A Thai village wedding is something to be experienced!
We decided to get married around Christmas time, there was no real proposal more of an agreement reached. I think what really swayed it for me was not the fact Gang (my first wife) was younger than me and good looking it was just the little things she does, like when you put down an empty can of beer it would be instantly replaced with a chilled opened one, you know the sort of important things that will make a marriage work, not that I’m a male chauvinist pig or anything like that, it’s that I can’t abide women who will not do as they’re told.
So we decided to set the date for Feb 14th giving us a couple of months to make all the arrangements.
From now on things were going to get a bit hectic (or so I thought) but nothing changed there was no panic, rushing around, only one phone call to her brother Lek, she informed him to arrange everything. Lek was in a place called Udon Thani about a twelve hour drive from Pattaya right up the North of Thailand which was also Gang’s home and where her parents lived.
I invited four of my friends from the village as obviously I had no relatives there, I had considered inviting a few of my closest friends from the U.K. but I knew there would be a problem with them going back, trouble is, they wouldn’t ! And would probably end up chasing girls they had no intention of marrying, a bit like dogs chasing cars they have no intention of driving.
After only three days there was a call from Lek informing us everything was set up.
Soon after I had gone to work and whilst lifting something heavy I thought I had given myself a hernia, I phoned Gang and explained we may have to put back the wedding until I was sorted out, she calmly said that was no problem and told Lek to put things on hold for a while, to which Lek replied ‘mai pen rai’ (not to worry) as he speaks no English.
Upon my return home they did a scan and it was revealed I had just badly pulled a muscle, imagine it, living in Thailand and pulling your own muscle.
Gang was on the phone again to Lek informing him the new date would be the 24th of Feb,
Lek, replied ’ok’ (which I think is fairly universal).
On the 23rd of Feb Margaret, Dave, Gang and myself boarded a flight to Udon , Les and Dim had decided to drive up so they could stop off at Burriram and visit Dims family, we arrived 55 mins later in Udon where three of Leks friends were there to meet us, I expected them to be driving a beaten up pickup but in actual fact they had top of the range new motors, so new that not one of them had plates on, which struck me as being a bit odd (and they were not even scousers), anyway they were perfect gentlemen (definitely not scousers), they also did not speak a word of English (erm, could be scousers?), even if they did I don’t think I would have asked them what they did for a living.
They took us to a lovely hotel where we booked in the best rooms we could which were in the region of £15 per night I asked did they have more rooms available they said there was one complete floor empty, I would book les and Dim in tomorrow before they arrived.
We unloaded our luggage then hit the town going in the world famous Mr Chu’s bar !
Where we met up with Lek and the ‘chauffeurs’.
They have a very funny way of serving alcohol in the bars over there you can go to the nearest off licence purchase a bottle of Johnny Walker black label (£6) or any other spirit of your choice take it into the bar and they will supply the glasses and mixers and just charge you a small fee for them and the service, so for a really good night out you’re probably looking at less than £10 for two people.
I took it easy that night as I knew tomorrow was Gang’s big day, I had a million questions to ask where were we getting married? Who was marrying us? Where was the reception? The replies were “people” were marrying us and the reception was in a ‘room‘, now this caused endless laughter with Margaret and Dave, there I was the night before the wedding not knowing anything about it, but nobody seemed to be in the slightest concerned, Mr Chu was making a big fuss of us and asked were we on holiday, and was quite astonished when I answered we lived here, from then on he made more of a fuss of us, in the meantime the ’chauffeurs’ sat there drinking whisky with their mobile phones constantly ringing.!!!
We finally finished about 2am and the four of us made our way back to the hotel, said “goodnight” to Margaret and Dave, then Gang and I entered our hotel room and the bed had been covered in Rose Petals.
The following morning we were up at the crack of dinnertime and met by Lek looking a little the worse for wear and Lee a friend of Gangs both on motorbikes also we met Margaret and Dave who both looked as fresh as daisies, they asked me did I know where the wedding was yet I didn’t but knew it was at 6pm of course the ’people’ and ’room’ (pronounced loom in Thai) jokes started up again, Dave’s phone went, it was Les and Dim they were about 15mins away so I thought I’d go and book his room, much to my surprise I was told the hotel was full, apparently some relation to the Thai royal family had turned up the previous evening and taken the whole 11th floor. The staff had not been informed of their arrival for security reasons, when Les pulled up outside I felt terrible as he had just completed an eight hour drive and had hardly any sleep the night before because of the heat and no air conditioning in Burriram, he managed to find a room only 5 mins down the road.
It was then on the back of the motorbikes and off to the wedding outfit shop the first suit I seen fitted me the second dress Gang looked at she liked but it did not fit her rather large size 6 figure but the girl said call back in an hour and it will be altered, we were in there a total of 20 mins, outfits sorted was even offered a can of Heineken while gang made her mind up.
I had met gangs Mum before when she came to stay in Pattaya, but never her Dad and Gran, they were getting the transport from their house to the hotel. We waited for them to arrive which they did so in a Tuk-Tuk (three wheeled motorbike) I paid the driver 100baht and gave him 100 tip roughly £2.50, he was over the moon. I wonder if you could get a Rolls for that in the U.K.? next it was off to Robinsons for the parents wedding attire this took all of half an hour as her Gran is 92 so she slowed us up somewhat, her Dad was made up with his new shirt and pants, likewise the ladies with their outfits total bill £14.
We then took them up to our room, to be honest they had never been in a lift before and when they got to our room they just gazed out of the window, it hadn’t dawned on me they had never been that high in their lives before.
Lek was always on hand helping with everything, he just never stops and could not do enough, he then took them to their hotel room. We were a bit worried as they had never slept in beds before.
Gang’s Beautician arrived at 2.30 and spent two hours faffing about with her hair and what not, at this point I decided to go and explore the hotel as it had a huge pond with massive Koi carp in, on my way I noticed a large sign in Thai with the name David wrote in English attached to a big arrow pointing up a flight of stairs, success, I’d finally cracked where I was getting married, I made my way up the stairs and discovered the wedding room, with a good two hours to spare!!!
On returning to the room Gang was finished, I much preferred her with her hair down but didn’t like to say, the bill £20, I remarked that was a bit steep, until I noticed two of the Bridesmaids had ‘slipped’ under the dryer as well !!!!….
An hour to go, this is where everyone starts to panic but not in Thailand, Gang and the Bridesmaids sat chatting and drinking cans of Heineken, another reason I married her.
I had eurosport on watching some car racing and at 5.30 it was time for a s**t, shower and shave, 5.50 I was fully booted and spurred, five minutes walk and we were at the wedding room, where Les, Dim, Margaret, Dave, Gangs parents Lek and the ’chauffeurs’ were all waiting, so there was quite a crowd if you included Booky and Lee the bridesmaids, worried? not in the least as I know there is no word in Thai for punctuality. Slowly the room filled up until just about every seat was taken which was good as there were only a few people from my side. Dawan, my friends partner turned up, she had flown up from Pattaya that day, Peter was at work so the ’chauffeurs were told to keep a special eye on her as she was a very important lady (Peter was my boss!!).
After everyone had arrived and was seated the ceremony began, Bookys mum was master of ceremony’s (self appointed) she did a really good job I’m not quite sure what she was saying on the microphone I could pick out the occasional word but all the Thais were laughing (probably at me) and cheering, now it is customary to pay a dowry, what is done is as much money as you can gather is handed over during the occasion then put on show to cheers from the crowd, this is known as show money, or your interpretation of what the daughter is worth, obviously the more you show the more she is worth, consequently I now know what a Brinks Mat van feels like, afterwards the money is taken by the parents they only keep a small amount the rest is given back, the reason for this being is if the daughter has to come home for any reason there is money to support her, but for some reason I was not asked to deliver any money, I spent the evening walking around like Ronnie Biggs!!!.
Gang and I were then called up onto the stage where Booky’s mum said a few words to us and a garland was placed around each of our necks, Dave, Margaret, and Gangs parents were then called on stage and stood next to each of us, the penny suddenly dropped with Dave and he whispered to me “they think we’re your parents” I replied “you owe me 45yrs pocket money”
We then proceeded to where Gangs family were seated and knelt before her Gran who produced pieces of string about six inches long these were then rubbed up and down our arms while her Gran spoke in Thai she was wishing us good health and happiness (I was wishing for a Brandy) then the string is tied around your wrist, and the process is repeated by the parents and whoever else happens to be in the possession of some string, these are to be kept on for 3 days or longer if you prefer. While the bondage session was taking place people came and placed gifts alongside us, (I kept my eye out for a brandy) the gifts were only very small things but these people come from very poor backgrounds most of them not knowing where their next meal was coming from, so I must admit I was quite touched by this.
We were now married, I looked at Gang she was my wife not my girlfriend any more,
She looked no different, unlike European girls where the difference between a girlfriend and a wife is usually about 45lbs.
Then we were back on stage to cut the wedding-cake ( the food that diminishes a woman’s sex drive) a gentleman produced only what I can describe as a Sabre and we proceeded to cut the cake, the gentleman then cuts individual pieces which the now Mrs Rose, (pronounced in Thai Mrs Lose) and myself distributed amongst the guests.
Then the festivities begin, now there are three types of entertainment; karaoke, karaoke and yes you‘ve guessed karaoke, luckily Lek had got three professional singers, one which I insisted sang only English songs, she was really good she opened with Hotel California by the Eagles. Now this song you are guaranteed to hear 3 or four times if you go for a night out I don’t think the Thai’s realise it’s a song about a brothel!
The food was served, probably enough to feed some small African country for a week, the beer and whisky flowed, the ’chauffeurs’ were busy keeping an eye on everyone whilst consuming enough whisky that Johnny Walker could probably retire, and talking into their mobile phones at the same time.
Once one of the singers finished there was a free for all with a rush to get on the microphone I thought here comes ’hotel California’ but was pleasantly surprised when it was all in Thai. Peter’s partner Dawan was keeping quiet, it wasn’t until later I discovered she had sung professionally.
The evening progressed well with people singing dancing and having a good time by about 11 they had started to leave, Dawan one of the first to go. Two of the ’chauffeurs’ were to take her to her hotel, I walked her to the lift but noticed the lads had full bottles of whisky under their jackets this concerned me a little but I kept quiet about it until I mentioned it to Gang, she told me not to be daft they were only taking it as the hotel staff would have it away, the lads would take it over to Mr Chu’s.
When people were on their way out they signed the wedding book, we made our exit after thanking the staff and singers, I gave them all a tip probably amounting to a few days wages for each of them..
We then made our way over to Mr Chu’s where the lads were waiting closely guarding 5 bottles of Johnny Walker or ’Johno’ as I call him (knowing him so well). From then on things started getting a little hazy but everyone had a good time or so I was informed.
All things considered it was a really good day and night and the whole thing cost less than £700 that was including 4 flights and a professional video and cameraman, I would definitely go through the whole process again but I’m afraid the sentence for bigamy in Thailand is the same as the U.K.- Two mothers in law !!!!
Click images to enlarge!! (Opens in new window)
|Gang and I Cutting Wedding Cake