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#RealTravel: I Went to Bangkok on Sabbatical and Fell in Love

July 18, 2014

Yahoo Travel profiles readers who came back from a trip with the best souvenir ever — true love. Want to share your own story? Tweet us with #YahooTravelLove.

Kurt and his girlfriend, Krua, falling in love in Bangkok (Photo: Kurt Achin)

Who: Kurt Achin

Where they fell in love: Bangkok, Thailand

When: 2012

Relationship status: Dating

(As told by Kurt)

I met my girlfriend, Krua, in Bangkok during a monthlong sabbatical and vacation. I was still healing from a very painful chapter involving someone else and transitioning in my career, so I can honestly say the very last thing on my mind was meeting a woman. 

A longtime friend and I walked into a great little wine bar where Krua was an assistant manager. My eyes were immediately drawn to her beautiful smile and bright eyes, and her knowledge of the extensive wine inventory was also extremely impressive. She was such a joy to talk to that my friend and I basically turned over our drink decision making to her.

I think it’s somewhat unlikely we would have drunk quite that many glasses of wine if we had not been in the presence of such a beautiful recommender, whom we wanted to visit our table as often as possible.

As we stood up to go, I spontaneously asked Krua on a date. I was surprised that those words came out of my mouth, and even more surprised when she said “Yes.”

Related: Real Travel: I Met My Husband on a Cruise

The couple sightseeing in Bangkok (Photo: Kurt Achin)

I took her to one of Bangkok’s nicest little secrets — a restaurant called Zanotti, offering fantastic authentic Italian food and wine at Southeast Asian prices. Our rapport was strong from the very beginning. I remember taking her hand to cross the street as if we had known each other for a long time. We spent the lunch talking about our families, our work — all of the different things going on in our lives. Her English is functional, but communicating both then and now requires that little extra effort on both of our parts to be understood. 

Far from being a drawback, I think a language gap can be a very romantic thing. Our communication gap was never a severe obstacle, but it was challenging enough to create opportunities for creative expression.  

Lunch was full of laughter, and I invited her to visit me a few days later at the condo where I was staying. We lit a candle and sat out on the balcony of that condo sipping red wine and talking for hours. One of the prettiest pictures I have in my collection of Krua is of her looking at me through that candlelight.

Kurt’s favorite photo of Krua (Photo: Kurt Achin)

Over the weeks that followed during my Bangkok sabbatical, Krua came to see me almost every day. Bangkok is a wonderful place to begin dating a person — we found lots of food markets, and we took boat rides on the Chao Phraya and the small klong tributaries that snake around the city. We stayed up late listening to peu chivit folk music and sipping whiskey. But perhaps most important, we settled into a routine that felt almost like that of a newly married couple. She is a fantastic Thai cook, even though I joke with her that she tries to kill me every time she feeds me. Seriously, this beautiful young woman likes food so spicy it could kill an elephant. I made the mistake of taking her to a Japanese restaurant at one point, and I saw the unimpressed expression I would come to label her “Japanese food face.” 

Related: #RealTravel: This Couple Met and Fell in Love in Paris 

The couple on a romantic boat ride in the “Golden Triangle”(Photo: Kurt Achin)

As I left Bangkok to go to South Korea — where I have lived for a long time doing media work — I wrote a card asking Krua not to forget me. She did not, and just a few weeks later I flew her to visit me in Seoul. It was the start of a jet-set relationship that had me flying to Bangkok just about every four to six weeks. 

These days, we are going through a visa process so that I can bring Krua to Omaha, Nebraska, of all places, where I am involved in a business project for the summer. I have put down a deposit on an absolutely beautiful home in Seoul, South Korea, with a garden and lots of balconies that have fantastic views of the city. I have not really been the domestic type in most chapters of my life thus far, but I am hoping that we can make a go of cohabitation in Seoul. I hope that we continue to come closer together as we grow gardens, cook food, and just enjoy the normal routines of being a couple.

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