Culture Shock Episode 2
For a quiet village, Pua has a great night life- much better than I expected. There are three main bars in Pua, all of which have live music every night until midnight. The bars each have tons of outdoor seating (indoor seating isn’t really a thing in Thailand) with a stage for a band and at least one large projector screen that generally plays football games. The food at these restaurants is great, but much more expensive than street food. We mainly go for the beer.
In Pua, we drink Leo or Chang. Personally, I’m a Leo girl. At the bar you buy beer by the bottle for 80 baht each (~$2.50). The bottles are huge- double the size of beer bottles in America. Rather than buying your own beer and drinking it from the bottle like we do in America, we buy beers for the table and drink from glass cups with ice. This works because people generally sit at a table with their friends throughout the night and do not move around much. I was kind of shocked that Thai people don’t dance when there is live music. If you stick around long enough, you’ll learn that not even Thai people can resist the beat, but dancing just doesn’t happen before midnight.
I digress, so you order a bunch of beers and an ice bucket. You put ice in your [small] cup and fill it with beer. I never thought I’d like ice in my beer, but I’ve totally embraced it. Your cup only has a small amount of beer in it at a time. However, the staff at these restaurants are ninjas and fill your cup up with beer as soon as it reaches half full. You never actually finish your beer so it feels like you aren’t drinking a lot. It’s a great trick.
I feel like a celebrity when I show up at a bar. Everyone stares. If tables are full, the managers move other customers so we can get a table. When intoxicated enough to numb the nerves, people approach us to clink glasses and say “Cheers!”. I think it’s the one English word almost everyone at the bar knows. Everyone is so eager to meet and talk to the farangs (farang= foreigner in Thailand), it’s so fun.
Our first night out, when we were getting ready to leave, the manager brought out 10 beers for us (20 normal size beers). The five of us were already feeling good and didn’t want to get out of control our first night in Pua. We drank some and gave away some but ended up leaving 5 beers on the table. The next week when we went to the bar, the manager brought out the 5 beers we left- he saved them for us!
Going out in Pua is awesome. There’s always something fun going on. That being said, there are definitely disadvantages. First, like in any small town, the gossiping is out of control. One time we walked home from the bar at 1am and on Monday a teacher asked us what we were doing walking around at 1am. Students are often illegally at the bars (the drinking age is 18, but you have to be 20 years old to go to a bar), so we have to be careful about how much we drink. In addition to running into students, almost everywhere we go are the parents of our students. Being one of five Americans in Pua, all eyes are on us. Finally, the drinking and driving is out of control. I’ve witness multiple accidents and no one seems to care. It’s really sad.