Sal and I are writing. It’s been hard. But fun. We are going for a cheap B action flick-type story about which we know very little. But, what the hell, eh? Blow up a few cars, shoot a few bad guys, crack some smart-alec remarks as you plummet over a cliff…….how can you go wrong? It’s NOT rocket science. We kept partially cool at the pool all day while grinding out the schlock and then headed out to dinner at the Passport.
Book progress? Maybe 20,000 words but only three people have been killed and the heroes haven’t even been wounded yet. Only one car down. But not blown up. Plenty of opportunities to act like Reacher or Willis still yet to come.
The Passport is a little cafe-style 20+ seat restaurant open to the street and buried deep within a labyrinth of sois and alleyways on the residential side of the highway to Hua Hin. It’s where the locals live. Lek and Mike own it. They’re from Boston.
Well, Lek was originally from Thailand but, after raising their kids to teens in Boston, they abandoned the US rat race for the slower, quieter and somewhat more advantageous (financially) lifestyle of Thailand. And they opened a restaurant.
“We never had a restaurant before. Didn’t know how to do it but Lek can cook and that seemed like a good place to start. Then we found a really great butcher who would make ‘cuts’ they way we asked and the rest is kind of history. It is NOT history yet, not really, because we are still in our third year and learning as we go.”
Mike is 60. Lek is younger (50?) and the kids are still teens. They are not likely to ever go back to the states. “I have nothing for me, there. I have no love for it. This is good.”
Thailand is still foreign to Mike. He doesn’t get ‘how they think’. It’s frustrating for him but he’s managing. He’s not allowed to work directly in his own restaurant either. But, he does a bit. He greets people (allowed). He seats people (questionable) and he cleans tables and collects plates like a busboy now and then when it is busy (not allowed). Thais have to be employed. He can be an owner. He can’t be a worker. And, yes, the authorities check now and then and he was fined once already.
“Another local restaurant got jealous of our business and ratted me out. It happens.”
“Why write about ex-pats, Dave? Gotta be a million stories like that!”
And that is the answer to your question. There are a million stories like that. And I find that intriguing. I am fascinated by the number of Scandinavians in our compound, for instance, and in the general area. Seriously, this northern section of Hua Hin is well and truly represented by the Scandinavian cultures including Belgium and Denmark, Germany and other close-to-Scandanavia peoples. But most of them are simply residents. They may own land (with a Thai) and they may have ‘interests’ here but they are mostly cafe society only. They are NOT working throughout their day. NOT in Thailand, anyway.
Maybe they are managing their portfolios. Offshore accounts? I don’t know. But they emerge at night like giant white cows-in-t-shirts, hang out at a local restaurant and disappear again until the next night. Occasionally, we will see one down at the supermarket. They are mostly distant, incommunicado, unengaged with ‘other whites’ and certainly NOT with Thais. This is not a friendly outgoing group as a rule. But they are NOT unfriendly, either. Just distant. Could be me…..
Mike and Lek are different. They are assimilating. They are in the thick of it. Their kids go to school and they have a home, investments and the restaurant. Mike prefers driving his large motorcycle rather than his car because, “With the car, I am constantly afraid I am going to run over someone.” Their life is now 100% Thai oriented.
“How was the food?”
Bloody marvellous. Delicious. Ample, fresh, tasty and cheap. Mike and Lek bring ‘Merican portions to their menu along with Thai tastes and recipes. Plus they have a few ‘Merican dishes like burgers and ribs. A taste of home if you need one. And, by local restaurant standards, the bill is minimal. Of course, we can eat cheaper and almost as well going ‘local’ at the markets and cooking for ourselves but, for living the ‘high life’, this is very, very affordable. Cheap, actually. Cheap eats. We’ll go back. More than once.
This is NOT a great blog. I know that. But, one of my little pleasures in life is discovering small, local eateries where the menu is all done ‘fresh, from scratch, using non-processed foods and are somehow different.’ Getting to know the owner is even better. The Passport is one of those discoveries. The Passport is a true ‘find’ in every sense of the word.
In Campbell River, there is Miki’s Sesame Sushi, Ty’s Honey Lemon Grill and Baba Ganouj. All great. There are others, of course, but then the wallet comes into play, like the king of greasy spoons, The Ideal Cafe. Still great but getting pricey.
It’s hard to beat The Dolphins for table-cloth and candlelight dining but a smidge difficult to afford it too often…that kind of thing.
And my latest favourite in North Vancouver, Mumbai Masala. I’m a big fan.
Anyway, the list of ‘faves’ has now expanded to include The Passport in Hua Hin. If you are ever in the neighbourhood, tell Mike I sent you.
* The photos are not ours — credit to Trip Advisor