Old Patong: Our first Chinese New Year:1980

The aroma from the wok drew us into Thai Garden.

Dao had been cooking a big load of freshly picked cashews with chili, we munched on them while drinking a Greenspot and chatting with Crazy Dave and Dutch Jeff.

Jeff, the big, loud talking Dutchman knew the price of everything on the island. He was a true Dutchman and knew where the least expensive food or drinks were and often just sat around Thai Garden waiting for another expat or traveller to get one of those week long feast going, Dave would fire up BBQ or dig a pit on the northside of the place and do it “Hawaiian style” if needed.

Jeffs new son, could barely waddle, usually crawling under foot or under tables as we solved the worlds worries for hours on end,,,

“Jep-noi” as we called Little Jeff was a riot, he’d regularly “water the floor” as Crazy Dave would grimace and yell for Dao to get things cleaned up…again.

Dao, a big grin on her kisser would quickly do what was needed and just as quick, run back into the kitchen, her real domaine and stay there til she finally quit cooking near 10pm or so. Her little sister Toi was always helping Dao and they would have various relatives of Dao’s coming and going thru-out the year.

One of her brothers, Mee, showed up on the BahtBus early one morning, fresh from Krabi, he moved in and slept in the kitchen most of the time, that is most of the time that he wasn’t at the Disco! Mee loved the Disco, not the new Banana Disco, but the old round big thatched-hut styled place on the beach, just across from Lada Bar.

Every evening he’d come up to me and say “Gary, you, me go Disco”, but I’d just smile and always answer “No Mee, You go Disco” and slip him 10-20baht and he’d be off and not return til near daybreak.

One of the visits there, Mee received a conk on the side of his face with a beer bottle, this set the young man off on a tizzy, he had a grenade buried out under the big barge that the monsoon had washed up on the beach last month and Mee was totally ready to blow up the Disco and its surly inhabitants right NOW!

Dutch Jeff and Crazy Dave grinned as Mee went on and on about the Disco, etc, I sat nearby listening, then Crazy Dave mentioned to Mee about “why would you want to hurt those that were innocent and just bystanders that were just having fun at the Disco dancing”?

We got a few Thai Garden lemonades[Mekhong, Sprite, Meenow]in Mee and he mellowed out some and took his grenade back to the hiding place under the barge and all was well or another case of Mai Pen Rai.

The sun was slowly coming up over the big mountain behind the rice paddy, none of us was even ready to call it a day or night that is, we just kept on keeping on.

The early BahtBus came slowly down the dirt beach road, picking up a few going to Phuket town and dropping off Crazy Daves order, baskets full of fresh produce, seafood, etc for that days feasting. Like most restaurants or cafes on Patong Beach, they’d have extensive menus, but it was always “can get for tommorrow” on most of the items.

Crazy Dave only used fresh goods, and he never ran low on the real necessities: Mekhong whiskey, Singha beer, Greenspots, etc,etc,etc., besides, the ever near “motor-cycle markets” or various food/noodle carts were never more than a shout away!

As long as the party was going, Dutch Jeff wasn’t leaving anyway and he always had great stories about his days in the WWII Underground where he helped the Allied war efforts considerably, enough to be granted US citizenship shortly after the war. Jeff was quite a guy!

About 10AM we were startled to see a multi-legged DRAGON entering the Thai Garden front yard/motorcycle parking area! This was my first introduction to Chinese New Year! Complete with many firecrackers going off, we watched the Dragon dancing up and down the beach road for most of the day, going from business to business, gathering good will and donations for the local school, we all happily contributed.

This was the first of many Chinese New Years that Patong Patty and me were fortunate enough to be part of. Later in the day we’d be at Ett, our kind maids house enjoying her family and friends and the karioke of village life.

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