Ann is your typical and also not-so-typical Thai girl. She is a bartender at a bar on the River Kwai road in Kanchanaburi. It’s a small bar, more like a food truck, with just one staff person: Ann. There’s no waitress, no table service, there’s just Ann whom you ask for a drink.
Last night, I met a gora in his middle age at Ann’s bar. When I asked him for how many days he has been in Thailand, he said: “9 years. Here’s my wife,” he continued pointing to a Thai lady sitting next to him, “I’m a fisherman in Norway but live here for the better part of the year. This girl here, Ann, is my niece.”
It’s Sunday evening now and all is quite in this beautiful town of Kanchanaburi. Most of the tourists have gone to other destinations or back to Bangkok to catch their onward flights. Since I am not like the other tourists, I’m still here. Walking past her bar, I notice she’s just standing idle and looks a little sad. I walk up to her and ask for a drink. (If you are religious and know me personally, it was just a soda.)
We start to talk. I tell her I’m from Pakistan. She knows nothing about it — not even the terrorists every household grows in their backyard, as some others think. I tell her it’s a Muslim country and we don’t have bars like these. “Oh,” she says.
I ask her about life in Kanchanaburi and if she goes to a college or university. She laughs and tells me she’s done with her education. (Thai women look quite younger than their age, I’ve now come to know.) “So what do you do in the day?” I ask. “I sleep—mostly,” she responds. “Ah,” I say.
She’s done with her education but it’s not enough to get her a big shot job in Bangkok. She works at a small business in her town and lives on her own. She makes 8 thousand Baht a month, half of which goes to rental and utilities. She doesn’t get the weekend off, though there’s a one-week vacation in a year. She has friends and goes out sometimes but that’s usually for dinner. Drinking isn’t her liking.
Before leaving I ask if what she makes is enough and if she’s happy with her life and work. “It’s not much but at least it’s not the wrong type of work. I do fine,” she tells me.