It is an early Saturday evening – not quite 8pm – and it has been a very long time since I ventured in to what was once my old hunting ground, Soi LK in Pattaya. This time I have a very different agenda, I wanted to make observations as to how it has changed over the last decade. Tonight I will be the only sober patron in Soi LK.
Firstly, the very bar I sit in and write this blog is a far cry from the old days; in fact you would have considered it a near impossibility. I am in one of those new craft beer pubs that are now popular in the UK, and I must say the beer is very nice – the price however is not. The pint of wheat beer I selected was 379 baht called ‘Witte Trappist’ – so Pattaya is for Cheap Charlies only is it? Interestingly it appears the choice venue for two Thai police officers that sit behind me on the outside terrace area.
Now any good blog needs an angle, a story that will keep you – the reader – engaged, and I just cannot find it. What I see is what I have always seen in this Soi. It remains a melting pot for older guys and young Thai women whom work the bars and ago-gos here. Roll back ten years and there were no ago-gos , with the exception of Champagne ago-go. Now every other venue is one.
I am forty-two years old – so very much one of the youngsters of this Soi (I am guessing the average age here is mid-fifties) – but unlike in previous years, it no longer feels like my local stomping area. I don’t feel at home like I used too. It probably has a lot – if not, everything – to do with not being filled with 10 or so bottles of beer like the old days here.
The Memories Come Flooding Back
As I sit here the memories do come flooding back. I hear a football match playing on one of the screens inside the bar, the noise of the motorbikes and cars passing though Soi Diana next to Soi LK, the mix of different music coming from the various bars behind me that together make a pleasant mess of a noise and, finally, I can smell the various food from the various vendors scattered along the Soi. All strangely very compelling.
Ten years ago I was in awe of when someone I knew in a bar in Soi LK was made a senior forum member of, at the time, a growing website called Pattaya Addicts. Now I am MD for Thaivisa, Pattaya Channel TV, Hua Hin Channel TV, Thailand Channel TV and Inspire digital media. Thaivisa is by far bigger digital media than any other media for foreigners with an interest in Thailand (consistently attracting 1.2 million unique visitors to its website each month). Things change very quickly and so do perceptions.
Quick footnote, this craft beer I am drinking – yes, it is expensive – but it is very tasty indeed. Can I really justify another pint taking my bin to a cool 758 baht for two pints of what is still just beer?
So, there have been lots of changes over the last ten years and when I re read my blog title ‘Saturday evening in Soi LK, but what’s changed?’ I suddenly see my story, that elusive angle I was looking for: What has changed? The answer is ME.
Where is that next pint of Witte Trappist I ordered…