Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

 The Flying Sporran's Bangkok Diary

July 22 2012

Gordon Bennett!  The British Consulate in Pattaya – once dubbed the world’s busiest – will be holding some erratic opening hours until further notice due to the resignation of the Thai born current Vice-Consul.

Leela Bennett, the big cheese in Pattaya, it is understood, wished a transfer to the quiet backwater of Bangkok but there were no vacations vacancies available, so she has packed it in.

This will come as sad news for many Bangkok Brits who discovered that it was often quicker to hop on the Bangkok-Chonburi motorway and go to Pattaya rather than brave the rush hour traffic in Bangkok and get to the Consulate before it shuts up.

They could also stay the day
in Soi 6 ‘playing golf’.

Those that do get up at 5am in Bangkok find when they get to the Embassy they have already been beaten to it by a nearnderthal band of shoppers seemingly awaiting the opening of the New Year Primark sale.

When one actually gets to the bullet-proofed gatehouse one is greeted by a Thai member of staff  who personally vets arrivals and will often announce the equivalent of: ‘The computer - he say no!’

Cocking one’s ear one can often hear laughter of consular officials inside, who are of course all high on 'E' and who get to watch it all on CCTV and laugh loudly at the prols outside.

The only solution I can offer is for happy drunks to get one of those temporary Sukhumvit bar owners (who open up at their roadside stalls anywhere 11 pm and stay open until the last customer leaves) to go and set up outside the mission and plonk their seats on the pavement at 3 am, first tipping the 'diplomatic protection' cops asleep in their car by the gates.

(One can get one of the drinkers to endorse a photograph if that's what one needs.  They will feel like they have known you for years and they are all JPs, SAS,  company directors, prison officers, London cabbies).

I tried the towel on the sunbed trick once, but both went missing. This is probably because the Swiss Embassy is nearby.

On arrival in the Consular Section however gone are the old queues of former years. Its magnificently peaceful.

So peaceful in fact and so good are the acoustics that one can hear in graphic detail Johnny Brit explaining how his Thai wife walked off with his house, car, kids, hip flask, etc and was now living in London with a Transport Police officer of West Indian origin, having returned to 'the game' leaving  him penniless in Nakorn Nowhere with a family of ten to feed that he barely knew and that he wanted her residence permit cancelled 'cos its a f.....g liberty!'**

The British Consulate in Pattaya  was re-opened to a fanfare of publicity in March*, attended, god knows why, by lots of local dignitaries***. I guess they think Britain has entered into diplomatic relations with Pattaya.

But from now on  its opening schedule seems a bit erratic and from August 6th will be open three days a week for two and a half hours a day. Going to the Consulate will be a bit like guessing the wife's 'safe period' - something I have failed at consistently.

One also has to check the FOREX before requiring Embassy services - the highest charges of all the Embassies in Thailand - I believe... until I am corrected.  Currently they are paying 50 baht to the pound. You're a penny a quid up at the moment.

The Pattaya Consulate has been closed since last Thursday and next opens on Tuesday. For an indefinite period the consulate will be only open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 am – 11.30, so they can have 30 minutes to psych themselves up for lunch, and will be operated by staff by officers from Bangkok.

This may still be quite difficult for Pattaya Brits who tend to rise after mid-day and never know what day of the week it is anyway.

I thought perhaps that if consular officials had bothered to make the trip they could perhaps open in the afternoon too. Go on make a day of it! But it is possible their afternoons are required for visiting, morgues, prisons and hospitals, completing paperwork. Maybe they have to stop under the 'over-servicing' rules. Maybe they rent out the consulate 'short time' in the afternoons.  Maybe of course they deduct two hours travelling time each way so they are back in Bangkok before knock-off time.

I cannot provide a clue to the latest resignation. But I am guessing it may be to do with the fact that Brits are a bit more direct with civil servants, and their language may be more colourful in Pattaya,  whereas Thais have an in-bred respect for authority and have more of the 'I know my place' demeanour about them. Perhaps the Vice Consul never wanted to be in Pattaya in the first place.

However both systems are similar in one respect.  The angrier you get the further back in the queue you go, despite clutching ferociously on to your  numbered ticket.

Outgoing Ambassador Asif Ahmad was in the resort last week to say good-bye to an official who did not turn up.  This is a typical diplomatic manoeuvre to help get rid of the petty cash float before the new Ambassador gets his hands on it.

Meanwhile some people down in Pattaya seem to be almost pining for the two previous consuls Howard Miller and Barry Kenyon who are either writing books about their experiences or preparing for their next starring television appearances.

Anyway to the right is one of my favourite letters to Here's a guy who has either directed a robbery badly because he is 'crap' at it and now needs a getwaway passport,  or has been robbed himself and is now seeking assistance to find the consulate in Pattaya.

(He actually does get a lot of advice but the best piece I guess is to check the Embassy website to see if the consulate is actually open, and to look at the prices for consular services)

If he can't afford the bus fare - no way can he afford a passport or temporary travel document.

* Actually the Consulate opened in January but official opened in March. Readers should not take this story seriously. No offence is intended. It is not seriously suggested that H.M. consular officials take Ecstasy.

Cocaine is much more the drug of preference.

** With a couple of alterations a true story.

*** Ok - the usual foreign newspaper editors.


We advise British citizens, and everyone else for that matter, not to travel  to the United Kingdom up to and around an event known as the Olypmic Games. This is due to industrial action by the U.K. Border Agency, whose officers will be replaced during this period by staff of the ACME Cleaning Company who have the contracts with the British Airports Authority, with special security skills acquired while  hoovering over sleeping transit passengers during the small hours.

While the British Government has every confidence the situation is being handled and under control, immigration queues may lengthen due to security consderations and time for processing may increase from 10 to 12 hours for UK citizens and up to 72 hours for Non-EU nationals.

Disposal units will be placed in key locations to accomodate, semtex, c4, and small nuclear devices, and use of these boxes is encouraged to ease the burden of staff.

Ticket touts will be on hand to buy the tickets for the opening ceremony which you will of course miss - at cost less 50%

Free coffee will be provided and a commemorative  FREE witty T-shirt will be issued available in XXL in peach colour.  It has the motif in black-

' I paid US$10,000 for a seat at the London Olympic's Opening Ceremony and all I got was this lousy T-shirt' -  thought up by Ena from Neasden.

 On the back: 'Screwed in Britain by the UKBA' - above the UKBA logo Two Rottweilers Rampant.

Entertainment will be provided by repetitive playing of the television documentary series 'The Underground'  - an introduction to London currently being shown on BBC Entertainment Worldwide. This programme, developed with the British Tourist Authority, through ten excruciating episodes will introduce you to the rude, drunken, fare dodging yobs, using the London transport system and broadcast the views of such people as a Polish worker  who says: 'I thought England was the land of gentlemen but &%#@*!'.


  1. Bring back Howard. Do the decent thing this time and treat hom like a proper mandarin. Make Barry his back up. They could relieve at lunchtimes and we could have 2 hour daily coverage

  2. If Howard or me (My God not both surely!) were brought back there might well be a rush of suicides in high diplomatic circles. Anyway, Howard is far too busy making money and I'm far too old and cynical. It is true that the part-time British consulate in Chiang Mai runs smoothly and the one in Pattaya has been a can of worms since day one, even though I tried to gobble as many of them as possible before my demise. The current Jomtien office is too small and uncomfortable and, to be frank, the foreign office/embassy has made some bizarre decisions about hired personnel. I'd be inclined to find new premises in the city and appoint people who are street-wise with Pattaya culture and norms. Andrew Drummond springs to mind although that would be rather like putting a hungry fox in a hen house. Alternatively, shut the thing altogether. Not everything in life can be a titanic success.

  3. Have to be a bit more diplomatic June - They'd both have to be No.1

  4. Shop house in Soi Yodsak? Keha Condo? No if I was there they'd all be signing affidavits, disclaimers, book and films rights etc

  5. That woman in the Embassy gatehouse annoys me.. although she does accept "It's not something I want to talk about in the street" as an appropriate response... I second Drummond for the Consul Position.. But why not pay them a half decent rate, it is simply a revenue generating enterprise for HM government after all.

  6. A nice little read as I sup my first coffee of the day and wonder; where am I, who am I and do I like it here? Technical stuff about what time and which day of the week it is will have to wait.Parhaps I'm a natural for Patters?
    The decision to employ locally engaged Thai women there, albeit with a strong UK nexus, was never going to work and I suspect they made a rod for their own back too by following instructions slavishly, excluding any notion of common sense. I'm a dual national and therefore can use the option of the Irish Consulate in Bangkok which is an absolute dream compared to what I've heard about the UK consulate in Patters from a fellow bi - national and from what I know personally about the embassy in Bkk. The costs now have risen to the point of imbecility and bear no relation to either the service sought or how its delivered.
    There is a weird dysfunctionalism about Britain these days - the worse a service gets, the more expensive it becomes and the less its managers acknowledge any deficiency. Poorly qualified staff become demoralised and eventually things break down although looking at the grinning faces of those allegedly responsible for the debacle one might be forgiven for thinking it is we who are wrong and not them.
    Horses for courses as ever but in respect of Patters I daresay they will keep picking non-runners.

  7. The Frying ScotsmanJuly 23, 2012 at 7:28 PM

    What's this I was reading in this weeks Pattaya Rag that you are back in court, and may even go to jail, for breaking the terms of the previous court judgement? Is it true? Are you worried? Will you counter sue for harassment?

  8. As the incumbent usually has to put up with bad press and his reputation gets torn to pieces, why don't we opt for one who already has a bad reputation, is generally regarded as a little shit and pays no one any attention anyway. Step forward the one and only Eric Broder HNC, HND aka Dirty Dog. His qualifications are there for us all to see (Has No Certificates, Has No Diplomas)

  9. A good chuckle, just what I needed.

  10. InspectorcluelessJuly 27, 2012 at 11:57 PM

    I can't for the life of me understand what the fuss is about? Losing an overpaid, underworked British consulate official should surely be considered a "result" for the long suffering UK citizens who have had the unfortunate experience to having dealt with any British Embassy staff in Bangkok? (Personal remarks about official edited)

  11. Inspector - I don't think the pay was that great, but better than the previous Honorary Consuls who were in affect unpaid. Hours seem good though. One could have a job as well.

  12. InspectorcluelessJuly 28, 2012 at 3:51 AM

    Andrew Drummond "One could have a job as well."

    Do you mean two part time jobs? Obviously as a mere UK taxpayer I couldn't possibly comment on the British consulate staff rates of pay, not least because I'm not sure what the going rate of pay should be for lazy, wordy, inneffective civil servants? Maybe the subject needs some investigative work? After which you could enlighten us all? :-))

  13. Just for the record. The honorarium for the part-time Pattaya honorary consul in my later years (until 2010) was around 10,000 baht a month allowing for exchange rate fluctuations. Howard Miller my successor got similar, but a bit less I think during his one year in office. In 2011 the position was made full time at vice-consul level and the publicly advertised salary was around 50,000 baht a month. The lady who was appointed to the newly enhanced post has now resigned and the Pattaya consulate is now manned three mornings a week by staff from the Bangkok embassy. Nobody knows how long this latest arrangement will last. I should add that honorary consuls and vice consuls get a modest petrol allowance for visiting the sick, the dead and the incarcerated. I was often advised, even warned once, not to over-service the clients by making too many visits or by working too hard on notarial work in the office on the small honorarium, but I assume this restriction was removed when the post became full-time and better paid. There are many reasons why the Pattaya consulate has been a big problem, but silly management decisions, particularly in London, must play a big part.

  14. Inspector: There are many views of the British Embassy Inspector. Many people have been gratefully helped. Many have greivances. Most people only see the Embassy when they have to do expensive paper work. This article is not serious. I usually take the humourous view at the expense of the Embassy. In turn every new official turning up in Bangkok is warned beware the Flying Sporran. There is no higher accolade. However if you have a particular gripe feel free to air it- but general and wild slagging off is better placed at where you can go on to your hearts content.

  15. What you say of Thai Visa is true but the other forums are no better, are they? Perhaps they should be tarred with the same brush. Provided that one can sift out the rubbish and misinformation, Thaivisa does have a large membership which can sometimes be useful. My only gripe with the expensive horse that is the Embassy is that the reins are occasionally pulled by a government other than the UK. In Thailand anyway