Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Gan's Thai Bar

I wandered up the beach to the Thai Bar. I'd seen signs advertising a party in the near future, although the place always seemed to be empty. But the music drifting out as I followed my crisp shadow up the beach was enticing enough. As I got closer, I could see that it was still deserted, but I'd been spotted by the guy behind the bar, and it would have been rude to turn back now. Besides, the fella looked bored.

I propped myself up at the bar on the wooden benches and said Hello. The man introduced himself as Gan, and he asked me my name and where I was from. His English was really good, and we struck up a conversation about music immediately; he had pretty good taste in everything from Bjork to AC/DC. I pulled out my iPod and said I'd play him some stuff, and we plugged it in. Happy with this arrangement, the conversation resumed.

"You know Ko Tao? I was at a cool bar every night there, playing our own  music. And the guys sold us joints, too..."
"You wan' get stoned?" asked Gan, pulling out a large bamboo bong from under the counter.
I beamed "I'm not one to say No, mate...cheers"
"I like bong. But spliff better. Me like get stoned every night"
"I've come to the right place, Gan"

Gan is very well-travelled for an Asian on such an island. Hailing from Ranong originally, he'd moved out to set up the bar at an established resort, just on its fringe. He'd been to China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Laos and Indonesia. It was really nice to chat with a local who'd been around. The conversation turned to England, and English football in particular. Gan's a big Liverpool fan, but knew a little about Preston North End...which made me like him even more. As we got more and more stoned, he'd ask me random things such as "What does snow feel like?" For the next 4 hours I had a whale of a time. Talking about footy, music, random things and rolling joing after joint. 

A big German, in the loudest Hawaiin shirt I've ever seen, rolled up after midnight. Peter's 48, I'm 38 and Gan 28...which made us laugh (you had to be there, I'm afraid). Peter fired up the bong and got stuck into the beers. Another good lad. There was one hairy moment when Gan was showing me photos of where he'd been and shots of his family. He flicked through a folder with a shot of a young boy's groin region. I stiffened (no, not like that) and my head spun as he carried on flicking. Did I just see that? What's going on he part of some Thai paedo ring? I was a touch perturbed. After a few more shots, with me formulating my escape plan and excuses, Gan went back to the photo in question. He giggled and pointed at the wee fella's tadger and roared proudly "That's my boy!" I burst out laughing, as much in relief as anything else. That's that one cleared up.

"Gan. You like English football, and you like House music and Hip Hop. You love getting stoned and drinking beer?"
"Yes" he said.
"And you're a bit fat."
Gan snorted, dribbling beer...grinning and glassy-eyed
"I think we were separated at birth."
He laughed.

It got to around 3am, and Gan rose to go. He lives above the bar, so didn't have far to go. "Me stoned, me go to bed." He started trying to count the empty beer cans in front of Peter and myself, so we could pay. Staggering from side to side, he lost count about five times. "I had 9, Peter had 6" We paid a giggling Gan. He said if we drank any more, just to leave the money on the bar. So we had a couple more, and called it a night. I left knowing where I'd be spending every night on Ko Chang.

Now finding your way home is easy in daylight, but the electricity goes off on Chang at 10pm. And one beach hut resort looks much like another. I'd made note of a few landmarks on the beach, but in my booze and weed-sodden state it took me an hour to find my bungalow. I walked past the resort four times. Note to self: buy a better flashlight.

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