It was a great job, not good pay, 75 cents a night but it paid for my hostel, some food and gave me something to do. I was a waiter for an Israeli restaurant. It was called the Roof Restaurant-because it was a restaurant on the roof of a hostel in Bangkok. It was open air of course and every night before it opened and the sun set over the Wats, (temples) of Bangkok I used to play the Gipsy Kings on the stereo. Whenever I hear the GK’s now it reminds me of those tranquil nights
Most of our customers were Israeli. It was hard work but was fun and I was grateful for the money. I was paid double the amount the Thai cooks got. I got on well with them until one night for some reason we got into an argument. I don’t even remember what it was about-and it wasn’t until many years later that I realised they must have been the ones who told the police.
Told the Police what? That I had gone 5 months over my visa. Thai visas at the time were valid for 3 months. Before they ran out, if you wanted another one you had to leave the country, get another three month visa and return again. Most people got the train down to Malaysia, hopped across the border, brought their visa and came back to Bangkok for another three months. But I could never afford the trip. I had literally prayed for a way out of this. I didn’t know what to do but asked God for help. I got it!
After the argument with the Thai waitresses I walked the 50 yards back to my hotel room, (which cost around 50 cents a night) and went to sleep. I was wakened very early in the morning by loud knockings on the door. I just knew who it was and my heart starting beating rather fast. I got up opened the door and was faced with two Thai policeman.
“Passport” They said. “Give passport!”
“My visa’s run out”, I said as I handed it over.
“You no visa”, he said as he flicked through the pages. “I know”, I said, “I just told you that”.
“Monkey house for you”, he said. “Get clothes on. “We go now”. And he closed the door.
My legs turned to jelly and I was very frightened. Oh no, I’m off to a Thai jail. I really was very frightened. I got dressed, opened the door and was led to a waiting police car. The journey was a long one, not in time, but in thoughts. Today was the day that my American girlfriend was coming back from Australia to meet up with me again. Her Mum was flying over from San Fransisco and an introduction was imminent…not now I guessed.
I was made to wait outside the jail for quite some time and after a couple of hours I was handcuffed to a Burmese guy…just in time for said girlfriend to arrive via the guest house and my up to date news. “I guess you won’t be meeting my Mother then,” she said. I guess not. It was a depressing meeting. It could have been so much fun. I was led away to spend my 10 days in a single room with 80 other guys in it. Lights on 24 hours a day, 2 meals a day, 3 loos and a couple of water taps.
My friends were very kind, and between them loaned me about $500 to pay the fine and get myself to Hong Kong. I paid Maura back, the two Israeli guys from the Roof restaurant and also the $50 my landlady had lent me. But I still owe Elan $75, 20 years later. I am still looking for him. Do ‘you’ know where he is?
UPDATE: Tuesday 30th April 2013 12.34pm. I just found Elan with the help of Trip Advisor. It only took 23 years!!!