Daily Archives: September 2, 2005

The Temporary Bazaar

The Temporary Bazaar
(Written 31 August 2005, National Day of Malaysia)

Due to the “isolated” location of Betong and thus higher cost of transportation, goods sold in Betong are generally more expensive (and limited variety too) than other places in the Southern provinces, Hat Yai or even Bangkok. For example, items like garments, furniture, computer wares etc.

As there is no proper shopping centre in this town, occasionally, the district office will set up temporary bazaar in Betong town which lasts from one to two weeks, with hawkers coming from various parts of the nation. The bazaar normally gets going from around 10:00am and continues until 9:00pm at night.

Currently there is an “OTOP Expo”bazaar started on 25 August and will end on 2 September. As usual, the range of products includes household accessories, handicrafts, clothes, tapes and CDs, furniture, foods, games etc. Most of the prices are fixed and no bargaining is expected.

The Bazaar

Though the bazaar are almost the same each time , regardless of whatever theme they have, they still draw reasonable crowds as there are no better places to go, especially after sunset. However, today the crowd is obviously less…because a bomb was discovered in front of a gas store adjoining the petrol station this morning…

Some of the boothes

The Popular food-grasshoppers, cicada and …?!

Enjoying….Thailand’s Nightlife

After delving into a myriad of baffling beliefs in me last blog, I thought that it was time that I’d write something way off the usual stevesuphan topics and so, put together a piece on the ins and outs of ‘going out in Thailand’

Once upon a time not so long ago Thailand and especially Bangkok, was a paradise haven for partygoers wishing to boggie the night away before returning back to their crash-pads just before the infamous five-thirty in the morning traffic jams. However, since such behaviour was deemed ‘un-Thai’ our blessed ‘Ministers of Interior’ have advised that we should all be back in our cozy beds early and in a fit state to get to the office the following morning. Then, as for the foreign tourists, it was perceived that none of them were interested in coming to Thailand for the nightlife and so a one-in –the-morning closing was ideal for getting up early enough to set off for the Floating Market before visiting twenty-nine temples and three markets in the space of a day.

So, if its round-the-clock boogie-woogie yer after, you’ll have to go elsewhere to the likes KL or Singapore instead where such time enforcement laws hardly exist. As for the likes of meself, I’m not exactly much of a party-pooper these days and can usually be found tucked-up in bed before eleven.

Anyway, for any of you readers who’d care for a lowdown on Thailand’s nightlife let’s first start with the ‘Thai Disco’. Well… unlike in the west, a whole pack of guys can arrive at a venue looking as down-right shabby as possible, half-drunk, be vulgar to all the lady guests outside and still get a VIP welcome (just as long as they have money of course). In fact most Thai guys aren’t as bad I’d say as the average male Farang tourist who shows up, with a Beer Chang can in hand, cursing at the taxi driver while wearing flip-flops and a Beer Lao t-shirt. Actually, Thais can be so forgiving of some obnoxious Farang tourists that if it were a Thai guy he’d be given the boot out the door almost straight away.

Unless yer off to some flashy western-type disco down Siam Square or the early Sukhumvit Sois you’ll soon be finding out that a Thai-style disco is prosiacally different to what you may have got used to back home. Instead of a certain…DJ Jackhammer strutting-his-stuff, we in Thailand have the better view of a variety of awe-inspiring girlie singers wearing as little as is permissible by the Ministry of Culture. Then, if girlies aren’t your your cup-of-tea there are always a couple of hunky-dory male singers sporting a Doraemon-like haircut. Even so, you can’t beat some of the standard around and its been reckoned that Thailand is second only to The Philippines in the region for the standard of its ‘Live Music’. Then, for the foreigners who haven’t the foggiest to Thai music and think it ‘all sounds the same’ then most big disco bands will soon be playing their 5,673rd rendition of Hotel California and Another Brick in The Wall for your pleasure.

As for dancing, unless it’s some foreign-targeted disco, you’ll soon be finding out that your boogie-woogie space is limited to half a square foot. That means keep yer legs firmly still and just boggie the top half of yer body (at yer table) ie. authentic Thai discos come minus an actual dance floor. Anyway, who needs the sight of a whole stack of wayward drunken delinquents wobbling around the dance floor making a fool of themselves, when there is in fact, far better ISO 14001 passable quality to be admired singing on the actual stage? Guess the Thais have a better sense of visual beauty in that regard.

One other cultural difference to ‘disco etiquette’ is that you ought to spend the whole night only associating with those who you came with ie.. the people at yer table. As a foreigner though, the Thais prefer bending the rules a bit (especially the upcountry male ones) and enjoy shouting out some micky-mouse English along the lines of ‘Hey, where you come from?” to some foreigners just to show off to their their awesome langauge ability to their friends.

And so, you can imagine just how many foreign guys have run into the precariously dangerous situation after they have been spotted by some Thai guys, chatting up their girlfriends. Many years ago, I had a friend of mine that ended up with a gun to his head outside a disco in Chiang Rai after he had failed to realise that Thai girls in Thai-style discos are not the easy catfish catch as they are down say… Pattaya and certainly not willing to have a smoochy-slow-dance with any old Dick and Harry. So guys, you have been warned.

Well, for any those readers out there who aren’t exactly into the habit of going to a disco and getting completely sploshed out of yer head, then Thai discos are right down your street. Beers aren’t exactly that popular with our counterpart Thai disco-goers, but whiskey is instead. Don’t be frightened however about any heavy consumption of alcohol as the waiters/waitress adds as little whisky as barely possible to one glass before filling it up with soda and coke thus making the alcohol minutely detectable. You’ll be consuming so much ice and mixers that you’ll be leaving for home more sober than when you arrived.

Of course, our Thai friends have a love for cleanliness and that includes keeping the table clean and dry at all times. Just have a single nut fall off the plate and one of yer female acquaintances will soon have a tissue out clearing away the mess. Then, Thais have an ingenius idea for keeping the table dry. Just wrap a piece of tissue paper around the glass so it resembles a tissue holder. Unfortunately however the tissue paper used isn’t much different from that used in the lavatory.

On arriving at a Thai disco, it is advised that you locate your seating wisely and that means short distance from the toilets. Some discos in Bangkok are so darned massive and packed out that it can take you ten minutes just to get there. Unlike in the west where the toilets are a place to do yer business and get straight out of, Thai Disco toilets are a little place all of their own. If yer feeling a bit worn out there are a whole string of eager attendants waiting to massage yer neck and shoulders while you relieve yourself before throwing you a hot towel to sober you up a bit. This is Thailand and its not only women who have the rights to parade themselves in front of the toilet mirror for half an hour dollying themselves up, us men can do exactly the same thing. There are an array of combs, hairbrushes, gels and in some discos even colognes to get that perfect John Travolta look you’ve always wanted. Of course, not too many things are exactly free in Thailand and a tip is expected. In fact, these toilet attendants don’t even get a salary in these places as the tips can be often quite handsome.

And finally, this is Thailand and not Amsterdam. The authorities in charge along with the Minister of Interior have enjoyed ‘busting’ nearly every single Bangkok disco there is over the past few years and subjecting all the partygoers to a mandatory pee-pee check to make sure that they have not been indulging in any unwanted illegal substances before going out that night. Even though there are thousands of ‘scummy-type’ illegal discos in Bangkok they are no fun for the authorities to bust as the cop cells just aren’t large enough to accommodate all the druggies. Therefore, a fave destination to ‘do the bust’ is at the higher class ones which are frightfully popular with foreign tourists. Great for the tourism industry, the authorities in charge just love hassling all these well-to-do tourists just off the plane to the likes of ‘You take drugs? No, well show me yer pee-pee as evidence’.

At the end of the day however, i’ll just have to say: I prefer Thai-style.

6 Days!

Ye-haa! 6 more days before I’m on the plane to Thailand! Yip-ee! In 7 days I’ll actually be able to gaze into the eyes of my loved one and hold her close to me as I whisper sweet nothings into her ear in my “southern drawl” limited Thai. Which will prompt one of the two usual responses, uncontrolled laughter or two hands firmly and resolutely placed over the offending orifice.
This is pretty meager blog material, I swear I have a couple on Word I’ve been working on at my blazing two finger frenzied pace, the Monks as well as my fan are amazed that they can type in English faster than me!
Things are hopping now! I believe my last couple of blogs were complaining about my government’s slowness in the visa process and now in the past month they’ve achieved an admirable rate of frenzy in world wide document transferals. My fan and I had been planning to go to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat , a long standing dream of mine, but as she received her documents from the Embassy yesterday we probably will attend to as much of that business as possible. The blind leading the blind! Jeez, poor me, I may have to turn right around in another 3 months and fly back to Thailand if all the paper work and interview go smoothly!
Anyway I’m going to try and post some of this trip in a timely fashion as opposed to events that are from my last two trips. Beware though, they are saved on Word and there is a danger, however slight, that I’ll get them posted. Perhaps I’ll run into Khun Kitjar at the airport as he’ll be leaving shortly after I arrive.

New To The Kingdom[1979]: Old Patong

In June, 1979, Patong Beach was but a half dozen small bungalows and the large Patong Beach Hotel about mid way on the stunning horse shoe shaped bay.

Patong Beach Bungalows were usually full of happy German tourist.

The big Patong Beach Hotel was mainly for bus tours/Nicorman-types,short stays, “see 4 countries in 4 days” folks. The ONLY place on Patong with air conditioning and hotwater!

Scandia Bungalows were always full of jovable Norse, they rarely slept during their “winter over” from the land of the Northen Lights. They were usually good natured and were just glad to be out of the cold.

The newly built 7 Seas Bungalow were a place to stay away from, mostly “northen” European lowlifes, daily fights and trouble was this place!!

Valentine Bungalows,run by Mr Singh was a complete garden delight! The “old chinaman” kept the place ship-shape, the gardens full of tiger lillies and birds of paradise. Although there were only 4 small bungalows, they were ALWAYS full. There was usually little or no problems at Valentines.

Bayshore Bungalows, just south of where Holiday Inn is now, were the backpackers choice. Similar to Valentines, but not kept up as well, but OK. If you stayed at Bayshore, you’d need earplugs, cause the crickets would chirp at about 100 decibles!! [for sure!!!!]. They had GREAT curry at their little cafe too.

SeaView Bungalows was at the extreme south end of Patong Beach, where the rice paddy creek let out into Patong Bay. We’d stay there only if none of the other bungalows had rooms. They were really far from , but they were clean, had a nice cafe.

Naturally every bungalow compound had their own “stories”, mostly at the expense of the other bungalows…:-)

The expats, tourists and travellors made up the majority of people that stayed in Old Patong, atleast in the bungalows on the beach.

ALL women still wore sarongs in those days, their were only a few “working” ladies there, we became friends with both, one turned out to be the mysterious lady that looked like a cross between Mae West and Tina Turner, I’ll just call her “Lydia”, but anyone there then knows who she is. The other was a wild one, I’ll just call her “3”, any other talent in the area was imported from Bangkok, and of that, there were few.

I won’t discuss what happened at 7 Seas, it was considered little more than a hognam serving Mekhong…

too be continued…