Miss Lipo And Other Short Stories
This actually started as a quick reply to Dana's comments on the Marriott in Pattaya, and that in turn reminded me of some other hotel experiences. So, here's a collection of short anecdotes that I hope will amuse. If the title sparked interest, sorry but you'll have to wait to the end!
Royal Garden Drama
My experience of the Marriott (at the time the Royal Garden Plaza) wasn't quite as good as Dana's. My wife and I, along with another Farang / Thai couple, had booked a holiday from the UK. Included in the deal was 3 nights in a hotel, and of those available, we chose the Royal Garden.
We duly arrived, as usual tired after a long journey. When we went to check in, there had been some screw up in the booking system, and they weren't expecting us. As it was a Sunday, they couldn't contact the agent until the next day, but mai pen rai, they would sort our rooms out for that night, and worry about the booking on Monday.
Then came the crunch – B700 a night each for the wives. We pointed out that we were married and had booked together, and then hit the familiar brick wall. We insisted on seeing the manager, and went for a drink in the bar while we waited.
The manager arrived, and kindly bought us a another drink. He then explained that it was hotel policy to charge for the girls. I got out the booking confirmation, and showed him – 4 people, 2 rooms, 3 nights. It had little effect, so now it was time to do things the Thai way.
Slowly and calmly, but loudly enough that everybody in the lobby could hear, I asked the manager if he could read English. He of course said yes, so I read the booking form to him, again loudly – 4 people, 2 rooms, 3 nights. A miracle happened and the problem vanished.
We stayed in the bar for another hour while they got the rooms sorted out, drinking as much as we possibly could at the manager's expense. It is often the case that the expensive hotels rip you off more than the cheap ones, assuming you are a newbie tourist who will just pay up for a quiet life.
A couple of years ago I had to stay in Bangkok for one night before flying home. The agent got me a room in the Amari Watergate, and got me a good deal on a room on the executive floor. It was rather more expensive than I normally pay for hotels, but it was only just one night, and sometimes it is nice to see how the other half lives.
On arrival I went to check in at reception, to be told that there was a special check-in desk for the executive floor, so, accompanied by a very attractive, and nervous, young lady, I was whisked up 30-odd floors to the executive level. It was immaculate, there are special facilities on that floor, dedicated restaurants etc. The room was also extremely nice, just the usual problem that, in an expensive hotel, everything in the mini-bar is about 3 times normal price.
So, after a quick shower, off to Nana for a fun night out before going home. I was very lucky, some beautiful young lady decided that I was the man of her dreams, and wanted to come back to the hotel to make my last night a memorable one.
Now the usual justification for charging extra to take a girl back to the room is the cost of the security – holding her ID card in reception, and not giving it back until you've had a chance to check your wallet and valuables. That certainly didn't apply in this case. There was no attempt to charge extra, maybe it's included in the price in the more expensive rooms. But we were approached by a security guard, not unreasonable at 2 AM. The girl didn't even have an ID card with her, but after 30 seconds we were on our way to the room!
So don't assume, even in the best hotels, that their security is any better than the local guesthouse, even if you pay for it.
Divorce in the UK
There have recently been comments and questions about getting divorced from your Thai spouse. I thought it might help to explain how it works in the UK, and most likely in other western countries. I'll just point out that mine was 10 years ago, though I don't think the basics have changed.
You can divorce in the UK regardless of where the marriage took place, providing that the marriage is recognised in the UK. In fact most marriages will be recognised as valid, and that includes Thailand. Divorce would then proceed according to normal UK law, the fact that you were married outside the UK is then irrelevant.
Most Thais will worry that divorce will affect their visa status, but once they are granted indefinite leave to remain, then as far as I am aware divorce would make no difference at all to their visa.
I assume it would be the same if you were married in the UK and divorced in Thailand – No problem to get a divorce, but it would be dealt with under Thai law.
I know very little about divorce in Thailand. I know that when I was in the queue to get married, the Thai couple in front were getting divorced. As far as I know, because they mutually agreed to divorce, they just came to the office, filled in the form, paid 40 baht and the whole thing took 15 minutes. The poor chap did seem to lose a 500 baht note amongst the paperwork on the official's desk though…..
I suspect it could get a lot more complicated if one party wanted to contest the divorce or the monetary settlement though.
Giving up your seat
I've seen a few comments recently about the Thais being considered rude because they won't give up their seat to an older person on the bus. I'm a bit out of touch now, but I remember the first time I went to Thailand, I read in 'Culture Shock Thailand' that it was not unusual for older people to give up their seats to children, along with some other etiquette that would seem rude to a farang.
While there will always be exceptions, what you are seeing is normal Thai social behaviour, not rudeness. It is only seen as rudeness because of a lack of understanding of the culture. They are quite entitled to do things differently, it's their country.
Sending money to the family
Always a hotly debated subject! Again, it has always been a Thai tradition, even obligation, to help their families. Imagine you had worked in rice fields until you were 65, and now you can't do enough work to house or feed yourself. What choice do have other than to rely on others, especially your family? They don't have the pensions and social support that we take for granted in the West. They have always been brought up to respect their parents, and they feel a strong moral duty to help. Go to any small village or town away from tourists, and you'll see that it works very well in practice.
As with any system, it's not perfect. There are parents that take advantage of the children's support, and girls who will make up just about any story they can to get money, and keep it for themselves. And that's before you start on the bargirl / farang issue.
In my case, my wife's parents are too old now to work full time, and she was supporting them. It was obvious that, if I married her and brought her to the UK, they still need support. That was part of the deal when I got married. Grandma appreciates the support. We set up one of those little shops in front of the house so she could at least have a chance to earn a little for herself. In fact I doubt if it does much more than break even, but it's nice to see that she wants to make an effort. It's also good for her in that it gives her something to do, and gives her a chance to have a gossip with everyone that comes in the shop.
I think it's just down to the individuals involved to decide if they're happy to support the family, and then to negotiate an amount that is acceptable. Don't get me wrong, I know that probably 99% of requests from bargirls for money for the family are just a scam. That doesn't mean there aren't some genuine cases out there. Roll the dice.
When I was courting my wife, she used to go to the bar in the evening to pay the bar fine. Normally I would wait outside and have a beer, so that I don't get hassled for ladies drinks by all her 'friends'.
I was chatting to some friends in the bar where I was drinking, and the girl next to me (not Thai) struck up a conversation. Funnily enough, it was the same old 'What's your name, where you come from?' line that you get from the bar girls. I told her my name etc., and then said 'And you're from Russia'.
She wasn't very happy about this, and made a big point of telling me she came from Uzbekistan. Hey sorry, I'm not up to date with the politics!
Anyway, we started playing Connect 4, for a bottle of beer per game. Now I used to be pretty good at that, but I was out of practice. So she won the first couple of games, and seemed happy to have got some free beer, but I was soon in the swing of things, and the more she lost, the more her mood soured. Even so, it didn't stop her from inviting me back to her room for a 4000 baht short time. Yes, she was one of the Russian freelance hookers who were quite numerous at that time.
And in the tradition of the Thai grapevine, when my wife came out from her bar, she already knew that I'd been talking to this girl even though she hadn't seen it!!!
Many years ago, I was in Pattaya with a good friend of mine. We both knew different places, so we had a pub crawl, taking it in turns to choose the venue. He chose the Red Cat. Don't know if it's still around, but it was an upstairs bar in the narrow alley at the top of Soi Diamond, with a reputation for being a little seedy.
We sat down and ordered our beer. The lights were very low, and it was obvious that all the girls were very poor because none of them could afford clothes. A couple of girls came over, so we ordered up the ladies drinks and started the usual 'What's your name, where you come from?' routine.
The girl I spoke to was clearly trying to improve her lot in life, by training to become an estate agent. I know this because she asked me if I would like to view one of the upstairs rooms, which turned out to be rather grotty.
I said to my friend, 'Look after my beer, I'll be back in a minute'. I was.
And now to the good bit!
A long time ago when I was young and single (actually between wives, but that's a different story!) I was in Pattaya for a couple of week's relaxation. During an afternoon happy hour in a go-go bar I was lucky enough to fall in love, so a couple of hours later we head back to the hotel. Her English was very good, she lived in the UK for 6 months every year, and came back to work the rest of the time.
In time-honoured tradition she was hungry and needed feeding. (If you are ever in trouble with a Thai girl, feed her. Works in at least 50% of cases.) Her meal of choice was KFC, and they had some special deal where you got an extra side dish free. Her choice? Mashed potato and gravy, very Thai!
There were a few indications that she wasn't 100% stable. We then decided to stop off for a game of pool at what used to be the Jenny Hotel, where I was a regular. When she saw where we were going, she said she couldn't go in there because they had barred her for smoking dope. Anyway, we played pool somewhere else and back to the hotel. She noticed that I had a video camera, and asked me to video the ensuing fun. We dozed off for a couple of hours, and when we woke up she decided she wanted to review her performance. She enjoyed watching it, to the extent that she used an empty Lipo bottle as a sex toy!!!!!! Since that day, she has always been known as Miss Lipo.
Footnote: She asked me to go back and see her the following day, but said if I was late she might already be barfined. I was late, and she wasn't there, so no problem, I barfined a different girl. Of course the Pattaya grapevine got the message back to Miss Lipo in no time flat. I bumped into her in the evening and she was livid. Apparently it wasn't that I'd taken another girl from her bar, though that can be dangerous in itself, it was because I had paid her more. My excuse that I didn't have any change (which was absolutely true) didn't exactly go down too well!
The next day I went for afternoon happy hour again and she, probably sensing money, seemed pleased to see me. Concerned about her stability, I wasn't that interested. So, to increase her chances, she shoved my hand down her bikini bottom to show me she'd been for a haircut. Time to leave……