Twists and turns
Maya was enjoying the cool breeze blowing from the nearby Chao Phraya River while waiting for Phailin in the riverside restaurant they like. Phailin had to work today so Maya went around Bangkok on her own, armed with a map Phailin gave her and a list of places written in Thai in her small notebook that she can show to the tuktuk drivers or the cab drivers, so they know where to take her. It was actually fun doing that and the people she met were so nice.
For her last night in Bangkok, Maya and Phailin, agreed to to meet at the restaurant they have been to on her first evening here. She liked the place. It’s so peaceful, the view is wonderful, especially with the bridge she can see from a distance, and the twinkling evening lights along the riverbank making it almost magical. The food was one of the best she had tasted in Bangkok.
It has been a wonderful vacation. Phailin insisted she stayed with her during this trip. so they can have a lot of girl talk. She agreed. Despite them not seeing each other very much, most of the time, years, Phailin is one of Maya’s closest friends. She even flew to the Philippines when her dad died five years ago. Maya believes that like love, friendship transcends time, distance, nationalities, and cultures.
Phailin showed her a side of Bangkok only a native could. Phailin steered her away from the usual tourists places as she told her, she wanted to experience Bangkok like a native this time. They took boat trips where she was among a handful of tourists on board, or sometimes, she was the only one. Like Phailin, she also ate food from stalls in the street near her place, they were more like the carinderias in Manila, but the food tasted good. She and Phailin seldom ate at fancy restaurants as the food at those simple places tasted better, especially their Pad Thai. Even the restaurant she was in at that moment is not a fancy one, but it is clean, nice, relaxing, and offers a wonderful view as well.
The best part of her mornings in Bangkok was drinking coffee with the local residents under the trees in Phailin’s neighborhood. Phailin and she usually ordered a steaming cup of coffee for her and tea for Phailin before they hit the streets for the day. She also went to see the temples and other sights she liked the first time she was in Bangkok, years ago. Phailin took a vacation so she can take her everywhere.
She got to meet some of Phailin’s other friends the first evening she arrived since it was her birthday. Maya liked Phailin’s friends and some of them have been to the Philippines too. At the close of the evening, they left ahead of them as they had a bit of travel home. She and Phailin stayed a bit longer in the same restaurant. While they were waiting for the bill, and as she looked around the wonderful and relaxing view, she suddenly missed Richard. She told Phailin she will just send an SMS to a dear friend in the Philippines. One message turned into several without her noticing it. After she put her phone down, she got teased by Phailin about her dear friend from the Philippines eyes’ sparkling after that series of text messages. Phailin remarked that it must be a special friend she was sending messages to, to make her glow like that.
She smiled at Phailin and started telling her about meeting Richard. She told her about their ‘Honeybun’ and ‘Babe’ act, which made her smile a lot. She also told Phailin about the feelings she is starting to feel, or already feeling for Richard. She also admitted to her long-time friend that she is falling, fast and hard, for the first time in her life. She said she just met Richard, but she felt that instant and very strong connection to him that is hard to explain. She just feels so happy to be with him and feels sad when they part. She thought of him and their moments together, so far, all throughout the three hours flight to Bangkok. It made her very happy. Phailin told her, she is happy for her and that she should let her feelings be, go with the flow of things, that falling in love is the most wonderful thing, and that not all people are lucky to find the one for them.
Since that evening, Maya and Richard also got into a pattern of sending messages to each other, or calling, before they retire for the night, sharing how their day had been. It was Richard who initiated the calls after he complained, good-naturedly, that it was easier to do so than type words after words on his phone. Maya told him that overseas calls are expensive and Richard’s said, he does not mind and that what does working is for, if you can’t spend your hard earned money for something you love or enjoy doing. So, after that, Maya stopped protesting and just enjoyed their hours long conversations into the night. She felt closer to Richard during those phone calls.
“Excuse me. May I sit with you, please.” A tall, good looking, Caucasian guy, interrupted Maya’s thoughts. He was holding a glass of beer and was smiling at Maya with a friendly manner. “It seems like you are alone, like I do. I’m Jeremy, from England. Maybe we can be each other’s company for dinner.”
“Oh! Hello.” Maya greeted since he seemed friendly enough. “I’m so sorry, I have to decline as a I am waiting for a friend. She is just running late.” She finished politely and in a way that would dissuade the other guy without sounding rude.
“Oh, too bad.” Jeremy said, quite disappointed. He had been observing this beautiful lady for quite sometime now. When no one approached her or shared her table, he decided to approach her, hoping to get to know her better. “Sorry for bothering you then.”
“Maya, so sorry, I was late.” Phailin said as she rushed to Maya’s table, then noticed Jeremy. “Hi, Jeremy. You and my friend Maya here know each other too?”
“Hi Phailin, fancy running into you here!” Jeremy smiled at Phailin, glad to see her. “No, I don’t know your friend ‘Maya’. She didn’t give me her name. I just approached her, hoping to share a table with her. Beautiful ladies shouldn’t be left alone, you know. But she gave me a brush-off.” He said with a smile. “My poor heart is still reeling.”
“Ha, ha, ha, you and your glib tongue, Jeremy.” Phailin laughed, teasing Jeremy, who is one of the nicest guys she know. “Maya, this big oaf here, is Jeremy Sanderson, one of the foreign correspondents currently based here in Bangkok. Jeremy, this is my very good friend Maya Dela Rosa from the Philippines. She used to be one of us, until she abandoned us for the sweet life of travel writing and blogging.”
“Please to meet you, ‘again’, Jeremy.” Maya offered her hand to Jeremy. “Don’t believe Phailin here, I’m still one of you. Just took a different road.” She said with a smile. It has been a running gag between her and Phailin, her switching to blogging and travel writing.
“Nice to formally meet you, Maya.” Jeremy said with a big smile. “I better get going and leave you two to your dinner.”
“Oh, you can eat with us. I’m sure it will be okay, isn’t it Maya?” Phailin offered Jeremy. “Anyway, we will just grab dinner, then head home. Maya is flying home tomorrow.”
“Yes, join us please, Jeremy. Sorry, I was just a bit standoffish earlier as I don’t really know you and I thought you were ‘picking’ me up.” Maya told Jeremy. “Sorry for being straightforward.”
“Oh, you don’t have to apologize, Maya. I prefer directness. I know it is not the Filipino way, though. I had friends from the Philippines too and they sometimes, can’t tell me things straightforward for fear of offending me or causing slight.” Jeremy said as he pulled the chair for Phailin. “Thank you for inviting me to dine with you. I’ll take you two on that offer. I really hate eating alone.”
The three of them ordered their dinner, mostly seafood, and then they chatted about cultural differences and how one deals with those. Jeremy also regaled them with his adventures as a correspondent. He had been everywhere. Sometimes, he had Maya and Phailin in stitches with his funny stories and his bloopers. They also felt crying with his heartbreaking stories of miseries and triumphs of the human spirit amid great odds, he had seen. He is a very good storyteller. The three of them didn’t notice the time. It was already quite late when they decided to call it a night. Before they left, Phailin excused herself to use the toilet.
“Maya, it was really lovely meeting you.” Jeremy said as they were standing at the entrance of the restaurant waiting for Phailin. “Too bad, you are going home tomorrow, or the three of us can have dinner again, or something. Probably, I can also take you to some other places, in case Phailin is busy.”
“I’m glad to have met you too, Jeremy.” Maya said. “Yes, I needed to go back. I have a new assignment for a lifestyle magazine that I need to finish as soon as I get back. Then, there’s my cafe.”
“Oh, yes. Lovely idea you have there. Maybe, I’ll end up in Manila one of these days and I can see your cafe-library.” Jeremy said, then he gone a bit quiet as if choosing his words first. “Maya, I hope you don’t mind me saying this so soon after meeting you, but may I get to know you better?”
“Ha, get to know me better?” Maya asked, not wanting to be presumptuous.
“I like you a lot, Maya. Not only because you are very beautiful. So, I would like to know you better, you know.” Jeremy said, looking at Maya with admiration. “Long distance relationships are not as difficult as it used to, in this digital age.” He added.
“Jeremy, thank you. I’m flattered but….”
“But there is someone else!” Jeremy finished for Maya.
“Well, not exactly a boyfriend. I like someone a lot, too. He is a very dear friend.” Maya simply said. “You never know. For now, we enjoy each other’s company. Where it would lead us, we are still in the stage of finding out.”
“Oh well, I guess I should have expected it, seeing how lovely you are, not only by the way you look, but by the way you are.” Jeremy said. “But may I be your friend then?”
“Of course, Jeremy. And thank you.” Maya smiled. “Keep in touch and give me a call when you find yourself in Manila.”
“I will.” Jeremy smiled at Maya. “Tell your special friend that he is a very lucky guy.”
Maya smiled, a smile that lit her face and which had Jeremy envying the lucky guy in Maya’s life. “Thank you again for a wonderful evening. Take care and I hope to read more of your stories. I always go to your company’s news website. Take care. Don’t get yourself killed, okay.”
They smiled at each other. Maya know she has a new friend in Jeremy.
“Maya, Jeremy, sorry for taking so long. There was a bit of line in the toilet.” Phailin said as she returned to where Maya and Jeremy were.
“Oh, no worries, Phailin. Maya and I had a lovely chat while waiting for you. So, may I take you two home.” He offered.
“Thank you, Jeremy. I have my car with me.” Phailin said. “See you around.”
“Jeremy, keep in touch. Thank you. Nice to have you as a friend.” Maya offered her hand to Jeremy, but instead he gave her a big friendly hug.
“You too. Have a safe flight home.” He said, then waved goodbye at them before half-jogging to his car.
Maya and Phailin watched Jeremy leave, waving as he drove off.
“Why do I get the feeling that someone got his heart broken.” Phailin started with a smile.
“Phailin!” Maya said smiling, blushing. “How did you know?”
“Well, he was looking at you most of the time we were eating and chatting. You know, really looked. The fact that he approached you was an indication also. I know Jeremy enough to know that he does not usually do that. Considering, how handsome he is, a fact that I don’t think you notice at all.” Phailin explained.
“He is, sort of. I think.” Maya shrugged. Jeremy is good looking, but he does not make her heart beat faster like Richard does.
“See, you just thought he is okay, when so many of the female reporters here are crushing on him.” Phailin said, as they got into her car and started the journey to her apartment.
“Really! He does seem to be a wonderful guy, though not for me.” Maya simply said.”We agreed to be friends.”
“Ouchy.” Phailin said. “But I guess, Jeremy will bounce back. He is a very upbeat guy and a very good friend, once he becomes your friend.” Phailin as she navigated the late night traffic. “And your Richard is really a very lucky guy. Imagine, you are not yet boyfriend and girlfriend and you are already very loyal to him.”
Maya and Phailin arrived at her place thirty minutes after. After they parted, and she was settling in for the night, Maya looked for her phone, to say good night to Richard even if it was already late. They never agreed to do that every evening or at a particular time of the night, but they had fallen to doing it. The first thing she notice when she opened her phone was her two missed calls and five messages. Richard was asking how she was and requesting her to text her as soon as she can.
Maya promptly sent Richard a message and before she can even put her phone down to lie on the bed, it rang.
“Hi Ricky, you are still awake? I thought you might be sleeping already.” Maya said.
“Hi Maya, glad to hear from you. I can’t sleep until I know you are okay. I got a bit worried when you didn’t reply.” Richard said, happy to hear from Maya. “I know we didn’t agree on checking with each other every evening, but I’m happier that we do, that you do.”
“Sorry, Ricky. Phailin and I were not really planning on staying out late, but Jeremy joined us for dinner, and we didn’t notice the time.”
“Jeremy?….” Of all the things Maya said, that was the only thing that registered first in Richard’s brain. Another karibal?
“Oh, Jeremy Sanderson. He is a foreign correspondent based here in Bangkok, a friend of Phailin.” Maya said, then she told Richard how she met Jeremy.
“Hmmm, looks like I have a new karibal, Honeybun.” He said, half-jesting.
” A new karibal?….”Maya asked.
“Yes, may Tristan ka na, tapos ngayon naman, Jeremy? Dumarami na sila.” Richard said.
“Ha, ha, ha, Babe. Tristan is just a friend and Jeremy is also a friend.” Then it just slipped. “Basted na nga.” Ooops, she did it again.
“Oh, see may plano nga pala ang Jeremy na iyon.” Richard said, heaved a sigh of relief. “I’m glad he is basted na, Honeybun.”
“Ikaw, talaga, Mr. Ricky Lim, puro ka kalokohan. Bayaan mo ipapakilala kita sa kanya kapag nagawi siya sa Philippines.” Maya said, then can’t resist teasing him too. “He is actually a wonderful guy….to be…a friend.
“Honeybun! Mabuti, tinapos mo ng maayos. Akala ko, maoospital na itong puso ko.” Richard said grinning.
“Naku, Ricky Lim, corny ka talaga! Pasalamat ka at nandiyan ka sa Pilipinas, kundi na-pinch na kita.” Maya said, happy at their banter. “Wait until I get there tomorrow.”
“Looking forward to seeing you again, Honeybun. I’ll be at the airport, bright and early.” Richard said. It has been a long five days for him, though the nightly phone calls and messages helped.
“Me, too, Babe. O good night na. Mas late na diyan. I’ll see you tomorrow. Thanks for picking me up.”
“Good night, Honeybun. Sleep tight and take care.”
The following day, Phailin took Maya to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, two hours before her flight. The two friends promised to see each other soon. Phailin said she will go to the Philippines for Maya’s birthday, and was not able to resist teasing Maya one more time – that maybe it will not be Maya’s birthday the reason for the trip, but rather, Maya’s wedding to her ‘Babe‘. Maya blushed, grinned at her friend, and slapped her on the arm affectionately. They hugged one more time, then she looked for her boarding gate.
More than three hours later of, thankfully, uneventful flight, Maya’s plane smoothly landed at NAIA Terminal 2. She quickly exited the airport after getting her luggage, which was much heavier than on the way to Bangkok, with the stuffs she was not able to resist buying. She scanned the area, looking for Richard. She saw him near the coffee shop where he obviously passed the time while waiting for her.
“Ricky, good to see you!” Maya said with a bright smile that lit up her whole face and making her achingly beautiful to the guy before her. He really missed her a lot. She rushed to him.
Richard also rushed to Maya, meeting her halfway. He has a huge smile on his face. “Maya, I’m glad you are back.” He then give her a big, tight hug. Maya hugged him back, equally tight.
They loosen their embrace a bit, then just gazed at each other, smiling, so happy to be together again. Then, maybe because they missed each other so much or the feeling of seeing each other overwhelmed them, they did something very spur of the moment.
Richard lowered his head and swooped in to Maya’s lips to give her a very tender kiss. Maya, her heart beating so fast, returned the kiss. Amid all the people in the airport, Maya and Richard, unmindful of them, shared a long and tender ‘welcome home’ kiss.
Note: Happy Sunday (again)! 🙂 It felt like I just said that, Sunday na naman! Time really flies fast.