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Phuket played ''spot the US Navy'' in Patong's Soi Bangla last night

US Warships Give Peace a Chance in Patong

Friday, June 26, 2009
Patong Stroll Photo Album Above

FOR ONCE, the young men walking around Patong last night in shirts emblazoned US NAVY actually were US Navy.

Most of them were not hard to spot, dressed a little more subtly in dark blue shirts (navy blue, we'd guess) and khaki chinos.

There were generous warm smiles in the tropical evening air, the armless cigarette saleswoman seemed a little more cheerful, and the tailor touts were practicing drawled American accents.

Welcome to Soi Bangla, Sailor.

Groups of young men with short haircuts wandered the roadways, perhaps shaking off their sea legs after a long time on the waves in warplay off Brunei.

Pirates are sometimes their concern, but not on Phuket.

The regulation clampdown that always precedes big, important Asean meetings came earlier in the day from the Deputy Minister for Commerce, another smiling visitor to Phuket.

Will it really be impossible to buy a pirate VCD or a make-believe Billabong T-shirt over the next few days? Hmmm . . . probably as likely as not being able to buy a beer or a good time.

With hundreds of sailors due for R&R and welcoming the chance to sleep in a real bed, resorts in and around Patong were anticipating several days of sheer bliss in the low season from hell.

It's the kind of tourist season they probably have in North Korea, a place with scams that rival those of the Patong ATM bandits and the hucksters on the make and the take.

While a handfull of US warships will be enjoying shore leave on Phuket, The USS John McCain was reportedly about to hand over the tracking of the North Korean vessel Kang Nam to the USS McCampbell amid a major nuclear weapons face-off.

A spokesman for the US Embassy in Bangkok said there would be no special checks of sailors on Phuket for swine flu: the warships have their own medicos.

And Patong police are not expecting an increase in their workload: the US Navy has its own MPs in charge of ensuring good behavior and, if necessary, discipline.

In the early evening last night, peace was definitely on everybody's minds. Clean-shaven, good looking . . . yes, the US boys were more than a match for the katoeys.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will lead the next welcome batch of American visitors to the Asia Regional Forum on Phuket from July 16-23.

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Tuesday November 19, 2019
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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