drunk and, for the first time that I had seen, Pakpao joined us in drinking. There was a radio playing and we tried to sing along to the classic western rock songs that played. Although it wasn’t very late if felt like it had been a very long day and we were quite tired. Natalie got up and tugged up Lucas and led him on one last moonlit stroll along the beach. Pakpao and I sniggered and watched them until the darkness beyond the glow of the fairy lights swallowed them.

“Are you related to Aat?” I asked. Pakpao laughed and began to tell me her condensed life story.

Pakpao had grown up a little to the south, near the border with Malaysia. Her favourite school subject was English and she had wanted to go to university to become an English teacher. But her family couldn’t afford that and there was a lot of unrest in the south so last year she had moved north to Phuket where her language skills could help her get a job. She considered herself lucky to find Aat who was a good kind man and a good kind boss and who paid her better than being a receptionist at one of the hotels would. She liked the Bamboo Bar and Bed and she liked her job. She didn’t elaborate on the situation in the south and at home but she seemed relieved to be travelling with us rather than taking the opportunity to go back and visit her parents. We chinked our beers “Onwards to new adventure!”. I couldn’t stop looking at her and she couldn’t stop looking at me.

“Look at these two little love birds” Natalie cooed as they approached. We hadn’t heard them return. Pakpao looked down shyly at her beer and I looked up and around to locate the returning couple. “Look at you two! Get a room!” Natalie giggled as she plopped herself back down on the cushions across from us. “Steve’s already got me a room” Pakpao reminded us happily and we all laughed. The silliest little things seemed funny in that light happy mood under the fairy lights with the cacophony of insects all around us. Natalie told us that the swamp was alive with the flickers of fire flies, and I wanted to suggest that I show them to Pakpao but I didn’t dare. Soon we finished our beers and headed to bed.

The next morning I awoke quite early as light streamed through the thin wicker walls. I went down to the bar to find the wife preparing breakfast. I sat at the bar and watched some fishing boats – called ‘long tailed boats’ because they are powered by old car engines driving a propeller on a long straight shaft sticking out the back – pass across the mouth of the bay.

The husband didn’t speak much English but the wife, whose name was Daw, spoke it better and joined in our discussion about where the next stop would be and how to get there. She offered to send her husband to fetch a ‘bus’, or to ask her brother to take us in a long-tailed boat. It was clear, immediately, that the long-tailed boat was new and exciting for us. None of us, not even Pakpao, had travelled in a long-tailed boat before! This was relayed to the husband and he headed off after breakfast to arrange it.

We spent the morning laying on the beach working on our tans. Pakpao was careful to ensure we weren’t laying underneath coconut palms, as a coconut falling on the head would be fatal. Apparently it was a major cause of tourist death! The coconut palm grows at the high tide mark where the nut – not, technically, a nut – has washed ashore. The palm grows hanging out over the beach so the falling coconuts will be swept out to sea by the tide, to be transported to another beach in another land. We gathered four coconuts and took them back to the bar where Daw sliced the top off with a machete and poked a straw in and handed them out as drinks. It was a strange runny taste but it was very refreshing. The strangest thing was that they didn’t look like coconuts; the hairy brown husk we are used to seeing is actually inside a thick heavy outer husk that is smooth and green. They weighed several pounds each and it was easy to imagine how being brained by one would kill you.

Daw offered proper Thai massages and Natalie went first. We sat around watching as Daw massaged and kneaded her back as she looked out at the perfect sandy cove and open sea in front of her. It was strange but after seeing so much skin and body the last few days we weren’t really needing to check each other out any more. Lucas and I and eventually even Pakpao had a massage. Although it kind of hurt a bit when Daw did it, afterwards it felt fantastic.

Lunch was another delicious massaman curry and then, early afternoon, a long-tailed boat with a large canvas sun-shade nosed into the bay to collect us and take us to the next beach bar stop before the rain came. I settled the bill and, after a quick bit of arithmetic working out the exchange rate to pounds sterling, I tacked on a large tip because I felt undercharged. It was even cheaper in the countryside than in Phuket.

The boat ride was fantastic. There were no benches to sit on but we squatted down along the sides of the shallow hull and looked across the boat and out the other side. Natalie and Lucas sat opposite Pakpao and I and they had the view of the land. Lucas seemed mostly lost in Natalie’s plunging cleavage and I tried not to look her way for fear of being sucked into the same trap. I mostly pondered Pakpao who was sitting really quite close considering how much space we had in the boat.

The next stop was another beach bar just like the Bamboo Bar and Bed. This was a beach and town called Khao Lak and there were a couple of hotels here but it was nowhere near as developed as Phuket. The beach was much nicer and stretched to the north for over ten miles, whereupon it continued but by another name. It was just endless.

We were not the only backpackers at The Monkey House. Another couple of groups were there and we joined them at the bar as it started to rain. One couple, I forget their names, were from Austria; they were polite but distant and beyond introductions they were too absorbed in each other to mingle with fellow travellers; that was understandable as this was their honeymoon and they were revisiting the beaches and hostels where they had met as backpackers years before. The other group was three girls from Denmark who were eighteen, drop dead gorgeous and ready to party. Having checked in we went to sit around in the bar while it rained. Pakpao brought us over some drinks and the Danish girls, mistaking her for a waitress, tried to order! Natalie seemed to feel the faux pas keenly and again looked at me to set things straight. Pakpao was actually meaning to go get them some drinks and we had to call her back. The Danes didn’t really understand that Pakpao wasn’t staff and Natalie trying to explain to them that she was a tour guide didn’t clear things up. I really wanted to explain to them that Pakpao was a friend whom we were helping spend time with us by sponsoring her trip, but it seemed awkward to explain to myself in my own head, let alone trying to explain it in front of Natalie and Pakpao. I wondered how Pakpao saw things; I wondered what Pakpao thought my motives were. The Danes carried on, oblivious to our awkwardness. One particularly, Bente, was keen to include us in their antics and convinced us in beautifully accented English to follow them into the town to find a nightclub that evening. That settled, the Danes dragged Natalie off to put on make-up, abandoning Pakpao. I felt so hurt for her.

The Monkey House was a short trek from the town proper and the path wasn’t lit at night. Luckily part of my equipment was a torch and insect repellent. As we strolled towards the distant lights the jungle beside the path was alight with fireflies blinking out to each other. It was a very special moment and Bente seemed especially affected. We took our time reaching the bars and night-life ahead.

Khao Lak was a small town a short walk inland from the beach. There were some markets which were still open and lots of neon lights and bars and clubs, but no obvious go-go bars or anything seedy. Although it was the low season there were plenty of other tourists about, mostly pensioners and young honeymooning couples and a few young families with small children, doubtless returning to where they had spent their honeymoon. Khao Lak was the kind of town and beach that you’d keep coming back to all through your life once you’d discovered it.

The Danes lead us into the last bar we passed when it became clear we had already traversed the town and there were no further bars to scout. They were playing loud techno disco music and although the dance floor was outside the pitch blackness of the jungle beyond made it feel like you were in a cellar. Natalie tugged Lucas onto the dance floor and then Bente grabbed me and forced me to join them. Soon others got up and the other two Danish girls danced suggestively on the edge of the floor hoping to lure in passing male flesh. Pakpao was left guarding the handbags. It felt so wrong.

Bente was dancing awfully close to me. It didn’t seem to bother her that I had no idea how to dance and was just trying to move as much as possible without doing the dreaded ‘spastic chicken’. Bente had put her hands around my neck and pressed her forehead to mine; I had pulled.

“Slow down” I tried to tell her, but she couldn’t hear me over the thumping beat of the music. I leaned in to talk into her ear and she mistook my intimacy and began to nibble my ear. “Slow down, sorry, I can’t do this” I managed to squeak and she pushed away from me angrily. She stood back, not dancing, and then turned and strutted off to her friends. Well I hadn’t done that very well. Just a few days ago I would have jumped at the chance to smooch with a girl so obviously up-for-it as Bente. But I was smarting from the way her and her friends had dismissed Pakpao and my loyalty to my new Thai friend was burning brightly.

I walked embarrassed back to Pakpao who was sitting at a table surrounded by discarded handbags. I sat down beside her and asked if she wanted a drink. She had difficulty hearing me above the the din of the music and I had to lean around and shout it into her ear. I could hear her chuckling in my ear, and feel her warm gentle breath on my cheek, as she told me that _that_ couldn’t have been what I whispered in Bente’s ear on the dance floor.

I panicked. Pakpao had seen Bente and I. What had she thought? What should I say? The truth was, I realised, that I fancied Pakpao. I felt a constriction in my chest as I realised that I couldn’t make a move because I didn’t want Pakpao to think that that was part of the job, that it was her duty. I wasn’t going to pay her for that!

I offered Pakpao a drink and she declined, but I said I wanted to get a freshly squeezed fruit juice for myself and she smiled and said that that sounded nice. I went and got us two and watched the bar staff feeding the chunks of freshly slaughtered pineapple into the blender.

I sat with Pakpao that evening. It was hard to chat with the loud music, and we couldn’t really leave the handbags, but we sipped our drinks and watched the dancing and Pakpao didn’t ask what I’d said to Bente despite the obvious stares I was still getting from the Danish girls. Eventually some young men came and kept them company and I was forgotten but perhaps not forgiven.

I was surprised that the Danes didn’t bring anyone back to the hostel with them. We returned to The Monkey House rather earlier than I expected too, and the walk back was a bit awkward. Bente seemed intent on walking beside me as though she was giving me a second chance. The other two Danes walked arm-in-arm behind us, blocking the path and dawdling so that the rest of the party were forced to give Bente and I some space and privacy.

“Don’t you like me?” Bente asked defiantly. As I was trying to think of an answer she added “Don’t you think I’m pretty?”. All potential answers evaporated from my mind. How was I supposed to answer that? Actually, Bente was pretty. Certainly more than pretty enough for any horny teen to fuck. And even a dumb simpleton like myself knew to never tell a girl she was ugly. I felt trapped. I wasn’t sure how to deflect this. In the end I found myself flirting back “Are you trying to seduce me, Bente?”

She giggled, indicating to me that I had said the right thing. Then she paused and asked quietly “Are you taken? Is there someone else?”

I felt relief wash over me. The new forgiving tone of her voice put me on safer ground. I just had to admit that there was someone else and I’d be off the hook. “Yes, there is someone else. Sorry.” was so easy to say. “But I do like you” I added as an afterthought, not thinking through the consequences.

We were reached The Monkey House in companionable silence. The barman welcomed us back and asked what we would drink in the hope of keeping us from our beds. I asked Pakpao if she wanted another fruit juice and she smiled sweetly and accepted. I felt it my duty to look out and provide for her. The Danes and Natalie and Lucas all gathered at the bar and I was the first to slip away and head for bed. As I passed around the outside of the gang Bente linked her arm through mine and made to follow. I turned to face her. “Nobody will know” she giggled, almost falling over drunkenly. “_I’ll_ know” I whispered back, scared. “Which room are you in? I can come by later” she asked, slurring slightly. “Please don’t! No! Please don’t!” I pleaded and, slipping out of her embrace, I ran to my room.

Poor Bente must have been desperate and there were no other obvious candidates in the bar.

I had trouble sleeping even after I heard the others go to their rooms. I was scared that Bente would come and visit me. I was confused about my feelings too; Bente was a very attractive girl and if I had bumped into her and her friends in any other circumstances I would have been amazed that they had any interest in me. It was just my luck to pull a gorgeous Scandinavian beauty on the very first night of my life when I wasn’t receptive to the idea. But my heart was willing to sacrifice all my chances of getting laid and I was doomed to fall head-over-heels for Pakpao and be unable to do anything about it.

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Breakfast was pancakes again. It seemed all the hostels served pancakes for breakfast and curry for lunch and dinner. Natalie and Lucas were tired but happy. Pakpao seemed cheerful. All remarked how tired I looked. At first we thought the Danes were having a lay-in but then they came into view jogging down the beach towards The Monkey House. It was amazing that they could get up early and exercise, considering the amount they had drunk and the time they had gone to bed last night, but the proof was in front of us and they looked fit, sweaty, healthy and extremely sexy. I tried not to catch Bente’s eye. I wondered how much of last night she remembered and I wondered how much she resented me.

I had to use the toilet which was a western-style cubicle in a far corner. As I was pissing I looked up and saw the tail of a snake just peeking over the edge of a roof rafter. Excitedly, I recounted my discovery to Lucas as soon as I got back to the bar, and he went to look himself. Then he went to get Natalie’s camera.

People were wondering what was going on now, so I told the others. I wasn’t surprised that Natalie and the Danes were a bit apprehensive but I was confused by the abject fear shown by Pakpao and the barman. As far as I could see it was just a python snoozing and a very cool find and absolutely nothing to worry about, although admittedly I could understand an initial panic if one of the others had noticed a snake resting above them as they used a toilet.

All the hostel staff were milling around now, trying to keep as much distance as possible between themselves and the snake. Pakpao was hiding behind Natalie who was herself about as far from the snake as it was possible to be. Everyone was panicking except, it seemed, me. Even Lucas, seeing how the Thai men were behaving, was considering discretion the better part of valour.

One of the gardeners came in with a very long pool with a nose on the end. Clearly this was a snake removal apparatus. He edged towards the snake and tried to snag the tail with the noose but the snake slide forward and suddenly a fat coil of the snake slinked over the edge of the beam. It was quite a large fat python. The gardener retreated, hesitant to poke the snake again. The snake slithered along the top of the beam in full view now. It had to be at least two yards long and as thick as your arm! Its large head started to lift off the beam and extend out as though it was about to reach across to the next beam and come towards us. The gardener with the pole was now backing towards me.

It all seemed ridiculous. It was clearly just a python now, and perhaps big enough to take a cat or small dog but not a threat to a human surely? I stepped forward and surprised the gardener by tapping him on the shoulder; in hindsight that was a very unkind thing to do in this scenario and he jumped out of his skin. I took the pole from the trembling man and approached the snake.

It took a lot of fiddling to get the noose over the head of the snake and, in the process, the snake managed to move across several beams towards the crowd and they evacuated. They were now standing out on the beach, trying to watch my struggle while not themselves being under any roof beams. In the end I managed to tighten the noose on the snake and the snake struggled and wrapped itself around the end of the pole.

Suddenly the top of the pole was extremely heavy and off-balanced and I swung it awkwardly down to the floor. The gardener approached slowly with a sack which we put over the python and then the gardener gingerly took it away. The crowd came back into the bar and I was a hero!

After a while my new-found fame was beginning to feel old so Lucas and I strolled along the beach and tried to climb on the rocky headland near The Monkey House. There were broken bits of coral, all fantastic rainbows of colour, which must have washed ashore in a storm so there must have been a fabulous reef offshore. But the long deep sandy beach dropped off so gradually that it wasn’t clear how far out it was and we hadn’t heard anyone talking about it. Then we walked back past the hostel and headed into town on an important mission: Lucas needed to buy more condoms. I brought myself a pack for good measure. They had all the regular brands but I had no idea about these things and I just picked a packet at random.

When we returned Natalie and Pakpao were sitting at a table with brochures and a map spread out in front of them. Lucas and I collapsed in the chairs across from them, relieved to be back in the shade. The next hostel was just six miles north, further up the same beach. It was called The Wigwam.

We decided we would walk the six miles while it rained. We had checked and all our rucksacks were supposed to be waterproof – Natalie’s and Lucas’s had rain protectors you put over the whole bag – and we couldn’t contemplate walking in the heat of the day. Somehow, walking in the monsoon rain seemed an essential experience all on its own. And so it was decided, and we packed and checked out straight after lunch and sat around waiting for the rain to start.

The trek started out pleasant enough. Within seconds we were wet to the bone but the water was like a warm shower and the cooler air was much more bearable and the whole thing was a tremendous adventure. But by the second mile we were beginning to feel uncomfortable and our shoulder straps were chafing and sand had worked its way into our boots and was rubbing between our toes. The girls looked to be struggling with their packs as the weight became noticeable. After about the third mile we had to wade a small stream that flowed across the beach and stupidly we didn’t take our shoes off. Really, we ought to have been walking barefoot the whole time. Now we were walking in soaking wet trainers sandals and boots and it was very uncomfortable. Pakpao was the first to suggest she arrange we get rescued by a bus. Looking at us four drowned rats it was obviously the right thing to do. The rain still pouring down, Pakpao led us up towards the the coast road. Eventually a tuk tuk passed us, full of tourists. The chauffeur slowed enough for Pakpao to run beside him and ask him to come back for us when he had dropped his load off. And then it was just to stand there in the rain and wait for the tuk tuk to come back.

We stood at the side of the road waiting. Eventually the rain stopped and the sun came back and we started to steam. The air felt so fresh and clean. My clothes seemed to dry much quicker than my skin, and my feet and inner thighs itched. I’m not sure what we’d have done if an empty tuk tuk had passed; would we have taken it, or wait for the one we’d hailed to come back?

“So you have a girlfriend” Natalie declared. Natalie and Pakpao looked at me carefully to gauge my reaction. Lucas, as usual, didn’t seem to be following along.

“Eh, no I don’t” I replied guardedly.

“You told Bente there was someone special” Natalie persisted.

“She’s not my girlfriend” I blurted out and then, realising whose company I was in and that I had said too much, I could feel extreme heat rising in my cheeks.

“So that’s why you didn’t go to town with Josh and Damien then” Natalie said thoughtfully, as though putting two and two together and getting eighteen. It took me a moment to follow her line of reasoning. It took me a moment for the implication that everybody knew where Jason and Damien had gone to sink in too.

“Jason” I clarified. Natalie looked confused. “His name was Jason, not Josh” I explained. “Whatever” Natalie said distantly.

This was a disaster. Now Natalie and Pakpao thought that I was in love with someone far away and would remain loyal. The truth was that Pakpao, the little tiny Thai dynamite, was standing in front of me in a wet t-shirt. The tuk tuk was taking its time returning.

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The Wigwam was just as isolated as the first nameless beach bar had been. It was right on the beach too but it seemed to have running water and electricity coming from somewhere. The accommodation was, again, shacks on stilts linked by thin board walkways with rope handrails. The main bar was a large dome thatched with reeds. I had thought wigwams were pointy but apparently the pointy ones were called teepees; wigwams are dome-shaped, hence the bar’s name. Pakpao looked pleased when I ordered three rooms. It felt so nice to be the only guests again, away from the bustle of Khao Lak town and away from the Danes. I really began to resent Bente for spoiling my chances with Pakpao and complicating things. And everything in my backpack was soaked; it wasn’t waterproof after all.

Pakpao and Natalie helped make dinner as the sun set. They didn’t need to help but they wanted to. Lucas and I watched the owner cooking a large slimy black catfish by smearing it in mud and roasting it on a spit over the fire. When it was done he chipped off the baked clay, taking the skin with it, leaving translucent white flesh exposed. It was served in the centre of a large long platter surrounded by a pond of curry and with cashew nuts liberally sprinkled over it. It was delicious.

Lucas coyly suggested to Natalie that they take a stroll in the surf. It was a moonlit night and we could see the foam tops of the waves breaking gently and sloshing back. The beach and jungle was alive with hermit crabs that had left their lairs and started scavenging. They had re-purposed a bewildering array of seashells. I looked around. I didn’t really dare suggest to Pakpao that we go walk in the surf too, but I wanted to; I really wanted to. I ached to.

I saw a bench suspended by ropes under a towering pine tree. I pointed it out to Pakpao and she remarked it sure looked comfortable. Taking that as encouragement I got up and went over to it and gave it an experimental push. Pakpao was watching me. I beckoned for her to join me. She obliged.

And that was how I found myself sitting on a bench with Pakpao swinging and swaying gently under a tree in the moonlight. It wasn’t a very long bench and Pakpao was necessarily sitting so close our hips almost touched. I put my arm on the headrest behind her. She was sitting with her hands clasped on her lap. We were staring at each other again, saying nothing, unable to look away; just like on that first night of the adventure at the other beach bar.

“There isn’t anybody else” I confessed nervously. Pakpao just carried on looking at me. I begun to wonder if she was listening. “Do you have a boyfriend?” I asked. She shook her head. So she had been listening! I wanted to lean in and kiss her. “Kiss her!” a voice was screaming in my head. I felt my chest constricted, short of breath. I couldn’t make a move. I couldn’t do it. I was scared that she would feel forced to kiss me back because I was employing her.

The moon disappeared behind some clouds and it was suddenly darker. I could feel Pakpao move towards me, laying her head against my chest. Sitting beside me, the top of little Pakpao’s head barely came up my chin. I could feel her soft long black hair brushing against and flowing over my arm. I suddenly felt elated as I realised that Pakpao was making the first move on her own initiative! I picked up her chin with my left hand and brought her face up so I could lean down and kiss her for the first time. She giggled and brought her arm up around the back of my neck and returned the kiss with vigour!

When Lucas and Natalie returned they stood in the bar and wondered where we were. We could see them clearly under the fairy lights but they didn’t know to look in our direction. They giggled and Natalie tugged Lucas off towards the huts.

“I think we had better go to our beds before things get out of control” Pakpao said carefully. I was suddenly scared that she was getting cold feet. Had I been abusing my authority? But she quickly dispelled my fears with a final scorching hot kiss and a smouldering “Good night Steve” and then she slipped off the sofa and was gone. I sat there a while longer, stunned and mute.

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It was impossible to sleep long in a wicker walled hut when the sun rose at six each morning. We all got up early again. Pakpao smiled radiantly when I came to the bar for my pancakes. One improvement this hostel had over the first beach bar was that it had a decent shower under a tall pine just behind the huts, and we were all feeling freshly showered. I was tempted to go over and kiss her, but I was too shy to do so in front of everyone else; I wanted to reaffirm in private that last night had actually happened first!

Natalie had collected a leaflet for elephant trekking in the jungle from when we were at The Monkey House in Khao Lak. The normal elephant trekking was a tourist trap and too expensive for your average backpackers; but this was the low season and Pakpao chatted with the bar owner and discovered that he had a friend whose cousin worked with someone who ... you get the idea, he could arrange for us to go budget elephant trekking. And so it was decided. His wife disappeared on a moped and, half an hour later, returned announcing it was all settled. We were due to be there after lunch.

The morning was cloudier than normal and correspondingly more comfortable. We lounged on the beach – not under any coconut palms – and talked amiability. Natalie was gushing about how nice it was. There were very few people walking along the beach this far north of the town and those that did pass kept to the surf line which was now fifty yards out.

I tried not to stare as Natalie slipped her shoulder straps down on her bikini top. Laying on her tummy her massive breasts tried to overflow their cups and spill out onto the towel under her. I turned to study Pakpao instead, in her tight little sports bikini and her hair in a single long braid down her back, hoping that she hadn’t seen me looking at Natalie. Pakpao grinned at me and I was unsure if my ogling had been detected, her eyes invisible behind her sunglasses. I decided that I badly needed sunglasses of my own. Those stylish new ‘wrap around’ kind would be perfect for ogling girls safely.

Pakpao laid down on her back beside me, her tiny breasts pointing upwards. She turned her head to look at me. I couldn’t see her eyes through her glasses but I could feel her appraising gaze. I wondered what she was thinking. I wondered what she thought about last night. Had we gone too far? Did she have regrets? Her hand snaked out and touched mine and we entwined our fingers. I felt the relief surge over me and I felt relaxed and content and safe all at once. We grinned stupidly and lay still, savouring the closeness.

I was almost asleep when I felt Pakpao let go of my hand and push it away. I stirred and felt the shadow of Natalie shifting around and sitting up and surveying the beach. We all got up and, picking up our towels, went back to the bar.

After lunch Pakpao led us to two scooters parked behind one of the huts. Almost every tourist in Thailand hires a scooter, but these were not for normal hire machines but rather the owner and his wife’s mopeds which we were going to borrow to get to the elephant trekking camp. Luckily Lucas had ridden a motorbike before so Natalie hopped on behind him and I sat behind Pakpao. We headed off up the track to the coast road without helmets.

We didn’t ride very far south on the coast road before we swung off it and headed up another track inland into the forest. After a few hundred metres we reached a nice pavilion with a large sign saying ‘Eco-Tours’. This was a regular tourist trap place but we were getting a special off-season deal and they were expecting us.

The elephant mounting point was a large platform on very high stilts reached by a very long springy bamboo ladder. We climbed gingerly up onto it and awaited an elephant. There was an elephant with a young family of tourists approaching and we waited for them to get off before Natalie and Lucas climbed aboard and sat on the metal sofa seat which, although atop an elephant, was at a comfortable height to climb onto from the platform. As Natalie and Lucas left with their guide Pakpao took and squeezed my hand in excitement. I looked over my shoulder to see if Natalie or Lucas were looking back at us but the coast was clear and I turned to Pakpao and gave her a quick peck on the lips. She squealed and we giggled. And then a second elephant which had just been readied was brought up to the platform and the mahout told us to get on our ride who was called Mali, which is a Thai name for some type of flower.

Pakpao and the mahout were talking and then Pakpao asked me if I wanted to ride on the neck of the elephant like a mahout rather than sitting on the bench behind. Pakpao seemed excited that I had the chance and so I accepted and sat down carefully astride the broad shoulders, tucking my heels in behind the ears as instructed as Pakpao clambered up into the seat just behind me. There was a lap bar that locked in place to keep Pakpao on the bench and she thrust her legs out and gripped my hips with her bare feet as though she was scared I might slip and fall. And so, after the mahout had climbed down from the platform, we were led away on our first ever elephant trek.

The big gentle Mali had a slow ponderous gait that slipped all the way to one side and pausing before slipping all the way to the other and pausing; the pauses making it feel easy to lose balance and carry on sliding and falling off. But I was hanging on for dear life with my heels and Pakpao’s heels were digging into my hips and, miraculously, I kept my calm and kept my perch despite having nothing good to grab with my hands.

The trek was about an hour and often we lost sight of the elephant in front of us as we lumbered around the same circuit as the elephants trekked every day. The mahout didn’t seem to give the elephant any instructions; Mali knew the way and knew the drill and it was exceptionally calming.

Eventually we arrived back at the base-camp and got off when Mali returned to the platform. There were another tourist family waiting to get on but we had time to give Mali an affectionate pat on the trunk. Natalie and Lucas were not waiting for us and we came down from the platform to find them; they were over feeding bananas to the off-duty elephants. Natalie had a camera and I took some photos of them posing with the elephants and then a mahout took some of us all together as a group. Too soon it was time to head back to The Wigwam. Lucas was keen to pay for Natalie and I paid for Pakpao and I and then we went back to the scooters.

I had never ridden a moped before but it didn’t look hard and when Pakpao offered to show me I took the chance. Soon we were heading off back up the track with Pakpao behind me. I felt her wrap her arms tight around me and press her whole body into my back as we rode. I could feel her plait brushing against my arm each time I turned. I tried to keep my mind on the road. Natalie watched us, intrigued. Then she too lent closer to Lucas and hugged him tightly as they rode abeam, Natalie and Pakpao looking acroos at each other as us boys stared straight ahead.

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That evening all anyone could talk about was elephants! None of us had ever touched one or ridden one before and we were all in love with them. It was a very spiritual experience. Pakpao’s eyes glowed as she described how I had ridden up front like a mahout.

As Natalie and Lucas got up to start their routine moonlit walk along the surf, Pakpao also got up and, grabbing my arm, started to lead me towards the sofa-swing. Natalie stopped dead and stared at us. Lucas walked into her and she squealed, making Pakpao stop and look around. Realising we had been caught Pakpao bowed her head shyly and oozed guilt.

“So you two _are_ together!” Natalie exclaimed, triumphant, “I always said you two would make a lovely couple!”. Lucas looked startled, not quite comprehending.

Natalie tugged on Lucas to get him moving so they could “leave those two love birds in peace” and as they went on to the beach Pakpao led me onwards to the sofa-swing. Again we sat there and, within seconds, we were kissing passionately as we slowly swung.

Pakpao’s petite body was pushing needfully into mine. We were pressed against one end of the sofa, making it off-balanced and making it sway sideways as it swung. It felt dangerous but Pakpao’s kisses were insistent and I stopped thinking about how high we were each time we swung out over the beach. I hugged Pakpao and pulled her in even tighter and she melted into me. I could feel her soft skin through her thin t-shirt and the bump of her bra straps as I gently rubbed my hand up and down her back.

I am not sure how long they were gone on their walk but when they returned Natalie brought Lucas over to stand beside our swing and then she coughed loudly to get our attention. When we stopped kissing and looked across at her she began clapping and Lucas joined in the applause as Pakpao took as extravagant a bow as best she could manage while sitting in a swinging seat. Slowly the chair lost momentum and we came to a stop beside them. We hopped down and, still swaying dizzily, we walked back to the bar with them.

We settled down at the bar with the bored barman. He must have seen his fill of young couples in his time. But these things come with the territory and, despite having had nothing to do for at least the last hour, he sprang to work getting beers and mixing cocktails for us. We settled down at a table and Natalie started interrogating us about our new relationship. Natalie took some convincing that I didn’t actually have another girl I was fond of elsewhere, and Pakpao listened in amusement when I resignedly recounted exactly what I had said to Bente and how I had actually meant that Pakpao was the mystery girl I was secretly saving myself for. As the four of us sat there chatting and laughing it was like four equals; four friends.

I lay in bed that night basking in the joy of having found Pakpao.

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Breakfast included normal cereal. I was unsure where the milk had come from but it was cold. We took our bowls and sat on the beach with the tips of our toes just touching the highest reach of the surf. As the tide rose we had to retreat by small increments. It was paradise.

Natalie, who spoke more than Lucas, began the usual day-planning conversation. What did we want to do that day? The truth was, there wasn’t really anything _to_ do. And we didn’t want to leave either. We wanted to just spend a few easy days here doing nothing.

And so we spent the morning splashing in the sea and playing girl-on-shoulder fights. Although Lucas and Natalie had a massive height advantage – they towered over us – they were, ahem, top-heavy and Pakpao and I had a decisive weight advantage with Pakpao weighting approximately nothing. But both Lucas and I seemed determined to throw the game just to get our girls to collapse on us and get the chance to cop an accidental feel each time that happened. I confess I felt mildly envious each time Natalie lent down to reach us and rested her fabulous breasts on Lucas’s head. It ended in a draw.

After lunch the sun was too hot to be out and we lounged in the bar waiting for the rain. There were several geckos and we tried to ply them with the fruits from the girls cocktails but they stubbornly kept their distance.

That evening we took an arranged tuk tuk back into Khao Lak town. It was, we now knew, too far to have walked. We hadn’t eaten at The Wigwam so went in search of a normal restaurant to settle down in. Pakpao was talking only English and could have passed for a tourist. She gripped my hand tightly as we walked between the market stalls and we let Natalie and Lucas lead the way. They picked out a large sea-food bar on the seafront that had a whole swordfish in a tray of ice by the entrance. I was tempted to suggest we order it, but that seemed too extravagant. I didn’t want to make the others awkward. And I could only guess that it would have been incredibly expensive. This restaurant didn’t sell beer but I was getting sick of the sight of beer anyway and welcomed nice freshly-squeezed fruit juices; the lychees fruit was the absolute best.

After dinner we could have gone clubbing but we were quite tired and we decided to head back to The Wigwam. I was secretly relieved, fearful that the Danes might still be out and about in Khao Lak and I didn’t want to bump into them. I think I saw the Austrian couple crossing the road ahead of us at one point and that brought home the risks we were running. It was a quiet ride back to the hostel.

Lucas and Natalie forwent their normal night-time walk in the surf and went to brush teeth and stuff immediately. Pakpao and I did likewise. Then we walked back together towards our rooms.

My room was first. Pakpao stopped with me by my door and I put my arms around her and pulled her into a tight hug and kiss. She gripped me tightly and didn’t let go. I begun to wonder if we were going to stand there, still, outside my door, all night. I wanted to invite her in but I didn’t know how to ask. I didn’t want to spoil the moment and I didn’t want to push her to do things she was uncomfortable with.

In the end I mustered the courage to ask her if she wanted to share my room. Immediately I promised not to ‘try anything’ either. Pakpao just nodded, her head rubbing up and down against my chest. And so we went in together.

Pakpao immediately checked the bed for ‘surprises’. I hadn’t thought to do that on any of the previous nights, and I felt a bit stupid for that. After the Snake Incident at The Monkey House perhaps those kinds of precautions were warranted.

Getting undressed was nerve-racking. Did I turn away from her? Did I watch her? Did I help her? I studiously ignored her as I slipped off my shorts and t-shirt and laid down on the mattress in my briefs. Pakpao did the same and laid down beside me in just her bra and panties. I tried not to check her out too obviously as I searched for the switch on the lamp cable. Suddenly it was dark and I was laying on a mattress under a mosquito net in a wicker hut with my first proper grown-up girlfriend.

Pakpao snuggled up to my side and laid her head on my chest. I could feel her long soft hair draped over my arm as I embraced her and held her tight. It was the most special perfect content feeling ever. I tried to ignore my erection and hoped that Pakpao would too.

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The shafts of sunlight penetrating the thin wicker walls woke me up as per usual. Pakpao moved suddenly too, as though sensing me waking up. She had laid on my side all night and we awoke in exactly the same position as we had slept. I felt euphoric. I was still hard. I’d probably been hard all night.

“Are you okay?” she queried quietly. “I wish it were still dark” I lamented tamely. Pakpao giggled and said she’d turn the light off. And then she shifted her self and sat straddling my chest. I took in the sight of her taunt little brown tummy and the frills on her white little bra. There was a slightly lighter bar of brown across her chest where her sports-bikini normally covered her. The faint contrast was so enticing! And then as my gaze continued upwards towards her shoulders she lent down over me and suddenly my face was encased in a jet black curtain of long soft hair all around and it was just our two faces, an inch apart, in all the world. “Well, you wanted me to turn the lights off” she giggled and then we kissed deeply as my hands snaked around her shoulder blades and hugged her to me.

I wanted to unclasp her bra; I wanted to cup her pert little bottom cheeks; I wanted to roll her onto her back and fuck her. I wanted to make love to her. But I didn’t dare. Everything had to be at Pakpao’s instigation. I ran a hand upwards into her hair, caressing her scalp. She moaned in my mouth. The kiss became even more heated. We were both squirming, trying to press every inch of our flesh into each other. My erection throbbed painfully. Panting, we broke to gulp in air.

“Did you sleep well?” I asked. “You make ... noises” she giggled back. I apologised profusely and taught her a new word, ‘snoring’. She seemed forgiving. Our hands were rubbing each other all over now. We couldn’t get enough of each other. I couldn’t believe how soft yet firm her chocolate skin felt. We kissed until it really was getting late for breakfast.

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Natalie saw us emerge from my shack together and just smirked knowingly. Her and Lucas were already half way through a stack of pancakes and we joined them. “Sleep well?” she asked us innocently and Pakpao went all shy on us and we all began to laugh.

After breakfast and showers we sat around at the bar and began our daily ‘what shall we do?’ discussion. Pakpao seemed a bit distant. I wanted to repeat the elephant ride but Lucas pointed out that we risked spoiling a perfect memory if the second time was any less impressive than the first. Natalie was happy to spend the day on the beach again, declaring she could stay here forever. Lucas wondered if it was safe to wander in the jungle. Natalie suggested we go to one of the hotels in Khao Lak and borrow some light reading from the bookshelves they always had in the foyers. Then we noticed that Pakpao was crying.

I went to embrace her but Natalie had already done so and I sat back, hopeless. Lucas looked around awkwardly. Pakpao was sobbing into Natalie’s ample cleavage. Natalie flicked with her hand to shoo us boys away. So Lucas and I left Natalie to comfort Pakpao and went to wander on the beech and wonder what we might have said or done wrong. I was scared that I had somehow treated Pakpao like an employee or made her feel she had to be my girlfriend as a duty or something. I was feeling very low and insecure.

“So what did you two do last night?” Lucas asked hesitantly as we plodded along the surf line, heads cowed. “We did nothing” I replied quietly.

“Perhaps you hurt her when you _did it_? She is so little, she must be tiny down below...” Lucas threw out there.

“I told you, we didn’t _do_ anything” I reminded him angrily.

“Aha! Maybe _that_ is the problem!” he laughed lamely.

We hadn’t gone far and hadn’t been gone long but it felt like walking away from the girls was exactly the wrong thing to be doing, so I turned us around and we walked slowly back past the girls, watching for a sign that we should join them. Natalie, who had her arms wrapped defensively around Pakpao, waved us off so we kept walking.

On the third journey back past the bar Natalie didn’t wave us off but rather shrugged, so we cautiously returned to the girls. As we got close Pakpao must have sensed our return and, looking up at us, panicked and leaped from Natalie’s bosom and ran off towards the bedrooms.

Lucas collapsed heavily into the sofa across from Natalie with a sigh- “What’s her problem?” he asked unsympathetically.

“She’s in love” Natalie announced quietly.

My head reeled. How could you cry when you’re in love? Or was Pakpao not in love with _me_? Was there someone else? Had she been cheating with me? My heart stopped.

Natalie looked at me pitifully “In a week or two all this will end” she waved her arms around inclusively “and, Steve, you will go merrily back to England after your holiday romance and a broken-hearted Pakpao will be left here cooking and washing dishes and being a slave. You see two weeks of fun and sex ahead and Pakpao already sees that it all must end and she’ll be a nobody again”

I felt a crushing weight on my chest. How could I hurt her like this? How could I contemplate ever leaving her? Could I bring her home with me? Could I move to Thailand? I was sure, just a few days into our romance, that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Pakpao and I knew I _had_ to make that happen. I felt like crying too.

“What should I do?” I asked Natalie urgently. My eyes scanned hers, looking for answers.

“Go tell her how you feel” Natalie advised, as though she could see my heart on my sleeve. Right from the start Natalie had always looked at me piercingly every time Pakpao was wronged as though it was my job to make Pakpao into a friend, into a princess. And that was what I deeply selfishly wanted too. I slowly walked off to the plank walkways between the bedrooms.

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I checked my room but it was empty. I continued towards the other huts, unsure which was Pakpao’s. I stopped at each door and called her name softly. There was no answer. Reaching the end and having nothing but bush in front of me I turned and returned down the line of huts, this time pausing and listening more carefully.

This time, when I reached the last hut before mine, I heard a quiet “Steve” beckoning me. I knocked and called her name again, and she answered me. I gently pushed the door open and peered into the gloom.

It took me a moment for my eyes to adjust to the shade. Pakpao was half sitting, half laying on the mattress. Her eyes were red and her cheeks streaked with tears. She looked distraught. I gently settled down beside her and tried to embrace her. She pulled me into a tight hug but turned her head away from, as though embarrassed I’d see her crying. Her hands pulled and tugged on me, holding me tight, trying to pull on every inch of my back and weld us together, while all the time she was looking away. She was babbling and sobbing quietly in Thai. It was very conflicting. I reached out with my hand and very gently, finger-tips on cheek, turned her face to face me and then we stared into each other’s eyes. She had pulled me fully on top of her and her legs were hitched up and wrapped around my waist, her heels pushing insistently into my buttocks. We kissed, slowly deeply and sloppily. Our hips started to buck as we slowly dry humped each other.

After a while, with the lump in my cargo shorts pressing urgently into her, I raised my head and broke the kiss and we gazed into each other’s eye’s again. “I will never leave you” I promised. A dumb thing to promise, but at that moment it was the only certain thing in my head and I’d blurted it out. “Oh Steve, do you really mean it?” she queried. And not waiting for an answer she lifted her head so our lips met again and I pushed her back down into the pillow and we kissed hungrily. I really meant I would never leave her. We nibbled each others necks and Pakpao whispered “My Steve ... my Steve” into my ear possessively as our limbs tried to pull us even tighter together.

It was still mid-morning when a better composed Pakpao led me out to the others who were still lounging in the bar area. Natalie jumped up and came forward to hug Pakpao. Lucas looked, frankly, bored.

“I’ve been thinking! Lets go spoil ourselves in Khao Lak! These two girls need to be pampered” Natalie declared. She turned to the bar owner behind the bar and asked for a tuk tuk. His wife disappeared to arrange it and not five minutes later a tuk tuk puttered right up to the bar to collect us.

I wasn’t sure what Natalie had in mind, but soon the girls were pouring over the clothes stalls and I was checking out the sunglasses. Lucas disappeared to deposit Natalie’s camera film in one of the two-hours-or-less photo developing shops.

When we managed to clear the stalls, the girls now carrying new sun hats and plastic bags full of purchases, we reached the seafront. The girls quickly scouted the many massage tents and picked one. If I say ‘massage parlour’ and ‘Thailand’ in the same sentence you imagine something seedy, but these were pavilions where real normal massages and beauty treatments were applied to respectable tourists, mostly ladies, in full view of the beach. It was off-season and many were unattended, but those masseuse present were shouting ‘Maaaaasage! Masssaaaage!” at us to get our attention as we passed.

The owner’s wife Daw had given us Thai massages at the first beach bar we’d stayed at, and that was a proper authentic experience. However, the girls opted for rather more pampering this time and were soon sitting in the lotus position with incense being burned and small smooth stones being warmed and it began to look like a spa advert from the in-flight magazine. Then the staff unfolded bamboo screens to give privacy, shutting me and everyone else out. If a boy had suddenly been surrounded by screens at a massage parlour everyone would only imagine obvious prostitution, but this place looked respectable and there were two girls in there together so it surely couldn’t be anything naughty?

Lucas found me and we sipping a fresh fruit juice and keeping a vigil on the girl’s massage tent. He had also been shopping and had a small plastic bag of clothes too. He asked me if everything was now alright with Pakpao, and I said I thought thinks were a bit better. He seemed bored with Khao Lak and the beach and wanted to carry on to the next hostel already. Natalie had made it very clear she wasn’t done with here and that frustrated him. I wondered how close Natalie and he actually were and began to suspect it was just a ‘fling’ as Natalie would have phrased it.

The girls emerged after a couple of hours, just when Lucas had returned with the photos. Natalie had paid for Pakpao; her treat. The girls had been hot waxed – they couldn’t swim that day, Natalie explained – and Natalie had had several tight braids done and fixed with beads. Pakpao’s hair seemed extra-soft and shiny and straight and perfect. The girls both looked so pampered. Pakpao looked so sweet and beautiful. She cracked a winning smile when she saw me staring speechless at her.

The girls, under their broad new sun-hats, walked arm in arm down the beach towards The Wigwam. I remembered how far it was but, as I had a straw hat myself, I trudged after them. This time it wasn’t raining and we weren’t carrying any rucksacks and we had slipped our sandals off so it was a much more manageable walk. We had seen a handful of tourists pass the hostel so we knew it was a walk-able distance from the town. The girls, arms linked, chatted excitedly and didn’t seem to notice the trek.

We arrived back at The Wigwam realised we hadn’t eaten lunch. We were staving. We collapsed in the bar and the owner’s wife busied herself in the kitchen for us. We were still eating when the monsoon came.

After the late lunch the girls went off giggling to the huts, leaving Lucas and I lounging in the bar. Lucas was complaining again that we just sat around in bars all day. I tentatively asked how it was between him and Natalie. He just shrugged; it was just a holiday romance. He joked that Natalie was more interested now in making Pakpao and I into a dream couple than she was in getting closer to him. He really was just in it for the sex and Natalie had made it plain to him that she was likewise. It kind of made sense now. They were obviously very friendly, but there wasn’t much spark. I felt sorry for them. I would give one tight cuddle with a girl I loved over cumming in all three holes of a prostitute in an hour any day. Natalie was getting her love-fix by proxy via Pakpao and I which left Lucas emotionally abandoned.

We took the chance to have quick showers and shave and generally freshen up; we were back to the bar before there was any sign of the girls though.

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The girls returned just as the bar owner, whose name I still didn’t know, was stacking a fire out on the beach. We were going to have another evening on the beach around a fire.

The girls were stunning. They had brought new dresses earlier and they were trying them out on us. They had even done make-up. Natalie was wearing a tight shiny orange dress with spaghetti should straps and an open back and a flare and slit from the mid-thigh onwards. She looked like a film star or catwalk model. There was no way she would be able to sit down on a cushion on the beach. Pakpao was wearing a small black dress, very short, that barely covered her butt. It had no should straps but the top was kind of folded over and connected to very short arms, leaving her neck and shoulders bare and inviting. Her hair was so glossy. She had blue eye shadow that shimmered in the sunset when she blinked. She was grinning nervously. She needed to be told how beautiful she was. I did the telling. She glowed, her confidence building. We stood at the bar and, although it was just the four of us, we ‘mingled’. Natalie was in a very good mood and I tried to direct it onto Lucas and cheer him up.

Us boys were underdressed, but we didn’t have anything to change into. And then the owner’s wife surprised us by presenting us with a shirt each, our own short-sleeved shirts, which she had just ironed. The girls had arranged that too. And putting on freshly ironed shirts really changed the mood for the better.

A bar with a fire out front on the beach can be seen for miles and was a classic way to attract visitors like moths. Several pensioner couples walked all the way from Khao Lak and ate and drank that evening at The Wigwam and we mingled with those too. They too felt they had found a little bit of paradise.

We ate a delicious meal under the fairy lights in the glow of the fire after the sun went down. Because we had eaten a large meal not so long before, this meal was quite light and lots of small dishes we helped ourselves to and we took our time. By about 10pm the girls got up and began to dance around the fire. I was mesmerized. Both Pakpao and Natalie could really dance well, swaying smoothly and slowly in perfect time with the music from the bar’s ghettoblaster. Natalie was doing that new kind of ‘look like a vine with your hands in the air’ dance and Pakpao was copying it perfectly with a natural grace. Those two girls really could dance! Lucas and I sat awkwardly and watched the show, too nervous to join them so instead enjoying the view.

Then a couple of the pensioner wives dragged their husbands up and began smooching – that’s what we used to call slow dancing without real dance-steps – around the fire too. Somehow that wasn’t disgusting. Then our two girls came back to the bar and grabbed us boys and led us back to the fire. Natalie had grabbed me so Pakpao grinned and grabbed Lucas. And then I was slowly smooching around the fire with Natalie’s assets pressed against me, forcing our heads to be several inches apart. It simply wasn’t possible for her to get any closer.

I forgot I couldn’t really dance. I just kept rocking Natalie around the fire. I surreptitiously glanced around to trying to spot Pakpao and Natalie giggled and told me to relax.

“Isn’t she lovely?” Natalie asked me, ‘she’ being Pakpao. I nodded shyly. “You make her very happy” Natalie confided. I needed that confirmation. I felt good. “You really are forever?” she asked. Again I nodded shyly. Natalie pushed back slightly and stopped moving and stared me hard in the eyes “If you ever hurt her I will get on a plane ‘n’ hunt you down ‘n’ cut your fucking gruffnuts off.” she hissed. Then she smiled and said prettily “But you’d never do that” and she pulled me close again and started swaying as we slowly circled the fire.

We were too busy chatting quietly to notice the song change but suddenly we bumped into a couple of pensioners who were trying to get our attention. The gentleman asked if he could have the pleasure of this dance with Natalie and a cheerful wife then beamed at me expectantly so I was forced to ask her to dance likewise. And so we had swapped partners with two pensioners...

“You make such a lovely couple; your girlfriend could be a model!” the little old lady gushed. I had to smile. “She’s not my girlfriend” I confided. “Oh my! I don’t have to worry about my husband, do I?” she teased back. Then, thinking I needed a nudge, she started reiterating how beautiful Natalie was and what a lovely couple we would make. Embarrassed, I interrupted her and pointed out Pakpao, who was now dancing with another pensioner. That shut the old biddy up! After a pause she said meekly “Well she’s very pretty too” and I smiled at her discomfort. I was quite enjoying the dance. I couldn’t see Lucas; I think he had sat down in the bar.

After a couple of dances – I’m sure I’ve heard somewhere that you should always dance at least two songs with each partner – we were interrupted by Natalie and the old man and so we swapped back. Natalie seemed eager to return and I wondered if the old man had tried anything. The old lady had a puzzled expression on her face too, although she tried to suppress it. Now Natalie was really pushing into me so it was almost that she was leading. I asserted myself and tried to keep us sweeping around the fire; I was beginning to pick up the simple slow dance. The lowness of the back of her dress made it hard to avoid my hand touching her skin and she somehow managed to get extra close each time I accidentally brushed her there. I tried to keep my hands low enough to avoid the hole down the back whilst high enough not to graze her buttocks. It took a lot of concerntration.

I worked us around to where Pakpao was dancing and I interrupted them and asked to swap partners. They agreed and so now, finally, I was finally dancing with my girlfriend.

Pakpao was really enjoying herself. She looked fantastic. She held me tightly, possessively, as we demonstrated to the pensioners what a couple in love really looked like. Looking down at her upturned face pressed against my chest I saw her eyes closed, the eye shadow glistening seductively in the firelight. In my head a little fantasy played out in my imagination where I picked Pakpao up by her bottom and spun her around in a fast crazy waltz. I didn’t dare try it real life but in my mind’s eye I could see Pakpao’s overjoyed face as I spun her giddily around and around as we circled the fire. Pakpao was gyrating against the lump in my shorts. With her short dress and bare legs I begun to fear that soon she would be flashing everyone. A dirty part of my mind wondered just how much she had waxed.

Natalie and some other partner interrupted Pakpao and I again after a while, and I had to endure another couple of songs with the sexy model. Natalie seemed to not want to dance with Pakpao’s partner when I had worked our way strategically close with the intention of swapping again, and I begun to fear that maybe they were being a bit too grabby for the girls. I wondered if should do something; if they were too grabby for Natalie, what was Pakpao putting up with? Luckily Lucas came alone from the bar and asked for the next dance, leaving me without a partner and free to go interrupt Pakpao and her partner once more. It had taken a long time to get back to Pakpao. I was feeling a bit put-upon by everyone else. Why couldn’t they leave us alone?

My lump ached as she worked against me. The fire was slowly burning down to embers. The pensioners, some still dancing, were also organising sharing a tuk tuk to take them back to the town. It was very late. As the pensioners left just Natalie and Lucas and Pakpao and I were left slow-dancing around the coals.

Natalie led a willing Lucas to bed. I was about to suggest we go to bed too to Pakpao when she started tugging me off towards our sofa swing. And so, as the bar closed behind us and the fairy lights were extinguished, Pakpao and I slunk into the seat and started to swing gently.

My heart was surprisingly calm. Pakpao seemed so content too. She seemed to just want to hold me tight and talk, and I was content to let her. If we had gone to bed we would have heated up quickly; but sitting outside on the swing in the cooling night air, we cooled down and slowed down. She sat straddling my lap facing me and I could feel her bottom cheeks and skimpy knickers cupped in my hands as I held her there. She was purring and nibbling my ear and whispering in Thai. The massive bump in my trousers was rubbing against her knickers and we were very gently slowly dry-humping, but somehow it wasn’t escalating to full on fore-play. It was just as though when we were this physically close and wanting to talk our bodies just naturally went into rubbing touching feeling mode while we ignored them.

“Thank you” she whispered as she pressed her forehead against my nose. Her hair smelled of shampoo and wood smoke. “Thank you for what?” I asked gently. “Thank you for making me feel like an English lady” she said huskily. I didn’t know what to say. I saw her as an exotic beauty. I wisely said nothing.

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We actually fell asleep on the sofa. It wasn’t until 10am that the sun, which had come up at 6am, moved far enough clockwise to shine directly on us. Pakpao was still clutched to my chest. I looked down at Pakpao snoozing peacefully; I felt guilty waking her, but my bladder was fit to burst. I gently dropped down from the sofa, trying not to dislodge or wake her. She clung tightly, helping me cope with the weight. Even small grown-ups are surprisingly heavy if you have to carry them. I staggered back to the bar.

The owner – I really needed to learn his and his wife’s names – was puttering about the bar whistling quietly. Natalie and Lucas were sitting at a low table looking as tired as I felt. Natalie clasped her hand to her mouth to smother a laugh, for fear of waking Pakpao. I carried my sleeping beauty past them towards the huts.

Gently I laid her down on the mattress, her head on the pillow. She was smiling. I wondered if she was pretending to sleep. “I’ll be back in a moment” I said in case she was listening. I crept out and rushed over to the toilet and shower block in the jungle to freshen up. I didn’t want to return smelling of smoke, sweat and wee so I very quickly showered before I rushed back to my sweetheart.

She was laying serenely, her jet black hair spread like rays out over the pillow. Her short dress was bunched around her waist, her silky smooth legs slightly apart and her black little knickers taunt. Her eye shadow dragging my eyes upwards, her plump pouting lips drawing me in. I crept up the mattress beside her and lent over to give her a tiny peck on the lips to see if my sleeping beauty would wake.

“We will get ... lines ... in my dress” she said quietly, factually, her eyes still pressed shut. She was awake. She was enjoying me being there. I looked her over. It wasn’t obvious how to get her dress off while she was laying down. I didn’t think she meant me to leave her alone. “There’s a zip up the side” she said helpfully, sensing my confusion. I checked each side. Even though I now knew to look for a zip, it was hard to spot. Located, I slowly slid it down, exposing a thin slither of warm soft chocolate skin. I experimentally ran my hand up it and she giggled before trying to look asleep again. As I eased the dress down she gently lifted her back and then her hips and then legs off the mattress so it could pass. Now, finally, Pakpao was laying in her underwear on the mattress. She had unclipped the shoulder straps from her bra and it wasn’t quite holding her breasts in place and I could see the tops of her nipples. I ran my hand up over her tummy again. He was grinning playfully. She lifted her shoulders off the mattresses again so I could reach around under her and unclasp the bra. I put it to one side and then sat back, admiring her, gathering the courage to make the next move. She waggled her hips a couple of times to encourage me. I took the bait. I gently slid her knickers down her legs too. Now my girlfriend was spread out naked in front of me, a thin bright pink slit glistening in the jet black triangle. I could smell her musty arousal.

Her hand reached out, patting and searching the mattress beside her until it found my knew. She explored upwards until she came to the material of my shorts. She giggled. “You don’t want to get any lines in these either” she admonished me. I was undressed and naked beside her in seconds.

Her hands caressed me. One slipped down and reached around my cock. My heart beat so fast it felt like it was going to burst out of my chest. She stroked me. She was moving her legs wider. “Have you got a condom?” she asked huskily. I hadn’t been thinking.

I hurriedly poked around in my rucksack looking for my box. Breaking it open I took a small foil sachet. It was too late to read the instructions. Pakpao was laying on the bed writhing and waiting, her face a screaming her need. I tore open the packet and unrolled the condom over me. It was a tight fit. It didn’t come all the way down. I figured there must be more comfortable sizes. I waddled back to my girl and laid straight down on top of her.

We kissed passionately. Supporting my weight on one elbow, I gently carassed and squeezed a breast with the other. Her legs were wrapped around me tightly. Slowly I moved up her until my tip touched her. With the rubber on I couldn’t really feel anything. I wasn’t sure of my aim. I felt her hand easing between our tummies and searching me out, lining me up. I pushed. I felt the warmth and pressure squeezing the head as it slipped in. Her hand was feeding it, pushing it in, forcing me to move further and further up her body until my chin touched the top of her head and I had bottomed out and could feel her on my base. Her hands were wrapped around my waist now, pulling my weight down onto her. I felt her head twisting to look up at me, and I looked down, and our lips could meet and press together. We lay still, kissing, for a bit before we started to gently rock in and out, apart and together, apart and together. She was smiling so sweetly. Her smouldering eyes looked foggy. “Oh Steve! My Steve...” she panted.

We knew I wouldn’t last long. We were going slowly and I kind of knew that Pakpao wasn’t going to orgasm. This was about trying to tell each other without words how we felt about each other. Getting off wasn’t actually really the point. It was about the coupling. Getting off would be the end and we didn’t want the end to come. The condom actually felt tight and constricting and not very comfortable. I wasn’t actually getting nice feelings from the intercourse itself; I couldn’t feel very much, no matter how tight it felt. All my emotions, all my building orgasm, came from the closeness and intimacy with Pakpao. Pakpao was purring and mewing. She was so slick. Still trying to keep my weight off her by leaning on an elbow, my other hand roamed around again brushing her soft firm sides and finding a breast to cup. I felt the big hard nipple on the tip and my brain exploded, and I couldn’t help it, my loins exploded too and pumped gallons of little me deep into her. She reached up and caressed my head and held me tight to her. She looked euphorically happy. She looked so beautiful.

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That afternoon we all just crashed out under the shade of the trees that reached the high water mark. Even Lucas seemed okay with doing nothing. Pakpao was still euphorically content looking. Now we couldn’t stop holding hands or just laying with our toes touching. What we couldn’t bear was not to be touching somehow somewhere. We were inseparable. Natalie kept looking between us and laughing to herself. I idly speculated whether they too had also had a good night. The only duty on my mind was to get back to Khao Lak and buy bigger condoms before nightfall.

Then the owner’s wife called out to Pakpao and, after a bit of backwards and forwards shouting, Pakpao padded off to talk with her. Soon she came back and told us to put our sandals on and follow her.

The owner’s wife led the way along the beach away from the town for a bit, further than we had ever gone before. We were perhaps a half mile beyond The Wigwam now. Neither the owner’s wife, who spoke broken English, nor Pakpao would tell us where we were going. We were told to wait and see. And then we walked straight into the jungle.

Soon the jungle gave way to a palm plantation. These were coconut trees, growing in clusters. We threaded our way between them, never walking beneath them. There was short grass and it was easy going.

Soon we found the main event. A man had a large grey monkey with a harness. The monkey would climb the palm and twist off ripe coconuts, dropping them to the ground. The nuts landed with a thud, unbroken. Then the monkey would come down and get a treat. The monkey, although on a leash, seemed happy and comfortable with the man. The owner of the palms was collecting them in a wheelbarrow. Apparently the monkey man would go around the local plantations harvesting the coconuts.

We watched spellbound and, when the job was done, we were allowed to pet and feed the monkey the nuts that were used as treats. The handler took a comb out of his pocket and gave the monkey a thorough grooming, which the monkey clearly appreciated. Everyone seemed happy. Pakpao picked out four coconuts and we carried one each back to The Wigwam and knocked the tops off with a machete and drank from them.

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That evening I realised after dinner that I hadn’t brought any bigger condoms.

Our energy levels recovered, Natalie had dragged Pakpao away to a far corner table and they were talking and giggling in low tones. Clearly Natalie was getting the low down on the new first in her favourite love story. The kept glancing at us boys as though to check we weren’t sneaking up on them.

A thought struck me; I could borrow condoms from Lucas! He was taller than I, and surely he knew all about picking them, so surely he would have some that fitted better? I wasn’t sure how to ask. In the end, I just asked, “eh, Lucas, can’t I ask a favour? Can I borrow some condoms please?”

He looked surprised and laughed and asked quietly if I had used up a whole box. I sheepishly admitted that they didn’t fit very well. He was amused. He told me to pay attention next time. Then he slipped away to his hut and returned and pressed two foil sachets into my palm, as though passing elicit drugs. We grinned and said no more about it.

That evening at sun-down some pensioners approached. Now they had discovered this secluded bar word was spreading and a new crop of tourists would make the trek out to join the backpackers for the evening. There were more than the night before, and the owner and his wife seemed really pleased.

As the bar started to fill up and we made small-talk, I lost sight of Pakpao. I found her a while later in the kitchen helping to cook. I felt a serious concern and guilt that she was back in staff mode, but I realised I couldn’t go in and tell her to stop. She was helping. She was helpful. Its embarrassing how long it took me, standing there staring at her, to realise what I had to do myself: I went in and tried to help.

They tried to shoo me away but I was persistent. In the end they let me fry the chicken and vegetables. I was actually being helpful. Unlike helping at home, this was fun and felt good. Pakpao was glowing with approval, proud of her man. I could actually imagine cooking together when we were married.

There, I had thought that. I had thought the m-word. We had only known each other a week, only been kissing a few days, only fucking for one night. And yet I was that serious about her. And I had promised I wouldn’t drop her at the end of my holiday, and I really couldn’t imagine actually ever doing so. In my heart I saw Pakpao and I together forever happily-ever-after. I couldn’t stop grinning.

The food was popular and the cooks complimented. The tourists were quite happy to eat what was cooked rather than picking from a menu. This was a backpacker’s hostel and they liked the shack-on-a-beach informal feeling. Everyone was happy. Pakpao and I were super happy. I needed to talk with Natalie. She would know what I had to do.

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That night we got to bed quite early. Before bed we both showered, which to my mind at least constituted foreplay. I wondered what it would have been like to share a shower. In the name of saving water, of course! Once back in our hut we closed the door, which actually muffled the sound of the bar somewhat. Everyone else, even Natalie and Lucas, were still out drinking. It was just Pakpao and I who couldn’t wait any longer.

After we had checked the bed we snuggled down next to each other. Pakpao lay on my side again, like the first night, only this time naked. I could feel her soft hairy bush and burning heat on my hip.

My mind was racing. Do I say the L-word? Do I dare?

Soon we were kissing and touching and rubbing. Now Pakpao was on top of me, straddling my waist, pressing her forehead to mine and purring. I had stashed the two new condoms under the pillow and Pakpao giggled as I drew one out. She took it from my hand and laid it to one side. Then she took my hand in hers and guided me to her sex.

I tried to remember the lesson I had had from Kohsoom. I tried not to think about Kohsoom herself. I tried to rub Pakpao properly. I wasn’t quite sure of my technique but Pakpao was definitely humming and enjoying herself and approving. Slowly she started to to move her whole body up and down against my fingers. Then, without letting me stop, she lifted herself high enough so she could reach back between her legs and put the condom on. It slipped on easily. It was still quite tight and didn’t go all the way down but it was a lot better than the previous time.

Soon Pakpao was easing herself down on me. I kept my hand pressed against her, trying to find her clit, as she rode me. My other hand sought upwards to cup a breast. The sight of her little breasts and big nipples rising and falling in the dim light were so titillating.

I could feel her little heart beating to burst behind her breast. I could see her intense look watching me. I could feel insides almost, tugging and releasing me. Instinctively I began to thrust up to meet her downstrokes. We smiled merrily at each other through gritted teeth. In the half-dark her teeth were so bright.

Soon Pakpao was shuddering and collapsing on me. I felt so elated that she had had an orgasm, however small, before I had cum myself. I guessed the tight condom was slowing me down; I had heard talk like that at school. Slowly I was learning my way into the adult world.

Pakpao’s sudden stop had stopped stimulating me and when she rose back up and started moving again I had somewhat calmed down. It was so sweaty and sticky we couldn’t lay together, and Pakpao had to sit upright, her head bouncing up and down near the top of the mosquito net. And so it was in total several minutes before I too felt that tingling and finished deep inside my lovely girlfriend. We were stayed still, still connected, for several minutes until she gingerly got off of me.

After tidying up we had cooled down enough to be able to lay down again, touching. She laid on my side, half straddling me, and fell quickly asleep. I lay there, my arms wrapped tightly around her, and tried to think about how we could spend the rest of our lives together.

------------------------

The next morning Lucas was bored again. It was obvious at breakfast. And when I asked if I could take a walk with Natalie he just shrugged and went off to swim alone.

Natalie and I walked slowly along the surf line. Pakpao had watched us leave with a bemused calculating look. Natalie had waved at Lucas out in the sea. He’d just stared back at us, wondering.

Natalie strolled purposely and we were soon further up the beach, further even than the coconut field.

Her new big sun-hat really helped her as the sun beat down. She knew something was on my mind. “Did you want to walk or talk?” she eventually asked me evenly. I had been trying to work out how to phrase my dilemma. She was fed up with waiting for me.

“I think I love Pakpao” I said quietly. She looked at me appraisingly as we walked and let what I said sink in. “I think you do too” she said quietly.

“You don’t think its a bit early?” I asked carefully. She just laughed at me and rolled her eyes. She believed in love-at-first-sight.

“I promised her we’ll be together ... forever” I confided. She didn’t reply straight away. Eventually she just sighed and said “Ah”.

“So what do I do?” I asked pleadingly. I had thought Natalie would know what I had to do.

We walked further. Natalie had her head down. I started to despair at getting no answer. I wondered if I should ask again. Did she not want to talk about this?

“How rich are you?” Natalie asked suddenly. It was refreshing to get questions I didn’t have to think hard about.

“Not at all” I replied “I’m only a uni-student. This trip is all my savings. My family is poor. I guess I’m really really poor”. It didn’t bother me to admit it to Natalie.

“Pakpao thinks you are rich” she said slowly. “Pakpao thinks you can just whisk her away to England”.

Oh. I hadn’t thought about that. In Pakpao’s frame of reference, I _was_ rich. But I was carrying more cash now than I ever had in my life previously, and in English grown-up terms it wasn’t very much. Hell, it wasn’t even enough to buy Pakpao a ticket home.

A ticket home. Just the thought, just the phrase, underlined that England was my home. My rosy view of the happily-ever-after had Pakpao and I studying and living in England and then getting jobs and marrying and raising a family just like all the other English people. That was home.

Natalie was silent again. After a while she added as a footnote “I thought you were rich too”. I couldn’t really answer that.

“Do you think she will still like me when she finds out I’m poor?” I asked nervously.

“You drongo!” Natalie laughed and punched me playfully on the shoulder.

“She wants to be an English teacher” I said to change the subject slightly. Natalie was thinking again. We were now a fair way north of The Wigwam, but the beach just went on and on.

“You have two choices” Natalie announced decidedly. “Either you bring her back to England, or you stay in Thailand. What you can’t do is be apart. That isn’t fair.”

It took a while to sink in. Then she asked me pointedly to describe how things were with uncle Roger, whom she had seen as we left Phuket.

I wasn’t sure how things were with uncle Roger. But it was obvious now that he was who I should be asking advice from. Accepting this as the very best plan of action, Natalie was pondering whether we should return to Phuket immediately.

“You don’t have to come” I said, “You and Lucas are supposed to go to Bangkok!”

“He can go alone” Natalie said distantly. It was clear where her own priorities lay. I had kind of suspected it, but it was a shock to hear it.

“What about you and Lucas?” I asked carefully. Now it was Natalie’s turn to talk.

“What about us?” she fenced back. She hadn’t come on this walk to talk about herself.

I took a moment to play with the phrasing; I settled on “Are you going to split up?”

“He’s easy company and the sex is okay” she replied quietly, “but he’s so immature. He’s not ready for a proper relationship. And get real, he lives on the other side of the world!”

She seemed deflated “There aren’t enough good men in this world.”

We walked in silence. Looking over my shoulder I couldn’t even see The Wigwam any more. The beach this far north was deserted and we were all alone.

Natalie laughed as though something funny had occurred to her. “I should have dumped Lucas in Patong and gone north alone with you, Steve” she smiled coyly. She was watching me too long. I felt hot suddenly. “I have a girlfriend” I squeaked.

She laughed. “You didn’t then!” That was true. She had slowed to a stop. “So nice to meet a boy who can see past _these_“ she giggled and, in one swift motion, tugged her bikini top down so her massive boobs popped out. They were there in front of me. She turned in towards me so I could get a better look. I just stood there, stupefied.

Her silly grin faltered and evaporated. She looked unsure and scared. She quickly pulled her boulder holders back up, covering them again. She crossed her arms then pressed them behind her arms as she brought both hands to cover her mouth in shock. She looked mortified.

“Oh my god! I’m soooo sorry! I don’t know what the fuck I was thinking! I’m so sorry! I didn’t know what I was doing! I was just so lonely, and I really really like you...” she flustered. “ ... Please, please don’t tell Pakpao. Oh my god, don’t tell Pakpao” and she looked genuinely extremely embarrassed and sorry.

“I’m sorry. I really like you too” I said quietly, uncertain “but I love Pakpao”. She had taken me by surprise. Natalie had always been way way way out of my league. No girls at home had ever propositioned me. And now a girl who looked like a model was gunning for me. I was lost.

“I could ask her if she’d share” Natalie smirked, her confidence back. Then she realised what she had just said out loud and she looked all shocked and sorry again. I playfully punched her on the shoulder and pretended not to take her seriously. But my mind was reeling. I couldn’t imagine having a relationship or intimacy with anyone in the world but Pakpao.

We walked slowly back to The Wigwam. I changed the subject by getting Natalie to talk about life in Australia; it seemed safer than silence. Silence would only have given us time to think about what had just happened.

As The Wigwam got closer Natalie started to drag her feet. I wished it hadn’t happened. I bet she wished it hadn’t happened. I whispered to her “Forget it happened”. She looked at me, her eyes scared and vulnerable. She nodded. “Brave face!” I extolled and then we went the final few feet to the bar, pretending nothing had happened.

------------------------

That evening we borrowed the owner’s two mopeds to go back into Khao Lak. We could have arranged a tuk tuk but I really wanted to feel Pakpao leaning into my back again as we drove. It wasn’t very far on moped.

When we arrived just after nightfall we looking for a restaurant. This time Natalie was picking, and none of the restaurants seemed to be right for her. She was avoiding the seafront and we were inspecting the menus of the smaller restaurants a little bit nearer the town centre. Lucas was getting a bit irritated traipsing after her and in turn she was short with him. I realised that really Natalie was mostly watching the budget; perhaps she was mindful that we had been burning through my spending money and thought I had been too generous thus far. In the end we found one that was both super-romantic and quite cheap; a winning combination. We took a table for four, being so early and being off-season were almost the only guests.

The food was routine; good, but not as good as when Pakpao cooked. Or maybe I was biased? I had the Thai classic: satay chicken. The drinks were a little bit special; because we were so early, it was ‘happy hour’ and the cocktails were cheaper than beer. We all took some rather strange multi-layered multi-coloured cocktails. Natalie picked them and it wasn’t until they arrived and the waitress said their names that the rest of us realised they all had suggestive names!

Pakpao had ‘sex on the beach’, Natalie had ‘a long slow screw against the wall’ and I had ‘ménage à trois’ and Lucas got a ‘quick climax’. The temperature plummeted. Pakpao wasn’t aware of what most of the names might mean, although the name of her own cocktail was explicit enough that she got all blushy and giggly. But Natalie clearly intended some kind of message to us boys. Lucas looked daggers at Natalie and I. I thought he was going to storm off, or hit me.

Natalie perhaps regretted her brashness and started apologising and saying she just thought the names funny, but Lucas wasn’t really buying that. I wanted to tell Natalie to stop it, but I didn’t want to expose what had happened between Natalie and I earlier. And I was alarmed that Natalie was becoming increasingly desperate. I began to get scared that she was going to tell Pakpao herself. Was it best that I warn Pakpao before Natalie made any suggestions of a threesome? Or would I only make Pakpao insecure? Now I was looking daggers at Natalie too. Had Natalie really just picked it to embarrass me and make me feel awkward in a practical-joke kind of way, or had she picked it to give me a very specific message that she was available? Luckily Pakpao was too embarrassed sipping her own cocktail to really watch the silent stand-off in front of her.

So Natalie had managed to make her boyfriend pissed off and make me extremely nervous and the dinner had only just started. To cover the awkwardness the three of us all just sipped our cocktails which meant the glasses were empty in no time flat. And then, predictably, the waitress came and asked us if we wanted more.

Lucas swore off, as he was driving. I took the same out. And so Natalie, clearly going off the rails, ordered a pitcher of ‘ménage à trois’ for the girls, reasoning that it was best to buy quantity while it was still ‘happy hour’. Things were heading down hill fast.

I don’t know how Lucas got through the dinner without exploding. He was like a ticking time-bomb. I knew I found it difficult. An increasingly drunk Natalie was giggling and getting along really well with Pakpao, who was kind of unaware that the boys were fuming. Natalie kept asking me if I wanted to share the girls ‘ménage à trois’ despite my protests that I was driving. I swear she’d brought that pitcher just to try and share with Pakpao and I. I was in shock. She was crazy.

As we reached the end of our main course Natalie announced we were returning to Phuket. Lucas looked disorientated. Pakpao looked confused. Natalie explained that I had to introduce Pakpao to uncle Roger and suddenly Pakpao got all happy and didn’t feel the need to ask any questions. Lucas though looked even more pissed off.

It was two very different couples who left the restaurant that evening; Pakpao had had rather more alcohol than she was used to and was giggling and happy and holding on to me and pawing me like she wanted to rip my clothes off, whereas Natalie and Lucas were walking noticeably apart, a very drunk Natalie wobbling with her arms folded across her bosom and Lucas walking with his hands stuffed firmly in his pockets. I was just glad we all got back to The Wigwam in one piece.

When we got back Natalie timidly asked Pakpao if she could sleep in her room. Pakpao hadn’t been completely blind to the fact that Natalie and Lucas weren’t getting along and readily agreed.

It was so comfortable to slip into bed with Pakpao laying naked on my side again. I ran my fingers through her long hair and held her tight. It was uncomfortable, though, when she asked what was wrong with Natalie and Lucas. I wasn’t sure what to answer. “They don’t love each other” I hazarded. Pakpao nodded. “Natalie is jealous of me” she said. This shook me. “She might be envious” I replied, “Jealous means she wants exactly what you have; envious means she wants the same kind of things as you have” I tried to explain. “I know the difference” Pakpao chided me. My mind reeled: did this mean Pakpao knew Natalie had propositioned me? I held my girlfriend tight and said with conviction “All I want is you” and she smiled and we started to make love.

------------------------

Early the next morning after breakfast a minivan arrived to take us back to Phuket. I settled our bill which was rather long and detailed and, I trusted, quite accurate. It was shocking just how many Singhas we had drunk, but we had been drinking it like it was water all through the day and so I wasn’t really surprised. The food and accommodation was dwarfed by the drinks bill. I computed a tip and carefully counted out a sizeable portion of my entire spending money and mused that it was best to return to Phuket because I could barely afford another couple of weeks at this burn rate.

We were gathering our bags by the van when Lucas announced he wasn’t following with us. I wasn’t surprised, to be honest. Pakpao gave him a quick hug. Natalie stood apart with her arms crossed. It was I who had a small chat and wished him well. “Be careful of Natalie” he warned me without elaborating.

The mercy was that the minivan drove quite fast and had air-conditioning. The downside was it was several times more expensive than a ‘bus’. We arrived in good shape at The Bamboo Bar and Bed just a couple of hours later.

The bar was obviously still closed – there was no sign of Aat – but Pakpao had a key and opened the gate. She ushered us in and locked it behind us. Then she led us to the accommodation block so we could leave our stuff.

Accommodation was split into rooms with four or six bunkbeds to a room. There was a small room on each end with the word ‘Private’ on. Pakpao unlocked one of them and showed me into her room. There was just a single mattress on the floor and a mosquito net and lamp and some pictures tacked to the wall. It was a converted broom cupboard with a small vent but no window. A gecko disappeared out of the vent as we entered. Aat’s room was the little room at the other end of the block. Pakpao indicated I should put my bag next to hers and then she led Natalie into an empty dorm room in the middle of the corridor. It felt strange leaving Natalie so alone, and yet I really didn’t dare share a dorm with her. It was a relief that Pakpao seemed to know that Natalie fancied me.

The problem with Natalie was that we really liked her. The three of us got along extremely well, even though we now all understood there was a love-triangle going on. I figured Natalie’s infatuation with me was really because of an absence of competition, and once we settled back into life in Phuket she would find another Lucas to latch onto and use up. Who knows, maybe the next boy would be _the_ boy and Natalie would find the true-love she craved? Or maybe she would go back to Bali to join up again with her friends there?

Pakpao and Natalie changed into their bikinis and went out for a swim. I took my leave and took a tuk tuk over to uncle Roger’s house. I had promised to meet the girls back by the back gate of the Bamboo Bar and Bed that evening.

------------------------

Uncle Roger snorted. “She’s caught you by the curlies!”

He didn’t seem too upset really though. He was disappointed I hadn’t brought her with me. He was keen that he and Nin meet her again. If they’d known she was a potential bride they would have paid more attention that first time they’d met.

I told them we meant to spend the rest of our lives together. They both snorted at that. But they humoured me, and started discussing options. Normally, they explained, an Englishman would commit to marry a Thai girl before they even actually met. It was kind of novel for romance to be involved. This news wasn’t surprising, although it seemed that Nin and Roger had some kind of real love going on and they cared for each other. I wondered again if Nin was a mail order bride.

The thing I didn’t have was money. With money, everything is easy. You can go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and pick up an express 1-day marriage license and be married the same day! Then you can go to the British Consulate – there was even one in Phuket – to arrange for British Citizenship, or you can apply for a visa and so on. It was straightforward and Roger could arrange it all. The only problem was that I was poor. In order to marry Pakpao I would have to pay her parents a dowry, called a Sin Sod. It surprised me that in Thailand the women were the land-owners and inherited the houses and that the men had to pay a dowry and were expected to move in with their wife’s parents. All the time I had been thinking about the men as being the ‘bar owners’ and it was probably the wives that owned those beach bars! It was all kind of confusing. I wondered if Pakpao was the oldest daughter, and I wondered generally how girls went to work in the go-go bars if they were set to inherit things. I had the feeling that I really didn’t _get_ the explanation of how the whole thing worked.

Yet another complication was that I wouldn’t be eighteen until one week _after_ I was due to arrive home in England. In Thailand you can marry if you are seventeen _and can legally marry in your home country_. That cravat was the kicker: at seventeen you can only marry in England _with your parents consent_, and my parents were not available to be easily asked. Of course in England seventeen year-olds make a dash to Scotland to marry – Gretna Green and all that – but the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs wasn’t going to follow that line of reasoning. I would have to wait over two weeks in order to get married in a day.

Roger ummed and ahhed. I had the impression that if he had really approved of the whole thing he would have pushed it through easily enough. I had to get him to like Pakpao so would sponsor my wedding Sin Sod.

------------------------

Roger and Nin sat across from us at one of the restaurants near their house. Natalie sat on the end of the table on best behaviour. Pakpao and Nin seemed careful in front of each other; I was unsure what the hierarchy was, and unsure if they really knew either. I was mostly just glad they hadn’t arranged to meet at Otto’s bar.

Roger was staring too obviously at Natalie. She seemed oblivious and I wasn’t sure if she was putting it out to win Roger over for us or if she was disgusted inside. Nin didn’t bat an eyelid but how comfortable could she feel having a husband lech over a young girl?

Pakpao was squeezing my hand so tight I couldn’t feel any blood circulating.

The food was delicious. The questioning was probing. They seemed to zero in on Pakpao’s aspirations as a teacher and ask lots of questions about her high school diploma. Then Pakpao and Nin went to powder their noses.

Roger looked up at Natalie and grinned “Why don’t you marry this young lady, Steve? It would be much easier” he laughed, at a joke I didn’t think funny. “Oh I wish” Natalie cooed and fluttered her eyelids at me in obvious jest. Roger laughed louder. “I offered him a ménage à trois...” Natalie said softly, her eyes on mine. Roger looked like he was having a seizure as the cogs whirled and he doubtless imagined the possibilities in graphic detail; then he settled on the possibility it was a joke and he laughed even louder. My insides reeled; Natalie knew exactly how to scare me and tease me. A supremely composed Natalie got up elegantly to follow the other girls to powder her nose.

Roger looked across at me, suddenly serious. “You two cannot marry. Not yet. You should wait. If you really are in love, you will marry anyway. Here’s what we will do instead:” and he puffed his chest out and paused dramatically. “We will arrange for a tourist or student visa for Pakpao. I will _lend_ you the money for her to fly home with you. I will also _lend_ you the money for her flight back if you two break up. When you get Pakpao to England you have to take her to university with you.” He paused and looked up; the ladies were returning; “Okay?”.

I nodded.

I felt as though a massive weight had been lifted from my chest.

I wondered what Pakpao’s parents would say.

I didn’t even consider what my parents might think. They didn’t even know I had a girlfriend.

That evening, over a desert of deep fried banana, ice cream and syrup Roger outlined his plan. It was met with enthusiasm by everyone, although Natalie lamented that she wouldn’t be a brides maid and complained that she was only staying in Phuket because she was awaiting our wedding. Everyone laughed.

------------------------

The constant drone of the aircraft’s engines filled my ears. One of my legs ached and the other was numb. I shifted sideways in the seat, trying to fold them up slightly differently so as to encourage the blood to start circulating again. My knees pressed against the back of the stool in front of me. Some of us had woken and lifted a few blinds from the windows and sun streamed into the cabin. It was probably a shaft of sunlight that had woken me. I looked around the aeroplane at my fellow passengers, most of them arranged at awkward uncomfortable angles, deep in slumber on thin pale yellow airline pillows and under thin pale yellow airline blankets. Pakpao’s jet black hair spread radiantly out over the small airline pillow on my lap. I looked down at my sleeping beauty. It was her first flight on an aeroplane and her first trip abroad and I knew excitement welled inside her. My name is Steve and I was on my way home to England with my fiancée and my parents didn’t even know I had a girlfriend. I rummaged in the seat back in front of me and pulled out the packs of photos that Natalie had developed for us as an early wedding present. On my lap, my fiancée was pretending to sleep. Softly she whispered “We will get ... lines ... in my dress. It unzips down the side..."

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Comments (1)
Sticker Patch — 12 June 2019 22:10
Excellent and very accurate what SE Asia used to be like. I fear disease and drugs have changed it dramatically. I was in Phuket and it was very cheap and the Singha beer would knock you on your ass after 3 or so. The women were warm and very enthusiastic. I "rented" one for 3 days and went back for seconds a few months later. I have some friends with a bar there but doubt they are alive...
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