Readers' Submissions

People Died In My Hotel Room

  • Written by Ben Dover
  • August 31st, 2005
  • 14 min read


On a trip to Phuket a while ago, when my teeruk and I arrived at the airport, it was starting to rain. We rented a car and proceeded to drive away in the rain for about 45 minutes to Patong.

When we arrived, we cruised around a bit to get a lay of the city in order to decide where we wanted to stay this time, and then I tell my teeruk that I want to find a hotel soon so that I can lay down for a few minutes and rest and then we can go eat.

So we stop in an internet café and I do a quick search for Phuket hotels. This was just a refresher as I had researched this earlier, but I had forgotten my hotel cheat sheet back in the room in Bangkok. I quickly remembered which web site that I had searched before and generated a duplicate list of some of the hotels that I wanted to check out.

Now, I had been searching for a month or so (on and off, not daily) for Phuket hotels because I knew that I was going to take my teeruk there and I wanted it to be special for her as there were some activities that she specifically was excited about doing. Personally, I really only have one special activity that I am always excited about doing when I am on holiday, (or any place day for that matter) and that is seeing my cute little teeruk run around naked in the room. Oh, it’s the little things in life that make it worth living for me…

The primary thing that she wanted to do was to just walk on the beach at sunset holding hands as we watched the sun go down. I thought that was very romantic and cute. She wanted to do a few other minor things as well, but nothing spectacular or that costs much money. She has simple desires and is truly happy doing anything that I want to do when we hang out together. Sometimes, I choose activities for us that I also know that she might enjoy and she notices that and is always very thankful and appreciative when I do those things for her.

Anyway, had I found some great hotels online when I searching in the weeks before the trip to Phuket. I went to some of the hotel aggregator and travel web sites and I noticed that some of the hotels that looked really nice and cheap and were directly on the beach, which is what my teeruk wanted, but that many were still closed because of the tsunami damage. I was bummed out because many web sites said that some of the best hotels that I had selected as good possibilities were the hotels were not yet opened or repaired from the tsunami damage. There was one in particular that looked very nice, was on the sand, and was very reasonable (rooms starting at $41 USD).

My girl and I drove to several of the hotels and went in and asked them what the prices were. They all quoted us astronomical prices like we were going to fold like idiots and pay the first quoted price. I told them, “It is low season and I know that most hotels are only 20% full or LESS. I would love to stay at your hotel but the price you are quoting is higher than I can get on the internet for your same hotel.” But they wouldn’t budge. Instead of gaining a customer, and maybe turning him into a repeat customer with great customer service while having a dearth of customers, the greedy Thai way tried to screw the farang again. They would rather make nothing than reduce the price and still make a nice profit. Plus, I could take a few minutes, go back to the internet café and book that hotel at the lower price and then come back to the hotel and present it to them, but that seemed like a colossal joke to have to so that. But even if I went that route to get a cheaper price, the way that many of those aggregator sites work is that sometimes I would have to wait up to 24 hours for a confirmation email, so I did not want to screw around and waste too much time. Besides I needed someplace to sleep THAT night!

It was already dark and I was getting tired of checking around for prices so I looked at the one of the large chain expensive hotels where the rooms looked rather nice online. I asked if the rooms had a sea view as my girl wanted to see the ocean. The receptionist replied, “Yes! Rooms have a water view.”. I said, “What do you mean by ‘water view’? Do you mean that they have a view of the ocean?”. She said, “No, ocean, only pool.”. I am glad that I caught that one…

I said, “No, I do not want a pool view, I want an OCEAN view.” She said, “Oh, sorry, we not have.” Then I asked if many people were staying there and she said no, it was mostly empty. It was $100/night, but I did not care, I just wanted a nice place the first night and then I would find better and cheaper digs the next day. They would not give me a discount but they did say that if I stayed for 3 nights, that they would give me the 4th night for free. I said, “Sorry, I am not going to be in Phuket for 4 nights, anyway and $100/night is way too much for that room. But I was tired and I took the room, anyway.

We went to our room and dropped off our stuff and headed out to get some dinner. We parked and then strolled along the main street that runs behind the hotels that are located on the sand. My girl and I found a nice restaurant and we sat down to eat a nice and relaxed meal. Now I noticed that there was almost nobody on the streets and tons of those scammer tuk tuk touts. These tuk tuk drivers here in Phuket are even worse than the ones in Bangkok because the standard fare to go ANYWHERE in Patong is 100 baht. Even if you go for 2 or 3 blocks, they want 100 baht and will not go down in price. There are probably hundreds of these guys parked all over the place with no customers and they are too stupid to realize that by their being so greedy, it is making a bad situation MUCH worse for themselves because now they are making NO money! I mean jeez, I would gladly pay 50 baht, perhaps MANY times per day to cruise around Phuket to get places and I would end up spending probably many hundreds of baht if they priced themselves reasonably. I just do not understand their business skills sometimes. Perhaps they just really love sitting there 99% of the time doing nothing, other than chatting with the other tuk tuk touts all day long.

Anyway, I was rather surprised by the seemingly high prices for the seafood, especially in light of the lack of tourists and the close proximity to the ocean. I had hoped to at least find some deals as I could TELL that many of those businesses were really hurting for business. That is actually part of the reason that I wanted to ho down there at this time, to help them out. But once, again, even if Khun farang and wants to help the Thai people and the Thai economy, it just seems like again, that they don’t know how to be helped. Let me explain…

Here is another piece of Thai stupidity that had been commented on before by other Stick submissions and that is the law of supply and demand. Most Or more directly that lack of the laws of supply and demand, because Thai business people have no concept of this and this goes hand in hand with the attitude of many Thai people in that they want to screw someone if you can get some money out of them one time because many of them do not care about repeat customers. It seems as though because they have fewer customers, in order to try to make more they think that it is best to not reduce prices, so that they can screw just a few customers rather than making many farangs want to return with a good experience of someone who just got a good deal for both people involved in the transaction. Some Thai people are too stupid to realize some basic economic principles; one being that it costs 3 to 10 times more to acquire a new customer than to try to retain a good repeat customer!!! Even though I grew up in the U.S., to me this isn’t at all rocket science…if you make people happy and offer a good product at a fair price, they WILL want to return and patronize your establishment again. And maybe they will also tell their friends about your establishment as well. Well, I paid the normal price for my seafood, because I know that Thai people do not negotiate with food normally, it just irked me that so many of these people have that attitude of always wanting to screw the customers.

Well, while we were munching on our seafood, suddenly my teeruk let out this cute little squeal. I asked what was wrong and she pointed across the street and said, “That hotel that you like. Hotel on internet, the beautiful one on the beach that very cheap. That the one you want!!!”. I turned around and noticed that indeed that was the hotel that I found a month ago on the internet, but that all of the web sites said that it was closed because of the tsunami. But I noticed that the lobby was open, and the lights were on and there were people going into the lobby. I assumed that they were construction workers.

My teeruk started to chat with the restaurant owner/manager about the hotel across the street. The manager said, “Oh yes, that hotel open, but many people die there in tsunami.” I asked her if people died in her restaurant too and she said yes, but only their workers because they were not open for customers in the morning when the tsunami struck. The manager of the restaurant told my teeruk about all of the ghost sighting around Phuket after the tsunami and I wanted to stand up and cusp my hand over that lady’s mouth to shut her up, but it was also kind of funny to hear an old lady talk about that like she was telling a bedtime story to her attentive little granddaughter (my girl, Porn).

Now, I had prepared my little teeruk for this eventuality before arriving in Phuket knowing full well how paranoid that Thai people are about ghosts. I tried on numerous occasions to tell me teeruk how ghosts do not exist, but it was futile. At one point a few months ago, I asked my teeruk if she knew who Santa Claus was and she said, “Yes.”, then I said, “And is Santa Claus real or fake?”, to which she replied, “Not real. Santa Claus not real.”

Then I said, “Santa Claus is not real because nobody has even seen him and there is no proof that he exists, right?”. She said, “Correct, nobody can see Santa Claus because he not real.” Then I said, “Well, the same thing is true about ghosts! They are NOT real and there NO proof or evidence than anyone has really ever seen a ghost!”. She replied, “Yes, I understand, but ghosts ARE real.” I had to contain my laughter because my little teeruk was so cute when she said that with such conviction. When I repeated this Santa Claus analogy when I was actually with her in Bangkok before we left to Phuket (with her same response) I just had to give her a big hug and a kiss because I could not get angry at her as she was just adorable.

But she really wanted to go Phuket so she said that it was OK and she would not ‘mind the ghosts’. Gee honey, how brave you are to want to fight those supernatural demons, head on… ; )

So after dinner my teeruk and I walk across the street to that hotel and there were probably 7 people behind the reception desk at 10PM and no other customers. I asked them if they were open for business and they all anxiously said “Yes!”. I smiled and asked if they had had any beach view rooms available and they said yes. I asked to see the room. Certainly, that would seem to be the most logical thing to ask when checking out an unfamiliar hotel…but nooooooo. Once again, Mr. Khun farang is mistaken as that is not the most important question to ask the workers at the hotel upon check-in. Then, while I was asking some more questions about amenities and what-not, my cute little Porn asked if anyone had died at the hotel in the tsunami.

I turned and looked at her quizzically for having asked such an odd question and all of the employees looked at each other as if to check for the correct answer and then they all said in unison like it was a canned speech, “No. Nobody die here. I show you room now.”

Yeah sure, pal. The lady across the street, uphill from you and 30 more meters away from the ocean, admits to having people killed at her restaurant and you mean to tell me that NOBODY died at your hotel located right on the sand, yet you were closed for repairs for many months to fix what…nothing??? And jeez, you mean to tell me in fact that the water from the tsunami did not take the direct route ploughing right through your hotel on the way uphill to that restaurant across the street? Well, I guess, that the water must have meandered around the streets for a while and then suddenly it got ‘angry’ and then turned and rushed uphill, killing the people in that restaurant across the street while avoiding your hotel on the sand. More Thai lies.

Now, I could have cared less if people had died at the hotel because I could never know which rooms that this might have occurred in and they would certainly never tell me that anyway. Now I am not saying that I have no sympathy for what happened because I was extremely saddened by the losses endured on all countries where the tsunami hit and I donated generously to relief efforts that specialized in helping the Thai people specifically.

So, the room looked nice I asked my girlfriend if she would stay there and she agreed like a little trooper. We got an incredible room right on the sand, but then she said that she was worried, about another tsunami.

I tried to explain to my teeruk about it being statistically impossible for another tsunami to hit here again any time soon. I told her that that earthquake was the biggest on the planet in more than 40 years, and that it was the right kind of quake where the tectonic plates shifted up and down which causes tsunamis versus side to side scaping, and I explained to her to the chances of that happening again, in the same location, so soon after the last one hit were practically zero. It was like explaining sub-atomic quantum physics to an 8 year old as she just looked at me with her eyes glazed over. I quickly gave up trying to explain this and we took the identical room on the 2nd floor, instead!

The whole time we were in Phuket, I kept teasing her and made ghostly, howling sounds. After the first day she no longer got upset and then started to laugh when I did that. At the end of the trip, I think that she believes in ghosts a lot less than she did before.

She did say that she had dreamt about ghosts the fist night in that hotel on the sand, but I think that she just wanted to believe that that happened. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it was probably just me groping her naked body when she was sleeping…

Stickman's thoughts:

The problem of price gouging in Phuket has been in place for many, many years.

Thais really are PETRIFIED of ghosts!