Old Patong 1980-1981: Big Changes

By the time we returned to Patong Beach late 1980, things had rapidly changed!

Mr Bruce & Mr Bill bought Mr Singhs wonderful Valentine bungalows, small shop & little restaurant and changed the name to PARADISE Bungalows!!

Mr Bruce & Mr Bill informed me that Big Dave had gone off to acquire funds for the joint venture, but had not returned on time and when he did, with not enough $…

Cordiality between the 3 would never be the same again. Patty & I never sided with any of them, went back and forth between the two places, stayed at the newly named Paradise, but not for long, Mr Bruce informed us that since the Baht had been devalued, he would immeadiately increase room prices, and since we rarely had anything to do with his noisy bar, preferring the better food and atmosphere at Thai Garden Restaurant, we soon moved off to Thara Patong bungalows just up the road.

Paradise quickly became the expats hot spot, along with Thai Gardens that is, Paradise at the time didn’t really have much of a cafe and Big Dave had the best western/Thai food on Patong Beach.

Paradise took full advantage of the new 24/7 electricity by way of playing non stop rock and roll til the various “quitting times/last call for drinks” happened, maybe nearer to sunrise than the “official” closing time of 2AM, the extra noise of their over powerful stereo system ran us off from our formerly sedate, tranquil bungalow to Thara Patong bungalow, just past Bar Road[Soi Bangla] and across the street from Patong Beach bungalow.

By this time, we had acquired “The Spirit Of Patong”, a small 125cc Honda Lead with a silver sidecar made from the droptank of an old F100 SuperSaber, scavenged from the early problems in Nam, by way of Utapow[?]base up north, trucked to a small bike shop/water company in Phuket Town and built by a brilliant guy named Mr Gohot!

The little scooter with side car enabled us to travel up and down Patong Beach and even over the big hills[which it barely was able to do]to Phuket Town, Ao Chalon, Kata, Kata Noi, Niharn, and Rawai too.

The rig was a delight to see and children and locals would always clap their hands happily as they saw Patty & I whiz by, waving back to their kind regards.

It was about this time that the fella that ran #1 started calling me…Superman, a name that stuck with the locals, to the expats, I was still Gary.

About this time, we found out about a little house on the edge of the rice paddy, just barely across the street from the waterfall in Baan Nam Sai Yen, just a few clicks from the beach.

We “bought” the little place, actually it was put in Dang Valentines names, something that would later peave us greatly, but at the time, all was well and everyone we met were friends.

Living in the village house gave us one thing that we could NEVER get in Patong Beach…a good nights SLEEP!

There were NO ghetto blasters in the village, maybe a few TV sets at best, and the noisiest racket were the inevitable pack of dogs, be they pets or wild, we never really knew, but they seemed to enjoy ripping each other apart nightly, often just behind our bedroom, but, compared to the loud music and racket at the beach, it was like sleeping with ear plugs in the village!

The villagers took Patty & I in their kindness almost from day one! Our loyal housekeeper “ETT” was a sweet gal, had a small family just up the road towards the Wat where her father and brothers and husband all worked the rubber trees.

Life was really sedate, easy going and there was never any problems in the villages, while the beach life was a toss up on the many dramas that would go on almost daily.

We spent most days at the beach, Big Dave made sure we had enough to eat and drink, and the beach at Patong was the best place to just relax.

Since EVERYDAY at Patong Beach was a party, with old and new friends constantly returning, we decided early on that since we were almost locals, that bedtime should be around midnight, this helped us more than we could realize at the time, since the “party” often went on til daybreak, most of the problems occurred after we had left, we never had problems with the police or anyone else, the village was our oasis from the crazy life.

Leaving Paradise or Thai Garden around midnight, we had the road practically all to ourself! Most of the revellers were still in the bars,etc as we whizzed past, turning right at Ladas, watching the freaks on Bar Road, turning left at the end,where the rice paddy began, turning right at the little school on the left, past Piunes little cafe next to the new Lions Hospital thru the first part of Baan Nam Sai Yen, around the corner, all of a sudden, the temperature dropped about 20 degrees as the cool air from the mountain pushed past the little waterfall, our natural air conditioning, a few more meters and we turned left, the first house past the waterfall and into our small driveway.

We learned early on, NOT to leave ANY lights on, cause the millions of flying insects would steer to our house, the few times we did, it tooks hrs to “try” to get them out of the house before we could sleep.

Our pal and former Thai boxing lightweight champion, Owan Pidet, told us about the amazing “electric misquito battery”, we quickly bought one in Phuekt Town the next day, it was different than the circle shape bug coils that all the bars had, usually resting under a table on a empty beer bottle, this gadget pluged into the electric socket, a small tab went in the middle of it and it gave off a deadly odor, killing misquitos and running off most all flying bugs, we’d plug it in before we left most evenings, returning home to a fairly bug free house at midnight!

Our house was special in the village, it was the only house with screens on the windows and doors, we had an instant on electric hot water heater in the bathroom, with western toilet, and TWO water supplies, one from the many plastic pipes the former owner, Chun Char[the new head of Food & Beverage at Patong Beach Hotel]had run down from the waterfall AND the local city water supply[that usually ran DRY around April].

Many was the time we’d wake up to see the villagers washing or getting pails or tubs of water from our front faucet. They were always welcome!

too be continued…

ps: still looking for the box with the Old Patong pix, hopefully soon,,,

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