Contrary to appearances the Taverne Restaurant at Naklua Soi 18/1 on Naklua Road is not closing. In fact it’s the complete opposite, but recently I’ve had people comment on not being able to see the restaurant or who have recently viewed the demolition of the place and this included my Thai girlfriend. This is straight from the Thai manager during several conversations with her during the past couple of weeks and personal observation. The Thai woman, who I view as an excellent manager (she’s been there for over six years now and the Taverne does a very steady business particularly at night) informed me that the Taverne might not renew its lease. The owner of the property wanted a lot of its money up front….which is commonly referred to as ‘Tea Money”. She was unsure of how it would go as she had to discuss the subject with Tony, who’s an astute German who owns a number of businesses in both Pattaya and Bangkok with other partners. For instance the Heidelberg Restaurant here in Naklua is owned by Tony and his partners and so is a German Restaurant on Naklua Soi 33. The new lease period would be for nine years. The final word was that both the manager-co-owner and Tony had agreed to renew the lease, but they’d also substantially modify the building by adding rooms upstairs while giving the restaurant a complete facelift in front. Two days ago while driving my motorbike past Taverne on my way to the Harmony Massage I noticed that the place I had been accustomed to and had long regarded as a landmark was missing so I stopped. There were around half a dozen Thai women sitting at one of the outside tables and I recognized a couple of them as employees so I asked them how long the Tavern would be close. They said the Taverne would be closed for only a few more days.
For those who are interested in good Pattaya restaurants, especially in Naklua, I highly recommend the Taverne. It has excellent German food and breakfast’s starting at 99 baht. It also has excellent Thai food, the service is fast and efficient, and it has a pleasant atmosphere, especially in its outdoor seating area.
Greg’s having his birthday party at Greg’s Kitchen on the fourth of July.
Greg’s is located on Drinking Street about halfway down on its South side. Drinking Street for those unfamiliar with it, is across from Tiffany’s roughly two blocks North of Big C. For the most part it’s a bar complex comprising over 30 bars. I’ve recently shot four videos of the Drinking Street Bars which I’ve put up on U Tube. The latest on Greg’s Kitchen is Greg has just discontinued his 60 baht per bottled beer happy hours from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. His prices will now be 85 baht per bottle, which is about the same as all the other bars on Drinking Street. The big difference however is that Greg’s Kitchen is a full service restaurant specializing in English cooking. That is you can expect Kidney and other meat pies here, Cornish Pastries, Yorkshire Pudding, an English breakfast, Fish and Chips, etc, But Greg also has continental cuisine associate with countries outside the British isles. For example his Beef Goulash is simply outstanding and there’s Italian fare such as Chicken Parmigiana. There are a number of excellent Thai dishes as well. So call it an English restaurant if you will, after all Greg’s from Birmingham (but I can actually understand him) and he’s been a London chef, but some of my German friends really love the place. The food is first rate here. I know, because I’ve known Greg as a very good friend for over eight years now. As for Greg’s birthday party, he’s asked me to shoot video and take pictures and he’s actually threatened to do a little singing to entertain his guests.
Le Jardin Suisse free food party on July 5
Le Jardin Suisse is located right on the curve on Naklua Soi 16 as the Soi turns abruptly North roughly 1 kilometer down from Naklua Road. Its owners are French Swiss, not German so their native language is French and so is their cooking style. I personally enjoy the breakfast’s for 120 baht. There should be a buffet table at the upcoming party and I’d think the food will be on the house. I’ve eaten well at a couple birthday parties in the past. I would expect this party to be its best one yet because it’s Le Suisse Jardin’s First Year Anniversary Party. For me the best single feature of the restaurant is that it’s the only restaurant on Naklua Soi 16 that is quiet. Although there’s some good restaurants on Soi 16 they are all close to the road and the noise of all that traffic can get pretty horrendous especially from all the buses and trucks that do not seem to be muffled at all. Le Jardin Suisse is set back further from the road and as its name suggests there’s a garden here, so it’s a very pleasant experience eating and drinking here.
I got the word in the Lost Angels Chat room from Big Daddy about Marty after he heard the bad news from Joe who heads the Man Tour
The story was that Marty, who is a part owner of the Living Dolls Go Go Bar on Walking Street, was unable to avoid rear ending the tour bus after it cut in front of his motorcycle. He had his son sitting on the motorcycle seat behind him and the two were on their way to the Sriracha Tiger Zoo.
Both Joe and Marty took Big Daddy, Big John Hawkeye and me on the Man Tour. Big Daddy tells me Marty’s got at best two months to live after suffering massive brain damage when a tour bus pulled in front of him. Around ten days ago I had a tour bus pull in front of my HOnda Civic on Sukamvit as it weaved in and out of traffic. A few days before that on my way back from Pattaya Immigration I came within five feet of having a tour bus run my motorbike down from behind. I then poured the coals to my motorbike driving faster than I normally would have because I wanted to stay far in front of the tour bus. Then, seeing a slight congestion of traffic at the light where I wanted to make a left turn to Praternmak Hill, I slowed down considerably almost coming to a dead stop. The tour bus roared up from behind me, passed me on my right then cut ahead of me and turned abruptly in front of me cutting me off so I could not make my left turn until it had turned first. Unbelievable. And then the SOB driver gave me his horn.
That evening I drove my motorbike to Greg’s Kitchen, a favorite restaurant of mine. I approached from the South driving up Second Road to Drinking Street which is where Greg’s is located. BUt when I got within forty meters of making my right turn into Drinking Street, the traffic suddenly turned impossible. There must have been a knot of three tour buses at a standstill and cars and motorbikes were unable to get around them. I was pissed. Here I had just learned that a friend will likely die in the hospital due to a collision with a tour bus and I’ve had too much experience with the imbecile drivers. I had even watched as I stood just outside the entrance of the Leo Bar on Soi 18 a tour bus squeeze between a parked pickup truck and a temporary small group of vehicles on his left. The overly anxious tour bus driver scraped the entire left side of the parked pickup truck as he squeezed through, and after damaging the pickup, simply continued on. Right on the spot was a security guard for the small hotel next to Leo Bar. The guard simply watched. Didn’t do squat. So here I am completely unable to even find a 30 inch gap between the tour buses and other vehicles and I’m just 40 meters from where I need to make my turn. So I simply lifted the front end of my motorbike over the curb and onto the sidewalk. Then I lifted the rear of my bike so that it also cleared the curb. I then simply walked my motorbike down the sidewalk. If I were a Thai I would have driven it, but even driving forty meters down a sidewalk was too much for my pride. Once I walked my bike to the Drinking Street turn in I started its engine and drove the remaining fifty meters to Greg’s Kitchen.
The projection is for a 20 % increase in Chinese tourists into Thailand for the coming year over this year. Whenever I look at the passengers in these tour buses It seems that they are nearly always Chinese. Pattaya’s streets were not designed for these behemoths so the traffic is getting to be pretty horrendous at times due to the tour buses alone. As for Marty….I think I have a pretty good idea of how his accident went down regardless of what anyone else might think.
The video’s from a bar we picked at Random on Drinking Street two nights ago. It all started when I gathered a small group of my friends together for dinner at Greg’s Kitchen on Drinking Street. Greg’s been a friend of mine for years. The friendship started while I was staying at the Skytop Guesthouse several times totaling 11 months while waiting for my condo to be finished. Greg’s Kitchen was just two doors from my lodging. Pete, an Australian, owned Skytop, and Pete loved to play pool. And so did Greg and Pete had a pool table just outside the Skytop front entrance so I saw a lot of Greg, and of course I often ate at his restaurant. But when Greg realized I had a very impressive professional camera, a Nikon D-1 X he wanted me to shoot all his food dishes for his menu. So every few days Greg would come over to Skytop to ask me to take pictures of several new dishes for his menu until I had taken pictures of every single dish he offered. I wound up eating a lot of Greg’s dishes for payment since Greg wanted to offer me at least something for all that work I was doing for him. The result was this large menu just outside his restaurant that passers by could read. Later when I started doing a web site for Skytop, Greg asked me to do a web site for him even though he already had a web site. And I’m still doing Greg’s web site. Then a couple of years ago, Pete died, and last January, his widow, Wan, closed Skytop down when the landlord jacked the rent up too much on her. Meanwhile Greg moved his restaurant to Drinking Street when his landlord started charging too much also. So now, Greg’s my only friend left from the “old days”.
If it had not been for Pete and Greg I would never have moved to Thailand so there’s a lot of nostalgia associated with Skytop and Greg’s, but Skytops no longer there. So two nights ago there must have been about ten of us altogether, eating at Greg’s and afterwards most of us hit the bars next door at Drinking Street. Our two German dinner companions were the first to leave as Ludwig was not feeling well, and Wolfgang wanted to look after him. And Lenny’s friend, “the Doctor” didn’t stick with us for long. The doctor found a young hottie right away and it must have been less than a half hour later that he bar fined her 1500 baht for a short time and we watched him disappear on his motorbike rental with the girl seated behind him. Big John had to do some work on his computer for his company so he left us early on. That left Billy Bob, Lenny, my girlfriend May May, and I over in the Drinking Street bars.
There wasn’t a lot going on at our second bar. But we saw a couple pretty girls dancing on the stage at another bar close by. Luckily I had brought my Panasonic LX-5 camera with me and I resolved to shoot some good video, and it sure wasn’t happening at the bar we were already at. So Billy Bob, Lenny and I went to next bar so I could get some good dancing video. And, what you see here is what we came up with. It’s not a good a quality as my camera can get but the lighting here at Drinking Street is horrendous and both the pictures and video wound up with a very pronounced red cast so I had to edit all that red out in my video editing program.
So who are the Tie Guys and why am I introducing them in the first place? It all started when Big Tom and Billy Bob wanted to differentiate our group of friends from all the other guys who are now flooding Walking Street, most of them, tourists. So Big Tom and Billy Bob started buying all these colorful ties which they’d then hand out to the members of our small group. Or maybe it was Big John who played a huge part in our all wearing these very noticeable ties as we caroused our way from one Walking Street go go to the next. Anyway I had nothing to do with the Ties, and when the guys would give me a tie to wear, the next time I joined them on Walking Street, I’d forget to wear my tie so one of the guys would simply offer me another Tie. I now have three ties that I got from the other Tie guys in my small bedroom.
Big John now lives in Pattaya something like 8 months out of 12 whereas Big Tom visits Pattaya for periods of two to three weeks several times a year. Billy Bob and I live here full time. Both of us are retired and both of us have been professional photographers back in the U.S. As for Big John, although he’s never been a professional photographer, he’s been a fan of digital cameras ever since they first came onto the market . That was over fifteen years ago. He’s the computer guru of the group, he’s a top notch computer programmer, and he even has a PHD in Computer Science. When it comes to computers, just call him God. Moreover he applies all his technical expertise with his cameras.
Big Tom’s almost the complete opposite of Big John. He’s over six feet six so he towers over practically everyone who is around him, and when he’s walking up the street with his Thai girlfriend he she barely comes up to his waist. The youngest in the group, Big Tom’s the biggest monger of the Tie Guys. I think he even keeps score of all the Thai girls he has sex with and he will often have a couple girls the same day. Meanwhile he will tell his Thai girlfriend, “Sorry, you cannot come with us, it’s a guy’s night out.” Big Tom’s a gun lover whereas Big John hates guns, but the one thing both men share is a huge love for beautiful sexy women.
As for Billy Bob, Big Tom often calls him, “Our Bait”. He’s the oldest guy in the group but he looks a lot younger than his chronological age, and much of the time he acts like he’s only sixteen. The Thai girls love him. That’s because most of the Thai girls we encounter are in their twenties, but they act more like they are thirteen or fourteen. So they view Billy Bob much the way a bunch of groupies will view a rock star. It’s as if he was Mick Jagger, who is by no means a young guy anymore, but Mick’s still got that certain panache. The reality, however, is that Mick Jagger’s got a certain coolness about him whereas Billy Bob is the antithesis of cool. Sometimes he can be almost a cartoon in human form. But back in a past life Billy Bob used to be a professional photographer who worked for magazines which often sent him to Europe on fully paid assignments.
Altogether, it’s a pretty talented group of guys, so from now on I want to clearly differentiate the “Tie Guys” from all those other guys shooting their pictures and videos as they drink and monger their way through Pattaya’s many bars and go go’s.
But back to Drinking Street. Billy Bob wanted to either go home or go elsewhere, and he lives in Central Pattaya not that far from Big John. I live in Naklua which is just north of Pattaya. Whereas Drinking Street is a bar complex that has a majority of Englishmen as customers, most of the bars near me in Naklua cater more to the German customer. So on the way back to my condo my girlfriend and I stop in at the TJ Bar. This bar is owned by a German and his Thai wife, and there are two things that distinguish it from most other bars. The first thing is that if you ever encounter a pretty lady at the T.J. Bar she’s bound to not be a lady. She will be a ladyboy who are Thai men who look like and act like women. Many of them have silicon breast jobs and a few of them have even had sex change operations. So there’s a few good looking lady boys at T.J’s which already proves that I have been here to long because here I’m saying that some males are really very sexy. Believe me, though, most expats get to be this way, and even men who have never remotely believed they were homosexuals before wind up actually prefering lady boys to Thai women. The other thing that distinguishes T.J’s from most other bars is its music. They play a huge assortment of American and English oldies here. Ironically it’s the Germans who enjoy all those oldies from England and America the most. The English don’t seem to care all that much about what’s playing and if you don’t believe me just listen to some of that godawful music they are playing at Drinking Street in this video.
After having a couple of beers here at the T.J. bar my girlfriend and I move over to the next bar, the Pen bar. Pen’s the owner of the bar which she’s had for over six years now. She’ s Thai, and we both like her a lot. But I’m not even half way done with my first beer when I hear a lot of commotion behind me. “It’s Per and two of his Norwegian buddies.” It’s already well past 1 a.m. The appearance of the three Norwegians causes my girlfriend and I to stay at the bar until after 3 a.m.
These guys are the descendents of the Vikings who used to rape, kill, and pillage their way through Europe during the Dark Ages. Per owns a condo exactly like mine three floors above me in my condo building and we’ve been friends for over seven years now. Rumor has it that Per has bar fined and taken every single one of Pen’s bar girls home with him at one time or the other. He’s a wild man who loves to drink and party and I will now freely admit that it’s Per who was the inspiration for Mickel “The Menace of the North” in my novel Welcome to the Fun House.
The second Norwegian has the same job as Per which is as an inspector for the Norwegian government of the fishing around the North Sea and the Arctic Circle. Both men spend three months on small Norwegian ships that investigate the fishing conditions in this sector of the oceans that are largely looked after by the Norwegian government. For them iti’s three months on, and three months off. So Per oftentimes spends three months at a time here in Pattaya before he must go back to Norway to resume his job responsibilities for his government.
Jonas is the third Norwegian and he’s the youngest. Per and the other man are in their upper forties now whereas Jonas is only thirty or so. All three of them love to drink. In fact, all of Per’s friends seem to value drinking above all else. Norway since it has found oil has the highest living standard in all of Europe if not the world, but alcohol is ungodly expensive there. I think it costs over ten dollars a bottle in the bars so that must be the reason why these modern day Vikings love to drink so much.
But they are so much fun to be with as well as being so warm and friendly. And of course all of them speak English very well. Still, Tie Guys they aren’t. They are here to drink, party and to sample Thailands beautiful women above all else whereas the Tie Guys like to leave permanent records of all their depredations for the rest of the world to see, such as this video. Expect to see more like it as time goes on as we continue to sample Pattaya’s unparalleled night life.