Lost Blokes in Bangkok
I’m hanging around a neighbourhood of Bangkok called Phanakorn which attracts a colourful bunch of Global Ex Pats. It’s a surprisingly laid back and quirky pocket of this notoriously chaotic city. For want of a better picture builder cast your mind back to an early 1990s pre gentrified St Kilda. Transplant the cast of characters and bohemians with predominately Asian ones and substitute the bay with a sooty canal.
Venice it ain’t, but the canal serves as a demarcation line to the seedy area of Khaosan Road. A notorious tourist strip littered with swarms of Touting Indian Tailors and legions of Dreadlocked Israeli Backpackers.
My neighbourhood attracts a more genteel clientele. A sizable ex pat ‘European’ community which I‘ve coined- Lost Blokes in Bangkok.
They’re attracted to Bangkok for a multitude of reasons.
A cocktail of Business, Cheap Booze, Therapeutic Massages, Dental Appointments, Thai Cooking Classes and Raw Food Workshops supply the outdoor restaurants and bars with a steady stream of bums on seats.
Charles Patton is an affable Lost Bloke who hails from Santa Barbara California.
Cheap booze and bad teeth sees him spending upwards of half a year in Bangkok.
Charles told me how he visited Australia a few years ago. However at the time he couldn’t fit in any of the tourist hot spots, Surfers, Byron Bay, Cairns…. Because his tight travel schedule saw him exclusively visiting places such as Pooraka near Adelaide, Bandiana in Albury and Robertson Barracks in Darwin- all military bases. He was on contract with General Motors Defence and his job was to load software onto Piranha Light Armoured Vehicles before they were shipped out to Iraq when Australia first joined the Coalition of the Willing.
I catch up with Charles most nights at the 13th Blues Bar where gritty and impromptu jams are the norm in this neighbourhood top heavy with alternatives and musicians. Charles isn’t a Raw Food kind of guy but he’s enthusiastically lapping up most of the other treats on offer here.
When American soldiers were shipped out to Europe as the First World War was drawing to an end, a popular song of the era
‘How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm ‘ [ after they’ve seen Paree] summed up the culture shock of farm boys being immersed and shell shocked by the cosmopolitan delights of Paris.
While far from a farm boy, Charles gives me the impression that he’s past wanting to earn a living installing software onto operating systems in some Californian Corporation.
He tells me that he’s got the entire catalogue of over 20 years of The Simpsons episodes downloaded on his computer to fill in the gaps between dentist and masseuse appointments.