Another day another dollar… as they say… and it’s been another incident-packed week at Mobi’s.
The curfew was moved to midnight at the start of the week, and a couple of days later it was lifted completely in Pattaya, Phuket and Koh Samui, three of Thailand’s major tourist destinations.
Unfortunately, out at Lake Mabprachan, we are outside the city limits so the lifting of the curfew did not apply to us.
I wasn’t overly bothered as we close at midnight anyway, and I presumed that the cops would not be worrying too much about bars out in the sticks adhering rigidly to the bewitching hour, and so it has proven.
On Friday night our final customer left at around 1.30 and no sign of a cop… although we had turned the lights down very low at midnight, which usually satisfies the ‘boys in brown’.
I did hear that when the curfew was still at 10 pm, a bar further down the lake had flagrantly ignored the rules and was still going strong at midnight. The cops came along and the cashier was duly arrested, handcuffed and had to spend the night in the poky – which is none too pleasant . (I know – as I’ve spent the odd night or two there myself in the past…)
So it’s a game of ‘cat and mouse’, but as long as we tone it down at midnight we should be OK. Lek’s aunt has volunteered to spend the night in jail, should it become necessary, and I have promised to bring her a cake with file in it.
I expect that the curfew will be lifted everywhere pretty soon.
As far as the coup itself is concerned, my non-Thailand based readers will probably be surprised to learn that the military action has met with almost unqualified approval by the folks around the lake. They are not ‘yellow shirts’; they have just been in Thailand long enough to know that something had to be done about the long standing impasse between pro and anti -Thaksin forces, and if the military hadn’t stepped in, there was a very good chance that it could have turned very nasty.
People who don’t live here cannot grasp the concept that so-called Thai ‘democracy’ is probably worse than in some countries where they have no democracy.
Whoever is in power simply takes it as a blank cheque to extort as much as the country’s wealth as they are able to plunder before they are kicked out of office.
They pervert and twist the laws to suit their own ends, award massive infrastructure projects to friends and families, and skim vast sums off the top… and then do their best to bribe their supporters to vote them back in again.
Remember, most of Thaksin’s core support comes from areas of the country where education is very basic at best and most of the population still leave school at around 12 years old and know absolutely nothing about life outside of their village. They are very vulnerable to the political rhetoric that is pumped into their homes from speakers mounted around the villages, (communist style).
It is no surprise that putting a few hundred baht in their pockets, granting them unsecured loans to buy shiny new motor bikes and pick-up trucks and guaranteeing them large unsustainable sums for their rice production, will win their loyalty for life.
(The infamous rice subsidy scheme is riddled with corruption at all levels and the ministry of finance has recently stated that it will cost the country at least 500 million dollars….)
When Thaksin came into office he was a multi-millionaire. When he left office he was a multi billionaire, and during his period in office – and ever since- he has used a tiny fraction of his ill-gotten gains to continue put millions of baht into the pockets of the people of the north and Issan to ensure they continue to support him.
At the time of writing, the new military led government has been making all the right noises and has promised to get tough with the terrible corruption that sadly, is so endemic and pervades all areas of life in this lovely country.
We have to give the generals a chance to see if they mean what they say and if they will eventually set out a timetable for a return to a ‘proper’ democracy, and not the sham-democracy that has been the bane of Thailand for decades.
Meanwhile, as previously indicated, we see few signs of any changes out here in our little neck of the woods – no tanks and not even a single soldier in uniform – and life carries on much as before.
Last week, I thought that Mobi’s had probably broken even on the first month’s trading and I wasn’t too far out.
We actually made a small loss, after taking everything into account, but it still bodes very well for the future, and this month, after 6 days trading, our daily sales are already well up on last month and now our ‘happy-hour’ period has now been severely curtailed, (noon till 4 p.m.), I am hopeful that June will put us into the black.
We have had some very busy periods when our small complement of staff have been rushing around like the proverbial blue- arsed flies, but we came out of it are relatively unscathed and all customers were served their requested libations and the bills were all correct… (I hope).
It didn’t help matters when one of our four workers announced she had to go back home for a 5 day break, but relief is on hand, as at the time of writing we have new staff member arriving in town, and I am reasonably confident there maybe yet more coming quite soon.
As you may probably discern, finding and retaining staff is a constant problem, but we do treat our ladies much better than most and as long as we can get a reasonable number of punters in, I think most of the ladies will stay with us for the medium-long haul.
Yesterday, we added another item to our humble food menu, and we now offer chicken nuggets along with the French fries and jumbo hot dogs. When I take into account the cooking oil, gas and ‘labour’, I doubt whether we are making much on the food but it does attract hungry folk and keep them there, when they might have otherwise left to go and eat.
There have already been several customers who told me they would be leaving soon to go and eat, and have subsequently ended up staying, only to stuff themselves on Mobi’s ‘junk food’.
No gold stars for our food from the medical profession, but it is no worse than MacDonald’s…or indeed ‘Macdonuts’ as my darling Noo keeps calling them, and we don’t shelter our profits offshore – well maybe in the lake…
The next door bar has finally changed hands, although they were obliged to close for the first day of trading, (see last week’s ‘Tales from a bar’ fly for the reason) ,and their custom seems to have dropped off, as the previous owner has taken his ‘drinking gang’ with him.
The notable and ‘banned’ Singha-John is often the sole customer, and since his run-in with Noo, he has been keeping his drunken outbursts under control.
Thankfully, their music is a lot quieter now and is no longer a distraction, although this is partly due to the wall extension that I had built between the two bars to deflect the sound from their speakers back into their own bar. It works quite well.