Summer of Siam

Posted by john_mac on May 19, 2004, 11:43:45 PM

As the season has drawn to its inevitable conclusion I thought that it might be a time to look back on some happier times and a tour to the Far East that was funny, if nothing else. I’m a firm believer in the motto of “what happens on tour stays on tour” so where inappropriate names have been left out.

During the season last year a number of the lads got confirmation that the club would be touring the Far East, as were Everton. Par for the course, eight of us went ahead and booked to go to Shanghai and Hong Kong; what wasn’t par for the course was the SARs epidemic which eventually caused the cancellation of both trips, Everton did everything they could for their fans eventually securing refunds, as usual Liverpool FC and Parry in particular turned their backs on our fans, leaving the lads who had booked scraping round fighting for themselves. Anyhow, not to be disheartened we soon had a new trip booked Bangkok via Amsterdam, followed up with Gulf Air to Hong Kong. How fucken great’s this internet m’larky? Wasn’t that long ago you couldn’t get a flight to Belgium from the North of England, now you can contact a Thai travel agent and book a return flight to Hong Kong for less than a oner! I reckon the reds’ll be back in shanghai next year, and it’ll be a cracker.

In order to secure the best deals the lads flew out on a few different days, but were all on the same flight to Hong Kong and in the same hotel in Bangkok. We were the last to arrive in the Thai capital with our return flight shrewdly timed to land in Amsterdam on the morning that the Amsterdam tournament was due to commence.

Four scousers, one based in the capital of the North, Knowsley, one each from Britain’s two premier holiday resorts Llandudno and Bournemouth and the final  vagrant of ‘no fixed abode’! Three of us met up in Mancland airport and picked up our final cohort in Amsterdam, eleven hours, a few of slurps and a couple of pot noodles later we arrived at our destination.

Bleedin ell walking out of that airport is mad, hundreds of cab drivers on yer case and when you eventually get in one they’ve got nowhere to put your bags. The grime and the squalor is immediately visible, but let’s be honest you didn’t expect much else, when we arrived at the hotel Mandarin we were immediately greeted by lads from Bootle, Walton, Anfield, a few from the south end, there was even a ginge from Derby and his brother from Vietnam, with the worst pair of kex you could care to imagine, fuckinell they were bad really bad, but best of all was a whole realm of concierges each saluting me like a visiting general. I gave the lad thirty bob for taking me bag up the room, and made a mate for life, before settling at the bar to hear of some of the exploits, and there were plenty of exploits to hear about. This was a bad hotel, marble everywhere, people can’t do enough for your and all for the huge sum of six nicka a night.

As the lads, who by now thought of themselves as locals, went up to get ready, we decided to take in a bit of sightseeing, and there were plenty of them. Churches, temples, phoney lacostes, phoney Gas, phoney Ralphs, phoney Stone Island and even phoney Liverpool tops, fuckinell it was like the dock road on a Sunday! A few bevies later and we lost under a sea of street traders each trying to sell us gear for cheaper than the last, we hadn’t a clue where we were.

That was the cue for a Tuk Tuks, wtf are these fucken sardine cans on wheels weaving in and out of the traffic like Alex Lindsey running down the wing, you can’t see a thing in the back of one of these, anyhow he ended up back at the Mandarin with the reds eager to show us the sights. The first sight to see- Patpong, absolute madness, to say the least. Down the centre of the streets are more market stalls selling their own unique brand of Rolex’s, you are accosted by Thai pimps each trying to drag you into a bar or sell you a new shirt, then comes the classic line:

"Want see Pussy Show? Pussy Smoke Cigarette. Pussy Open Bottle. Pussy Ping Pong Ball Show."

How can you keep a straight face? You can’t. Good enough anyhow, a certain six foot five leader of men, well known in the Anfield area along with an overweight friend of him gives a shout “fuck him right off, get in here!” & here we are a bar in Patpong, as you walk in you are immediately accosted by the hundreds of semi-naked young females in the bar- to be honest you have to get away from it after a bit, it just gets too much, its back in a Tuk tuk and off again to the next sites (minus the Welsh scouser). The rest mingled into the night, with some of the strangest goings on you are every likely to see, till you are met with the inevitable salute at the end of the night, yours truly was immaculately behaved, as ever!

Some rough grids and rougher memories meet up in the bar for breakfast to share a tale or two from the previous night, as arrangements were made for the purpose of our journey, the game. Mid-afternoon we headed up towards the ground by taxi, jeez travelling round Bangkok by cab can take some time and cost some money- a two hour trip and the bill was one and half nicka, we gave him a duce and he nearly shot his load. By now it had become clear that were only three professions in Bangkok- pushy salesmen, taxi/ tuk tuk drivers and the oldest profession of the lot.

Outside the ground you could get a jar, but we decided to take a stroll- into Beirut as it happened, the area around the ground was a shit-hole, I mean a shanty town, at best, fuckinell there was not a hope of a decent jar so we decided on a sit down, in a fly pen! Anyhow we got a couple of warm bevies and headed back to the ground, were we met a few familiar faces, the lads you’ll see everywhere: Kirkby, Kirkdale, Irregulars and classic “Liverpool FC Urchins, sore-cock tour” banners. Funny when you look at this thai fellas bid for the club, but there were Liverpool kits on Asians everywhere, shirts, jackets, hats, caps, scarves everywhere but funniest of all the graffiti all around the ground “Welcome to Anfield, Harry Kewell” Jeez it was o top to death. None of them in the ground knew whether they were supporting the Thais or the reds, none of the reds were arsed who they were supporting as the rain pissed down on the huge open bowl, we were drowned, so headed back to town.

At the recommendation of  mate from Kirkby the destination was the hotel Grace in the Nana Plaza, we had to go when we were told the locals referred to it as the “Hotel Disgrace” & it was. Nuff said. The next day was reserved for sightseeing, mingling with the locals and a quiet night out, well about as quit as you’re likely to get in Bangkok.

Some of the lads remained in the hotel bar at about 6am when a huge rat went legging it across the room, “Did ya see that?” asked the intrepid traveller from Bournemouth, “Fuckinell lad ya wanna get a cat” he shouted to the bemused barman.

In Pigeon English the hilarious reply came back “The Cats are scared of the rats!” every one of us was in stitches and our host got the biggest tip he’d had in years.

Taxi’s to the airport were booked for 7am, so by the time a few of the recently engaged lads waved a tearful goodbye to their fiancés, we were on our way to Hong Kong. The contrast between Bangkok and Hong Kong could not have been more stark, arriving in the place it was spotless, properly spotless. A super fast train to Kow-loon and we were soon checking into the Hotel Eaton- of the sixty or so lads who had been in Bangkok there were only about a dozen who had gone on to Hong Kong.

One of my mates does a bit of work over there and he had asked me to call into this bar to pass a present on to the owner. It was weird, the bar had pictures of Liverpool everywhere, the lads were even on the beer mats, he even had a wall in the back room painted to resemble the paddock. Pretty soon he had arranged for me to be interviewed by a local paper, modest me duly obliged and threw a photo in for good luck. A half page article appeared the next day apparently about scousers travelling to Hong Kong coz it was an international gateway to the East, loads of quotes from me, the only thing I could read was my name- Frank, who the fuck is Frank?

Anyway the Karaoke soon started in the bar, ffs they are bad singers and bevvied? They were fucken rotten, ralphing everywhere, absolute madness, they were getting carried out one at a time, we had to go. We had heard loads of scare stories about the price of the luga in Hong Kong but it didn’t take us long to realise that most of the bars had “two for ones” on so it was no dearer than usual. The bars were open all night too, so once we were in there they didn’t want to lose the custom, so they kept the prices down. It went on late into the night. It was hard to get up the next morning, Saturday night in Hong Kong is a boss gaff.

Whoever thought of a 3 O Clock afternoon kick off in blistering heat as a pre-season friendly wants fucken shooting, complete madness, no one could move around in it never mind the players play. Mind u it didn’t stop them stuffing a team of part timers, jeez Owen is like a God there, funny when you consider the apathy towards him at Anfield. Support for the reds in Hong Kong was probably even stronger than it was in Bangkok, everybody and I mean everybody had brand new Liverpool kits, and none of them were jarg!

After the game we went down to the waterfront, as scousers do, and reminisced over a few bottles of Miller. Talk was soon of the season ahead and thoughts of promise but mostly of where we’d like to go in Europe, in hindsight Ljubljana, Bucharest and Sofia was a bad season, some very good trips. We couldn’t miss the chance to get the Ferry across to Kow-Loon and we were soon looking up at the waterfront of Hong Kong Island and quite stunning it was too. 

The scran was nailed on, top notch everywhere in Hong Kong and our three days there were amongst the best I can remember, anywhere I’ve been, the bars were sound and the staff in the hotels, bars and restaurants op of the range. Hong Kong is a great place and one I’d recommend to anyone, even for the few short days that were there.

We were soon on our way with Gulf-Air back to Bangkok, where we would say goodbye to many of our comrades. Our numbers reduced to four, we jumped a cab from Bangkok airport and headed to Pattaya- perhaps the seediest place in the world. It was no surprise to find another group of reds nestled away in this Thai hide-away, the only surprise was that it took us three bars to do it.

Once re-united with fellow reds we made a tour of the walking street area of Pattaya, an area notorious for its red light area with literally hundreds of ‘lady boys’. Now anybody who says they couldn’t tell the difference between the lady boys and the Thai women, well I don’t believe them they’ve made a choice they don’t wanna live with.

The pervs in this gaff are just too much, fifty year old Germans with sox upto their knees marching up and down the beech looking for kids, its sad, a best. It is far more ‘on-top’ than Bangkok and could be more of a contrast than Hong Kong, still the massages were good and we had a laugh around the gaff.

The Tuk Tuks were more like trucks off Daktari here and fuck knows were they were taking you, u just got on and off as you pleased giving the fella some Bhat for his trouble, madness.

We had a laugh with these Leeds fans who had bought a bar there, then in the Chelsea footy hooligans bar “The Dogs Bollox”, with all his mates going on about how they couldn’t go home coz they were wanted for this or that, so far up each others arses it was untrue. Perhaps funniest of all was running into a mucka from Fazak in a bar on his Jack, he’d been looking for us since we left him on Hong Kong, a couple of days earlier, or that was his story.

Four days in this gaff was more than enough and by the time it came to go we were all exhausted, with one more stop before we could hit the homes of Kirkby, Llandudno, Bournemouth and err no fixed abode. Taxi to the airport and on our way to Amsterdam to see the reds again.

By this time we were well and truly cabbaged, I wanted my bed more than the Crowne Plaza but still, one last effort. 6am arrival in the Dam isn’t ideal, but lucky enough they gave us a room straight away and as the day drew on we saw a stream of Easyjet passengers arrive. Ganjed and lagered up, it was fun to watch, and by early afternoon two of the lads sons had arrived to remind us that we were getting too old for all of this, well too old.

Was another mad day as the streams of lads turned up to hear story after story, as we drank lager after lager before heading up to the arena to watch the reds take on the hosts. Back the Damrak for a few more and eventually back the Crowne Plaza at about 5am. I had seen some sights in the Far East but noting had prepared me for the sight in the lift of the Plaza, a forty odd year old man with leather arseless kex, black vest and Holly Johnson leather hat, a pair of handcuffs tied to his belt, all ready for the gay Mardi Gras. What the fuck goes on in his head? Got only knows.

Saturday was to be my last day so I went out with the lads and had an afternoon on it, two weeks of travelling, drinking, football and general enjoyment had been more than enough for me and the others- it was time for the Easyjet -Amsterdam to Speke, now that was route designed by a higher power! We binned the last game v Gala and prepared for work on Monday and the season ahead.

It's shite this football lark- Roll on New York.

© john_mac 2004

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