Adventures In Thailand: The Unwanted GFE Part 3
After my last trip to Thailand, it actually took about four months to gather of all of the requisite paperwork necessary, so it was actually November of that year before we were able to apply for Fa’s fiancé visa. As a precaution, we used a visa service, as we knew that even one missing document could delay or even cause a denial of the visa.
Fa had a few friends who had applied for their fiancé visa through the same service we chose and they had all received their approvals within 4 months and we were looking forward to the same results.
Mid-way through my temporary relocation, my company notified me and told me I would need to stay on an additional six to eight months. As you can imagine both Fa and I were a bit distressed at this news, as we were planning an April wedding and with this unforeseen extension, we knew this was not going to happen. As it turned out, this would prove to be the least of our problems.
While I furiously worked abroad for my employer, Fa had found a new job working at a nationwide bookstore chain at one of the local malls in Pattaya, as the import export business had hit a snag.
We maintained our regimen of contact several times a week. In fact, in some cases we spoke everyday a few times a day.
One day I made one of my regularly scheduled calls to her but got no answer. I didn’t see this as a problem as I assumed she was to busy too answer and would call back when she noticed a missed call from me. After a few hours I noticed she had not returned my call and I knew this was unusual. I tried her again and still got no answer. This time I left her a voicemail message telling her to call me back.
Another few hours passed and still no returned call from Fa. I was slightly concerned but assumed that perhaps she had gone to bed earlier in the evening and had turned the ringer on her phone off. I knew she would call me once she woke.
There was an approximate half day difference in time between where I was and Thailand, so I expected a call from her around early evening my time. When early evening turned to late evening I started to grow more concerned. She was religious in her habit of calling me daily, so I knew a deviation was very unusual, to say the least.
I went to bed and slept fitfully that night. The next morning I awoke and immediately reached for my mobile phone expecting to see evidence of missed calls from Fa. To my dismay, there were none. I rang her and got nothing but her voicemail. A feeling of tremendous foreboding came over me as a wave of possible circumstances washed over me all at once.
I rose, showered and dressed for my day. I kept my phone close to me all day and checked it regularly; ensuring that it had not inadvertently powered itself off. I tried her several times, leaving increasingly nervous voicemail messages asking her to return my call.
By the end of the day I was very worried, to say the least and had to go for a long jog to clear my mind. This helped me get back to my usually optimistic state of mind. I began figuring out who else I could reach out to, to help me contact Fa.
I didn’t have any of her friend’s contact phone numbers and none of her family’s numbers either. I resigned myself to simply waiting for her to call me.
Nearly a week had passed and at this point, I was of two minds: my first instinct was that something had gone terribly wrong and that she was not answering her phone because she unable to. However, at the back of my mind, the cynic in me began whispering the worst possible scenarios into my ear.
The cynic told me that she had finally done what I knew she would eventually do. She had slipped and given in to the most basic and primal of human desires and that she was with another man. Perhaps she had run into an old flame and allowed things to be rekindled. In her guilt, she was laying low and trying to figure out how to reconnect with me after so many days absence, as she knew I would have hard questions for her to answer.
Perhaps she had fallen on hard financial times and was too proud to ask me for help and had resorted to earning what she needed on her back.
The cynic whispered that she had met some wealthy falang who had seemed nice enough to tolerate for a week away at one of Thailand’s more remote island getaways. He would have tempted her with thousands of baht for a week of her uninterrupted time.
As a result of giving this disconcerting voice an audience in my head, I was now fully expecting to hear from her with some lame excuse about a last minute trip to some remote location in Thailand with no cell phone service to call and check in with me. I was prepared to unleash my wrath at this lame attempt to play me for a sucker.
I berated myself for allowing myself to be reeled in by her, knowing full well the risks that were involved. I was smarter than this and I knew better. This sort of thing didn’t happen to me because I was careful and I was always one step ahead of the competition. I resolved that when she did call with her poor excuse, I would calmly explain that she was not smarter than me and that she should not attempt to contact me anymore.
But then I quieted these voices, knowing that Fa and I had an established, albeit brief, history. A sudden and extended stay with a stranger was completely out of character for her. Something more serious had occurred and she would call me within the day, probably tearful, and explain her unavailability with a completely plausible reason.
I allowed her another three days to make contact but by then my calm resolve was beginning to dissolve again. I finally called her, suspecting the worst and that she was perhaps clandestinely accessing her voicemail messages. I left a threatening message warning her to call me ASAP or not to bother calling at all.
By late that evening there was still no word from Fa. It was at this point that I regained my rational mind and decided that something in fact was very wrong. Fa was in trouble and she was unable to contact me.
I remembered an incident that happened early on in our relationship. She had been in a scooter accident and spent a few days in the hospital. Her phone had been lost in the accident. She finally called me on a friend’s phone to let me know what had happened.
It was my suspicion that something similar, only worse, had happened this time. I continued to call daily, finally filling her voicemail inbox to capacity. I was a nervous wreck.
The next day I received a text message from an unfamiliar Thailand phone number. The text confirmed my worst fears. Fa had fallen ill and was in the hospital. The text was from her cousin who was at the hospital at the time helping care for Fa. I immediately called the number and spoke to Fa who was in a lot of pain and under sedation. I was heartbroken but relieved at the same time. Heartbroken because she was so sick and I was not available to help her, but also relieved to finally know where she was and what was going on.
Later I felt awful for allowing myself, no matter how briefly, to feel that she could betray me so easily.
She remained in the hospital for another 3 – 4 days but her cousin had retrieved Fa’s phone and we were able to talk everyday until she was released.
Shortly after this incident I decided I needed a short holiday and that Fa and I needed to spend some time together. I flew into Bangkok and spent three weeks with her. She had recovered from her illness and was healthy again, but she now had to take special precautions to what she ate, as well as how often she ate.
Upon my return to my temporary relocation, my employer advised me that I would be leaving sooner than they had anticipated. This was of course music to my ears, as I was looking forward to getting back home.
Once home in the States, I was growing increasingly impatient with the immigration service, as it had been six months and we had not heard anything reference our visa application.
I called the service center to inquire as to the status of our application and was told that it appeared that the application had been approved 2 months prior, but the Notice of Approval was returned to the service center because no-one was available at my address to sign for the notice. I asked them to resend it now that I was at home, at which point I was told it would take another 45 days to receive it! What the f*%k!
It had been six months already. Finally after making numerous other calls, I was able to gather enough information to get the ball rolling without the Notice of Approval physically in hand. With this information the visa service was able to get a visa interview scheduled. Fa called me and told me that her interview was scheduled for the following month. I was a bit annoyed but at least we were making some progress.
Then about 10 days before the scheduled interview, I received an email from immigration saying that because my application fee had not been paid, my previously approved application had now been revoked!
I called the service center immediately to ask them what the hell they were talking about. Of course they were almost no help at all. After making a few more calls, I realized what had happened. When we filed the application nearly seven months earlier, I was advised to purchase a money order from a U.S. post office for the application fee. I did this through a friend, as I was out of the country. Only my friend actually bought a money order through his bank. The bank had a policy of recalling money orders not cashed within three months. I know – what an asinine policy, right? Anyway, when the mind-numbingly slow process finally worked itself out, the money order posted as the application fee was no longer any good. It was like bouncing a check.
They supposedly contacted me to make me aware of this, but I never received any such correspondence. Now here it was 10 days prior to Fa’s interview and things had gone terribly wrong.
I immediately purchased another money order and sent it, along with a detailed letter of explanation to the processing center. I phoned them to follow up five days later only to find that the processing office had lost track of the letter and my second application fee!
Now we are five days away from the interview and it’s looking like we will have to re-apply for Fa’s visa. As you can imagine, we were two of the most miserable people on the planet. We’ll, maybe not the planet but we were not happy at all.
I had five days to fix this and the mother of all red tape machines had my balls firmly in its clutches. Fa was in a panic as she had already quit her job, given notice to her landlord that she would be moving out within the week and had pretty much invested nearly all of her emotional energy into preparing to leave Thailand. To say we were stressed was an understatement.
I continued to make calls to differing branches of immigration in an attempt to work this issue out. I reached the debt collection department and spoke to a very sweet lady who told me that it appeared that the application fee had actually been collected when I filed my last income tax return earlier in the year. I was encouraged by this, but she needed to check with another department to confirm this.
We were now four days away from Fa’s interview and our application was still in a “revoked” status. Two days passed and I still had not heard from my contact at the debt collection office. I called her back, only for her to tell me that she had requested information on my case, but had not received an answer yet. I calmly reminded her of Fa’s pending interview date and she said she would make a second inquiry.
I was really starting to panic at this point. Meanwhile in Thailand, Fa was sitting in front of a fortune teller seeking advice on her very immediate future. She had used this fortune teller many times before with an extremely high rate of accuracy. In fact, this very fortune teller had predicted that Fa and I would meet weeks before it happened. The fortune teller told her very detailed (and personal) things that were specific to me.
As Fa sat in front of this reader of the future, now two days before her scheduled interview, this session started like every other session started. The man merely looked at her as he shuffled his cards. He held them out to her, allowing her to choose 10.
He then placed the cards in front of himself and began reading them. He told her that she would be leaving Thailand soon but that she was having some difficulty with her visa. He told her that I would call her at the eleventh hour and advise her that all was well. She would go to her scheduled interview and she would be issued her visa within a few days.
On our daily phone conversation, she advised me of what she was told by her trusty fortune reader. I expressed open optimism to Fa, but I secretly was not as optimistic as I pretended to be. I was looking at the real facts and they did not suggest the same things her card reading confidant suggested would happen.
I made an appointment at the local immigration office as a last ditched effort to salvage things when I had not heard from my other contact at debt collection. My appointment was set for approximately three hours prior to Fa’s interview. If something miraculous was going to happen, it would have to happen at this last minute meeting with the local immigration office.
As I sat in the waiting room awaiting my opportunity to talk with an immigration officer, Fa was en route to Bangkok to make her early morning interview at the embassy there.
After a brief five minute meeting, it turned out that the local immigration folks were absolutely no help at all. They offered no new information on my case and offered no help in assisting me in fixing my problem. I left the immigration office reconciled to the fact that we would have to re-apply for Fa’s visa and it would be another 4 – 6 months before we could bring her to the states.
As I walked to my car I made one last call to an emergency number and left a voice mail message detailing my problem. Five minutes later my phone rang and I thought it was someone from this last office returning my call to tell me there was nothing they could do for me. In fact it was my contact from the debt collection office with news that they had cleared up the issue with respect to my application fee and that my application was now once again back in an “approved” status.
I thanked this sweet lady as well as the paperwork gods and then called Fa to tell her the news. At that point we were a mere 2 hours from her interview time.
Of course she sailed through the interview with no problem and was told, as the fortune teller advised, to return the following Monday to pick up her visa.
On the 17th of July 2007, I picked Fa up from the airport here in my hometown and we were married approximately 10 days later.
Fa has been every bit the wife I knew she would be and things are going very well for us. We plan to have her daughter join us in about 10 months.
Fa (not her real name) and I actually met a little more than three years ago and to be honest, we are both glad we took the time to get to know each other before we decided to make the decision to marry.
If I can offer any advice to any western men seeking a long term relationship with a Thai woman it would be to first consider Thai women who are not in the P4P business. There are girls in the business who are not jaded and would make a great wife, but your chances of finding them are very slim.
Secondly, I would say take some time to get to know the girl you think you want to make your wife, no matter what her background is. You can not make a well-informed decision on whether you want to spend the rest of your life with someone based on a two or three week holiday with months of separation between your visits with your tilak. She may seem to drip honey from every pore, but anyone can show you the face they want you to see if they only see you twice a year.
Please don’t put yourself in a position to be played for a fool, and then deride all Thai women when you come across the one girl that could never be trusted and then she does what is in her nature to do.
A nice series and it is great to have a happy ending!
What was she in the hospital for? Sounds rather serious, whatever it was.