It is now over four years since my wife Oa and I tied the knot. I waited until my mid-thirties to make this commitment. I was one of those people who argued that marriage was the death of romance. I now look back and wonder why I waited so long; married life seems to suit me. Getting wed turned out to be a great decision but the day itself left a lot to be desired. Marriage in a tropical paradise like Thailand probably sounds romantic, but it can actually involve a lot of bureaucracy and stern officials – at least that was my experience anyway.
At the time of our marriage we were living in rural Phitsanulok. I did a bit of online investigating and found that we would need to travel to Bangkok to arrange the paperwork. We took a sleeper train overnight down to the capital. I didn’t get any sleep and felt wrecked by the time we arrived at Hua Lamphong train station at 5:00 am. It took two hours to find a hotel with a vacancy. We were both knackered but we needed to dump our bags and go straight to the Irish consulate.
The Bangkok Irish Consulate is Really Small
The traffic in Bangkok is a complete nightmare. It can often take more than an hour to travel 1 km by taxi; this can be hell if you are not in fully air-conditioned transport. I remember this being one of the things I hated about Bangkok when I worked there previously. I suppose it is hardly surprising for a city of almost 10 million people. It took us a while to find somebody willing to take us to the area where the Irish Consulate is located; many refused because although it wasn’t far they didn’t want to be stuck in traffic. We finally convinced a Tuk-Tuk driver who was able to get us there surprisingly quickly.
The Irish Consulate is a bit of a disappointment as it is very tiny office in a very tall building. Most countries have an embassy in Thailand, but Ireland can only manage a consulate. The Thai staff were friendly though. The Consulate was packed with only ten people but luckily we were out of there within an hour. The reason for my visit was that I needed them to witness an affidavit stating that I was not previously married and to verify my proof of income.
There were two other couples there also planning to get married including an Irish girl who was marrying her English boyfriend. This couple had it a lot worse than us as they not only had to deal with the Irish Consulate but also the UK one. They also couldn’t speak Thai and so needed to rely on local agents who was happily helping them spend all their money. They also had over thirty family members waiting for them on Koh Samui. They were well stressed and I am sure it wasn’t what they expected when they decided to get married in tropical Thailand.
Why Do People Trying to Help Me Make My Life So Hard?
We needed to get my affidavit translated into Thai and the agents that were assisting the Irish/English couple offered to help us. We got in their minibus and they took us to the other side of Bangkok where they informed us that they wanted to charge us a huge fee for the service. I laughed and we left. We got another tuk-tuk to take us back to where they picked us up. It was a waste of an hour but you get used to this in Thailand. I would hate to think what would happen if they weren’t trying to help me.
We found a translator near the Irish Consulate but she was busy and wouldn’t be able to complete the document until the afternoon. She was nice about it and suggested that we get it translated near the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs; this was our was our next destination anyway. She also said it would be cheaper there. We got another tuk-tuk across the city only to end up at the wrong Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They told us that we needed the Consulate department which is near the old airport; 40 km away. We got in a taxi and headed for Don Muang only to stop once so my wife could be sick (she is a terrible traveller when it comes to motion sickness).
When we arrived I found a translation service where a Katoey (lady boy) translated my affidavit to Thai and stamped it. We then took both papers to The Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs so they could verify the translation and the Irish Consulate stamp by adding their own stamp. This took two hours and it was after three when they finished. We then headed, with all the paperwork, for the nearest registrar before it closed.
The Most Unpleasant Thai Person I Have Ever Met
The registrar was far from happy to see us arriving so late but insisted on marrying us anyway. I would have been happy to come back the next day. This Registrar was the rudest Thai person I have ever met. She wasn’t happy with the translation of my name and insisted the Dublin was also translated wrong. I managed to convince her about the name, but I now come from Durblin. She complained that Oa was taken too long filling out the forms and nearly fainted when she saw that I had written my name in roman script. She was then rude to Oa again for speaking to me in English and insisted that we only speak in Thai. She felt that foreigners staying in Thailand should speak the language. Normally I would be sympathetic to her argument but for the rest of the time in the office I would only speak to her in English. She was upsetting Oa and this was meant to be a special day.
In Thailand the worst possible thing that someone can do is lose their temper in public so I ended up just laughing. It actually was funny. Eventually after many frowns the registrar married the two of us. I felt sorry for another couple that came in at about the same time as us; a Korean man who was at least in his late sixties and his twenty-something year old Thai bride. I doubt that the registrar made their marriage an easy affair. In fact she looked as if she was going to enjoy the confrontation. It was a relief to get out of the office.
We took a one hour taxi ride back to our hotel only stopping once so my new wife could be car sick again. It was a very long day but it actually felt surprisingly good to be married. I wished that the day had been more special for my wife, but we have had plenty of special times since then and intend to have many more.