Category Archives: Patong Beach

Old Patong: The Two Headed Fish

Early one morning, Patong Patty and I were enjoying another fine breakfast of papaya, pineapple and banana, with a big hot mug of Milo, when Mr Singh, the owner of Valentine Bungalow came over to the little restaurant his sister had recently set up just south of the bungalows[it would right next to the Holiday Inn now], on the beach road, facing the blue Andaman Sea.

He grinned as a pickup truck went by, raising the dust, a giant fish was tied from the roof and hanging off the tailgate on it’s way to market.

Mr Singh began yelling “Look! In Thailand we have fish with two heads!”

Talking a little later with Crazy Dave, Dave said “did you see that big Manta Ray hanging off the end of that pickup?” I smiled and told him the story of the fish with two heads.

But, a picture is worth a thousand words:

Fish and seafood in general has been around in southern Thailand forever, the best, freshest seafood could always be found at Number 4, a small open air cafe about 1/2 between Valentine Bungalow and Patong Beach Hotel, later Number 4 moved to Soi Bangla[Bar Road]and was the most popular seafood place in Old Patong.

Customers would write on the wall various greetings or names with a big black marker, Number 4 the best in seafood!

In Old Patong, a big stuffed Phuket lobster was about 100baht, complete with salad and Singha.

Old Patong, where every meal was a banquet!

Old Patong: Gotland Beach Bar & Gotland Inn

The friendly Swede, Gotland had one of the best pubs on the beach in Old Patong. He also was the first to have two bars in Patong!

In those days, there were beach bars/shacks dotted along sunny central Patong Bay just south of Patong Beach Bungalows almost to SeaView Bungalows on the south end of the bay. One such place was the original Gotland Bar situated across from ever friendly Danish “Scandia Bungalows”.

Gotland was always trying to keep things going and he’d even rent local boats to take his pals fishing, the party continued off the beach and onto Patong Bay. All had a fun time!

Gotland ran a honest shop and there were always many friends and locals there to enjoy the fun that happened 24/7 or until the Singha beer ran out.

These small bar/shacks were only up and running for a bit over a year before the government bulldozed them all down. Then there was a lottery where those that could afford it bought into the newly developed Soi Bangla, which before had been little more than a sandy path leading from Patong Beach to the rice paddy behind and then to Baan Nam Sai Yen nestled at the foot of the mountain eastward.

Gotland was one of those that erected a new habitat on Soi Bangla, near the southside of the middle of the road. The Gotland Inn!
Life on Soi Bangla[bar road]soon became the new hot spots for most of Patong Beach. Many was the time we’d wonder up that way near midnight when most of the smaller bungalow shops would shut down, only to find the nightlife on Soi Bangla to be non stop.

Bout the only time Soi Bangla was slow would be the mornings when most of the customers, cooks or chiefs were still sleeping it off. Then a few shops would serve french bread or som tum or kow pad.

Our friend Gotland usually kept his shop going til all had left, he soon learned that in Old Patong, many NEVER left and only the sun coming up over the eastern mountain would shooe those back to slumber, even then, often, the party didn’t stop!

In Old Patong the party would start when some new or old friends arrived and never end…but what kept the party going were the nicest people that lived along Patong Beach, like our friend Gotland!

Old Patong: Basses Bar

Basse set up a great little bar on the southern corner of Valentine Bungalows, right on the beach road!

The bar was unique, it was round! The first round bar/cafe in Old Patong. The big round Disco came later down the beach road in front of Lada Bar.

Basse, a friendly Swede lived inside the bar with his girlfriend when shop closed each night.

Many Scandinavians would frequent Basses Bar, it was always an easy going place, never a care in the world, but in Old Patong, there were few cares anyway.

Many an afternoon we’d join Basses and his mates playing Monopoly or solving the problems of the rest of the world, since all expats are know-it-alls, we did well together.

Big Ola la, Gotland and the Scandinavians were always in a good mode, enjoying each minute and only worrying when the Singha was all gone…

Submitted a few pix of a time when comedy was there for the asking and good times were had by all.

In Old Patong, where every day was a holiday.

Old Patong: Valentine Bungalow

After our initial bus ride from Bangkok during the monsoon season of 1979, the tuk tuk drivers at the Phuket bus station surrounded us, showing us many pictures of tropical beach shacks/bungalows.

Some had real palm frond roofs, though most were tin with concrete block walls.

After we’d seen several from Patong Beach Bungalows to Valentine[we decided the air conditioned Patong Beach Hotel @ 500baht/day was much too refined/expensive for our needs]Bungalows. Almost half way between the northern beach Muslim village of Kalim and the southern end of Patong Bay where the barb wire surrounded compound of SeaView Bungalow was set, just north of where the rice paddy creek flowed into Ao Patong.

The proprietor of Valentine Bungalow showed us a room, there were only 1/2 dozen or so then. Our room was second from the end/north side, Room 2. There were a few more rooms near the small front Valentine Store, actually little more than a walled kiosk, selling tank tops, a few sarongs, Kodak film, sunscreen, cigarettes, that was about it.

Our room had two low slung/folding beach chairs on the small covered veranda. Mr Singh told us the electric would be switched on, which ran the wobbly fan over the two beds at sundown. The room had a farang hognam and a shower head coming out of the side of the wall next to the small sink.

Short term rate was 60baht/day and long term[our first visit was about 30days]40baht, we took the long term rate, paid in advance, Mr Singh happily took our money and we went next door to the open air restaurant just south of the bungalows next to a vacant field[now Holiday Inn], just across the sand path was Patong Beach!

We looked at the menu, Patty took the Pad Thai noodles, I ordered a Green Spot and a “hambaker”…

The food came, naturally the noodles were delicious, the ham baker, well, it was my first “buffalo burger” chopped thick, it had little or no fat to keep the thing together, more of a “sloppy joe” type with chopped carrots added, over cooked[yes, not burnt black, but charcoal seared], evidently they thought that a slice of red beet was appropriate…I ate it up quickly and washed it down with the Green Spot.

There were only a few people in the place, a 50ish farang lady and two locals were at the table next to us.

Patty asked for Prik Nam Pla[she’d tried this the first time the day before in the ever seedy hotel we stayed in Bangkok and was won over with the great taste]and the lady at the table next to us started speaking english, the first and only person we’d met in Thailand that was obvious “Yank” english!

She was Margaret, a Californian recently on the run through Persia[during the Shahs overthrow]and more recently a convert to Patong Beach. She quickly introduced us to the other two locals at the table, Thai men, Samai, part time waiter/tour guide/beachboy, Chi-An, full time beachboy and proprietor of the little bbq fish shack across the road.

We soon finished lunch at Valentine Restaurant and went back to our room, the afternoon heat at 1pm was still hot for us newbies, so we got into bikinis and took our first swim in the Blue Andaman Sea.

The water was about as warm as the 90F air temperature, we waded around, found a cooler eddy running just 10′ from shoreline and played there for several hours, until the we noticed the skies quickly turning a cloudy black, the waves suddenly getting much bigger, we bodysurf’d a few and road one in all the way to shore and got back up to the Valentine Restaurant slightly before the winds really got fierce and the afternoon monsoon could be seen leaping over the low hills that formed the southwest side of the perfect horseshoe bay known as Ao Patong.

Samai was quickly rolling down the blue tarps that fronted the restaurant as we sat down on the picnic benches inside with Margaret and Chi-An, the deluge hit extremely strong, our first monsoon, thunder/lightning/wind and heavy rains blotted out the skies in all directions and you couldn’t see even across the road to the beach.

Chi-An told us that the monsoons started late April and could last until almost September, it rained every day that first month we were there, but between running for shelter and when it wasn’t raining, we always had fun.

It was never cold for us, but Chi-An often wore a nylon jacket, we left our bikinis on for the remainder of the month, only putting on street clothes the one time we went into Phuket town to the cinema.

We spent the days body surfing, the nights singing and playing guitar at Chi-Ans beach shack. Life was REALLY good! We’d be exhausted by the time we stumbled back to our bungalow, our eyes lulled to a hypnotic sleep by the ever wobbling ceiling fan and watching gheckos on the ceiling scurry towards the misquitos, we’d drift off into a dream.

Awaking, our first steps from the bungalow was always the same, an astounding view, coconut plantation by the sea, simply stunning! Each day we just couldn’t believe our good fortune to be in this sunny paradise!

Our first month went by so quick! We met about 100 locals/expats/tourist during that time and the place was so ideal, I quit ordering the hambakers and tried more and more local Thai dishes and most everyone we met were fun loving and friendly, only a few sour apple drunks at most, we were never the same again.

We had only gotten a tourist entry visa upon arriving from Hong Kong, so a month later, it was time to return to Bangkok and the next leg of our honeymoon journey…Kathmandu, but…that’s another story…

In Old Patong, when it was monsoon and it wasn’t raining, you wished it was!

We soon found out that every place we ventured afterwards was measured by “Old Patong Standards”! well, none measured up…we were spoiled by paradise.

Old Patong: The Beach Shacks Part II

An old pal, Gotland, the famous Swede who had several bars in Old Patong recently sent me this load of digital pix.

It shows Old Patong along the beach and newly built Soi Bangla [Bar Road] pictures of those fun beach shacks and shops before the bull dozer ran them over…

Look carefully at the pictures of a time when fun on the beach was open to any and all! These beach shacks were shelter and home and business to their many happy inhabitants for a little more than a year.

In those early days, the owners living IN the shacks/bars/huts and did quite well at that! Life was a true shangri-la in Old Patong, where a hammock or a grass mat was all you needed and a small oil lamp since there was no water/electricity to any of these huts. Naturally “business owners” got a “discount” on Signha and Mekhong, so there was great incentive…:-)

All provisions were hand carried or better yet, in Old Patong, the ice boy or the water boy or the motorcycle market would deliver needed supplies to anyone paying.

Old Patong, where clever capitalism flourished and the dreams of tomorrow lived today!

Note the several snap shots of our pal Gotland sleeping UNDER the bar, a common practice is Old Patong!

Later a lottery was held with all the members given a chance at the new shops that would be built along the newest road in Old Patong, Soi Bangla!

btw, here is PROOF POSITIVE that the SUBMARINE being built on the sandy stretches of Old Patong happened! Not only is this the very first submarine built in Thailand, it is the ONLY submarine made of ….cement! Ya Der German-Thai Technology in action!

Thanks again to Gotland, the happy Swede!!!

Rumor has it that Gotland is working on a book of his life and travels, Gotland was one of the people that made Old Patong the fun, happy place it was. We all look forward to his book.