Nocturnal picture of sculpture by Rik Poot, in Vilvoorde (Belgium).
We did it. After incredible amounts of red tape, 26 documents and a whole lot of patience, Khwantippa and I were married on July 15th. As the ultimate Siam In-between column, let me tell you her and our story. An illustration of how radically different backgrounds can still imply a happy ending, and how stereotypes don’t apply.
Picture by Morty Photography
When we registered our wedding at city hall in part 1, we experienced the first challenges in marrying a foreign national in Belgium. Step 2, applying for a marriage visa, only emphasized that complex nature. This second post continues listing our experiences and contains information that isn’t documented anywhere else. Anyone planning to get married to a Thai national in Belgium will save a lot of time and effort, by carefully reading this post.
Back in 2005, Glitterati.be was a popular nightlife-and-fashion webzine yours truly was extremely proud of. Times have changed, life has moved on, but the original Glitterati website still has a special place in my heart. Its most popular post was titled Culture Club: history of a nightlife phenomenon. Now and then people still ask me if they can get a copy. For old times’ sake, I’ve decided to translate and update the article. Please enjoy the complete story of the legendary Culture Club nightclub in Ghent.
“We are not particularly good at doing things quickly. When we try to act swiftly, things inevitably go wrong.”
– Local City Official, said with a careless smurk on her face, while printing and stamping a document she could have easily issued on a previous visit, one week earlier. Red tape is the expression.
Getting married to a Thai national (or any foreign national, for that matter) in Belgium isn’t a straight-forward process. Official sources contradict each other in tiny (but crucial) details, different cities (or even contacts) interpret requirements differently and some government officials can’t be bothered to assist properly. My goal is to write our experiences down, to help others maneuver these murky waters. Part 1 will teach you how to successfully jump the first hurdle: the wedding registration at City Hall in Belgium.
My hometown is Vilvoorde, a city with about 43,000 inhabitants neighboring the Belgian capital of Brussels and with a checkered past. Vilvoorde thrived during the Industrial Revolution due to the proximity to Brussels and the excellent transport infrastructure. Being one of the largest industrial areas around Brussels, the city remained successful until the late nineties when subsequent economic crises started to have an adverse effect on the economy. As a result, Vilvoorde received a rather grey and negative image which is sometimes propagated to this day. Local commercial policy (or the lack thereof) hasn’t been able to stop increasing shop vacancy in the main shopping street, which only aggravated the reputation. Lately a trend has been rising in our city next to the river Zenne. One that might point towards the answer for both the local economy and the city as a whole, if policy makers choose to see and address it. Let me tell you about Hipster Vilvoorde.
When my Mom recently needed emergency surgery to save her eye, she was racketeered by her physician to upgrade to a more expensive single-person room. The time-sensitive procedure would not be carried out, if she refused. You see, in Belgium MD’s are allowed to charge an elevated fee when a patient is staying in a private room. My parents alerted the media, resulting in a small media storm. Mom’s story was a headline on national TV news and in newspapers De Morgen, Gazet van Antwerpen, HLN and Het Nieuwsblad. My question is: whatever happened to the Hippocratic Oath?
Minister President Paul Magnette of the Belgian region Wallonia is acting like a good housefather and I respect him for it. Under immense international pressure and with Europe staring him down, he is taking a stand and refusing to sign the CETA free-trade agreement between Europe and Canada. Why? The man did his homework and found the agreement to be vague when decision power of national courts is concerned, when governments are sued by foreign investors. Basically, he wants to ensure that multinationals, which increasing have more power than nations, can’t just have free blows at European countries and indicates that he needs more time to study the current draft. What any other leader should have done, quoi. Paul, we might be part of different and often opposing communities within the same nation, but I would consider giving you my vote, if I could. Stand your ground, man. No use in having regional votes, if regions aren’t allowed to say ‘no’.