Well it is up there and it is cold at this time of the
year. An open air party might have been possible and there
was certainly no sign of rain: but coats were de rigueur.
Of course, that did not stop everybody having a good time.
As I sat down at the table and the first of many drinks
and many platefuls of food arrived, my host leaned over
conspiratorially and said: “That’s what it’s
all about. Food and drink will keep arriving just as long
as you sit there”. He was right.
As I drove around Issan, I somehow could not help but
compare it to England. It has that look of Home Counties
park land. I was told it was flat: it is not: it is undulating.
It was a bit dry to be sure, but there were still plenty
of trees and hedges scattered in a hotchpotch around the
landscape. This was Constable’s England of centuries
ago: only the flora was different.
I am told the party was also a typical Issan-style party,
in which case I suddenly understand why those nice little
rice farmers’ daughters can gravitate, with ease,
from country girl to pole hugger. Throughout the party
a collection of girls was always dancing on the stage:
they were good as well. I discovered that some did it
for a living. But the younger ones in particular took
to the stage with gusto although however you tarted them
up, they would never pass muster as 18.
As the booze flowed, the party never slowed: even the
inevitable speeches could not slow things down. A good
old fashioned night with plenty of distilled drugs, dancing
and sex. (for those who had not over-indulged that is.)
That was my night at the heart of the real ‘boondocks’.
However I did spend some nights in the comparative sophistication
of Ubon Thani. Unfortunately one of those nights coincided
with the King’s birthday and the Old Bill were as
determined as ever to protect my liver. Even my supposedly
four star hotel refused to serve wine in its restaurant.
When I finally threw all my toys out, they reluctantly
agreed to deliver wine with food to my room.
On the night when the bars were open, there was no shortage
of places to bend the elbow, and even do a little hunting
for a willing rice-grower’s daughter. Opposite Robinsons
and the Charoensri hotel there is a low set of buildings
called the Charoensri complex. In the middle there is
almost a full on bar soi. I suppose there are about ten
bars in that soi, mainly farang operated. I had drinks
in The Black and White, run by long time Thailand resident
Steve, from England, and Nit. I had an interesting chat
with a few friendly English expats then trundled on to
the Aussie Pub set up by Justin from Oz. The Aussie pub
is larger than the rest and seemed to have a good crowd
most of the time. It was in here that the Plod arrived
on the King’s birthday and suggested that we should
not be celebrating the said birthday. Well not in the
manner that we deemed suitable at any rate. May, Justin’s
wife, was a lot keener than her husband to close the bar
and rid herself of celebrating farangs.
then wandered across the main street busily being cleaned
up after the official party, and up Prajak Road to Steve’s
Bar. There all the interesting drinkable substances on
offer came in a tea mug! A few mugs later, the boss lady
seemed to think closing would be a good idea. I am not
sure if that was because she feared the local Old Bill,
or because she had had enough of a very boorish gentleman
at the bar who had completed his own birthday celebrations
early. Next door to Steve’s Bar is the Horseshoe
Bar. We tried that another night and found that Steve
now runs this bar, having sold his named bar to another.
Steve’s Bar is more about food than drinking, and
Steve’s new bar, the Horseshoe, is more about drinking
and pub games than food. Steve was a nice enough guy and
has been around Ubon for a number of years. He was one
of the first ex-pats to open a bar in this town.
In the front of the Charoensri complex there were a couple
of lively Thai operated bars. The Trjky pub, presumably
named by a dyslexic, was packed when we went there. The
techno was nearly deafening but here was one hell of a
buzz and the DJ held court in the middle of the room.
There seemed to be quite a lot of un-escorted young ladies
around, and young was the operative word. Most appeared
more interested in the swarm of young boys around rather
than the dirty old men from farang land.
Not far away was Mr Tong’s Bar. Now this was an
interesting operation and had a goodly number of farangs
inside. Mr Tong camped it up behind the bar and greeted
and minced to all who would notice. Elsewhere in the bar
it seemed there were ladies that would be interested in
a sweaty farang with a suitably filled wallet. Also at
the bar, four large American girls gave the impression
that they were trying to get the barman to go play with
them: I suspect they did not realize it was only a question
of discussing the price! This was a fun bar and well worth
a visit. At about 1.30 am we left. The crowd had drifted
away and I had the feeling that Mr T was just waiting
for the BiB to turn up and close him down.
I did not venture outside the central area as the only
transport seemed to be some very small tuk tuk-type vehicles
into to which I fear I would not have fitted. However
I did get some pointers from the locals. I would have
gone to the gogo, the Wolverine, had not everybody, without
exception, told me it was a rip off and to avoid it like
the plague. I was also told that this was the first gogo
in Thailand established back when Udon T was a major US
airbase during the VN war.
For those looking for a little company, I was assured
that Adunydet Road, out from Watthana Road, which runs
from the centre is full of small and not so small Karaoke
joints. Also the Eagle bar out on the ring road is a rather
more than just a celebrated bar and restaurant.
Back at the Aussie pub earlier, Justin suggested that
he had a excess of waiting staff as well as a few rooms
to let of his own! And of course there are a couple of
large massage parlours as well as a surfeit of smaller
Overall I enjoyed my couple of nights in Udon Thani and
I had always wanted to go there. I am now properly convinced
that there is enough there to keep one amused for more
than just couple of days!