50/50 Bar, Farang Alley, 2005
As I have mentioned before, 2005 was the last time I have managed a trip to Thailand. That was when I married my wife Supranee (Jack), who was to join me in Canada the following year. At that point, I had a fair bit of credit debt. Jack made a return trip home to Thailand in 2007 that was quite extended; and she went back again in 2008 for a lesser period, this time to collect her two sons and return here to Canada with them. All three of them then made a trip back again to Thailand in 2009.
Jack does not at all mind living upon credit, but I an extremely uncomfortable doing so. It was for this reason that I never joined her on any of her excursions back to her homeland — it was bad enough affording what it was costing for her…and later her sons. I was not going to compound the debt by adding another $1,400 or more to the credit charge to cover my own flight each time.
And now it has been over six years since I was last in her country.
The following two videos were taken in a bar in Udon Thani’s Farang Alley – an enclosed strip of bars that had found life hidden away across from the Charoensri Complex. Jack had never realized this place existed, even though she had been coming to Udon from her nearby village of Nong Soong all of her life. We only learned of it after meeting up with a Welshman in Mr. Tong’s Bar one night.
He identified himself only as Taffy. He was seated at the bar counter like Jack and I were, for the place was full; but he appeared to us to be annoying a group of Thai girls at a nearby table. This rather large stranger would leave his drink and seat, and go over to the table and loom over the women, all of whom seemed to be quite bemused by his advances and presumptuousness. He even helped himself to a drink from the bottle the ladies had.
So Jack and I decided that we would see if we could maybe run some interference on their behalf. I would casually engage the guy in some conversation, and Jack would surreptitiously approach the gals and do similarly.
Taffy at first was quite guarded. I opened the conversation with what I felt was a disarming enough comment — something like how irresistible “these Thai women” can be, figuring that this might draw him out.
And it did. Initially, he was a little reserved, but then when I pointed out Jack over at the table of ladies he had been “pestering,” and said that we had just gotten married on May 30th — just over a week earlier — his reserve fell off.
I reckon that Jack learned about the same time that I did about just how wrong we had been about the scenario we had been witnessing. Taffy was actually with the ladies — one of them was his girlfriend, little Aim (I am unsure how to spell her name — phonetically, it sounded like ‘Imm’). He just preferred to be seated by himself in peace at the bar, while the ladies chattered on amongst themselves. He would occasionally return to their table and loom over it to learn how they were doing…and giving Jack and I a wrong impression.
Aim took to Jack straight off, and wanted her to sit with them. Aim was shorter than the average Thai woman, whereas Jack was one of the taller people in Nong Soong. I’d say that she’s at least 5′ 7″ (169 centimeters). Little Aim was overwhelmed and fascinated by Jack, for Jack was wearing heels at the time, and must have absolutely towered over her.
When Jack got pulled down to join the ladies at their table, Taffy recognized that our association was likely to be for the duration of the evening, so he became quite friendly.
As I recall, we all went to one of the major discos, but I am fuzzy now on just which one — one of Aim’s friends owned a car, so transportation was not an issue.
When at last — very late into the night — Jack and I were to separate from these delightful companions, we had to book a room for the night, for we were staying well out of town. We took Taffy’s suggestion and got ourselves a room at the conveniently-located and very reasonably-priced Top Mansion. Taffy was himself staying there.
Jack and Aim had exchanged cell numbers, and it was the following day that we arranged to rendezvous with her and Taffy at the Fifty-Fifty Bar in Farang Alley — Taffy explained just how to find access to it from the Charoensri Complex, for as I said, Jack had been coming in to Udon Thani all of her life, visiting the Complex and environs, yet never realized that there was a strip of Farang bars hidden away directly across the street from the shopping centre.
Thus, the Fifty-Fifty Bar became a bit of a refuge for Jack and I whenever we came into town during those final days of my visit — particularly so for me. I had an excuse to extend our time in Udon, rather than having to go and be stiffly bored at Jack’s village home where I usually only had her to speak to — no one knew enough English, and I knew no Thai.
It was at the Fifty-Fifty Bar that I also got to know Brit ‘Tam.’ He is featured with Jack and I in the second video — Taffy is in the first.
Jack and I even got to become pretty good friends with the lass who helped run the Fifty-Fifty Bar — as I recall, her name was something like ‘Bend.’ It is she who has considerable interaction with Tam and I in the second video.
I would have loved to have gotten contact information from both of these good men — Taffy and Tam. However, I did not realize just how abrupt my final day in Udon was going to be. The end of my stay in Thailand was perilously close, and I wanted Jack and I to have a few days together in Bangkok before I had to take my early-morning flight back to Canada. Jack and I had come back to the Fifty-Fifty Bar to try and meet up with either Taffy or Tam — neither man knew the other at this point — and as luck would have it, Tam came by the bar. Unfortunately, as it turned out, he wanted to get something to eat, and had only stopped for a quick drink — I believe he was on his way to a buffet at the nearby Charoensri Hotel. So he left us, and I figured that we would likely get together later in the evening. Regrettably, that was not to be. Jack was feeling unwell — she was suffering the effects of late-night partying the night before. She finally proclaimed that she could bear no more, and needed to get back home to her village, for she was growing very ill. Bend was in fact sufficiently concerned that she drove us.
And thus came to an end my final visit to Udon Thani. I believe that it was sometime into the afternoon of the next day that Jack’s family drove us to the Udon Thani International Airport to catch our flight to Bangkok.
I have often thought of Taffy and Tam, wondering how these two unique individuals have fared over the ensuing years. I have heard that Taffy took a considerable turn for the worse, for even back then, he was in his early 60s. He returned to the UK and reportedly has remained there for whatever medical treatments he needed at the time. How he may be today, I have no idea, nor any notion of how to find out.
Tam was a much younger man — probably a decade or more younger than my 55 years at that time.
I never knew their last names, and have always regretted not thinking ahead and getting contact details from them when I had the chance.
Anyway, that is my introduction to the two videos. A little more specific information lies beneath each video. But as I indicate with the second video, please do not watch either of these if you are expecting to see more than a group of people enjoying themselves at a bar. The second one in particular shows quite clearly that all participants are very drunk. If that sort of thing bothers you, then neither video is for you — don’t bother viewing, for you will simply be offended. This was my vacation. I came to Thailand to get married, you see, and I was enjoying the last of my holiday before the dreary months that would lie before me ere I would again have Jack in my life — I knew this, and I was always under a depression because of it. I hated my bleak Canadian life — it was by far the last thing I wanted to have to start living once again.
50/50 Bar, Farang Alley, 2005
Udon Thani – 5050 Bar, Farang Alley June 8, 2005
[As posted on YouTube, August 30, 2009]
My wife, Jack, and I got married in Udon Thani on May 30, 2005. This video was taken just over a week later.
Jack and I had gotten close to a Welsh gent, Taffy, and his Thai girlfriend, Aim (sounds like ‘im’ in the word him). I may have the actual spelling of Aim’s name wrong, though — my wife isn’t exactly sure about it.
Unfortunately, I no longer remember the name of Aim’s attractive friend who is seated beside her. [I have since learned that her name may be Jead, or something very similar.]
We were all seated at a table of the 50/50 Bar, owned at the time by another nice gent, Jeffrey. His girlfriend, Ben, serves us at one point. She was another sweetheart, and Jack and I came to care very much for these people.
Farang Alley is no more, though.
It’s been just over four years since I was last in Thailand, so I cling dearly to memories like this.
Udon Thani – 5050 Bar, Farang Alley: Very early am June 12, 2005
[As posted on YouTube, June 3, 2011]
This is just a compilation of some of the antics during a very late night at the Fifty-Fifty Bar in what was popularly known as Farang Alley in Udon Thani, Thailand.
My wife and I had only gotten married less than two weeks before, so we were still very much in a celebratory mood.
A warning to any viewers: Don’t start watching this, and then bitch in a comment about what you see. This was filmed in a bar very late at night; the participants were very much feeling their drink; and the atmosphere, conduct, and conversation were noisy and bawdy.
What else would you be expecting in a late night bar scene???
If drunken revelry offends you, then look for a video about green pastures or lovely temples. Don’t whine because you sat through this and found it offensive. This is what it is.
Apologies are given for the video quality, however. The camera had been borrowed, and the tape was then transferred to a DVD. It subsequently was ripped into .AVI format, then uploaded into Windows Movie Maker in order to capture the elements comprising this video. In doing so, the format was converted yet again, this time to .WMV.
With so much manipulation, the quality was unavoidably affected.
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