Part 5 - In Love with Thailand

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AT FIRST SIGHT, she had fallen in love with Thailand, the sights, the people and the climate.

Other backpackers in Bangkok had advised, "Go to Samui. Get laid, have fun, and loads of cheap drugs."

That was not her, so Debbie decided the sunny beaches could wait. First, she wanted to see and experience the history of Kanchanaburi. The sadness of World War II would be part of her degree course, therefore it was a chance to see the graves and learn from the locals. So, she took the sluggish train, leaving the capital city just before eight in the morning. Arriving at her destination, she jumped down the steps to the platform, Debbie couldn't wait to soak up the history of the area. She saw the famous bridge, (even if it wasn't the original) she shed a tear in the moving wartime cemetery with its row upon row of pristine graves and ending a busy day she visited the area's museum, before searching for food and a clean and inexpensive guesthouse.

An Australian couple was eating at the next table.

"Excuse me, do you know that guy?" said the bearded Aussie, showing a man with his eyes.

Debbie turned and glanced at the person at the back of the restaurant.

Turning back, she said, "No, why?"

"He has been staring at you ever since you sat down."

The female with him added, "Be careful, we heard about a murder and the rape of a backpacker near here recently."

"Thanks, I'll be careful," said Debbie.

The Aussies strapped on their backpacks, exchanged email addresses, paid their bill and left with a cheery wave.

Debbie was just thinking how great it was that backpackers seemed to stick together, like a worldwide club. It was something she would mention in her next mail to her parents.

"That will please them," she thought.

She then remembered she should check her Facebook account to see how the others she had met, some who likewise had suffered from 'Delhi Belly' in India. She wondered how they were recovering.

Sensing movement behind her, she was frozen, staring straight ahead.

"Do you mind if I sit down?" said a chiffon smooth voice.

The person who had taken such an interest in her earlier had now moved to the front, he was a neat young man. He gently lifted the chair, lifting rather than scraping it on the tiled floor. Neat in every way. His blonde hair was trimmed neatly, his clothes were neat, he appeared neat and sleek, not muscly but fit and... neat.

Then she was struck by his eyes. They were not neat; they were worthy of a Da Vinci portrait. Beautiful.

"Oh, his eyes, ice blue and gorgeous. Peer into mine, please!"

She was worried she had spoken her thought out loud.

The dreamy thought flashed for an instant. She had to hold her breath before she answered.

"Please sit down. What can I do for you?" she almost panted.

As he bent to sit, his lips were eighteen inches from her pout. It felt as if he was stroking her heart. The few seconds he waited before answering seemed heavenly.

"I think I can do something for you. You are new to the region. Am I correct? Do you need someone to show you the sights?"

A small gasp escaped before she spoke, "Thank you, but I can't afford a tour guide." "No one mentioned a fee. I would love for you to accompany me on a brief visit to some wonderful spots, places tourists are unaware of. And I'll treat you to a meal afterwards."

She studied the beautifully pressed shirt, the stainless steel fountain pen in its pocket, "Who uses fountain pens these days?" crossed her mind as she peered once more at his eyes. Debbie knew she should say no.

"Thank you, I'd love to go," she stammered.

He laid a hundred-Baht note under her plate and walked to his car. Debbie followed two steps behind.

He opened the passenger door of his year-old Mercedes; she slid across the leather and waited for him to sit beside her.

He eased himself into the seat and looked over to her.

"Have you heard or read about the Daowadueng Cave, it is the most famous and beautiful cave in Thailand? However, we will not be going there. Too many tourists. Okay?"

He checked her reaction. A few seconds passed. He carried on.

"For your information, they only discovered it in 1972. Meaning there are still more caves to be found."

He looked away dreamily; she wondered what was on his mind. She hoped it was more than caves. Then he carried on.

"Daowadueng Cave is 100 metres deep and is divided into eight chambers, they name each after its lime formations. Names such as the chandelier chamber, the pagoda chamber and the curtain chamber. They are deeply religious and I'm afraid sadly boring. And now, as I've told you all about the Buddhist stuff, there is no need to go. We will go somewhere far better."

"Excuse me. Are you Thai?" she asked.

"Only part of me is, the rest is okay," he laughed.

"But..."

"Yes, I don't look Asian," almost preening himself. "My mother was Thai, my father mixed blood. My grandfather was Austrian."

"No, I was about to ask about your religion?"

"Again, my father and mother were Buddhist, my grandfather was something else."

A confused silence as she adjusted her legs. He was not a body language expert, but he knew she was opening herself to him.

He carried on, "You've read all the guidebooks, so you know the region has many caves. Many more are as yet undiscovered. However, today, we will go to my favourite. Ruea cave is 46 meters deep with no stalagmites or stalactites, which, as you've doubtless read is unusual. Its attractions are the relics of some prehistoric people who once lived there. Several coffins inside are made from the trunk of an ancient tree, they look similar to boats and give the cave its name. Ruea means boat. They carved the upper part of the coffin in the image of a human head with eyes, nose, and ears. The coffins are guarded by the cave protectors, worried about the damage they stop people from visiting. However, we shall go in."

He looked at her shoes; he had already noticed they were up to the walk.

From that moment, she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him.

She hoped he thought as much of her as he did of the caves.

Vote in a cave? We all love Thailand.

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