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Now, one objection that might be raised with respect to the rule with which I ended my previous entry—that one should not say anything negative about China to your Chinese partner—is: Don’t couples need to be truthful with each other? And if the negative statement about China is true, shouldn’t I inform my partner about this fact?

I moved forwards in trust but never in blind faith. I did not have a fortune at my disposal so I had to trust but also be wary at the same time. The serious commitments to the restaurant venture and a new house could not be taken lightly. I was aware of some of the horror stories involved in dating Asian women, and Thai women in particular. I had read the blog articles and the best-selling book on the subject. I hoped and prayed I wasn’t about to sleepwalk into a nightmare. I have a trusting nature. I tend to trust people until I find out otherwise. That’s the way I am. I knew that so why worry about the future?

The next few weeks were all go. In the main it was all about the restaurant. This is what we decided. Or, rather Noi decided and I went along with the plan. Mama had a good few yards of empty space in front of her house. The idea was to build a roadside restaurant there. At present it remained empty and had a rough gravel covering. A few chickens ran around and Mama had some colorful flower borders down one side. Apart from that it was under used. Mama was keen on the idea too. She would eventually receive some rent from Noi for the use of the land.

Noi worked damn hard making it happen. First, we bought some bags of cement. Mixed them with water and Noi levelled the whole yard by hand herself. Every time I offered to lend a hand, I was told to sit down and talk to Mama. Trouble was that Mama didn’t speak English! So, I sat. Watched. And, admired her hard work. I had no idea when I embarked on international online dating that this was part of the package! I did not complain. My function was to act as the errand boy. If she needed nails, I drove off to buy them. Chicken soup from the town, that was my job. And, not forgetting the most important function - I was the financier.

We had by now stayed in the hotel for a week. The front yard at Mama’s had been transformed into a smooth cement surface. Complete with chicken footprints! I told Noi we had to find somewhere to rent. She downed tools for a whole day searching for a place. Pee Ning came with us. Mama and Pee Ning had family in this area. It was time to enlist their help. They identified a place just off the main road in the neighboring town. The one before you arrived in Songkhla. They called it a ‘room to rent.’ In fact, it was three rooms. There was a living area, one bedroom and a kitchen. The price was right and we were given the key. The next day we spent moving in together with our belongings. We had a base.

The next phase of restaurant building then started. Noi needed a covered area for the kitchen and serving counter. It would also cover and shade a few tables and chairs for customers. We made several trips in the truck to buy the timber, more nails and the tin roofing sheets. Help in the form of Mama’s two sons and her son-in-law ensured that the structure was up in three days. Dorn, the son-in-law, was amazing. He was a carpenter by trade and it showed. He was also highly agile and could easily balance on a piece of timber 4x2 when twelve feet up in the air. The restaurant started to take shape.

I bought some ice chests and a few trestle tables and now the kitchen area was also taking shape. A trip to Hat Yai successfully located a four ring gas stove. Noi ran some wiring from the house and installed some lighting. It was almost time to open for business. But not before we did a deal with the local Coca-Cola driver. He supplied us with a large commercial refrigerator. We could now display and sell soda and beers.

A time for reflection. This is yet another vast difference between life in Asia and life in the west. Think of all the permits and other bureaucracy involved in doing the same thing in Europe or North America. Us westerners are regulated to hell and back. You want to open a restaurant in Thailand - build it! I did hope it was going to be a case of the Kevin Costners - build it and they will come! I had no need to worry. Within a few short weeks the restaurant filled up with paying customers.

It helped trade that the new roadside restaurant sat alongside a road used by landfill tipper-trucks. About three or four of them thundered by every hour of every day back and forth. Filling up with gravel and clay landfill at a quarry about 15 miles away then travelling to building sites in the Songkhla area. The trucks’ loads used for both landfill and road ballast. Once Noi placed an A-board sign on the road advertising the restaurant, they stopped. Stopped and ate.

Locals began to eat there. Either eat there or take the food away. Noi got a regular order from the local Buddhist temple too. That order meant she had to leave our room early, buy fresh vegetables at the market then cook. She used to leave at 5.30 every morning. At first I would take her in the D Max. Then she took pity on me, having me up and about so early. I didn’t really mind but she thought it a good idea for her to have her own motorbike. I agreed and spent 30,000 baht (about £450) on a nice 12-month old Honda 125 cc.

These were busy days and enjoyable.

Yong and I recently returned from a long delayed honeymoon to Greece. The location was her idea. My occupation has fortunately afforded me numerous opportunities to visit the birthplace of Western thought, many of which I have taken advantage of. As a result I have spent by my calculation approximately nine months over the course of my life wandering the islands and mainland, the mountains and seas of that amazing region. Hence, I would have preferred to explore a new part of the globe. But on matters such as where to spend your honeymoon (and on most other matters as well) I have found it best to defer to my Chinese wife.

I felt relaxed from the previous night’s sleep. Good job as still a long drive ahead. Noi seemed to become more excited the closer we got to Songkhla. The weather also improved the closer we were. The previous day’s monsoon rains had abated. Now the only source of irritation was the constant flapping of the tarp covering our belongings in the back of the truck. No matter how many times we tied it afresh or rearranged the tarp, it insisted on making a noise like a machine gun. A small price to pay for keeping our stuff dry. This exercise reinforced my impression of how Asian women got busy in helping out. I don’t know many western women prepared to dirty their hands in tying down a rogue tarp. It seemed to come as second nature to SE Asian women.

            The subject for my second blog entry will be, as the title suggests, the criteria for my ideal match, why I chose them and why Chinese women.  While this will certainly provide the members of CLM with a great deal of insight into myself, I'm not at all certain just how generally applicable those insights will be to the typical American as I have never regarded myself as typical in any respect.  I'm just arrogant enough to believe that this subject will be interesting to at least some of my readers.

The words below describe a bonfire that simmered for some time and finally erupted in the comments section of my last blog, “My First Date After Lily (Part 6)”

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