My adventure started around the year 2002/3. We were planning the trip of a lifetime (for my wife and myself), but it didn’t start out as a trip to Thailand although in the end that’s what it was. For many reasons the trip we wanted to take was not working out the way we wanted it to when we were deciding on the details for the trip and so the Asia trip was born. Firstly though, we had to get all details finalized with the travel agent due to my wife being disabled. That was not a problem on any count as we were told the Thai Airways flight team would make sure everything would be dealt with for my wife to have an easy trip. I have to say at this point they were fantastic and always on my subsequent trips back and forth from England or Thailand I try my best to use Thai Airways. However we did not consider if it would be easy to use a wheel chair on the coast of Phuket or anywhere else in Thailand, but when we eventually arrived in Thailand it was lucky my wife was able to get around without it as roads, curbs and pavements were not really suited for wheel chairs.
Having never been to Thailand or any Asian country this was going to be an adventure to tell the grandchildren (yes we have two) and probably never do again we thought, however we can never know what is around the corner…can we!! Unknown to us was the adventure fate had in store or how it would have an amazing affect on our lives which would change so much for us both. We arrived in Bangkok late afternoon around Xmas time (we decided it was time for us to use the Xmas break for our adventure as the children had grown up and Xmas time was always stressful).
The 2002/3 Xmas trip was an amazing assault on our senses in every aspect possible. The beauty that is Thailand was overwhelming to say the least, but no more so than the first steps after getting off the long flight from England. My first steps were greeted with what can only be described as the feeling of someone walking straight through my body and at that point it was as though I had returned home An epiphany would probably sum it up, but why now and why me!! The 3 weeks we had from that point was amazing, we met lovely people (almost everyone at the hotel, but none more so than Orropan and Siriwan) at our expensive hotel the Patong Merlin in Patong Phuket, we had awesome food, went on beautiful trips and of course did the tourist bars and pretty much most things associated with going to bars and clubs, as my then wife was very liberal minded due to the fact that our love life was slightly lacking due to her being disabled. This enabled us to have special friends whom we had great nights with, so as you can imagine I was given my cake and allowed to eat it, so to speak.
Anyway let me go back a little to Bangkok…. Our package deal gave us beautiful hotels and the one in Bangkok was no exception. We stayed just three days in Bangkok or as I know it now as Krungthep, this allowed us time to get around the summer palace, winter palace and all the sights one should see when you go the first time. Of course this meant Patpong market, bars and clubs and I have to say it just made the senses tingle with a feeling of electricity surging through your body!!! This from a man whose wife would pretty much let him have sex at anytime and with anyone as long as she knew about it and was there. Yes were cajoled into bars and clubs, but in the best possible fun. We saw ping pong shows that left us in disbelief of what people would do for money, we bought many things from the market, fake or not who knows, but whatever they were and for how long they lasted it all added to the great Asian/Thailand adventure, so after drinking at several bars this was the first time I had ever had sex (I was going to say “been to bed with”, but you cannot call 20 minutes going to bed) with an Asian girl/lady. Even then we all agreed condoms (2) had to be used. At that time (so many years ago) I am guessing my wife paid a few pounds, although I am not sure. Afterwards I talked with my wife and said I am not sure it should have happened, but as all of us were consenting adults she said it should not be a problem.
Three days later and we were heading down to the coast of Phuket/Patong and that fantastic hotel Patong Merlin on the Patong beach. Not an inexpensive hotel by any means, however the staff was the best we had met on any trip we had made in all the other countries we had been to in the past. Staying in one hotel for a long time and you will strike up friendships and probably more so with Thai people as they are the friendliest people we have encountered in our trips. Orropan and Siriwan tried to teach us little words in Thai as I am sure they did with many other guests and even today almost 10 years on I still have contact with them and other people you will encounter in this adventure. As a keen photographer I would go out every morning and walk the beaches and streets to capture something of everywhere we went and Thailand was no exception, but with even more beauty to excite the camera lens and myself. We would go out most nights by tuk tuk and see more of the island during the day and then go to the red light/bar area of Patong in the evenings. At this point I have to say I was in paradise, good food, great beaches, fantastic people, great scenery and a fun nightlife. So it was no surprise to us to sit in a bar watching a show and end up chatting to the girls/women about our children, their children and their lives working in bars. It was there that we met a lady called Mar who with her friends danced at this bar in between the shows they would put on. Entrancing I would say she was as she danced (if you could call dancing against a pole dancing) on the stage; we chatted with this lovely lady and showed each other photos of ours and her children. Now at this point you could not imagine the turmoil that was going to befall ours and our families lives from that very first trip to Thailand.
Well the trip of a lifetime was soon over, the 3 weeks passed and we were on our way home and planning the next trip for December 2004.