After exploring Bangkok we were off to Pattaya for the wedding. The Dusit Thani resort was really beautiful. Pattaya itself isn’t really our kind of place. It’s fairly seedy and known for its girly boys (boys who dress as women and are so convincing you would never believe it until they speak. They are stunningly beautiful). So we mostly stayed on the resort.
We all took a bus, and Vanessa’s uncle, who runs the resort, welcomed us with an hors d’oeuvres reception. It was very nice, and we were treated very well the whole time. The next day Adam and I went scuba diving. I got certified right before we left for Thailand. We didn’t take the camera because we didn’t want to leave it on the boat with a bunch of strangers while we were in the water. Our dive master took underwater pictures for us, but I can’t find the disc. We did 2 dives that day: Koh Sak and Koh Krok. The first one wasn’t that interesting, but it was a good opportunity for me to work on my buoyancy, which I struggle with (he said I must have big lungs bc I go up and down a lot with each breath. Who knows). Koh Krok was more interesting with a baby sea turtle who was very friendly. We saw lots of black, prickly sea urchins. Our dive master was a young vampire named Rob. He was ghostly pale white with dark hair. I have no idea how a person who makes a living being in the ocean 90% of the time in a tropical climate can stay that white, unless he is undead. He also had pretty pointy teeth and was pretty grouchy (hungry?). Gave me the creeps. The food on the boat was…nothing to write about. On the way home on the boat Adam started to feel sick.
We got back in time for the dress rehearsal that I needed to be at, and Adam went to rest. That evening was the rehearsal dinner, and Adam was REALLY SICK. Super high fever, vomiting, the works (no need to elaborate, we all know what is included). At first we thought it could be the bends, but quickly realized it was food poisoning, and he knew exactly what he had eaten to make him sick bc it tasted wrong. I remember him mentioning it to me at the time and telling me to stay away from it. He had the chills so bad and wanted the air off. It was over 90 degrees in our room, he was huddled under all the covers, and he was shivering. These 2 very sweet housekeepers cleaned up all the…let’s say mess, in the bathroom, and were so sweet and kind about it that I tipped them. BIG. So I kept running back and forth from the dinner to my very sick, delirious husband. Fortunately it passed (expelled?) quickly, and by morning he felt fine…but not hungry yet.
This wedding was an ALL. DAY. AFFAIR. ALL DAY. AND ALL NIGHT.
It started at 7 AM at the spirit house ceremony. Thais believe that spirits, both deities and ancestors, must have a shelter in one’s home. Thus, outside of all Thai houses and businesses, you will always find a Spirit House that serves as a place for both prayer and the aforementioned spirit habitation. According to tradition, spirits may be good or bad but like Aretha, they demand respect, or they can inflict disastrous consequences on you. The bride and groom prayed to these spirits at the resort’s spirit house in the hotel gardens.
At 7:30 there was a blessing ceremony from local monks. In Thai Buddhism, there is a concept called Tam Boon which roughly translates into making merit or creating good karma. Thais believe in reincarnation and feeding monks, who depend upon donations for all earthly needs, is a great way to create good karma. They in turn blessed all of us to start the day off with some good vibes. The head monk starts the chanting and swaying and it goes on until he decides not to chant and sway anymore. Some of the monks fell asleep off and on. It lasted for quite a while.
Then at 9 we started the first wedding ceremony. Part 1 was The Khan Maak/Soo Kor: Thai tradition dictates that Jonny must prove his worthiness and financial ability to take care of Vanessa. To do that he must successfully navigate and be granted access through silver and gold gates. The gates (represented by silver and gold chains across a walkway) were manned by members of the family who must be convinced to let Jonny through, though Jonny may elect to have a representative negotiate on his behalf. Jonny’s talent in negotiation (and possession of money-filled red envelopes) were key to his wedding day bliss. The whole wedding group joined him in a parade through the hotel and grounds. We were dancing and singing and playing instruments. This is the picture after we won entrance to his wedding. Vanessa’s brother wasn’t too hard on Jonny, but he didn’t give him a free pass either.
Then came the Chinese tea ceremony because Vanessa is half Chinese and half Thai. In this traditional Chinese ceremony, the bride and groom served their elder relatives tea and were blessed in return. The brides and grooms then provided a gift to their elders, and the elders in return gifted a red envelope to the couples. Who is that other couple? Vanessa’s brother and his bride. It was a double wedding!
And that was followed by the traditional Thai wedding ceremony. Vanessa and Jonny prayed over holy water (the same water blessed by the monks earlier in the day). Everyone was then invited to pour water over the couples hands wishing them luck and prosperity in their lives together.
And FINALLY we had lunch.
So after lunch there was more. There was an American wedding ceremony. My dad officiated, and I was a bridesmaid. It happened in the afternoon out on a rocky ledge above the beach. The view of the ocean and beach was stunning. The view of the walkway above was less stellar as the fat hairy old men in speedos lounged against the wall to watch the nuptials. The did give a nice round of applause when the ceremony ended, so I guess they contributed. Fortunately the bride and groom didn’t have to stare at them. It was just so funny that these wedding crashers thought it was perfectly ok to join the formal wedding when they themselves were nearly naked.
After THAT was the dinner, which was delicious. And after THAT there was a choreographed dance by the brides and grooms (think Brittney Spears and Justin Timberlake) that was AWESOME. And after THAT was the reception. And after THAT was the post reception.
One culturally enlightening moment was during the dancing at the reception. Vanessa’s brother had his wedding in India the week before, but many of her family members came to the Thai version. Apparently it’s a big thing in India for families to hire choreographers to teach them a dance routine ala Thriller, and they all dance it together. This particular family was all over the dance floor like NSync. It was so fascinating to watch. I didn’t take pictures of that because it would be…awkward.
The whole day was quite the affair. Jonny and Vanessa went all out and spent so much time and effort planning a beautiful day that none of us will ever forget.