Category Archives: Patong Beach

Old Patong: Texas Larry & Crazy Dave Have Lunch At Coral Beach Hotel

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!

Old Patong:Dogs

In Old Patong, every bar, bungalow, house in the village,etc had at least one dog, many had many more than one!

When we moved into our little house near the bend of the road, by the cooling waterfall in the scenic village of SaiNamYen, we “inherited” a mess of dogs and cats!

At first, we were clearing the small front yard garden when we noticed several snakes slithering in and out. We immediately went to the local concrete block yard that was on the Patong Wat road near Thai boxer Juan Pedets house.

Acquired several thousand bricks, with the idea to entirely brick the front, back and side yard of our little place. This would later come back to haunt me!

Several of the young kids in the village happened by as I was crawling around the huge brick stacks and sitting the bricks down to make a patio. Soon, half the men in the village joined in, they worked fast and soon the entire yard was a big brick patio…:-)

I broght out several bottles of Mehkong & HoneYok and as well as candy for the children and yet another impromptu party began.

When we mentioned to our maid, the sweet “ETT” about our fear of cobra’s,etc, we found over the next few days that we had acquired 7 cats, a mother cat with litter. Soon we also “seemed” to have 6 of the local dogs that thought the food we left out for the cats[fish,etc bought every week from the traveling fish market that blared his loud speaker, often around 7AM “PLAMOOK”, our cats and dogs ate well. The villagers of course thought we were millionaire for feeding “their” animals.

Anyway, during the days, we were usually off to Thai Garden Restaurant or body surfing in the warm blue Andaman Sea and we took little notice of our newly aquired mini zoo of dogs and cats, BUT, all that changed EVERY NIGHT when “our” dogs would bark, fight, and generally make extreme noise ALL NIGHT LONG EVERY NIGHT!

Often, we’d go to the back porch, the pooches never fought in the front yard, but only fought near our bedroom in the back yard, and yell or throw something at the mongrels, this was a mere temporary halt to the constant dog battles. After a few weeks, we got used to it and slept threw “most” of their loud behavior…

One day our dear maid “ETT” said “hoak ma,jet meow, mai dee” and within a few days, we had only a few of the cats left, but the 6 dogs NEVER left!

Along the beaches, packs of dogs would run up and down, sometimes the local police would shoot them if they hassled the tourist too much, but usually they were from local bars/restaurants and in the afternoon they’d congregate at the beach, near Patong Bungalows and work their way from the northern Kalim side of the beach to the extreme south where the rice paddy emptied into Patong Bay.

In the late afternoons and early evenings, the water buffaloes would also leave the paddy behind Patong Beach and walk up and down the beach for several hours, some of them would end up in various bungalow yards and spook the tourist, but usually didn’t cause much harm.

The big pack of late afternoon dogs however would try to “herd” the water buffaloes, but the big brutes would have none of the hounds humor and ever once in a while you’d see a dog howling into the air from the sharp tip of an upset water buffalo!

ANY bar/restaurant that you went to or ANY place you sat on the beach in Old Patong, a local dog would immediately SIT on your feet. After a while, you just got used to it, they usually didn’t bite, but sometimes did bit the tourist, locals, even the seasoned expats, especially if you were on a motorbike, which all dogs recognized the exact tone of the muffler and for some reason, certain motor bikes infuriated the dogs and they’d make a wild run as you were motoring otherwise peacefully down the road.

The “ice boys”, the kids that delivered ice on their little skeleton of a honda 50cc with sidecar to hold the ice/water, were ALWAYS a target for the dogs, you’d see the iceboys going FULL THROTTLE down Soi Bangla[Bar Rd]with a pack of angry dogs chasing them from bar to bar, restaurant to restaurant. The iceboys were literally the fastest thing on Patong Beach…an icy blurr…

Traveling around various provinces of the Kingdom in the old days, most places you’d go had dogs, most were friendly.

Our Muslim friends ALWAYS stayed clear of the dogs and vice versa.

In Old Patong, the only dogs that wouldn’t sit on your feet or chase you down the road were the dogs on Crazy Daves bar, a velvet painting of dogs sitting around a table playing cards/gambling. This picture always seemed to perturb Father Charlie, who said “that’s not right, those dogs don’t have a soul”…

I wonder…

Old Patong: FatBob

FatBob was as his moniker implies, really a BIG man!

Bob rolled off a tuk tuk late one afternoon and ended up with a Singha in both hands by sunset.

A person as large a Bob could easily keep up with the many expats drinking. Bob could out drink most of em, but the professional drinkers would still be chatting early into the morning from the night before while FatBob lay passed out at a table.

Bob used to be an electrician in the Middle East oil fields where he’d managed, mainly due to there being NO booze or whatever to get himself in trouble with, to save up a decent enough nest egg to tide him over in the laid back and low baht existence of Old Patong.

Old Patong, early 80’s where most could get by for less than 100baht per day, guys like FatBob needed about 500baht per day just for beer!

“Other” cost could sometimes make him take the baht bus into Phuket town and put in a order for more moolah from one of the local international banks there. In the early days of Old Patong, you had to first call your bank overseas, there were NO CELL PHONES and it was a major hassle, could cost nearly 500baht just for the phone call, let alone various “fees”,etc that ALL the banks charged. There were NO ATM machines on the island…

FatBob lived the life of the carefree, buy anyone a drink philosophy that was prevalent with a vast majority of the rigrats/oil workers,etc at that time. They made plenty in the horrid Middle East, they spent plenty on R&R in The Land Of Smiles.

As word got out of the wonderful paradise only 500 kilometers south of Bangkok, more and more expats/oil workers/r&r seekers/tourist/travelers visited the sunny shores of Old Patong.

As the saying goes “A fool and his money are soon parted”, like a sailor on leave,etc, FatBob finally did some “investing” in Paradise Bar/Bungalows. Owned by Mr Bruce and Mr Bill, they would steer those with extra income or funds the way of the expat, investing in a local business.

FatBob being a first class electrician soon had the horseshoe shaped bar at Paradise where each customer, under the guise of watching a video, could put on their on set of earphones, drink and watch the videos without being pestered by the other barflies, customers or touts.

These ear phones were the single biggest reason I quit going to Paradise Bar and went next door to the much friendlier Thai Garden Restaurant/Bar run by Crazy Dave.

After FatBob had wired up and got all the various jacks/electrical cords/ear phones,etc working, his main responsibility was to walk down to the only video shop in town, only 100meters or so, slightly before Lada’s Bar where the “VDO SHOP” kinda hide under the Banana Disco.

Bob being a rotund individual found this the hardest part of the job and sadly, many a time headed in that direction to acquire the 1/2 dozen videos for Paradise nightly viewing, only to fall culprit of Thai Garden or Sea Seas or Scandia along the way and somehow just forget to pick up or if he picked them up, forget to return to Paradise!

This never went over well with Mr Bill, the mastermind behind the fun and business of Paradise Bar, Mr Bruce usually left the majority of that part of the business to Mr Bill and Mr Bruce ran the bungalows in fairly good order, never displeasing any of the customers and constantly soothing jarred nerves of expats and customers than didn’t see eye to eye with Mr Bill!

Early one morning as I rolled down Soi Bangla[Bar Rd]and turned south on the beach road, under the big banyan tree by the Police shack, sat FatBob, all bruises/bloodied and dejected.

It seems the big guy had made his daily run to the VDO Shop, only to fall victim to a case of “dodgy lagers” with the result that FatBob had an accidental delay by way of stepping one of his elephant sized legs into the local sewer/klong that ran along infront of the shophouses to relieve the hognams!

Bob had taken a bad spill, falling half way to his rather ample girthy waist, busting his noggin with a nasty gash above his right eye and several lacerations on both knees/elbows/etc. Bob was in bad shape!

I pulled the Spirit Of Patong over and motioned the giant to amble into the side car, first dropping off Patong Patty at a nearby noodle shop for morning breakie.

Bob managed to get in the seat of the side car, the little mono-shock compressing metal to metal as the entire side car unit sank to the small tuk tuk tire holding it all up.

I resumed the run along the beach road, FatBob commiserating the entire time about the “moving klong”,etc, he was still well lubed from the night before and every other word was naturally unintelligible.

We arrived at Paradise, I unloaded the big kid and he grinned and said “thanks” and took the few steps, rather unstead as a few of the girls there helped him hold up the bar.

I turned the Spirit Of Patong around and went next door to Thai Garden where Dutch Jeff met me in the front lot and looking down he pointed to the FLAT TIRE on the rear wheel of the scooter…:-(

Well, I thought it was flat, but Crazy Dave pumped it up with a hand pump and it held air, it seems the extreme weight of FatBob[nearly 400pounds]had was just too much for it and deflated the tube inside!

Crazy Dave sent one of his staff off to get someone to bring a new new and by the time Patong Patty had finished her noodles down the street, I was able to pick her up several hrs later, after much discussion of the subject with Crazy Dave, Dutch Jeff, even Mr Bruce came over and joined us for a few hours early that morning.

FatBob knocked around Paradise Bar for close to a year. His money finally ran out, his welcome did too. Like most expats, FatBob went back “home”, where ever that is, broke, covered in mozzie bites and recovering from various “ailments” he picked up along the way. A fool and his money were soon parted, but in Old Patong, this was SOP.

Most folks liked FatBob, I did, he could knock you down if you were foolish enough to get between him and table or …bar, but he always had a big smile on his face, almost as big as his heart.

In Old Patong, things just happened, usually to no fault of those it happened too, but often because of whom it happened too.

Old Patong, where every day was holiday.

Old Patong: The Further Adventures Of Dutch Jeff

Dutch Jeff lumbered into Thai Garden Restaurant early saturday morning.

The big man dwarfed his little Honda 70CC step thru motorbike. Parking it on the north side of the building, he hoisted off his little son “Jep-noi”, immediately Jep-Noi ran over to Crazy Daves table, where David hadn’t noticed the little guy, until he pee’d under the table and ran off towards the beach while Dutch Jeff mooched a free drink from Texas Larrys bottle of Hon Yoke rum.

Jeff, a true dutchman liked anything free. He sat down at the same table as Texas Larry and began a strange tale. It seemed that Dutch Jeff had actually found employment in Phuket town!!!

Having a job for an expat was strange, outside of the hand full of expat bar/restaurant owners, I knew of NO expat anywhere on Phuket island that actually…worked!

It seems that the big man got a job as an “extra” in the new movie being filmed over the hill in Phuket town! Word soon scrambled over the coconut telegraph and all expats in Phuket made their way to the hiring office for extras, which was IN Thai Garden Restaurant the next day.

Locals, expats,movie star wanna be’s all showed up, stood in line and many were hired on the spot as fill-ins/extras for the new movie “The Killing Fields” soon to be filmed using the old Phuket-Portugese building in Phuket town that looked similar to parts of Cambodia!

The guy next door from the Paradise Dive Shop got a bit part in the movie as a US Army soldier, a few others got similar parts, but Dutch Jeff actually got the part of the Russian Ambassador, a SPEAKING part in the new movie!!

Having a speaking part in the movie meant that Dutch Jeff was PAID MORE for his part and most importantly to Dutch Jeff, it meant he got to eat FREE FOOD DAILY with the “real” actors of the movie, while most of the bit players were on their own!

At the end of each day, Jeff would return to Thai Garden Restaurant and hold court and lord his high pay speaking movie star job over the lesser bit-part/extra players as Jeff would routinely and with great detail, brag about everything that happened or every free steak he ate that day!

Diver Mike, from next doors Paradise Dive Shop would often come into Thai Garden Restaurant in full US Army costume. He’d pick my brains on how to “look like a real solider”,etc and I’d always add a few “suggestions” so he could have his uniform looking strack and Army-like! The guy looked EXACTLY like JFK killer Lee Harvey Oswald and many of us would call him Oswald and Diver Mike would grin and take it as a compliment.

Diver Mike had recently returned from commercial diving in the Middle East while his partner at the dive shop, Mike “Shady” Brady ran the shop. It appears various “contracts” etc by the Irish Diver vs Oswald didn’t pan out the way Oswald thought it would be and in turn he immediately tuned in Mike “Shady” Brady to the immigration, it seems Shady hadn’t bothered to get a Visa/work permit in about 4 years.

Anyway, Dutch Jeff would hold court the rest of the evening,going into night and often brought a “real” actor or two to frequent Thai Garden Restaurant. He always referred to the star, Sam Waterston as that skinny guy!

I’ve searched the movie in IMDB but can find NO MENTION of Dutch Jeff or the part of the Russian Ambassador! But, just watch the movie and notice the big bald Russian Ambassador, a few scenes anyway, I think they cut all of his speaking parts and you can see Dutch Jeff in all his glory near the end of the movie when the fall of Pnom Penn shows them burning documents and throwing out a washing machine! The mystery lives on…

In Old Patong, there was always a mystery, some solved, mostly unsolved and gone into legend!

Was Crazy Dave Really Crazy?

Our pal David “Crazy Dave” Polman wasn’t really crazy, but he had this wild “crazy” laugh that would spook locals and even those that knew him well!

Dave usually had a smile on his kisser and his infectious bellowing laugh could be heard for 100 meters!

Dave would let this wild laugh go out without a care in the world, he’d simply be reading the Bangkok Post or one of the many paperback books his customers left on a table and he’d suddenly be almost yelling that laugh out.

It actually scared a few of his timid local workers and they ended up thinking David was daft!

Thinking the big, bearded sunburned guy was crazy is another matter all together! Dave was very intelligent, well read, he’d been around and mastered many professions/trades and was one of those few “Jack Of All Trades, but Master Of ALL”! He could build a radio from tubes, get any thing mechanical/electrical working that was broke and kept his “007 dual side piped little Honda” running like a watch!

Thai Garden restaurant, Daves real Pride was always his top concern. His only short coming might have been his “control freak” management that never really let the place blossom because once the “boss” was out of the shop, things went badly, very badly.

Many was the time that Crazy Dave went for a short visa run to Penang, only to return and find his shop empty of all supplies, the cook had “loaned” some of the kitchen pots/gear to “my friend have”,etc…

At times it was funny, but certainly not for Crazy Dave, he’d yell and bellow and rant and scare the seaweed out of his “employees” and they’d quickly round up all the gear they could, but Dave never really learned to delagate or properly train any assistant and in the end, the place just turned into another “part time” open bar along the sunny beaches of Patong.

The place, run at it’s best was because of Dao’s great cooking! Dave would go daily to the big open market in Phuket town, the Baht-Bus would deliver the goods later that afternoon.