So What The Hell Do They Know About Football In Thailand?
My last couple of trips to Thailand have led to me broadening my horizons. My first five trips I took root in either Pattaya, or BKK. Two trips ago, I went to Cambodia for five days, and on my last trip, I spent ten days in Koh Samui.
The first thing I would say about Samui is that it is every bit as beautiful as people say it is. The second thing I would say is that there were times when I thought it should have been renamed Scamui as it seemed to be endemic, and it starts as soon as you leave the Airport.
We stayed at Chaweng beach, and were met by the inevitable taxi tout at the Airport, who told us the fare to Chaweng beach, was 1,000 THB. I was happy when I managed to negotiate him down to half this, but later discovered that the correct fare was nearer to 300 THB.
I hadn’t booked a hotel in advance, so the first job was to find a bed for the night. It seemed that everywhere the cabbie took us, there were only a couple of rooms left, and being high season, the price was in the 5,000 – 10,000 baht per night range. I was wondering what arrangements if any, the cabbie had with the hotel. Whenever the question was put, as to whether they had anything cheaper, there always seemed to be one room left at about 1,200 baht. Eventually, a bed was found.
I had imported my own lady from Pattaya. I still haven’t made up my mind whether the additional expense was worth it or not, but I continued to live the lifestyle that I adopt whenever I am in Pattaya, which means shopping trips and visits to the beauty salon for her. I have become quite familiar with the prices in Pattaya, which are about half the price of BKK in relation to beauty salons as an example, so when Madam decided she wanted to get her nails done, I was a surprised at having to pay 700 THB, as opposed to the 100 – 150 in Pattaya.
A couple of days later, she wanted to have highlights in her hair. The cost was 3,000 THB. Most days of the week, I drive past a hairdresser in Dublin, one of Europe’s most expensive cities, and see that it will cost me €60 (2,500THB) here.
I generally bring enough clothes so that I am able to keep topped up from the multitude of street laundries in Thailand. They are not really laundries, as most of the time; they only take the clothes in on behalf of someone else who does the work. Unlike Pattaya, laundry is by weight. I found a place that charged 70 THB per kg, and that seemed reasonable. Most places weigh the bag and then quote a price. My second laundry run, took me to a place where they didn’t give me a quote, so I asked “How much?” only to find that they weren’t happy to answer the question. Eventually, they said “5 kg – 450”. A discussion than ensues, where I tell them that I was only prepared to pay 70 baht per kilo, and they tell me that no-one will work for that money. I tell them that I have already got the job done for this money previously, at which stage they tell me that anyone charging that money is really a conman who is going to steal my laundry. Fed up with having my intelligence insulted, I pick up the bag and try to leave, at which stage a minor tug of war ensues, and they suddenly reduce the price to 70 baht per kg. I decide to go elsewhere. A few doors along, is another street laundry agent, and I am quoted 60 per kilo. Amazingly, my bag now only weighs three kilos.
My advice if travelling to Samui is always ask the price in advance. <In Bangkok you can get laundry washed for 10 baht per kg – Stick>
One particular item I tend to buy a lot of is Spurs shirts. If there is a Spurs match on, I like to take the lady to a bar and watch the match, and buy her a shirt for the occasion. Now before anyone says anything about degrading treatment, it would only be degrading if it was a Manure or Ar5ena1 shirt. Generally, I can pick these up with a bit of haggling, for about 300 THB in Mike’s Mall in Pattaya. The asking price in Samui was 800, and I eventually got it down to 550. The only problem was that they didn’t have any in the lady’s size in stock. The merchant stated that there wasn’t much call for shirts from small clubs like Spurs.
Whaaaaaaaat? I went into one. I asked him if he thought England were a big team and he told me that they were his best selling line. I asked him which were the big English clubs, and he replied, Ar5ena1, Manure, Chelski and Liverpool. I then told him that Spurs were at that time 4th in the league, while Liverpool were 7th. More to the point, in the last England squad, Spurs supplied five players, four of whom played in the match. This was more players than any of his so-called big teams. I think the point was lost on him, but he did promise he would have a shirt for the lady later that day.
Having made sure that Madam was not improperly dressed, we than made for Soi Green Mango which is the main nightlife area. There are perhaps 40 bars in this soi, many with multiple TV screens. One particular bar was advertising four different matches, which just happened to feature the four teams the shirt seller claimed were big teams. Aaaaagh. As I walked around the soi, the only matches that were being advertised were these. In the past, this has never proved a problem. I have always found that crossing palms with silver would do the trick. It has never failed in Pattaya. I found several bars that were willing to accept my bribes, but the problem was that they were closing at 3:00 AM, just when the match was starting.
Once it became clear that I was going to miss my first match of the season, I decided to have a couple of beers and an early night. The bar that I went to had an English landlord, and I mentioned my problem in finding somewhere that was showing the match. He told me that though he had three screens, he would always opt for the Sky 4 as he called them. I told him that I used to be a cabbie, and I always did well doing the jobs that everyone else wouldn’t touch. I made the analogy, of the market that is full of stalls selling the same vegetables. I told him that if I saw this, I would open a stall selling fruit.
He understood the point I was making, and mentioned that there had been three or four others asking about the Spurs match. As I left the bar with the football starting there were five customers watching his three screens. I mentioned this to him on the way out, and said that if he’d been showing the Spurs match it could have doubled the number of customers, because nobody else was showing this. He smiled and told me, “You could be right”.
I have always thought that Thailand is a great place to watch football, but I would now qualify that by saying “As long as you are in Pattaya”.
Anyway, after a wait of 49 years, this week, Spurs finally got back into the Champions league at the expense of Manchester City, who proudly boast that they are the “richest club in the world”, and Liverpool, five times winners, as well as Premier (old First Division) champs 18 times.
I have a vision of the shirt seller urgently ordering Spurs shirts while running down his stock of Pool/City shirts. And then he will be explaining to those fans, why he only stocks shirts from big teams like Spurs.
I predicted at the beginning of the season that Liverpool were going to have a poor season by their own high standards, and being born English, I have enjoyed vicariously, the success they have brought to English football in particular, so I take no pleasure in predicting another bad year for them next year. I know that Pool have a particularly strong following in Thailand, but I have always found that Oriental supporters tend to base their loyalties on successful teams. I have yet to meet a Thai that supports Spurs (in spite of all the shirts I have bought), but two or three seasons of them out of the Champions league, will no doubt see a decline in their Thai support. However, taking the shirt seller as an example, what do they know about Football in Thailand anyway?
If Spurs start winning trophies then they will become popular in Thailand. That's what it's all about out here.
Your account of high prices in Samui is one of a number of reasons I doubt I will ever visit the island again.