1980: Return To Paradise

Old Patong [1980] when they still had shacks on the beach, just before
they tore them all down!

Leaving Patong Beach in July/1979, we thought of little else til our return in March/1980.

We were more prepared for the Land Of Smiles this time around, having purchased not only our International tickets to Bangkok, but connecting Domestic jet the following day, the first flight to Phuket!

We stayed overnight just across the street at the fairly new Airport Hotel, it was clean, delux, everything worked, they even had their own walkway across the wide & busy street in safey!

They brought a wheelchair over for me, since I had left my wheelchair back in the USA this time, there was little wheelchair friendly walks or roads and NONE one the dirt roads of Patong Beach then.

The hotel served us Mai Thais as we checked, we got out of our “stay warm on the long international flight” clothes off, into bikinis for a quick dip in their luxury pool, back to the room, a little curry for room service and we slept well, awaking to breakast just before we had to go across the street for the jet to Phuket Island.

I usually got a window seat in those days, I’d look down the entire flight, trying to make out the shoreline, mountains, temples, etc but it was a short flight as the jet banked eastward and we left the blue Anadman views behind us and decented into the greeness that IS Thailand.

Got our one bag, guitar and ambled to a tuktuk, driving at bns all the way to Patong Bay.

The tuktuk had somewhat more power than the smaller samlors, so we zoomed over the big hills before the beach easily.

The last right turn by the big Wat and we could see the blue Andaman Sea and the coconut groves of Patong Beach.

The tuktuk took us directly to Valentines, but they were FULL UP, so we drove to the end of the beach and got a room at SeaView Bungalow.

The barbed wire around their compound left a feeling of uneasyness, we had heard “rumors” the visit before about the “bandits” who had stormed in from the jungle and robbed the place, all its guest and taken the stereo too the year before, but…we had nothing but an easy afternoon there, eating papaya/pineapple/banana platter with a couple of icy Greenspots!

We got into our clothes du jour for Ao Patong: bikinis, and rarely wore anything else for the next 6 months, cept for the few times we went to town or the airport to renew our visas.

We slept easily that first night, the waves crashing on the beach were the perfect harmony for the crickets to sing us to sleep.

The next morning, we had breakfast at SeaView, then a tuktuk took us back to Valentines where Mr Singh greeted us with a warm smile, gave the the room right next to the room we’d had on our honeymoon at the “long term rate” of 20baht/day.

We wandered next door to a new cafe, Thai style, the front 3 sides open, the back to the kitchen, hognam & sleeping quarters for the crew, the place was called Thai Garden.

The big grizzly guy grinned as we walked up to a table, he said, you must be Patty & Gary! We had never seen this guy before and were puzzled, but said we were indeed Patty & Gary, he laughed a bellorous laugh, like Long John Silver and said he’d arrived shortly after we’d left last July and Margaret had told him all about us!

We told him we’d seen Margaret in the USA, and that she’d soon be in Patong also!

Dave could tell a tale or yarn INLESSLY, infact, he didn’t shutup the entire next 6 months, but…never told the same tale over once!!!

We’d sit til the sun rose some morning, drinking his concoction “Thai Garden Lemonade” his secret receipe:

Mekhong whiskey
Nam King

Daves place was a hit with the few travellers/tourists on the beach because he served great Thai food, along with most any type of Western food too, Dave was indeed a gourmet cook, but his girlfriend, little Dao, did all the cooking, with the help of her little sister Toi and the occassional other[many]relatives that we came to know as the years flew past.

Dave was the first person on Patong Beach with a VCR! He hooked his old[NEW]BetaMax up to a 21″ TV, powered unevenly by a big generator on the side of the restaurant and we watched movies nightly. Daves place was soon the “HOT SPOT” on Patong Beach, within a few months, every place had videos going, but Dave had the very first!

We saw Margaret later that week, she had come down from the HillTribes in the north, where she’d been working at a Relief Camp for Lao/Cambodian/VietNamese refugees.

She told us talks of the north, the plight of the refugees, and that our mutual friend “3” had suffered a bad stroke just a few months before, was trying to get a cafe going on the beach and was having a tough time.

We went then wandered down the beach to the Half Way Cafe where “3” & Kangaroo Larry lived and worked.

“3” had a pronounced limp as she walked, watched me amble up on my forearm crutches, she grinned and yelled “you walk funny” as we got to her hut. We instantly became good friends, she even taught Patty her secret “3” sauce, MUCH better than just regular Prik Nam Pla!!!

“3”s curried crabs were simple the best food either of us had ever tasted!!! Patty would take her time, one crab=one hour with Patty, the nights she ate 3 crabs, well, we were singing folk songs with Guitar Noi and and expats well after midnight, while Patty sucked and nibbled each and every drop and morsel from those tastey crabs!!!

Half Way Cafe and Thai Garden took the majority of our biz, but we naturally tried EVERY place on the beach, some were very good, like Pee-yuns, she was the sweetest person on the beach, her kindness shown thru easily on her constantly smiling face, she’d was always busy, cooking something with one hand, while washing a dish or pot with the other hand at the same time! Her noodles were about the best on the beach!

too be continued…

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