Margaret said she was going down the
beach to Sams new shop, the Half Way Cafe.
Sam lived there with Kangaroo Larry in their small thatched roof paradise exactly half way along Patong Beach.
In those early days, there were still small shacks up and down the beach, starting on the north side near the little Muslim village of Kalim,all the way to the south side where Sea View Bungalow ended where the back rice paddy slowly flowed into Patong Bay.
These thatched huts/shacks were ALL “squatters shacks” since they were actually on the Kings land, the entire beach! First one went up, I think it was Peeunes little shop just south and across the beachfront dirt road from Mr Signhs Valentine Bungalows!
Peeune was/is the happiest cook on the beach, you never saw her in a bad mood, always smiling as she cooked with one hand while simultaneously cleaning with the other hand! Peeune made the best noddles on the island!
Just north of Peeunes was Chi-Ans hootch. He was the first Patong beachboy we met through Margaret.
Chi-An offered bbq’d fish/crab/beer and that’s where we met Guitar Noi!
Chi-An had a very old Army jeep, which barely ran, but did with the help of large rocks under the wheels when it’d often stall trying[not always successfully]to conquer the steep hill road to Phuket town.
Next to Chi-Ans place was a new bamboo clad place run by two wild Frenchmen. These tanned and g-stringed lads made french fries and sold them to the tourist by day, by night they serenaded all with
happy French songs played on a guitar.
Next to Frenchys joint was a yet newer and better built bamboo facade run by Lek and Toy. Lek laminated his failed do-nut franchise in Washington DC, wisely returning to the shores of Patong Beach to run his and wife Toys restaurant. Toy cooked very well, her tempura delights were unknown to the area and were a
big hit at the time.
Just south of Peeunes found us that day at Half Way Cafe. Sam, a former wild child of Patong Beach nightlife had recently suffered a bad stroke, but she was recovering rapidly,thanks to a strong instinct and a stubborn nature in general. She had hooked up with Kangaroo Larry, both were mid 20’s and had a zest for life that few, even
in the liveliness of Old Patong knew!
Sam’s curried crabs were legendary and are still the standard that Patong Patty judges ALL Thai food!
One crab,one hour! Some nights Patty would down 3 or 4, we’d be there til midnight, most of us singing folk songs, some Thai, some farang,while Patty finished every morsel!
The Half Way Cafe became more and more popular, but like many new businesses, the owners/workers had different ideas about how things should work, Sam never lost an argument and Kangaroo Larry moved south
to Kata where as rumor has it, Sam sicked Phukets finest on him, he was soon deported and Sam stumbled back into the nightlife.
The beach shacks lasted several seasons, finally the govt sent out a big bull dozer one morning and all the shacks were gone by the afternoon. A few of the “real” local restaurants were allotted space on the new road just being built starting at the beach road where the old Disco thatched place was and going east all the way to the rice paddy!
Lek/Toy had a new shop directly across the street next to David Polmans Thai Garden. Peeune moved to the rice paddy road between the beach and little Baan Nam Sai Yen,where the Lions Hospital now sits! All the rest of the squatters moved on to different parts of the Kingdom or back home…where ever home is, they went. In Old Patong, reality was often comical, but in the end, the party never really ended, people just came and went!
In Old Patong, things never really change, people just came and went and often…returned to paradise.