I have to say it’s been a funny old week.
We had a bit of everything – empty nights devoid of business when most people stayed home to watch the World Cup – other days when a high roller ‘rang the bell’ and bought countless drinks for the ‘house’, and then refused to pay the final bill (after settling a much larger one earlier) – people dropping by to watch a late night concert on my TV screens and then disappearing with all my staff – and last, but not least, a Friday evening totally bereft of customers when the third bar in our little group of three threw a party and scared all our customers away. (The noise from the live music was deafening…)
Such is life in the bar business I guess.
I have to say that I thought it would be the bar next to us that would cause the most problems, but apart from the few occasions when I have had a little bit of a ‘to do’ with Singha John and the drunken girl who works there, I have had more problems with the bar on the far side of the little strip.
Back in the day, when Mobi was still drinking – it was bar I used to patronise as I found it to be usually very quiet and there was a few ‘above average’ ladies working there to keep me company.
Then the bar seemed to go through a very bad patch when I never saw a single customer there – month after month.
Lately, however, they seem to have latched onto a number of high spending customers and it has become their habit to continually ‘ring the bell’ all night long,(which is none of my business and good luck to them), but then they crank up the sound system so loud that we can’t hear ourselves speak in our own bar ‘two doors down’. These customers also join in a ‘shout-along’ with the music and the volume is absolutely incredible.
OK, once in a while a bunch of people at a bar can become a bit rowdy and I am prepared to put up with the occasional noisy evening; but 2 to 3 times a week is – in my view – starting to take the piss. It is unfair to nearby businesses who are all trying to make a buck.
Then on Friday night – they threw a proper party along with the obligatory Thai live music, and a ‘boom boom’ bass so loud that it vibrated through the ground. There was no way I could play any music so I gave up the unequal struggle and turned it off, and prepared to be entertained’ from the ‘party bar’.
Indeed, entertained we truly were; and my girls loved it. In fact it is no exaggeration to say that my little complement of 7 ladies was enjoying the music far more than anyone in the bar that was throwing the party. They had plenty of customers, but from what I could see, no one seemed to be getting into the spirit of the occasion. All the dancing, whooping and celebrating was from Mobi’s girls, gyrating away in front of our little bar, as the photos below will attest to.
I think the fact that even the guests in the bar throwing the party did not appear to be particularly enjoying themselves says it all.
The truth is that most of us farangs – when we reach a certain age – are not particularly enthused with this kind of deafening music with its emphasis on Thai pop songs and Isan ,(Lou)‘Mor Lam’, dancing music.
My Isan girls can’t get enough of it – but they aren’t buying the drinks, and they are not paying the bills.
Once the Thai music cranked up, not a single customer stopped by Mobi’s to have a drink and this is the first time since we opened that this has ever happened.
It is a clear indication that when potential customers see and hear this ear-bashing music, they quickly drive on to another bar where they can drink in relative peace.
My dream of having a nice, quiet-ish bar where customers can relax in a pleasant ambience and listen to soft music of long ago is sometimes put sternly to the test.
On many evenings it is exactly that – such as the occasion a few days ago mentioned above – when a small group of customers arrived late and watched a music concert to its conclusion at 1 a.m.
But on other days it is very, very difficult and I wonder what I have let myself in for.
On ‘bad days’ we are assailed from the bar next door by drunken customers and/or or drunken girls, or have our music system totally drowned out by the incredibly loud music and singing from the bar further along.
I confess that I had not anticipated either of these two events occurring when I decided to embark in the bar business, and I suppose I must blame myself for not checking everything out more thoroughly before committing us to this venture.
The location of Mobi’s is one of the best around Mabprachan and presents a wonderful view of the picturesque lake. If only those other two bars would pack up and go….
But that will never happen and I am where I am and I have to make the best of things. I am trying my utmost to make Mobi’s a little bit different to all the other bog-standard bars around the lake, and I think I am succeeding, judging by the overall level of business and especially the ‘return’ business by those who come to try us out and obviously like what they find.
I am slowly building up a group of regulars who come by several times a week, and there is even a delightful group of three gentlemen who patronise Mobi’s pretty much every day. (Thank you Jim and company – your custom is very much appreciated.)
Unfortunately (for me) and luckily (for them) this particular threesome is currently in Angeles City in the Philippines for a few days, celebrating one of their number’s 70’t birthday.
(If you read this ‘Adrian’, I hope you are having a great birthday and that the lads are making sure you are behaving yourself.)
In addition to the birthday celebrations, they will also be able to enjoy unfettered viewing of the World Cup football in the local bars in Angeles City, all of which are allowed to stay open all night, unlike here in Thailand where we still have to close soon after midnight
The Thai government did the fans a favour by paying an enormous amount to the world cup rights holders in Thailand so that everyone could watch the football on their home TVs, free to air. Unfortunately, this deal did not include public places such as bars and pubs and we are required to pay an enormous fee (£1,000 upwards) for the privilege of showing the live matches.
As a result, only a few, well established ‘high-end’ pubs in Bangkok and Pattaya can afford such fees, and for the most part the punters have to watch the games at home all alone.
It is such a shame, as not only do the bar owners lose out – (who cares? I hear you asking) – but it is also a pity for the fans who have to watch alone rather than joining the crowd in a bar and soaking up a bit of atmosphere.
The tournament has proved to be a disaster for the majority of our punters as England has already failed to qualify out of the group stages, but even for the long suffering English, they would have been able to drown their sorrows in the bars, had the government had a little more foresight and extended the ‘free to air’ coverage to public places.
Ah well, I knew the vagaries of Thai officialdom’s attitude to bars and the like when I started out, so I will have to grit my teeth and soldier on.
In spite of everything, June business has been better than May and I am still hopeful that we may be in profit at the month’s end, assuming there are no more disasters or major disruptions to our trade.
So I am by no means despondent and although the dream maybe a little battered, it is still intact.
Last Friday, as there were no customers once the party down the road started , we closed the bar a little early and our motley crew were all driven to Pattaya by Noo for their monthly ‘night out on the town’ – courtesy of Mobi’s.
They had planned to go to a night club, but guess what? They were all suddenly hungry –despite the fact that they had all been eating steadily all night – and they ended up in an Issan club and danced to yet more Issan music….. (see below)
Noo arrived home at the ungodly hour of 4.45 am and yours truly – who did not accompany them – was out cold, dreaming of riches yet to come.
On top of all the ‘bar shenanigans’ Noo and I were obliged to make a trip to Bangkok in the small hours of Wednesday morning. You may recall that we had a night in Bangkok last Friday/Saturday, when I went to the British embassy to have a document notarised. After this was done, I took the notarised document to be translated after which it was sent to The Thai ministry Of Foreign affairs to be ‘chopped’.
On the following Monday afternoon, I was called by the translation company to inform me that the document had been ‘rejected’ by the Thai Foreign Office as when I signed and dated it, I hadn’t written in the year (’14’) on it. This was despite the fact that the embassy had stamped with the date of the signing.
So we had to drive all the way back to Bangkok, put the year on the form, go back to the embassy and have them stamp the paper again over the part where I had now entered the year. So much bureaucracy….
When I returned to the embassy with the ‘delinquent document’, I was 95% sure they would tell me to do it all over again from scratch and charge me another 60 quid, but for once I was wrong.
The consular lady got out her date stamp and put a second stamp on the form and returned it to me. No extra charges, either from the embassy or the translation company. I suppose the truth is that both of them should have spotted the fact that I omitted to enter the year when I signed and dated it. After all, I am just a stupid, demented farang…
If you want to know what the form was all about, read my second article in today’s blog.
The night of the ‘Party’ – Mobi’s was devoid of punters
But that didn’t stop the girls from joining in the party spirit…
…and then later in down-town Pattaya