Old Patong 1980: Progress?

It was late in the 1980 monsoon season that we first met Chun Bruce, a mild mannered Canadian on holiday.

We walked into Thai Garden late that morning, it was nearly noon, but we’d gone to bed around sunrise the night before.

Big Dave was setting in his usual spot, the right hand table closest to the bar, Dutch Jeff was just leaving as we arrived, the place was empty except for this Charles Bronson-looking chap, mid 30 setting by himself near the streetside table, sipping on a icy Singha.

Big Dave gave us his usual greetings as we sat down at “his” table..”hey hippy” and he’d laughed like a wild bear.

We ordered the Milo with fruit platter, as usual, reading the Bangkok Post, finding out if the rest of the world still mattered much, it didn’t, after 4 months on scenic Patong, neither of us knew what day, week, or month it was, cept for the date on the paper, we had little idea of other than Patong things. We tended to keep time by the Thai holidays that we witnessed: Loi Cratong, Chinese New Year, Sea Gypsy New Year, Songkran,etc.

The stranger at the streetside table spoke in a thick Canadian accent as he came up to pay his bill or “check bin” and Big Dave asked him “what province are you from, eh”, the guy smiled and said he was from Vancouver, was a salesman in bathroom fixtures and would be here on Patong for a month.

Mr Bruce had just arrived at Patong, still had his western cowboy boots, Levis and a tank top[singlet]on, he was staying next to our room at Mr Singhs Valentine Bungalows.

We invited him to have a seat and an another beer, he took us up and sat at Big Daves table along with Patty & I.

We chatted for a bit and we left him there with Big Dave, as we had a prior appointment with the warm Patong surf. We walked across the dirt road, more a path in those days, out thru the wide white sand beach, maybe 4 people were on the entire beach from Kalim to SeaView.

One thing you can always count on with the blue Andaman Sea, its cozy, warm and even during monsoon, the waves aren’t too big, big enough to body surf, we stayed in the water for several hours, returning to Thai Garden where Big Dave and Bruce were still solving the many large and small problems of the world.

Things went on this way for the next month, time evaporated! It was time for Bruce to return to the frigid temps of Canada, but he instead went to Penang and came back with a 90 day visa! Bruce was hooked!

Around October, we left Patong, returning stateside, not a day went by that we didn’t think about sunny Patong, we even got a letter from Mr Bruce, it seemed that Mr Singh was SELLING Valentine Bungalows!!!

We’d heard “stories” about a few of the locals by now, nothing was really known or unknown thru the coconut telegraph. We doubted if the place was actually forsale, but we didn’t want to buy anything as long as we could stay there endlessly for 50baht per day…

By the time we returned to Patong Beach late 1980, Mr Bruce had indeed bought Valentines! Things would RAPIDLY change from this time on…

to be continued…

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