My First Time In Pattaya
Long time reader, first time poster. I have many stories that I want to post, but my friend, we will call her 'G', wanted me to post this one to tell this story to you folks.
For work I travel quite a bit to the Asia Pacific Region, Thailand, Japan, China, Korea, Malaysia as well as down under to Australia. This particular story involves a stay in Pattaya when I had some time between some work I was doing in Sydney, Australia and Kuala Lumpur. I had never been to Pattaya and my friend 'G' said she would take me there and show me around.
I landed in BKK on a very late Saturday night in July, went to the AIS counter and put some baht on my SIM, then took a taxi from the airport to the JW Marriott in BKK. I was talking with the driver and he offered to take me to Pattaya the next day for 1,200 baht. At least that is what I thought he was saying. I wasn't sure if that was what he was saying and whether or not that is a good price or not so I got his number and told him I would call him in an hour. When I got to the JW. 'G' met me there and we hung out. I told her about the 1,200 baht offer for the taxi for the next day and she said it was not a bad price so I had her call the driver and arrange the pickup for noon the next day.
So 'G' and I wake up the next morning, hang out leisurely, and then head on down to Pattaya. Our driver takes us to the Marriott on Beach Road. Before he leaves the driver asks 'G' if we want him to pick us up in a few days when we leave. I say sure, he was a nice fellow and I don't mind giving him some more business (I have his number and will have him pick me up the next time I come to BKK).
'G' and I check into the Marriott. The guest relations manager hands me her card and I see a name with about 15 letters that if I try to pronounce I am going to butcher. She says "Call me Tim, it's easier." Looking at her name I was wondering where she came up with 'Tim' because there is no 'T', nor 'I' in her name and only one 'M' at the end of her family name. Anyway she was very nice and took us up to our room that had an ocean view. When we got to the room the staff left an 'origami' elephant made out of towels, we thought this was really cute. We didn't want to mess it up so we took it off the bed and put it on the dresser where it would not get disturbed.
My feet were killing me so 'G' and I walked down beach road and went and had a foot massage. This is one thing I definitely miss about not being in Thailand. When I was working in BKK, I would get a foot or body massage at least 4 times per
week. In the States it's just too expensive to indulge with the same level of frequency. 'G' was chatting away at our massage girls in Thai while I was groaning with what probably seemed to them noises that should have been saved
for later That kept getting giggles from 'G' and the girls, but I didn't care, I was in heaven. I kept saying "Very good" and the girl kept saying "Thank you" and I would say, "No, Thank You" and
this would get giggles from all as well.
'G' and I go back to the hotel, get cleaned up for dinner and head to one of the restaurants on the way between the Marriott and Walking Street. We have a bottle of wine. 'G' likes wine. She'll drink beer but she prefers wine. 'G' gets a plate of oysters. I'm not a big oyster fan so 'G' eats them all up. I guess it is me who will be in for a bit of trouble when we get back to the hotel. After dinner 'G' takes me over to Walking Street. I know it is slow season in July but I can just tell that this place is Party Central. I walk past many of the places that many of the Stickman submitters have mentioned in past submissions which gives me a sense that I sort-of know the place even though I have not been here before.
All of the outdoor bars have girls chock-a-block full of girls with only a few fellows in each one of the bars. It was still fairly early so I expect that it would pick up later. Heaps of girls are out with signs advertising the prices of beer and to
my surprise advertising the bar fine for the bar (400 baht). Out of curiosity we start talking to some folks and find out that ST was going for about 500 and LT for about 1000. 'G' was saying to me "I would be much more expensive!"
And then giggled and gave me a pinch. 'G' and I set up camp at a street-side seat of one of the beer bars. We started playing "Find-the-Katoey." Every time we pointed out a ladyboy, we had to drink some of our beer. Our first
beer lasted a while, but when it got a bit later we were going thought the beers at a more rapid rate.
Afterwards 'G' wanted to dance so we went into a bar that had some live music. 'G' wanted a Long-Island Iced Tea and a Singapore Sling for us. When I got the bill I was shocked at the price. I called 'G' over, she had a discussion with the bar tender and then the price came down a few hundred baht. I wasn't trying to buy the whole bar a drink
Next day (Monday) we bummed around the hotel pool, went out for oil massages, and just generally hung out and got some quality time in. That evening we went to Hard Rock because 'G' wanted some red meat and wine and I was happy to have some western food one time. A band played that evening that was actually quite good and believe it or not, they played "Another Brick in the Wall" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" and pulled them off quite well. That night we had two bottles of wine and I think 'G' had the best part of it. We get back to the hotel and I ended up holding her hair for her while she prayed to the toilet gods. I felt so bad for her because she was so sick. By the next morning she was in good form so everything was OK. She told me that she would always remember how nice I was making sure she was OK in the bathroom.
So now we get to the part of the story that 'G' really wants me to tell. 'G' had arranged for our driver to pick us up around noon on Tuesday so I can make my 4 o'clock flight to Kuala Lumpur. I go to the TMB Bank in the Royal Garden Plaza that is right next to the Marriott to get some baht for the driver and some to sneak into 'G's purse for some pocket money for her. I go around 11:00 AM thinking I am going to have plenty of time to get some baht, go back to the room, check out and make the taxi.
I put my ATM card in the ATM machine out in the mall. I punch in my PIN. I punch the appropriate buttons so the ATM would give me 4,000 baht. I hear some whirring, some clunking, and other ATM-getting-my-cash related noises. Then…. Nothing. The screen comes back and tells me the ATM is out of order. It spits out a receipt and behold that the transaction code is WITHDRAWAL, the AMOUNT is 4,000 baht, and the Account Balance is 4,000 baht less than a few days ago when I took some baht out then. I had the receipt from a few days ago in my wallet and sure enough when I compare there is about a 4,000 baht difference in the balances. But … no cash.
The security guard at the door must have been watching because he approaches me and asks something like "No Money Come out?" I tell him that indeed, no money came out and he took me inside the bank and spoke some Thai to a gentleman working behind one of the desks. The gentleman looked at my receipt and said "No money?" I responded, "No money." He then went back and talked to someone, then they talked to someone else, then got someone from the back and they talked to someone else, etc. The gentlemen got back with me about 10 minutes later and asked what hotel am I staying and we can send you the money there. I told them that I was staying next door at the Marriott but I was checking out and a car was taking me to the airport shortly so I couldn't really wait for them to bring me the cash.
The gentleman then talks to someone, who talks to someone, who then gets some keys, shuts down the ATM machine, opens it up and finds the 4,000 baht stuck in the rollers between the money drawer part of the ATM and the are where it spits the money out of the machine. Cool, I think they found the baht, I should be on my way…
So they take all the money out of all of the drawers. The 1000 baht notes, the 500 baht notes, the 100 baht notes, etc. They get a person to then…. Count ALL the money in all the cash drawers of the ATM… So I call 'G' on her mobile and ask her to come down to the bank and talk Thai for me. After some discussions 'G' tells me that the bank personnel, even though they found the 4,000 baht stuck in the rollers, had to count all the money in the drawers, reconcile all the withdrawals from the ATM with the current balance of the ATM. It's a reasonable procedure to ensure there is no hanky panky going on so I understand. The bank personnel thanked me for understanding. So after a long while the money gets counted and they come up with a figure.
The real problem starts when they go through what looked like some soft of operations manual for the ATM, punch in codes into the ATM, then try to figure out how to get the transactions out of the ATM computer. Multiple people came up to the ATM, looked at a book, punched stuff on the internal keypad, looked at it with a puzzled stare. This was repeated multiple times. 'G' told me that based on their conversation the folks did not know how to get the reconciliation transactions. They said to me in English "It takes some time…"
I could go on with more but to sum it up, it took over 1.5 hours for the staff to get everything sorted out and get my 4,000 baht. I could have left and gotten some more baht from another ATM but it was the principle of the matter that made me stay. Also, if I had missed my flight, oh well, one more night with 'G' in BKK so I wasn't too bent out of shape.
'G' just wanted me to post this up so that folks would know how bad the service is at TMB bank is at Royal Garden Plaza. 'G' told me that she felt that they just weren't that concerned that I had a plane to catch and we had a car waiting. Even she felt that finding the 4,000 baht in the rollers and having that match with my ATM receipt should have been adequate. I've never dealt with folks in the branch banks in Thailand so I don't know what is normal. My interactions with Thai banking is the ATM. One of the banks in Thailand is a customer of mine, but that is in the headquarters computer systems department so I probably should have guessed based on my experiences there.
Anyway, I had a great time in Pattaya. Had a great time seeing 'G' again. And I did end up making my flight with time to spare. Getting from Pattaya to the airport took about 1.5 hours I think, I didn't really look. I was in Thailand so Mai Pen Rai Krup, right?
Actually, I am surprised you got your money as fast as you did!