Expat Bars

Apologies for no posts but the internet at the Paris is down and looks likely to remain so. We have moved hotels now and I am on line again

It was a good time to leave the Paris Hotel as groups were beginning to arrive. Two days ago a group of Germans arrived some 20 in all . 18 of them were Chinese/Germans and were clearly here to have a good time.

In the early 1970’s Monty Python did  a sketch on the then new phenomenon of package holidays and what they were like. One of the lines from it was ” and swimming pools full of huge Germans building pyramids.”

Would these German living and speaking Chinese follow the same pattern set in the 1970’s I wondered. Well yes and no in fact as with the advancement of technology building human pyramids in the pool is clearly passé. Instead enter the underwater camera. So 20 people jump into the pool and one with the camera faces the other 19. the 19 then take a deep breath and down under they go . the photographer takes the photo and all 20 come to the surface. Loads of laughing and high fives and bellows follow as the water erupts around the pool . But wait the photograph missed out on his/her photo so let’s do it again. what fun, what a super game, isn’t everyone else enjoying the noise and the fun we are having. In fact lets do it 19 times and see if we can empty the pool of water and submerge a few bed chairs. No thy haven’t changed at all.

Oh yes expat bars. let me just say that I’m not on about the bars in major cities frequented by working expats gathering at a favourite watering hole at the end of the day.

i’m on about the ones in seaside towns where clearly an holidaymaker has at some stage sat on a beach and said to the partner “you know this place needs a decent pub let’s stay and open one “.

I remember in Goa in about 1990 venturing out of a Taj hotel one evening and finding such a place with a large “just opened” sign on it. A couple from Manchester had just rented it and were busy turning  it into an English pub replete with pint mugs and fish and chips on the freshly painted menu. ” Been a dream of ours “they said “just what the area needs ” said his wife. ” Been here in the monsoon” I enquired . ” no but we get a lot of rain in Manchester ” they chorused. Hmm I thought as i finished my beer and left them dreaming of crowds of Brits spilling out into the roadway night after night. Two years later on another trip there was an empty building and a for rent sign in Hindi outside.

Phu Quoc boasts a couple of these dream places.

Expat Bar 1

My cheap laundry place is alongside the Safari run by  a Brit. I popped in to check it out and it was er empty . My beer was more than I pay in the hotel and almost double what the two nice bars nearby charge. Small wonder I thought why no one is there.

The other is American, Down Home Alabama

Expat Bar 2

and had 10 or so guys gathered around the bar. Mine host was in the middle of them . To a man they were clearly on long term holidays here for the whole winter and staying at the various hostels around town. Everyone knew everyone else and ranks were closed as new comers entered. Mine host was as uninterested and I ordered drinks from the young Vietnamese waitress. They cost even more than The Safari indeed more than most of the hotels on the strip.

The bar was more a way for the owner to have a few mates around for a beer and get them to pay for them. Opposite was a local Vietnamese bar and there were a few more long stayers there who clearly had either fallen out with mine host or couldn’t pay the crazy prices. The bill took ages as mine host couldn’t drag himself away from his crowd.

Cross two more off the list.

In Cyprus when we lived there loads of people  followed that dream of running a pub in the sun. Few make a go of it and they pour their woes out on expat forums. New lifers I call them as they always talk about a “new life” and when it goes wrong they are always “gutted” that people who said they would support the pub by being there everyday didn’t. “We were gutted” ” We came here in good faith ” etc.

It is normally best left as a dream . Shouldn’t it be sweet home anyway ?

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Up and Running

For 7 months I have been writing a daily blog about life in Puglia at Here In Puglia whilst living in the heel of Italy. However I am now, with Geraldine, setting off on Wednesday to travel in South East Asia.

We plan to head from Hong Kong where we land to Thailand first and then over a five month period  work our way through Cambodia Laos and Vietnam to finish up in Hanoi before returning to Hong Kong to see the daughter again poor thing.

Planning is well in hand with a flight now booked to Hong Kong and some vague ideas about where we go after that beginning to take some kind of shape  which let me say before Geraldine says it is for me is the height of organisation. I have even ventured on to a few hotel booking sites and am already amazed at how full things are. Others clearly spend much longer getting their own trip off the ground than I do. Still I’m sure it is better to hang loose and see how things pan out. What is that saying about doing something in haste and repenting at leisure ?

I guess I’m having a very delayed gap year having missed out on one some 47 years ago. Mind you I went to sea straight from school and found myself sailing around the world on a P&O Orient line passenger ship which was probably as good if not better than many of todays actual gap year experiences.

I’ll be trying to post everyday and give you a flavour of the places we visit during this trip far away from the delights of Puglia. I shall miss my friends in Puglia my Italian food and more especially my Italian wine but probably won’t miss the cold and the rain and snow of a Puglian winter. Surprisingly it gets very chilly down here and neither the houses nor the bars and restaurants are made to cope with it.  Indeed a fair chunk of our spending money is made up from monies we are saving in gas, electricity and wood for the two log burning fires.

I hope many of you readers are gonna go my way too by just following me here on this blog