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We rarely venture out to Patong anymore.  I'm not really a big fan of the bar scene there and the touts can be overpowering (I should have a t-shirt made:  "I live here so don't try to sell me a suit").  But last night, Tim and I decided to make the trip as she was eager to let various friends know about our marriage.

Our first stop was the OTOP market on the north end of Rat-U-Thit 200 Pee Road where we ran into Lek and Jum.  Hugs and congratulations all around — Lek was working but we did snag Jum to go with us.  We walked down to Bangla Road and then to Ocean Shopping Center.  On a couple of previous visits, we'd bought beer in the basement-level Big 1 Market and sat in the small plaza watching the people walk by.  We continued with this tradition but the minimart still spooks me as many had been trapped and died here during the December 26, 2004, tsunami.

We hadn't been out here in such a long time that it was nice to see a few new businesses in the area, the most promising of which seems to be Chicago Bar & Grill (where Thai Thai Restaurant used to be next to Club Rio).  It was also nice to see more tourists than usual during this low season but crowds still aren't at the levels they will be in November and December.

Our next stop was Deng's bar in Soi Easy.  He's a very good friend of Tim's (and, indeed, most anybody who's ever spent much time in Patong) and we spent a nice hour or so chatting with him and the various bartenders.  All were very happy that we'd registered our marriage and are looking forward to the traditional ceremony (which we've decided we'll have on Phuket sometime next year).  At one point, I rang the bar's bell to buy a round of drinks and Deng did the same later in the evening.  Tim truly is in her element when holding court with her numerous friends — she has such a bubbly personality that everyone she comes into contact with instantly becomes a valued confidant.  She met many different people during her days as a cart vendor (selling fish balls) and is constantly running into these friends; luckily, I've gotten used to this and I look forward to having new opportunities to practice my stockpile of Thai vocabulary.

We ended the evening with a couple of hours at Margarita, a large bar at the southeast corner of Bangla and Rat-U-Thit roads (under the big boxing stadium).  The house band is probably the best cover band on Phuket — the variety of tunes played and the skill with which they perform never ceases to amaze.  Some of the selections played last night were "She's Gone" by Eric Clapton, "Highway Star" by Deep Purple, "Black Velvet" by Alannah Myles, and "Crossroads" by Cream.  A tourist from Canada joined the band onstage to play guitar during The Cranberries' "Zombie" (perhaps the most popular Western song in Thailand) and the Guns N' Roses arrangement of Bob Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door.  He managed to break a couple of guitar strings in the process.  Most of the songs are sung by a female from Malaysia and others are alternated between an American guitarist and a Thai bass player.  The lead singer even invited Tim up onstage for an excellent version of "Hotel California" by The Eagles; she just danced because she doesn't (yet) know all the words.

We didn't hit the road (the long way south and east through Karon and Kata) until after 3:00 (a VERY late night for us).  We had a lot of fun last night.  It's good to get out-and-about sometimes.