My friend almost died in Thailand last year.
Berlusconi went to visit his mother in Phuket. She lives there now. He brought his Chinese girlfriend, Chowling.
They flew from Tokyo to Bangkok and had one hour to make their domestic flight connection. He didn’t realize they’d have to exit immigration, wait for their luggage, get their new ticket and go through security and immigration all over again.
“Listen,” Berlusconi told the Thai ticket agent, “My flight leaves in 30 minutes. Can you help me get through security faster or something?”
“Sorry, I’m going on my lunch break. Talk to this guy.” That guy was no help either.
So they missed their flight and Berlusconi had to spend $300 for two new tickets. He was furious. $300 can buy 600 bananas. Bananas are what he eats when he has no money. And he’s had to eat nothing but bananas for weeks at a time.
He tried to contact his mom and tell her they’d be late, but for some reason he couldn’t connect to the wifi.
Finally arriving in Phuket, they rode a bus for two hours from the airport. Traffic was terrible. He could have walked there faster. By the time they arrived at the hotel, his mom was gone.
The hotel has two building across the street from each other. One has a nightclub that blasts music all night long and the other, the one Berlusconi had booked for a week, has an ocean view and small private pools on the balconies. He’d stayed in this hotel once before and liked it so much that he booked the same exact room. But when checking in, the receptionist gave him a key to a different room.
“I booked a suite in the other building,” said Berlusconi.
“That building full. No good”
“Wait a minute. Are you telling me you gave my room to somebody else? A room I already paid for?”
“It okay. This room good too.”
“No it’s not okay. I want what I paid for.”
“Someone is in that room.”
“Give me money back then. I paid for a week.”
“I have to talk to the manager.”
“Call him then.”
“He sleeping . . .”
“Wake him up.”
“Okay. You stay this building one night and can change rooms tomorrow.”
“Fine.” It was past midnight. Berlusconi and Chowling were exhausted and ready for the day to be over.
They entered their room on the second floor. It was right above the nightclub. Very loud. Very hot too. The AC didn’t work. The toilet didn’t flush. Berlusconi was angry enough to spit balls of fire like Mario.
The receptionist gave him a key to the last vacant room. It was on the top floor, the eighth. They rode the elevator up and walked up some stairs and in between two prostitutes sitting and smoking cigarettes.
There were two rooms. The door on the right was wide open and inside, Berlusconi couldn’t help but notice, was a man, probably Russian, covered in tattoos and sitting at the foot of his bed, his forehead resting on his hand, looking distressed about something.
They entered their room and locked the door. Lying in bed, they couldn’t sleep because of the noisy drunks outside.
Berlusconi gave Chowling a good pair noise-cancelling headphones and she eventually passed out. Berlusconi, however, no matter what position he lay in, could not fall asleep.
Hours passed. The sun came out. He was still awake. Stressed and mad.
Suddenly someone from outside screamed. A split-second after, Berlusconi heard his doorknob rattling as someone tried to get in. He jumped out of bed and approached the door.
“I’m going to count to three,” he said to himself. “If whoever on the other side doesn’t stop I’m going to open the door and punch them in the nose.”
“1 . . . 2 . . .”
Nothing. Whoever it was had left. Berlusconi returned to bed.
About 30 minutes passed.
Someone banged on his door.
“Berlusconi! Berlusconi!” he heard. He jumped out of bed once again and opened the door. It was his mom. She was crying. “I thought you were dead! Something terrible happened. You have to leave. Wake Chowling and cover her eyes on the way out.”
Police stood in the other room. Blood was everywhere. On the walls and on the floor.
Someone had stabbed the Russian over and over and knocked him out the window. He plunged eight stories and landed on a Thai man.
The three of them left the hotel together. Outside, Thai children washed and scrubbed blood from the street.
As far as Berlusconi knows, the murderer escaped. To this day, Chowling doesn’t know what happened. And Agoda dot com, after he requested a refund, refunded him for only three nights. Not seven. That’s another 150 bananas.