We met “3” on our second visit to Old Patong. 1980. She had a small shack on the beachside just past Peunes fine restaurant, across the street from Bayshore bungalows.
She lived under the bar with her Kangaroo boyfriend Larry. They called their little piece of paradise “The Half Way Cafe”, “3” wasn’t really a chef, but she was the best cook on Patong Beach! Her Thai Curried Crab was superb!!
“3” had recently suffered a bad stroke, but she was not giving up on life and as she walked with a heavy limp, slowly but surely still got where she wanted too and did exactly what she pleased. In Old Patong, “3” was THE mamasan, even Lada knew not to mess with “3”, but “3” usually had a smile on her face and her infectious laugh could be heard down the beach a kilometer!
Any thing that happened in Old Patong or Phuket for that matter was run thru the “coconut” telegraph and “3” knew all!
Patong Patty and I just adored “3” and we became the best of friends, learning that she had worked on stage with Guitar Noi at one of the base camps around KonKin during the war! She was a good singer too!
Patong Patty could often be seen working out the last morsels of crab, one crab took her about an hour, on more than one occassion, she’d have two or even three crabs.
I’d usually have the mo sate, it was always excellent, course if the plamook cart was nearby, I’d opt for that squid jerky everytime.
We’d hang with “3” & Larry most of the day, having a Green Spot intermixed with a little bodysurfing during the monsoon months anyway. The rest of the year, Ao Patong was flat and glassy as a lake, during those times, you’d swim out and try to find a cooler spot than the normally 90F ocean water was!
Ocassionally Guitar Noi would drop by in the evenings after his gig at the big Patong Beach Hotel where he played elevator music on their big organ, but Guitar Noi was/is a man of many musical tastes, from jazz to hard rock, Guitar Noi knew all the songs, plus he’s a great guy with a funny nature and sense of humor.
Many were the evenings that turned into nights and saw the morning sun arise over the mountains and we’d still be setting around a beach fire, singing every song we knew and Guitar Noi would teach us a few Thai songs along the way too.
Locals, expats, a few tourists added to the fun, there was rarely much trouble in Old Patong, atleast on our end of the beach.
One day a new tourist rolled in, California Jim, Jim was a natural with the locals[the women anyway]and could play his folk guitar like a pro, often joining in at the Half Way Cafe at night with Guitar Noi and the gang.
Within a week, California Jim was known everywhere on the beach, one of the new tourist that week was Jenny, she’d hooked up with Ali, a local badboy, but seem to have roving eyes when Jim was in the area.
Ali naturally made a big fuss, a quick Thai style kick and the much bigger Jim was down in the sand, with Ali all over him, I couldn’t figure out why Jim didn’t fight back, but the crowd quickly pulled them apart, Ali went into a rage and ripped off his tee shirt and poured fuel from the ONLY lantern on it and set it fire. It was rather dramatic, then Ali screamed something about “mafia” and ran off, returning with a few of his badboy pals about 30minutes later.
Jim had plenty of local friends however, and the scene was soon defused and all were pals or at least drinking together again, that is after one of the crowd pulled a gun[he was a retired local policeman]on the badboys who quickly put away their knives,etc and all was quickly smoothed over.
Ali left with Jenny and the thugs and we continued singing til dawn.
Just another day in Old Patong, where the drama was often as funny as the human nature that propelled it.