The new, ultra cool Coral Beach Hotel was put up at the extreme south end of Patong Bay.
Before this, Sea View Bungalow was the last place to stay. Rumor had it that the far south end of the beach, “pirates” hung out and some had robbed Sea View Bungalow of it’s TV set and shaken down a few tourists before they “disappeared” back into the jungle.
The sleepy area didn’t have much tourist biz, usually a handful of those tourist that really wanted to get as far away from Soi Bangla[Bar Rd]as possible tended to stay at Sea View, where the remains of a somewhat tidal flow to and from the rice paddy behind Patong Beach let out into Patong Bay.
The new, ultra big Coral Beach Hotel was at the time, the largest hotel to be built on Patong Bay, they breached the rice paddy run-off creek with a super steep cement ramp highway that led from Patong Bay upwards into the low hills on the south end of the beach. It was often called “the rocket launcher” because an underpowered 50cc Honda of Dutch Jeff wouldn’t make it to the top!
Building went on for over a year, big lorries and other trucks a constant along the once nearly deserted Patong Beach road.
Finally the hotel was ready to open and it was a BIG deal in Old Patong!
The Governor of the province, driven along side of then country leader Prem Tinsulanonda were driven slowly along the beach road in the Governors big “Kennedy” Lincoln. A big white beauty, proceeded by Thai Military and followed by local government officials.
As the large caravan sauntered past Thai Garden Restaurant, Crazy Dave grinned and looked out and said to Texas Larry and FatBob,” hey, there goes Prem in that Lincoln, up to the Coral Beach Hotel, what-da-ya say we go up there and have lunch today”!
It really didn’t take much to rock the boat in sleepy, barely anything ever happened Old Patong.
FatBob backed out of the deal, saying “I gotta take off on a Visa run”, actually he was heading for amusement in Hat Yai, but Texas Larry agreed and both hopped on Crazy Daves “007″ equipped Honda 125CC dual exhaust wonder, you could hear the pipes roar as they sped after the caravan and up the ultra steep incline to Coral Beach Hotel for lunch.
The big Texan, slowed by an early morning bout of chugging Singhas sat down, almost falling out of his chair, but Crazy Dave grabbed the big guy and steadied him down on a chair just a few tables from where Prem and the Governor were enjoying a great feast.
Crazy Dave, always the instigator mentioned that “they should just go over and have a beer with Prem and the Governor”, this info quickly sifted through the big Texan’s noggin, he almost turned white, then red and he said “David, ABSOLUTELY NOT”, but Crazy Dave kept egging him on and the fear on Texas Larry’s kisser proved that he might be hung over, but he wasn’t stupid enough to barge in on govt big shots just to amuse Crazy Dave.
They went back and forth for nearly an hour before Crazy Dave let it go, much to Larry’s relief.
In Old Patong, those that “made waves” especially to the embarrassment of ANY official weren’t around for long. Passports/visas/papers/licenses,etc could be denied, persona non grata before you knew what hit ya!
The Coral Beach Hotel offered an upscale retreat, where many of locals/expats would visit as needed to impress their significant others or just to hide out for a few days from the beach crowd.
Here are a handful of pictures of the usual suspects in the days of Old Patong, where progress turned a sleepy bay area into the hot spot of Asia within a decade!
btw, this is about the smallest FatBob ever got in Old Patong, he’d just arrived from Middle East where he’d been an electrician.
ALL photos courtesy of Peter Barrow, a true friend of Old Patong… Thanks Pete!