He's got his feet under the table
Bongkot ‘‘Tak’’ Khongmalai and Boonchai Bencharongkul
Billionaire Dtac founder Boonchai Bencharongkul is sleeping rough on the sofa now that he has moved into the home of his fiance, voluptuous actress Bongkot "Tak" Khongmalai.
Giving up a wealthy man's comfortable bed is a sacrifice that Mr Boonchai says he is happy to make, as the couple can hardly share the same bed together when they are not yet married.
The couple were engaged on Monday in a lavish ceremony at Mr Boonchai's beloved Museum of Contemporary Art on Vibhavadi Road.
Tak wasted no time in proclaiming to the world that Mr Boonchai, whom she calls Pi Yai in respectful deference to his age, now belongs to her.
At a romantic dinner following their engagement party, she wrote a message on her iPad, which she held up for the camera:
"He's my husband now ... lay off!"
Mr Boonchai, who has five previous wives, and five adult children, is shown smiling as he sits by his fiancee's side in the picture, which Tak later posted on Instagram. He does not seem flustered by having a young, attractive woman on his arm.
One notable change since the couple's engagement is Mr Boonchai has now moved into Tak's family home, which she shares with her mother, Thanapa "Lek" Kongmalai.
Mrs Thanapa suggested Tak move in to sleep with her, which would leave Tak's bed free for Mr Boonchai.
But the billionaire telecoms founder would have none of it. He offered to bed down on the living room sofa instead, such is his devotion to his new love and their shared passion, doing good works.
"Tak and Boonchai like to get up and make offerings to monks as they make their morning alms rounds, so we decided it was easier if he moved in," Mrs Thanapa said.
"Tak's still a homebody who enjoys looking after her mum, and Boonchai is a real down-to-earth type. Now I have two people taking care of me _ Tak, and Boonchai," she said approvingly.
Speaking to reporters after the ceremony, attended by 200 guests, Mr Boonchai said he tries not to look too far into the future.
"I don't look 20 or 30 years ahead, but at the time we are spend together now, and the feelings we have for each other," Mr Boonchai, 58, said.
The couple, who are 30 years apart in age, had known each other only four weeks before Tak declared this month they would get engaged.
Outspoken Tak, who has adopted a no-surprises policy to their fledgling relationship, reckons the best way to handle the yawning age gap is simply to be herself.
"I don't want to marry, only to find out things about my partner that I didn't know before," she said frankly.
"When we discuss my work, he is able to say why he likes the films.
"He doesn't just admire the love scenes, but appreciates the film itself," she said.
Asked about the bridal price, Mrs Thanapa said she had yet to discuss the matter in detail with Mr Boonchai.
"I will let you know the moment it arrives," she told reporters.
Mr Boonchai, however, said Mrs Thanapa told him that an engagement ring would be enough.
The three carat diamond ring he slipped on Tak's finger is worth 10 million baht.
"By and large, Thais tend to lump engagement and marriage together, but given that we are both well-known, and the age gap between us, we wanted to let society know clearly that we are seeing each other first," Mr Boonchai said.
"That's why we arranged this full-on engagement ceremony. At first I thought we would just hold it with family, but in the end it turned out much bigger," he said.
Tak said the ring was so big she was not sure she could wear it in her daily life.
Asked if they were sure they could make the relationship last, Tak and Mr Boonchai said they have proved to each other they are serious about doing good works.
"We pray together every day. When he comes to my home, we sit and meditate," Tak said.
"Some days, he might take me out for a meal. I'll drink a little wine. He'll remind me of the five moral precepts, including the one against drinking.
"I tell him I'm just taking a few sips," Tak joked.
Mr Boonchai said he doesn't just perform acts of merit to please his fiance, but actually means it.
"When I do the dishes at the temple, I do it because I want to, not just to please her," he said.
"I think that if she is prepared to enter the kitchen and make me something to eat, I should reward the favour by washing the dishes."
Mr Boonchai said he fell in love with his bride-to-be when he noticed a picture in her home of the late Luang Por Sodh, a revered monk from Paknam temple. Later they took a trip to the temple together.
"We spoke to many monks and nuns, all of whom knew her, because she goes often. When we sit and meditate together, she does a good job," he said.
Tak said she and art-lover Mr Boonchai can sit and gaze for hours at pictures he has bought for her family home.
"I ask him why he buys them. My home isn't well-off, and some people might think pictures have no purpose ... but I believe they have meaning," she said.
"We can sit together and look at the pictures and each other for days," she enthused.
Mr Boonchai is building a bridal home for the pair on a 40 million baht, 32 rai family land plot in the Ram Intra area.
"We can get married any time we like. The same goes for having kids, but we are both aiming for next year," he said.
Mrs Kongmalai said the couple are likely to marry in May next year, but could tie the knot even sooner.
She said she was not worried about Mr Boonchai's busy past with women.
"It's natural for a man to have many women in his life," she said. "All men want to be the first man in a woman's life, while the woman wants to be the last one the man will choose. And that's all I ask of this coupling," she said.
About the author
- Writer: Mae Moo