DECEMBER 27, 1978
Christmas in Bangkok, Thailand, was a delightful experience, but it hardly compared to my 38th birthday. It is 1978 and Tom and I have made our way from Saudi Arabia to the Far East for our first adventure together. Our tour guide showed us all the special sites in Bangkok and after Christmas day we headed north to Chaing Mai to see the Hill tribes and float along the Mekok River, a branch of the famed Mekong River. Two days after Christmas we were further up north in Chaing Rai, a smaller hill town, and it just happened to be my birthday.
Tom, ever wanting to be the gentleman and pleaser, spoke to our adorable little Thai guide and asked her about a place to celebrate my birthday, a place where we could have dinner, and really celebrate. He accomplished this without my being aware. As the evening wore on we boarded rickshaws, which were much too small for most of us westerners, and they transported us to a local nightclub.
There I was in a little provincial town with delightful people doing everything to make me happy; the band playing, and everyone singing Happy Birthday to me. Locals were dancing the waltz and two-step so beautifully, and I was lucky enough to be able to waltz myself. The club was festive and colorfully decorated. I soon noticed a board lighted up on the wall.
After our lovely dinner I excused myself to go to the ladies room. I then found myself in a room full of gorgeous, young Thai women. Back at our table I looked again up at that lighted board and noticed the numbers attached to the lights and then a light bulb went on in my head: I was celebrating my birthday in a whore house. What a laugh I had as did the rest of our party. Of course, I am sure the guy who organized our tour from Arabia knew it, but my roommate (a former nun) and Tom didn’t. Our little local guide did, and she was embarrassed, but it was the only place in Chaing Rai that had any semblance of a night club atmosphere. I would not have missed it for the world. It remains my most exciting birthday ever. However, I still feel bad about No. 37. No one ever chose her. Her light remained on all the time we were there.