My Slice of Spice
As has been said numerous times, I have been reading Stick's site for many a year.
So now it's my turn.
I was introduced to Thailand via school mates who had joined the Royal Australian Air Force, completed Officer Training and had been posted to Butterworth in Malaysia in the mid 80s.
Initially our itinerary steered clear of Thailand, not due to its reputation for mongering, but due to Thailand's reputation for drugs and the possibility of being planted with heroin at Don Muang Airport as had been reported nationwide involving a high profiled sportsman of that era.
Anyway, that aside, our itinerary was revamped and Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau were deleted and replaced with Phuket, Bangkok and Pattaya.
Well where do you start? Phuket (Patong Beach) was magical and if my memory serves me correctly I think there was only one large hotel and the rest of the beach was made up of bungalows. This was 1985 and life in Phuket was a dream. I remember the first day sitting outside our bungalow bar and saying that the world could end and it wouldn't effect this place. Unfortunately the tsunami brought that statement to reality.
But we hit the place hard, usually knocking off a bottle of Mekong and Lipo a night and cruising the island on our Yamahas during the day, finding beaches that could only be accessed by bike or boat.
Many a time chatting to Europeans on their honeymoon who a few nights later you would see (hubby) walking Bangla Road with a bar girl (Hey Hans, where is Heidi? "Fxxx Heidi!").
The girls were fantastic, always looking out for you and introducing you to different local identities and bar owners and organising fishing trips and feeding you king size prawns by the dozen.
I returned to Phuket in January 2009 after a 20 year absence and did not recognise it at all. Actually I was horrified by the changes.
That sounds like a big statement but when you compare Pattaya from the mid 80s to date, not much has changed at all. If anything, it seems to have gone backwards. Back in the mid 80s many a bar was on Beach Road. I remember it was split between the European zone up into the Aussie, English, Yank zone then into the Arab zone.
By coincidence my travelling companion's mother had a second cousin who owned a bar on Beach Road. The rest is history and for the next 7 years we planned every vacation back to Pattaya.
Those days were unforgettable. We stayed in a self contained condo set up with pool volleyball, bar and BBQ. I remember the long term residents ran bars such as Fire and Ice and Tahitian Queen so all the girls from these bars would hang out at the condo during the day and mmmmm.
Days were spent recovering from hangovers, golfing, booze cruises and discovering new bars. It was always exciting to go into the Arab areas and chat up the girls that preferred the Arabs. This was pre the first Gulf War and this area was enormous with their own discos and restaurants and bars. I remember one night our group being invited to tug a war against a group of Saudis on stage at a disco. We kicked ass big time, but no prize for the Aussies, but we one a few hearts.
Bangkok was always our first port of call. We had a Thai Lady who owned a bar on Soi Cowboy who would send her boyfriend to collect us at the airport, always with a trunk full full of icy cold Amarit. We couldn't stomach Kloster or Singha. And into the Cowboy we would go, many a time never making it to our hotel on Soi 19. A trip to Patpong took too much planning in those days due to traffic, so we never ventured past Soi Cowboy then off to the bus stop for the drunken trip to Pattaya.
Today due to the BTS I didn't realise how close Nana and Patpong were.
Thailand has been in my veins. I have two stepdaughters who have gone on to graduate with university degrees in Australia and have established secure career paths. Even though I have parted ways with their mother, they have always recognised me as their father and we have a very close bond. My two daughters from this relationship who I gained custody off have a very strong relationship with their half sisters and are proud of their Thai heritage.
I have over the last 5 years been in a relationship with a wonderful Thai lady who has been in Australia for 20 odd years. We have built a beautiful house 50 minutes north of Bangkok. I go back and play golf and every now and again get a trip on my own with a buddy or two.
I suppose what I'm aiming at with this essay is that with all the horror stories, I'm sure there are classics.
A quick example, I have just returned from Thailand after a brief stay. My friend, via reading this site, made contact with a young lady through TLL. We hooked up with her in Bangkok and all I can say is that she was the most beautiful and honest young lady you could hope to meet.
Other than being a stunner, she was just delightful and she introduced us to her sisters and friends, all of whom are professionals in Bangkok and were just the most pleasant people other than Christmas Day when we pumped too much NZ Sauvignon Blanc into them, but that's another story!
I'm not saying that if my friend pursues this new found friendship that it won't end in disaster, shit my first relationship went pear shaped, but I came out of it with 2 stepdaughters and 2 of my own and we all giggle about their mum and I'm still more than welcome back in her village up north.
So I feel if you are patient and don't take it all to serious in you endeavour to find love, be fun and friendly, you will meet a true gem in the land of smiles. Even the golf caddies are on the lookout for a sweetheart!
For sure, if you have the right attitude one can have a lot of fun here!