Old Patong:Crazy Dave

Crazy Dave is one of the most unique individuals I’ve ever met!

We first saw him on our 2nd trip to Old Patong.

He’d built a little restaurant right next to Mr Singhs wonderful Valentine Bungalows!

We were surprised to see new buildings going up in 1980, there were still plenty of shacks on the beach, both sides, and the beautiful coconut groves of Patong were being clear-cut little by little.

7 Seas was up and running with additional bungalows to add to their shady bar, Scandia improved their little piece of paradise slightly by adding an “eating room” infront of the bungalows where they offered Nordic foods as well as good Thai offerings.

Dave was fresh from Iran, a rigrat that became a refugee as the Shahs rule came to a violent end.

He told us many tales of oil jobs around the globe and just happened on Phuket island as a lark after meeting a fellow rigrat in Bangkok on a flight back to the States.

One thing about Phuket, especially Patong, once you saw it in those days, it etched DEEP into your mind, into your soul. A dream-like south pacific looking perfect horseshoe bay with wide & sandy beaches lined with coconut groves surrounded by steep hill/mountains on 3 sides, a santuary from the madness of the world, a delight for the senses!

Dave had gone into biz with Dutch Jeff, the big expat/underground freedom fighter/hero of WWII, from Holland.

Jeff went off to renew his visa, you HAD to leave the country in those days, every 90 days, most went the cheap charlie bahtbus to Butterworth in Malaysia and quickly came back, Jeff stayed a week and by the time he returned, his wife Dao was off with Dave to Songkla, NakonSiTammarat and HatJai!

Jeff knew the score, Dao always had a wandering eye, she’d run off with an SAS pilot years before, so it was nothing knew, Dutch Jeff soon had a new lady and a little daughter soon to be!

Dao named their dog after Jeffs new child, such was the way things work in the crazy world of the green eyed monster.

Dutch Jeff and Dave still ran Thai Gardens, but you knew it was really Dao that did all the work anyway with both guys acting the part of general mgrs.

Crazy Dave had some innovative ideas: he was the first person on Phuket island, let alone Patong beach to have a vcr/tv running betamax movies! That little gadget FILLED his place nightly with expats, little Thai children would always set timidly on the outside of the place, peering in at the movies, Big Dave would saunter over to them, he could be menacing looking, but he really had a good nature, once you got to know him, and glare at the little children, freezing them in their tracts, only to offer them ALL free Greenspots and Colas, letting them continue setting on the outside and watching the movies as long as they wanted too!

Naturally the various noodle carts and satay vendors would park out front, I was addicted to the plamook cart, that dried squid-like jerkey was SO GOOD with a nice cool Singha[the beer ONLY came in LARGE bottles in those days]! Dave never ran the carts off, he knew there was plenty to share and he became a quick favorite with locals as well as tourists, travelers, and expats!

Once in a while, Guitar Noi would come down after he finished his shift at the big Patong Beach Hotel,where he played organ for the mostly Nicorman type tour-bus groups that filled the place and played some hot guitar and he’d teach us the words for a few Thai songs as well as Western rock n roll, which he EXCELLED at!

Guitar Noi IS the best guitars/piano/organ player I EVER met! Still is! He was a tall Thai man, long hair like Bob Marley and the singing appeal of Dylan! Everyone loved Guitar Noi and we became close friends!

The early years saw Crazy Dave’s Thai Garden Restaurant filled morning, noon and night. Dave stayed busy going back and forth to town, ordering from the big open market there, a marvel in itself! You could hear Daves Honda 125cc twin with its “007” exhaust pipes a mile away!

Dave once said about the new market that was going up in nearby Baan Nam Sai Yen, just behind the rice paddy east of the bay ” a western market opens up at 8AM and closes at 5pm, an Asian market opens up at 6Am and NEVER closes”!

It was true, Dave would run off to the nearby new market and knock on the door all hrs, day & night and the nice guy running it, Mr Boonrawd, would open it up immediately and serve as needed!

Although most think the Banana Disco was the first disco on Patong, it wasn’t, there was a large round thatched hut on the beach across from Ladas Bar, but below the Banana Disco was the first movie rental place on the island! Dave would go down there daily and come back with mostly adventure and comedy flicks for his guests!

The big generator he had behind his cafe was difficult to modulate, but somehow, it powered his BetaMax, TV and large freezers[which he got for a BIG discount after Lada broke ALL the glass doors in one of her fits of rage vs her new hubby…:-)….!

Old Patong, where the fun and the drama just seemed to go on and on and on…

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