Spending time in a bar in the Khao Lak region is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Khao Lak. Not just to get drunk, and not just because Khao Lak weather can drive you indoors at times, especially when storms are raging, but because it’s a great opportunity to revel in an established aspect of Thai culture. Western culture as well! Khao Lak has an intriguing mixture of local Thai residents and Westerners (usually referred to as “Farangs” by Thai people) that are either holidaying, have work permits, or are residents of one sort or another. Although Khao Lak is well-recognised as a popular tourist destination in Thailand, there is also a strong contingency of locals who often congregate in Karaoke Bars (yes, there is a Karaoke bar in Bang Niang about 1 km to the north), but who also enjoy the environment of the more common bar that serves the usual round of alcoholic drinks.
Today is the birthday of a Thai lady friend of mine and she has corralled me into the Star Bar where she sometimes works behind the counter. The Star Bar is located on the main street of Bang Niang, a mere 100 metres or so south of Bang Niang Market. As is usually the case when evening morphs into night, the music is getting progressively louder. I’m particularly encouraged to participate in the festivities of the bar because “La Grange” by ZZ Top, those long-bearded old dudes who really know how to rock, is blaring out of the speakers. “La Grange” alone is enough to get me into a bar! In any case, there’s a decent crowd tonight, and people are spilling out onto the street.
I take a seat at the bar and my Thai lady friend orders me a Leo beer without enquiring as to what I might want. That’s Thai hospitality at work! There are 4 different beers commonly provided in most Khao Lak bars – Leo, Chang, Tiger and Singha. I usually drink a Chang or Leo when I spend time in a bar, but I am no expert on the ins-and-outs of different beers. Sometimes I have a Thai rum (SangSom) with coca-cola. I once tried Thai whiskey (HongThong) but it affected me quite adversely. I have seen people act more strangely than they ordinarily do after they have imbibed sizable quantities of HongThong, so, even though it’s cheap, I strongly advise Westerners not to drink it. Drink it at your own peril!
The Star Bar is surrounded by restaurants lining the main street, as well as several restaurants that are part of Bang Niang Market. That’s a good situation for people like me with weak bladders. I always eat a large, heavy meal before I drink any alcohol, even if it’s just one beer. On my first trip to Thailand I went to Phuket and ended up sitting on a stool in a Patong Road bar. A rather amusing story about needing to pee and misguided navigation ensued. I wrote it up as a chapter for my sort-of-memoir and chose the title of the piece as Bangla Road, Patong.
I like the Star Bar because it’s in a great position, and yes, because there are pretty Thai girls to be charmed by. It’s not in any way seedy, however, so whether you are single or come as a couple, having a drink in the bar or on one of the tables lining the footpath is a great way to enjoy the Thai experience. I don’t always know what to do in Khao Lak, but tonight I’m in the right place at the right time. Hopefully, I’ll make it home in the right place at the right time as well!