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Date Posted: 02:44:25 11/07/02 Thu
The "prince" may have been a little out of shape and not that young, but for Porntip Nakhirunkanok yesterday at the beginning of her elegant wedding ceremony, Herb Simon was the man to cap her real-life fairytale. "For four years he pursued me, and for four years I tried to run away," the former Miss Universe said. "But finally I stopped to wonder why I tried to run away from the best man I had ever found. And here we are."
The American billionaire, 57, meanwhile, seemed to enjoy the frenetic activities of a Thai-style wedding, which began with a khan mak (traditional offerings to the bride's family) procession from the Peninsula Bangkok Hotel across the Chao Phya River to the Oriental Hotel's pier. "It's a fascinating ceremony, and my brother and sister-in-law also loved it, although it's a little bit too warm with all these traditional costumes," said the smiling groom.
The Hae Khan Mak promptly began at the appointed time with Thai national artist Chinnakorn Klailard yodelling and leading the way to The Oriental Hotel, where |the bride was waiting. Simon, accompanied by his brother Fred and his wife, had to pass through "silver and golden gates" guarded by close friends and relatives of the bride. After paying "tolls", averaging Bt500 in each envelope, they were allowed through. Throughout the proceedings, Bangkok Governor Samak Sundaravej, who represented the bride's family, explained the meaning of each step to Simon.
At the Author's Lounge, Pornthip sashayed down the stairs with her mother. She looked radiant in a cream-coloured Thai dress with golden thread. Looking younger than his years, Simon wore a white Thai silk praratchatan (a traditional formal Thai costume for men). Among the guests was Thailand's first Miss Universe, Apsara Hongsakula. Others included Payap and Poruethai Shinawatra, Rasri Bualert, Chitra Techapaibul and Lawan Chooprasert.
As with most celebrity events there are bound to be a few glitches. This one was no different. When it was time for the couple to unveil the sinsod (offerings), members of the press started clamouring for a closer look, despite the emcee's pleas to make room for the bride and groom, who looked rather overwhelmed. Samak, in his usual gruff manner, screamed for all to hear at the press to back off, his demeanour rather out of context at a solemn wedding ceremony.
The Khan Mak contained cash worth Bt9.99 million (nine being believed to be an auspicious number in Thailand), nine gold bars of five baht weight each and Bt60 million worth of jewellery. A US$10-million (Bt430-million) house in an exclusive Los Angeles area was earlier presented to Pui by Simon. The wedding ring was a nine-carat diamond by Harry Winston, known as jeweller to the rich and famous. The groom received a simple wedding band from his bride.
Later, 50 young men and women dressed in beautiful gold Thai costumes surrounded the couple. The result was a dramatic picture of the bride and groom amid a sea of gold. As souvenirs, the members of the press were presented with boxes each containing a rose made of sugar. As is customary, the couple made merit by releasing 35 kilorams of eels, nine large turtles and one tapap nam (soft shelled turtle) into the Chao Phya River. Pui's mother Dawan made a wish for the couple to have a good and happy life together.
The press later enjoyed a buffet lunch at the Jintala restaurant at the Peninsula Hotel. The couple and their guests had their lunch at Jester's, also at the Peninsula. The event may have been a solemn one, but it had its light-hearted moments too. When one of the reporters asked Pui if she was ready to start a family she answered laughingly: "Definitely, but I have to get Herb to start practising." When Simon was asked why he had finally decided to get married he answered: "I've been chasing her for almost four years until finally she stopped running." Cora Sukhynaga, THE NATION
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