Saturday, 27 February 2010

Koh Samui and the 'Whisky Girl Moment'

After a few mad days in Bangkok, heat, traffic, bars, drinking etc. etc. it was off to Koh Samui, an island in the southern Gulf of Thailand...
... the airport is a little more laid -back!
This is the bus that takes you from the plane to the terminal, I say terminal, it's more like a service station on the motorway. A very nicely designed service station...

...with robots outside!

Taxi to the hotel was about Bt350 and around a 15 minute drive. Again, people complain bitterly about 'taxi mafia' and all that but I thought they were ok. Maybe that's because I live in London and taxis are either black cabs, who know exactly where everything is but don't really want to go there and tootle along at 20mph to run the meter up, or mini-cabs, who want to go everywhere, don't know how to get there but, somehow, know it's £30!
Anyway, we got to the hotel...

feet up... and a few beers.  The hotel staff were so nice, we stayed in the bar for a few hours, and brought Rick's MP3 player  and speakers out and had a good laugh and a bit of a dance about.  We didn't realise, but we were, apparently, the first people to buy them a drink!

They were impressed enough to take us out into the night on scooters, after the bar had closed, to a local Thai place where they got extra tables and chairs out and we chilled out for hours eating the best food I'd had in years. (MP3 player came with us, but the cable would only reach if it was on Rick's head!)

First time I really understood the meaning of 'sanuk sanuk' often loosely translated as 'fun fun' or 'happy happy' genuine, hard working people with warm hearts and a kind nature. Just our kind of people!

I liked Bangkok but it was a bit mental to be honest and now I was in Koh Samui I started to relax. The Gulf of Thailand is so peaceful...
...and the hotel was right on the beach.

So, we spent a few days just chilling out,

Daytimes, just...... went.

Night time comes and we would take a walk up Chaweng Beach Road, running the gauntlet of Indian tailors who seemed convinced we needed suits. I made the mistake of wearing a West Ham shirt the first time we walked up the road (there are probably some of you who think that's a mistake at any time!) and was greeted by many shouts of 'lubbly jubbly! you need suit mate, very good price, just come look!' At first we were polite and smiled nicely...after a few nights there was one bloke who'd got the vibe just right.....'Hello don't want to buy a fucking suit, right?'

Yes mate, spot on.

Music in Thailand, is a strange mixture of nose-bleed techno,pop/dance 'anthems' and rock ballads.
It's everywhere, each bar in a soi seems to compete with the one next door, and, as they're all open-fronted this means that instead of hearing the music in the bar you're in, you hear all the music from all the bars at the same time!


This often leads to confusion!

Anyway, you may have read something in my other posts about the yes/no situations and where they lead you in life. People have plans, ambitions, things they want to do. Life is so complex, there are miriad patterns of behaviour, fractel-like, millions and millions of people all over the world go about their day to day business, their lives lead them in certain directions, situations arise, people cross your path and, for a brief few seconds, their life interacts with yours. What it all boils down to is a never-ending series of fairly instant yes/no decisions that we, usually, ignore and just keep our heads down and drive on with the plan we made before we left the house.
Now I'm going to explain the 'Whisky Girl Moment' phenomenon.

When we were at Heathrow on our way out to Thailand, in the duty free there was a girl offering free sips of whisky, you know, one of those promotion type things, anyway, we passed her by and after about five minutes Rick said we should go back and find her, have a shot and talk to her, helps pass the time talking to pretty girls with whisky to give away.

As is often the way with these things, she wasn't there, Rick commented that life was like that and you should take opportunities when they arise rather than wait, think about it, decide you should have done it then go back only to find the moment has passed. Hereafter referred to as...The Whisky Girl Moment

Well, I was sitting in a bar the night before my birthday, with about Bt1,000 (£20) to my name, having a chat with a few girls that worked in the bar, chilled out and relaxed, not looking for a mad night out (no money) and prepared to quite happily mooch back to my hotel when the bar shut at 3am.
So, the nice girl behind the bar starts clearing tables, the music (in the whole street) starts to get a bit quieter and I get to my feet.... 'where you going?' she says 'home' says I 'money finish' showing her my wallet with about Bt500 in it. 'No no' she says 'you birthday yes? you come party me and my friend'.
Now, I know that as a tourist in Thailand, I have more money than the local people, when you take a girl out from a bar, you pay for everything. That's just how it is. When we were taken out to dinner by the hotel staff, the bill was something like Bt2,000 (£40) for 12 people, food drinks everything. They earn about Bt5000 a month each so...we paid, no big deal.
I didn't want this girl to be under any illusions I made it clear, she hadn't hit the jackpot and found 'rich falang man take care me and my friends' I was skint. Bt500 was it, no more in the cashpoint, brassic, 'money finish jing jing (really really)' I said. 'ok ok not think too much about money, have drink ticket in my pocket I take care you we go party ok mai?
The Whisky Girl Moment.
It's one of those yes/no times. It's a 'yes' and I end up heading off to the late night clubs in Chaweng with four Thai ladies, three of whom are very pissed, and one who is not so pissed as she's been behind the bar all night as opposed to sitting in front of it drinking. She's the one in charge, she's got all the free drink tickets, she's the one they look to for where we're going next.
two very pissed mates

another very pissed mate
The lady herself.
 Pit-stop between clubs, got to love that Som Tam after a few drinks!

Long story short, a great time is had by all, rolling from bar to club to bar to club, dancing and generally having a proper laugh. One by one the pissed friends disappear and me and Bow are on our own in a club with fairly decent music, nice enough people, but no money, no more drink tickets. Now, at this point, I was fully expecting the night to end. I would have been ok with that, I mean after all, when you go out with a girl from a bar in Thailand and your money runs out, she runs out too, right?
We both decide we want another drink, 'ok ok' I say 'I can try ATM but I think money finish for sure' she comes with me and, sure enough, 'computer sez no'  so.... she takes her ATM card, looks in her account, there's Bt450 in there, she takes out Bt400, puts it in my pocket and says 'come, we go back inside, have two more drink ok mai?'
She stayed with me for the rest of my time in Samui, I went back in September and she spent two weeks with me in Phuket, we needed to make sure, well as sure as you can be given the distances between us. She now lives at her sisters house in Chaing Rai, where I spent four weeks staying with her family, she works from home getting jobs from a small textile factory up the road, looks after her two children, who are adorable, doesn't have any money-scrounging drunk relatives, doesn't have any 'sick buffalo can you send money?' survives on Bt15,000 a month, a large proportion of which she earns herself, she's funny, lively, cares deeply for her kids, her mum, her family and me (in that order), has a fierce right-hook, followed by a Muay-Thai style kick to the ribs and I love her to bits.

The yes/no decisions, they're small but they change your life. The Whisky Girl Moments,
I hope you get to have some.


  1. Beautiful story, Biff. So glad things worked out for you. Don't hear enough of these stories. Maybe because people often don't tell the good stories because some commenters on such forums as like to put people down. Anyway, also enjoyed the family outing story. Amazing, 14 people in a mini-pickup. Good thing Thai people are small! BTW, I commented, favourably, on your Chiang Rai posts at TV. Although my screen name there is Kaoboi Bebobp.

    If I may, check out some of the other Thailand blogs, written by people I call my friends now. I've been writing one for a year and a half now and I've met a great crew of fellow bloggers. They are:

    That's a start! ;-)

  2. Thanks very much. I started this blog as a way for me to keep a record, for myself mainly, of my visits to Thailand and how it has affected me.
    Glad you enjoyed reading it.
    Thanks for the links, I'll make sure I check them out.


  3. Hi Biff an interesting story, not dissimilar to how I finally ended up here, although I first came to Thailand back in 2000. Been here a couple of years now.

    Look forward to reading a bit more about your life here.

    Good Luc

  4. Thanks, I'll post more as and when it happens :-)
    my life here (Thailand) is, at the moment, restricted to a few visits a year. Next one is in May, there's a family wedding in April that I will miss but there will be photos and stories and plenty of water as the monks have decided April 14th to be the best day for it!

    I'm going to edit up my photos from the trip to Phuket, there won't be much of a story behind that one, just a few notes. When my shift pattern at work allows some semblance of normal brain activity I'll get on it!

    Thanks for reading.