It was seven-ish and I was sitting in a pleasant-enough room overlooking the front entrance to the pub above which I had just moved in. The pub was the Pig and Whistle on Soi 7 in Pattaya. Across the lane was a big hole, which they were hoping to build a hotel in and next door to that, right opposite me, was a tiny bar with one lady sitting on a stool outside it. Not that there was a wall there, it was open on two sides. The Soi was lovely and peaceful, I thought. I also thought that I might go and sit in that little bar and talk to that lady, if my friend was late, because I would definitely see him arrive from two metres away, the width of the Soi.
So, I went to the bar in the pub at 19:15 to await my friend who said he would come at 20:00. It was much busier than thirty minutes earlier but not noisy and I sat at the bar. The first thing a barmaid did was say hello, give me a menu and step back. I did not really want to eat, I only wanted a beer as I presumed we would be dining together later, but I wanted to read the menu anyway.
‘A pint of Boddington’s’, I said. It arrived and the girl began laying a setting for me. I tried to explain that I was not hungry, but it was no good. Like in Spain, most people eat and drink at the same time. All the while the girl was smiling at me. Then she said: ‘You live upstairs? My name Charli. What you want to eat?’. So, I gave in and ordered something and rice.
‘You first time in Thailand? You no can eat. Too spicy’, she said with a grin. ‘Oh’, I replied, ‘but I want to try. ‘I put only 50-50 for you’, she declared and went.
I battled my way through that meal and it took a Boddingtons and a bottle of water. Charli had been right, it was too hot for first-time foreign visitors and she had reduced the chilis by 50%. I have always heeded a Thai’s counsel on food ever since.
I changed seat to by the window to see what was happening as it was dark by 19:30 and I was curious. Within thirty minutes Soi 7 had transformed itself totally. I could see hundreds of ladies and tourists milling about. I wanted to go out and join in or at least sit in the quiet bar across the way, but I’m ashamed to say that I was too frightened, so I sat put, rivetted to the Pig like a rabbit in a hunter’s flashlight.
My friend walked in on time and after we had been talking for an hour, he said: ‘Drink up, I have someone I want you to meet’. This was it, we were going into that mele. A waitress opened the door for us and the racket and the heat were tremendous. Particularly the din. Every metre at least two or three girls would shout: ‘Hello, sexy man, you want a drink’. Trying to say no courteously to each invitation was out of the question, so I just stuck close to my pal.
Fortunately, we only had about fifty metres to walk and we sat down in another bar. My friend said hello to several ladies and then said, this a girl I have been going out with for some time. I was astounded as I had never heard him talk about her, ever. She was gorgeous, but could not speak English, so I sat in the din in silence. Not for long through, as my friend said, I have a blind date for you and he introduced another girl to me who was equally beautiful, but with whom I could speak a little. She was captivating and I was captivated. The din seemed to pass away, but it was only because I was listening to my new friend. The four of us had the best time and the best food I had ever had in my forty-nine years of existence.