The Minister of the Interior calls it the 'New Social Order', others
say it's 'Political Correctness', but Chiangmai's vital visitors are simply
confused by our new, ever-changing rules on closing time(s).
A change of hands at
the Britannia Arms!
It was exactly midnight when the police truck with red lights flashing
pulled up outside a group of bars near Thapae Gate mid last month. Instantly
the bars' lights went out, the shutters came down and customers were suddenly
gulping down their suds in bewilderment. "I thought it was one o'clock
closing?" spluttered one. "No, it should be 1.30am, that's the
law" retorted another. "What have we done wrong?" someone
asked one of the policeman. He just smiled and drove away.
Drove around the block, came back past a go-go-club already closing
(but he stopped to make sure they really did), then into Loi Kroh where
some were open and some were shut.
"It used to be 24 hours opening for some, then it was closing at
3.00am, then late last year it seemed to stabilise at 1.30am" said
a farang saloonkeep who promises to kill me if I name him. "Closing
at 1.30am is alright by me and my customers. But I heard they are especially
keen just now because the town has some very important visitors. Next week,
we'll be back to 1.30am, mark my words!" And he was right.
As a denizen of the centre myself, I can selfishly say I've never slept
better. No loud music, no rifle-shot pool breaks waking me at 4.00am. Just
the usual dogs, the odd roaring tuk-tuk and the regular maniac on the unsilenced
2-stroke at 5.00am. Sheer bliss!
A less pleasant image resulting from the new order is the marked increase
in young folks of all 3 sexes walking around after midnight seeking new
friends. After their places are closed, freelancing, with all it's attendant,
uncontrolled hazards, is on the up and up. But bare with me, as they say
in the nudist camps, these are not my main points. Most folk are law abiding,
that's how society functions. Sort of! Visitors and residents alike can
adjust their carousing to avoid confrontation. Y'all just start sooner,
dammit! But HOW can good tourist business cope with closing hours that
are up and down like a fiddler's elbow? So to the men in uniform who are
welcome to read this humble publication (and we know you do), I say "Happy
2002 and Can We Crave Consistency, Please?"
The more things change
Always look on the bright side of life. That's one of the more polite
numbers sung by my Britmates late at night, so I'll go with the flow. John
from the County of Derbyshire in those misty isles has newly wrought a
few useful changes at The Britannia Arms in Anusarn Market (turn
sharp right after the first speed bumps). A new window looks on to a spotless
new kitchen, there are more user-friendly tables and chairs but thankfully
my favourite local collection of steam trains and trams remains on the
walls. The excellent Thai and Britnosh remains the same, as does the darts
and the warm welcome from Khun Ladda. Look out for a small, good value,
guest house growing up above. Previous incumbent Gerry is still in town
at his original Cafe Loco in the Galare Centre.
JUST LIKE THE REAL THING?
Click for larger photograph
Almost! This metal bas relief of a Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero-Sen actually
represents an aircraft of the 64th Sentai, wich was stationed here at Chiangmai.
Framed in dark Thai timber, each piece is numbered and only 1000 pieces
will ever be produced. Made by Thai craftsmen with care.
One local Thai host who has decided NOT to make a move is the very likeable,
fluent-in-English-and-Thai Seksan, who will continue working hard at the
Poolside Bar & Guest House, a sort of semi-independent part
of the Prince Hotel. His lovely but remote Japanese wife has encourage
him to stay on, so this place is now firmly OFF the market. Try his well-chosen
action movies, darts board, virginally-pocketed pool table, ultra good
value little steaks and, of course, the swimming pool itself.
A self confessed Singha addict for some 14 years, I had to come live
here to drink it (see the price they charge for it at Thai places in the
west??)! I always prefer the draft (sot in Thai) but rarely find it in
farang frequented bars. But Dutch Frank and the lovely Khun Tay have it
at TF Cafe, top of Loi Kroh, along with good live music and one
of the most subtle, mind-bending, ball-curving pool tables I've ever failed
to master. Play first, then drown your sorrows!
It's from an old English rugby song,
slightly re-written for a family magazine, and dedicated to Chinese New
Year and the re-incarnation of the Britannia Arms: 'Rule Britannia, marmalade