I wound up in Vietnam in July 1967. I was in the US Army as an Entertainment Specialist. Nice gig if you can get it.
My first few months in country was like being on holiday, laid back, operated a movie projector at night and arranged USO shows and R&R in the day.
Life was good.
Dec 3rd of that year my boss said to me he had 2 seats to Bangkok in 2 days he had to fill…did I want to go???
I ask what is a Bangkok??? He said the capital city of Thailand.
I said If I could get my friend Danny Simmons to go with me, I’d go, not really knowing what to expect.
Danny said about the same thing as me so we decided to take the 2 seats on that trip to help out my boss, the Capt and get out of Viet Nam for 10 days.
We landed in Doung Muan international Airport in the middle of the night and the taxi driver ask where you want to go…we said to a hotel…he said sure Boss and proceed to the Miami Hotel…as he turned into the driveway off Sukinvit Road the Stones…
“Paint it Black’ was blasting from a radio…heat intense…humidity unreal…and neon.
We slept most of the next day…I loved the pool with the name of the hotel in tile at the bottom of the pool. We wanted to see anything and everything so the desk clerk called us a driver over…he had a ’61 Mercedes 2-door that was light blue and said $40 for the week…we said let’s go.
He also said he could get us anything we wanted…and he did!
We arrived on Dec 5th and all of you know what day that is. He took us first to Lumpinni Park where it seemed a million people were…who were all so friendly and nice. An old Chinese man pulled me over to him and had me fly his kite. I felt at home. I thought what warm people. After Danny took over the kite a young girl in the man’s family sat me down and gave me chicken and rice…& some sweet tea…I was hooked.
They told us of the King’s birthday and that he had received a white elephant from the King of Burma…exotic stories for a young boy fresh out of the Missouri farm lands in 1967.
Our driver took us to Wat Pen Kaow and other sites around Bangkok. The tallest structure was the Golden Mount. No high rise buildings and the hand painted movie posters were hanging down 3 story buildings…seems like 6 were the tallest. With only 5 million people there was little traffic and New Patchaburry Road was still new with what was called “Turkish Steam Baths” down both sides with a lot of old trees.
We ask him about a beach to see…he drove us down to Pattaya and got us 2 Honda ‘305’s’ Hawks (motorcycles) to cruse around on down beach road…no hotels, lots of fishing boats, a sacred tree in the middle of the road, and a few bungalows for rent along the beach…a tropical paradise for sure !!!
I have been living and working here in Thailand since 1997 so saw a lot of changes when I returned. But I still love the warm people, the delicious food, and the tropical climate. I think I’ll stay a while.
Terry Lee Hawkins…..Sept. 2014