I was told we were going to visit a lovely little beach not far from Pattaya. It was going to be a great afternoon of lazily sipping cold beverages, frolicking on the sand and picking up pebbles and throwing them into the sea. The evening was set aside for fine dining on fresh seafood straight from the ocean onto the plate (after being humanely killed and cooked). That’s what I was told.
I arrived at the appointed pickup point at the appointed time to meet my six fellow travellers. It was a surprise to see no wives or girlfriends among the group as I know Thai ladies love a day at the beach and fresh seafood is a Thai specialty. Always prepared, I had brought my swimming trunks, a beach towel, a small plastic bucket and spade, insect repellant, shark repellant, zinc cream for my nose and a camera to record the events of the day. My friends laughed at me, but I explained that part of my dementia involved reliving childhood and some of my most enjoyable childhood experiences were the times I spent on the beach. That’s when I was informed we were heading to Ban Chang, a small town frequented by many golfers south of Pattaya towards Rayong.
Driving south and taking the Sattahip bypass, we arrived in Ban Chang in forty minutes. My keen sense of direction told me that since we were now heading east, the ocean was off to the right, so when the minivan driver turned left into Soi 25, I was confused. The conversation in the vehicle then made it clear why we were here and it had nothing to do with any beach. We were here to go to bars. My host pointed out the series of bars along the left hand side of the street, covering about a hundred metres from the first to the last. He said we should all meet back at the minivan at 10:00pm or whenever we got tired of it, whichever came first.
Before the group dispersed, I discretely covered my bucket and spade with the towel and protested that we had all just come from Pattaya – a place with bars coming out our ears – so why did we need to drive all this way just to go to more bars? The logic of my question did not compute with my friends. I felt like walking out to the highway and catching a bus back to Pattaya but, in the interest of research, I decided to stay.
We surveyed the first few places – The Camel Pub & Restaurant, Faces, Noot’s, Jigsaw – before opting to try McAllister’s Bar and Grill which offers a 180 baht lunch buffet up until 5:00pm. None of us were hungry but the food certainly looked good. Sad to read a notice on the wall stating that the owner, Don McAllister, succumbed to cancer on 11 November 2006. Reading the obituary, he seemed like a guy I would have enjoyed meeting.
The rest of the evening was spent bar hopping to places like The Where House, Kiwi, Rabbit, Rainbow, Sunshine, Good Luck, Papa’s, Nasa, Moonshine, Star, Harem, Anytime, Black Cat, Candy, The Bar and Offshore Sports Pub. For those interested in statistics, that makes a total of 21 bars. Beer ranged in price from 60 to 70 baht per bottle while lady drinks, so I was told, were around 85 baht. Although some very pretty ones could be found, the Bar Hostesses appeared, in general, to be the ‘B Team’ when compared with the ladies of Pattaya. These daughters of Isaan were, however, a friendly bunch and not pushy for drinks.
Having said that, I must have been wearing my ‘Throw me the ugly one’ t-shirt because in one particular bar – no names mentioned – I was set upon by what had to be the oldest Bar Hostess in Thailand. I’m guessing her last boyfriend wrote his love letters with a quill pen. She gave me an excellent neck and shoulder massage and I gave her 40 baht to go outside and get something to eat. Immediately! All in all, by the end of the evening I’d had twenty-one neck-shoulder-back massages.
Apparently, there are four good golf courses near Ban Chang and, with the ink on their score sheets not yet dry, the ‘golfers’ arrived just before sunset. For many of the hackers this would be their chance to score their only ‘birdie’ of the day. I suspect these are the guys who, when asked by their wives or girlfriends back in Pattaya, “How you can play golf in dark?” simply answer, “Fluorescent balls.”
The trouble with rabid golfers, of course, is they talk about it. Incessantly. Like the guy in the bar holding up a battered little white ball proclaiming that, “If it hadn’t been for five putts, this would have been a hole in one!” But this is true of all fanatics. I remember as a teenager my mates were all experts on cars. “What about the new HX3 B64 model with the double overhead cam fox tails and the 3.16 instead of the 3.2? Wow, that new carby design really gives it grunt!” That was the conversation I had to put up with, to which my only input would be, “Is it red?” Nowadays, several decades and thousands of kilometers away, I have to suffer golf, and that to me is as exciting as taking a gynaecology course by correspondence.
How to Make Money in Thailand
Golfing banter aside, it was an interesting evening. I made a note for future reference that it wasn’t until the white ball slammers began trickling in that more girls seemed to arrive and the party atmosphere moved up a notch. My friends and I made the mistake of arriving too early in the afternoon and a better time to turn up would have been around five o’clock. By 9:30pm we were all tired, emotional and ready for the return trip to Pattaya. As my companions fell asleep in the minivan, I concluded that it had all been fun but not something I’d want to do too often. As charming as they were, the reason to go there cannot just be for the bars. Perhaps I need to take up golf.
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