What is it Like to do Jail Time in Thailand?
First: Get A Thai Get-Out-of-Jail Number!
We give Concierge clients a 24-hour Thai/English emergency phone number for good reason: to call if they’re ever in a jam. Since most of us have learned how to stay our of trouble by the time we retire, use of the number has been limited: about one incident per year for the last 5 years. We also swap phone numbers with them so, when they do call in the middle of the night we know it’s not a wrong number (wrong numbers are common in Thailand). Last week, late at night, we got a call from an unrecognized number and ignored it until the caller persisted for so long that we answered. When we finally picked up the phone we found that it was a client who had changed his number without notifying anyone. He was calling from a jail cell and was able to tell enough of his story so we knew that he was in real trouble. The story ended happily a few hours later, but it was sufficiently disturbing that it prompted this reminder: first, have an emergency number to call–and have someone on the other end who speaks fluent Thai and knows how to talk to Thai cops. Second: if you change your phone number, text the new number to all your friends and especially to your emergency contact. Cultural misunderstandings, though rare, are unavoidable, and a simple precaution will ensure that they don’t become something worse.
In case you’re considering sowing some wild oats in Thailand, you might want to know what it’s like to do time in The Land of Smiles. Brit Colin Neil found out the hard way:
I’ve been asked to post about my time in prison in Thailand. So here goes.
I was married before here in Issan, what a nightmare. Money, money, money, I need money was all i ever heard from my ex-wife.
I bought a new car: 659.000 baht CASH.
I went back to UK to work, came back 5 months later, money not enough !!what !! you get 20.000 baht every month, plus your government salary.
I need more. No way says I. Big mistake.
I go back to work 6 months come back. Same s..t not enough money. Why do you need so much money? No answer, now i am getting tired of hearing this go out in evenings drinking (too much) not wanting to go home.
One day postman gave me mail, addressed to my ex-wife from ———- bank. I put in my pocket: I need to read this as we did not deal with that bank.
Later I opened it could not read it. I cannot read Thai but understand money in Thai, it was a monthly payment slip, had car number on it, had monthly payment amount, and total amount outstanding. I confronted my ex about this. Yes I borrow 250.000 baht, what for? no answer. Well no way am I paying that, left the house went drinking. Went home 5 hours later, house empty, no wife or stepson.
2 weeks go by no sign, well I have had enough, start getting things sorted to move out.
I am having a drink at local restaurant/bar with friends, 4 men in t-shirts/jeans come to me. I could see by handcuffs/radios under t-shirts that they were police.
We have a warrant for your arrest. What you joking? no here it is. I cannot read it (in Thai) so we go to police station, I get locked in a cell. Now Thursday afternoon.
After a lot of bul….t from police, my wife has said I hit her and her son. So I am going to court. No food/water from police, but my friends Thai/Farang brought me food and drink, plus clean clothes. Saturday taken to court. No judge just court clerk/ corrupt senior policeman. I get remanded to prison.
Taken to the prison along with some Thai men. We were told to strip Thais did, i refused ok !! mai mee pan ha !!
I had 2 cans of coke with me, they were poured away food in the bin, only food drink from prison shop allowed.
I was detailed to stay in room 4, along with 103 other men. A Thai ex solicitor who spoke English was detailed to take care of me, only farang in that prison, 1300 prisoners, 1 farang.
Yes I was was scared, what the hell will happen to me?
3.30 in the afternoon food. Well thats what they called it. I could not tell what i was eating, so i gave up went hungry.
4.30 lockup. I was giving number 103 point to sleep (painted numbers on the walls) maybe 500 mm wide x 2 mtrs long no pillow/ blankets nothing, just a spot on the concrete. By morning the smell was unbearable, toilets at the end of the room just a raised platform, no screens nothing.
06.30 door unlocked outside, fresh air wonderful, showers just a big concrete bund full of not so clean water. Next a prisoner appeared with a cup of coffee for me. Where did he get that? Dont ask just drink I am told.
08.00 Breakfast.Well that’s what they called it, again I could not tell what I was eating, but now I am hungry. Next thing i am told to go to the office, taken to office by a trustee. I go inside prison number 2 boss, wants to speak to me. Sit he said, so I sit on the other chair, trustee is trying to drag me off the chair!! why??!!Prisoners sit on the floor, boss says ok so i sit back on the chair. You want coffee yes please. We sit drinking coffee/ talking, he wants to practise his English.
I was treated with respect by all the prisoners/guards
Monday I am told I have a visitor, go to the office. I get there and see a good farang friend (tv member). He tells me another farang friend, who has just left to go back to UK, is prepared to post bail for me (he is also tv member). Off he goes to court, no farang cannot post bail, yes i can i have resident certificate, after he sorted that back to the prison with papers for me/ prison governer to sign, back to court/ back to prison/back to court for judge to sign.Finally he has papers to get me out. By this time – 4.30 in the afternoon lockup.
My spirits were well down now, another night in here. No at 5.30 guards unlocked the door i am out. My friend was waiting outside for me. Guess what was the first thing I did?? Yes I went for some beer.
That is my prison story. Married to a woman who only wanted money.
Please do not think i am bitter towards Thai women. I am not.
Went back to UK came back 9 months later, met and married a wonderful Thai lady. Never asks for 1 baht always takes care of me.
P.S. In October 2013 i had a serious motorbike accident. Now I am paralysed from the chest down. My wife does everything for me, never complains takes care of me day and night. I have to be turned every 2 hours (bedsores) she never stops she is always there for me. Thank you for taking time to read this. Colinneil.
If you’d like to contact, just go to his page.