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On the Beach - By Prowler in Patong - October 2004


At present the police are going round closing all the bars in Patong at one in the morning. The disgruntled tourists are turfed out into the streets. Even more unhappy are the bar owners and staff who are losing their trade despite having just gone through the lengthy rigmarole of getting their new licences. Street vendors appear and sell cheap booze so the tourists are not going home to bed as the police would like. There are no public toilets open so many a shop doorway becomes a urinal and dumping ground for discarded fast food wrappers. This would not happen if the licensed bars were open.

Phuket Entertainment association has held public meetings to consider what action can be done to make the government aware of how important the tourist industry is to Phuket. The interior minister seems to change his stance from one public statement to the next. He has stated recently that the rules can be changed provided the bars and clubs take responsibility for their patrons. He cited drunk driving as a problem - should the police not be dealing with this one?


All the old bars in Soi Sunset have now been demolished. Two of the bars have moved into new premises at the top of the street near the Ex Pat Hotel. Both the Mama Mia bar and Faulty Towers are still in business. Faulty Towers has expanded and now sells draught Kilkenny at 160 Baht per pint. They now have a new Thai chef and the word is that the food is even better than before. V Plaza (Valhalla) also has a new front bar called the Castle Bar. Inside, the big Viking Longship bar is still open with a large pool and games area. Jan the owner is always around to let you try one of his "Brown Viking" shooters.


The local authorities have been inspecting bars trying to make their assessments on just what sort of fee should be paid for each business. Needless to say there is a transaction fee paid to the office to "facilitate" a quick licence issue. But, because their small department is snowed under everyone can continue trading under their old licence for months to come!!

Some venues have used this as an opportunity to change direction. In Soi Sea Dragon the Octopus Go Go has become a pool hall and TJ's Monkey Bar has become The Winchester Club. All Terry has done is take out the Go Go stage and make the place a large open plan bar. No doubt, in true Arthur Daley fashion, he has stashed the stage somewhere just in case he wants to revert to a girlie bar. Playschool Go Go has changed its stage and lay out and also opened a comfortable lounge upstairs. In Soi Sans Sabai several bars have had make-overs and more are converting over to pool halls. There are now more pool halls than Go Go joints in town. Do “quality family tourists" squander their hard earned holidays playing pool? I don't think so.


It seems that rather than try to get a disco licence more establishments are calling themselves party pubs. I have been told that the only actual licensed disco in town is The Banana Disco situated on the beach road. It has been in business a long time and is well run and clean and tidy. Every night it is well attended by tourists and locals alike. The Tiger complex in Soi Bangla gets busy early and if you can stand the noise it can be great fun.


Just to buck the trend! Along Soi Bangla on what was the site of a sea food restaurant an entire new street of bars has sprung up. In this Soi there are now eight new bars. The girls are lively and the street seems to have got off to a good start.


Last Saturday Phuket was hammered by torrential rains and several areas were cut off by flooding. Patong Beach was badly affected with both the beach road and Ratutit road below three feet of water. This happened despite the large drainage project that was installed last year. But drinkers are a hardy lot and some bars on the higher ground did a roaring trade. One determined soul turned up floating along the street in a rubber ring to reach the Two Black Sheep! He reckoned it was quicker than his normal walking. Well done John.

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