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Chiang Mai Weddings

Written on: Thursday February 14th, 2008

A journal entry from: Around The World Without A Plane

It was fitting that I rocked up back to Chiang Mai with Kara on Valentine?s Day. Not that it was Kara I was engaged to, but Carolyn. On my last trip to Chiang Mai I?d noticed a sign outside a bar offering a marriage ceremony on the 14th February, and then a divorce party on the 15th. I reminisced to how I spent 2007?s Valentine?s Day evening, arm in arm with Dave Dunham strolling around a few bars in Nottingham, visiting some insipid, filthy, student nightclub that stank of dried vomit and was completely empty save for Dave and I, before ending up winning a fair bit of money at the Gala Casino. Not a bad night all in all, but getting married was far more exciting. So a few days earlier, back in virus infested Pai I nonchalantly popped the question over a cheese sandwich and Carolyn thought what the hell and happily accepted.


My legitimate reason to return to Chiang Mai was to meet back up with Adrian and Lucy who had invited me to join them for their friend?s real wedding. The groom, a guy named Will, was Adrian?s friend from back in England, but had moved out here and met a Thai girl for who he was about to marry. Very kindly he?d agreed to me coming along to the wedding.


Myself, Kara and Carolyn all stayed together at the Chiang Mai Inn, where I had stayed at previously, had a spot of lunch with Darren, who later got the train down to Bangkok and randomly bumped in to Bertrand and Helen of Gibbon Experience fame. We thought we should have a congregation and so invited them along to the wedding later that day also, as well as Adrian and Lucy. Sadly though the wedding ceremony itself turned out to be run by a drunk, weathered, old Australian who spent most of the day roasting a pig on a huge spit and who when I inquired about what exactly this ?Getting Married? thing was all about remarked, ?Have you got yourself a Sheila then, or is it a fella you?re after. I can take care of that for yer mate, hah hah hah hah hah?, in the broadest Aussie accent you?ve heard since Les Patterson. We went back only to meet B and Helen, put the whole getting married business aside (such a ridiculous idea in the first place) and walked down towards the riverside and a lively restaurant/bar that had some live music on and was full of couples lovingly looking in to one another?s eyes across the tables, as of course it was Valentine?s night. We sat down and decided it was about time to get back on the beer. The Pai bug was still hungrily gorging its way through my body though. Coming off the anti-malarial tablets had not improved my recovery either as my immune system was weaker than a bridge built of balsa wood. We stayed for quite a few hours however, and were later joined by Adrian and Lucy, who arrived just in time to see Helen dance like some sort of wild deer rearing up on her back legs begging not to be shot. Don?t get me wrong, the Thai band were very good indeed, belting out a bunch of covers that was appeasing to everybody?s ears, and they probably did deserve a few people dancing away. But Helen was the only one and was letting loose right in the passage of where the waiters and waitresses were carrying drinks and food along to tables, one of whom was actually picked up by Helen and shaken around in a sort of spasmic Heimlick maneuver. I don?t know if there?s even such a word as spasmic, but it sounds like what she looked like. After her outburst she seemed to become troubled and began doing lunges around the bar area, seemingly trying to stretch off an overly exerted muscle somewhere. She was not impressed when B struck up a mirrored pose alongside her for the benefit of our laughter of course, which we decided was well worthy of it.


I awoke on February 15th not in need of the divorce after all. Kara and Carry were up early and off on a Thai cooking course, while I hung around waiting for Adrian and Lucy to phone me so that I could meet up with them to attend the real wedding of Will and Pat. The phone call didn?t come though, probably for the best as later on I was to find out the ceremony which took place in a Buddhist temple was only attended by about six people, all of them close family or friends. I would have looked a right dill being introduced to the bride and groom for the first time then standing around uncomfortably for the rest of the day like a Japanese whaler at a Greenpeace convention. Nonetheless when I met up with Adrian and Lucy later that night for the wedding reception, they apologised profusely at having ruined my day. As it was they had far from ruined my day. I hadn?t done much, but when you?re traveling around like a UN envoy as much as I have been of late, it?s nice to have a couple of days of nothingness, especially when still trying to get rid of this horrid bug.


Adrian had texted me later in the day to tell me to come along to the reception. Not wanting to look like the hobo traveler that I am I donned one of the two smart shirts I had with me, borrowed a pair of fisherman?s pants from Carry (although I?m really unsure as to whether fishermen actually wear these) and had both Carry and Kara accompany me to the bar where the festivities were going on. I felt a right muppet though at still not having met either the bride or the groom, but yet still waltzing in to their reception and enjoying the free spread of food and drink that was provided. Worse still, I?d brought two other strangers with me. I thought back to the last wedding party I?d crashed. It was only a few months back in the States, where I was best man for Jon and Sara on their wedding day ? I was invited to this wedding. But the wedding reception going on in the adjacent room I was not. It wasn?t so much of a crash, merely an attempt by Dave and I to broker and foster trans-Atlantic relationships with another group of Connecticutians. We were initially very well received. First a few of the guests invited us in, then we introduced ourselves to the groom who was happy to have us there and accepted our congratulations appreciatively. Then came the bride. You?d have thought on her wedding day she?d have been pretty happy, but as Dave and I wobbled about on the dance-floor, most of the party had noticed us two awkward-looking movers, and the bride promptly asked us to leave. Even on introducing myself as the illustrious and gracious best-man from next door and inviting them to come and meet our fellow bride and groom, it did us no favours. She was resolute on us leaving and not wanting to upset the bride or cause a scene on one of the defining days of her life we humbly left.


Unfortunately for her, we then drank a lot, and several hours later returned to once again grace their dancefloor with our revolutionary British dance moves. Immediately our feet had touched that vinyl-polished floor covering that constitutes many an event dancefloor she came homicidally from nowhere, teeth bared and clenched together for us to frightening behold. This time we were in no fit state to be polite and gentlemanly, or frightened for that matter, as she was not going to do us the honour of being so, so instead I imparted to her that I didn?t think her marriage was going to last particularly long, ?In fact I?d give it less than a year!?, I knowledgeably told her. On sober reflection, maybe somewhat harsh, but I think she shouldn?t have been so bloody rude. I only hope I?m never in her shoes having to take care of two drunken, foreign idiots intent on enjoying the festivities of my own glorious wedding day, if that is I ever find someone to marry of course.


Anyhow, back to Chiang Mai. My point being, that that particular episode in the States flashed back before my eyes and here I was again just 6 months later about to crash another wedding, but this time bringing two other people along with me. And this time I was sober. I gingerly climbed the stairs to the room where the party was happening. As I walked in to the room, eyes turned towards me, mostly Thai, trying to work out who the hell I was. Luckily one of the pairs of eyeballs was Lucy?s and she rushed over to welcome me and introduce me to Will, the groom. Adrian soon joined us and I felt a little less of an imposing freeloader when Will introduced me to his new wife, Pat, and then in turn addressed me officially as ?The Wedding Crasher?, thankfully in a humourous fashion rather than the poisonous way the previous bride had greeted Dave and I. Just as I was feeling welcome it was then that I remembered I had left Kara and Carry standing downstairs, and now realised I would have to brooch the subject of requesting whether Will and Pat would mind if they too joined me as an official ?Wedding Crasher?. The story of my own proposed marriage to Carry broke the ice and they in their kindness and hospitality were only too welcome to have Carry and Kara join us. Later on in the night we actually changed from being the official ?Wedding Crashers? to the official photographers as you?ll see from the photos. The wedding party lined up and in between sips of margarita I snapped away with Adrian?s expensive digital camera I?d been handed, happy to earn my invite to a Thai ? British wedding.


Kara, Carry and I left as the celebrations began to die down, not wanting to look like complete pikies, remaining there drinking away to the death. We instead visited a Reggae, hippy-type, roof-top bar that was very chilled out and grabbed a couple of buckets before close. On leaving, Carry then rushed up to what she somehow saw as a secret door and engaged in trying to pull it open. This ?secret door? was actually a huge molded rockface that was there to decorate a flat, drab wall. Her pulling alas, revealed no Mecca or hidden treasures beyond our wildest dreams, but simply served this heavy monstrosity to fall towards her. Within seconds though she had managed to escape out of the way, and I found myself holding this thing up while she laughingly took photos.


It ended up being quite a late one, which for Carry and I didn?t matter too much as we had the pleasure of lying in bed before catching an afternoon train to Bangkok, but how in the world Kara managed to pull herself out of bed at 7:30am to go off on a trekking, elephant riding, raft-riding day I have no idea.


From Kara on Mar 31st, 2008

I'm not sure if it's your humorous prose, or the fact that this is all so true that is so laugh out loud funny...