My Rambling Submission
My British pals are all within a year or two of my age, never married, and like to drink. I had the great fortune of running into the first two in Koh Samui in 2000 and we’ve met up each year since. Being from America I find myself enthralled with all things foreign, even the language they use. Each year the crew grows by one or two except that Dave, who bought a house on Koh Samui, died suddenly 3 months ago with an inhaler in one hand and a pack of smokes in the other. As it turns out, to no one’s surprise, the deed to his house is a mess with the bargirl / friend who helped set up the “company” to assist with foreign ownership. She of course is a part owner and not going quietly.
Even though Samui has become a bit pricier and crowded after being discovered post-tsunami, it’s still a great deal and a beautiful place. The infrastructure of Chaweng Beach is not keeping up with the volume of tourists and sewage and drainage are real problems in the busy season. The taxis are a corrupt monopoly and transportation is much more expensive than Bangkok.
While we can’t seem to put a day trip together that breaks our routine of beers on the beach all day followed by beers in a British Pub (Black Jack’s) in the evening followed by a limited selection of beer bars, we have honestly tried on a few occasions. Our attempts at day trips to do something other than get pissed at the Ark Bar and Blackjacks have been disasters. On the infamous fishing trip, the boat never showed up at the dock for pickup, but was several miles out passing us by. The frantic efforts to load us in a small boat and chase it ended with a near mutiny when the waves were splashing over the side without a life preserver in site. We returned to the shore for some Thai whiskey and went back to the beach.
Last year’s sortie was an island tour. Eight hours of pub crawling around the island was planned. The cab driver, who seemed great when we first used him, said he had an air conditioned van available and we booked it for a day later in the week. Needless to say he showed up in a tuktuk and said the van promised was delayed and would catch up at the next town. After 20 or so minutes, we realized there was no van, and insisted on returning to the nearest bar to our origin, where the tour concluded. He would have hauled us around for an entire day until our kidneys bounced out in the tuktuk if we’d let him. Why it is so difficult to execute a simple plan is baffling to me. For a country so resourceful in so many ways, the inability to admit that things are not working out is unbelievable.
The nightlife selection of ladies is particularly poor in Koh Samui, but if you’re on an island long enough it doesn’t matter. The girls I’m sure feel the same way. There are now two very small gogos in Chaweng Beach with prices rivaling Nana. The best thing about a gogo is that most Thai women would do anything to get off the stage. Whatever exhibitionist tendencies they might possess are nearly always thwarted by their conservative culture.
I was in the Kingdom a short time in 1974 at Utapao Royal Thai Air Force base which is now the Pattaya International Airport, and every year since 2000. I’ve only had two really negative experiences in Thailand in eight or so trips. On Koh Samui, Chaweng Beach, the after hours action moves to the front of the 7 Eleven in the middle of town. A fair number of ladyboys are present and one morning, around 3 AM, I was videotaping the crowd. One ladyboy started giving quite a show of her rather perfect breasts, and I kept filming. She then wanted 500 baht or to be “taken out of my camera.” Being blasted, I just ignored her, until I received a shot just missing my eye with a stick she must have kept in her stockings. Some Brits nearby whom I didn’t know gave some great advice, grabbing my arm and saying “Let it go, mate.” Knowing now that to have pursued her would have resulted in a dozen of them forming a pack that would have done me some real harm.
My other negative experience was at the Golden Bar, Soi 4, in front of Nana, just this year. The Rolex hack, whom I’ve purchased from before, was haunting me on my first morning there, just off the plane. I was planning on buying three watches from him for the trip home but didn’t want to carry them for the several weeks before I left. I made the mistake of talking with him, and with jet fatigue and a bit of beer brain I was offering baht instead of US dollars, meaning instead of 600 baht being about 16 US, I offered about 1600 baht per watch. When my London pal clued me in, and I reneged, the Rolex hack went crazy. Feeling like he had just lost the winning Powerball ticket, he followed us up the street and tripped my friend from behind, then pretended to apologize. I think that a confrontation would have been ugly, and Tony wisely said, “No problem, mate.”
So with a declining US dollar and visa difficulties and inability to own land, I won’t be buying real estate in Thailand any time soon. My other friend just bought a condo in Hua Hin and is very pleased with his decision. He plans on dying there and, with no heirs, doesn’t care about the estate settlement. His three loves are British football, Thai ladies, and beer, all of which are in ample supply. Not a bad way to wind down a life’s achievements…
British football, Thai ladies and beer. Yep, that seems to be the interests of many who venture to Thailand.