Changes In Bangkok Part 2
A few months after my first visit to Bangkok I was invited to attend a communication convention in Thailand. As my work in New Guinea was finished at about the same time, I decided to fly my beach bonanza across and then continue on to Europe. Australia and Indonesia at that time had many problems and the over fly and landing of Australian aircraft was not permitted. However on the SE network (amateur radio) I managed to get landing permits.
All went well, at first. I crossed over PNG, Borneo and than on to Singapore. I stopped a few days there as a guest of the US ambassador before continuing on to Bangkok. On arrival in Bkk I had to fly in a holding pattern for about 40 minutes, I did see probably a hundred or more F4s taking off underneath me, all with a full bomb load. Most likely bound for Vietnam. After landing and parking my plane the real fun started. I was escorted by armed guards to a conference room and had to face a panel of angry officials.
First the Royal Thai air force, they did not permit any private aircraft in their airspace. Secondly the customs, they wanted the full value of the plane deposited with them. Thirdly the immigration, they wanted to prosecute me for arriving without a visa. The arguing went on for almost one hour then a colonel of the Special Forces (a ranger in completely black uniform) arrived and welcomed me to Bkk. He was sent by the organizer of the convention, a very highly placed military man, as I was in radio contact with them during all my flight, he came to collect me but was delayed by the traffic. The officials melted away like the wicked witch and I entered Thailand without even an entry stamp in my passport. The colonel arranged refueling and posted a couple of soldiers at the plane so that nobody could sabotage it.
The convention was held at the Erawan hotel (old Erawan) where they had booked a suite for my stay. This was a bit to rich for me, but all the expenses had been prepaid. The convention lasted for three days and nights!!! The evening entertainment was a Thai dancing troop, and then we usually went onwards to some very high class restaurants, for us bachelors other entertainment had been organized. I did meat some very important people during this time. I then started to understand how complete and extensive Thai hospitality could be. Remember everything was prepaid. After the end of the convention I moved across to the President Hotel as I could not afford the charges of the Erawan.
As I got leave to stay and fly in the country for as long as I liked, I went to the Grace Hotel and collected Nannie, my former girl. As she was never before in a small plane I went with her to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Had Yai. I do not know if Phuket had an airport at that time. Anyway we did not go there. It was all very new for her, I even let her fly the plane for half an hour or so, she was absolutely enchanted as I took photos of her on the controls.
Chiang Mai had practically no farangs, they did not cater at all for tourists. Chiang Rai also had no western people; all the nice young girls were using motor scooters of the vespa type. The only multistory buildings in town were located at the Chiang Rai prison. The prison governor invited me to have a look inside. I was absolutely horrified to find 20 to 30 people sleeping on the floor wearing chains and iron balls on their legs. I swore to myself never, never have a reason to be incarcerated in an Asian country.
Had Yai was not much different, the town had no westerners that I could see, was full of massage parlors for Malaysian people who came across the border to have some fun but not much else.
We then went on to KL, that she did not carry a passport was not important as I declared her as flight crew, the Malaysian officials were laughing but accepted this and gave her an entry paper for 3 weeks.
We went back to Thailand, this time I had no problems with the officials. As she was originally from Lampang we decided to fly there so that she could show off to her family. But before we could do that I had to give a joy ride to her police boss and his family, no problems at all. They took plenty of photos. On arrival at Lampang we were greeted by about 20 members of her family. Needless to say I spent half a day giving joy rides to all her relations, a funny thing was that her old grandmother refused to enter the plane, she was completely horrified of the idea. As we were staying at her family’s home I do not know what the local hotel charges were at that time.
Well this was my second time in Thailand. Little did I know that within 7 months I would be staying for five years in the Kingdom.
Entry without an entry permit? That'd just about get you some jail time these days!