In 1986 the USS Reeves arrived, at anchor, just off Pattaya Beach, Thailand. Legendary throughout the US Navy—and East coast-based sailors lamented that they didn't get to visit the Philippines and Thailand like the Westpack sailors did.
I'd already had 4 years of experience with nightlife scenes and girl bars in Korea, Japan (where I lived), and the Philippines. Lot's and lots with PI, since we had Subic Bay Naval Base and the shipwork was cheap compared to Yokosuka, Japan, our forward-deployed home port.
Thailand was magical by comparison, an element I chalk up to its Buddhist culture. In all, I was there (mostly Pattaya) 7 times from that first visit in 1986, to 1990.
Two times were arrival by ship, 5 days each. Once was when I took leave in the US between Reeves and reporting to 7th Fleet Staff, embarked on USS Blue Ridge, which would happen be in Pattaya when time to report for duty. The trip back home to the USA was on the Navy's dime, so they flew me from San Francisco to meet Blue Ridge. I arranged for it to be 2 weeks in advance of its arrival. The next time was during my assignment with 7th Fleet. I flew out from Japan on 30-days leave, spending the whole time—save for a day in Bangkok—in Pattaya.
When I left 7th Fleet to return to the US to attend Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA for French, I got another 30 days off. Blue Ridge was in Manilla at the time and by chance, Vice Admiral Paul David Miller was flying out to Bangkok on his P-3. I asked if I could hitch a ride. That was when I met Keith from England and we've been mates ever since...33 years. He's moving to PI in a few months, permanently...to join his wife and 16 year-old daughter. He went to PI originally at my urging... I guess I have a small pert in tweaking his life.
Back to the USA then, to do six months of immersion French and since Keith was on a world tour—one of his stops being the LA area—he bussed it up to Monterey for a couple of days. Once school was out, I took another 30 days and you guessed it...Thailand. And, Keith—back in the UK by then—came on out for a repeat of traipsing around for a month. Then it was a gauntlet of a trip from Bangkok to San Francisco for a couple of days, then to DC for a visit to the State Department and the French Embassy for some briefings, then to NATO in Brussels for more briefings and a sort of check-in, and finally on to Toulon, France to report for duties as the navigator and deck officer of FNS Colbert. Talk about a fish out of water.
And then, during the Christmas holidays of '89/'90, I flew out once again for two weeks. Keith was already there, had rented a house with some of his other mates, and they had a spare bedroom.
...And then I wouldn't return for almost exactly 30 years, January of 2020, and though I've spent a minimal time of 3 months in the Pattaya area, Thailand feels like home to me after just over 2 1/2 years.
The video is footage I shot at night in three areas on a short 2-day visit a couple of days ago, tagged in the title. The introduction reminisces about what Pattaya was like back then, against what it's like now.