One day at the time

It’s mid-afternoon and the bar, Mellow Head is still very quiet. A Brit sits with his beer at the end of the bar, which faces the street. A girl sits across from him, on the other side of the bar. I ask for the “Big Boss,” and the girl points towards a sofa deeper inside the bar, where the restaurant and pool area is located.
     Here I first met Allan, sitting next to the sofa where two Norwegians having burgers and fries and a couple of other people there, to whom I was never introduced. The “Big Boss” is lounging in a recliner facing the street. His questioning eyes and the smile, that is readily offered tells me everything about this man.
     Allan, who’s real name is Harald Mikkelsen, cuts an impressive shape. He used to work as a fisherman and chef in NordKap, which is the part of Norway furthest up North.
     “I came to Thailand first time in 1996, together with my cousin, who had been here before. We started out in Pattaya, but only stayed a couple of days. It was too much, too rough and too big. I just didn’t like it. I wanted to go somewhere else, as I was pretty sure Pattaya didn’t have much to do with Thailand,” Allan says.
     Trailing away from prostitutes and the beach resort of Pattaya, they stayed in Bangkok a couple of nights before moving on to Koh Samui, where they headed directly for Lamai, which in those days had fewer bars than now.
     “I enjoyed it a lot and stayed for two months, before I had to go back to Tromsoe, and make some money. Ten months passed, and then I came back,” he says.
     And this time he didn’t have to depend on his cousin’s advice. Curiosity and an urge to Thailand got the better of him.
     “Together with a friend, I rode from Sakhon Nakorn, a province in the northeastern region of Isarn, to Koh Samui on a bicycle. It was an amazing experience that made me loose my heart to the country. We rode our bicycles the whole way, an experience I can strongly recommend,” Allan says.
     The following three to four years, Allan travelled back and forth between work in Nord Kap and ever changing guesthouses and relationships in Lamai.
     “I must have travelled back and forth at least 25-30 times, before settling down permanently in Lamai,” explains the fisherman. Even then, he still occasionally went back to the lucrative job in Tromsoe, when running out of cash.
     “Last year the opportunity to buy a bar came up. A Swedish friend, who is only here during his holidays, wanted to partner up with me, and from then on, it didn’t take long to buy the bar in which we now stand,” Allan says.
     Allan went home one more time to make some money, but since it opened, Allan has worked in the bar. The music he plays sounds to me like Norwegian country & western, but Allan says it’s rock & blues. The music is one of the means to differentiate the bar from the other bars in the area.
     “I hate that crap the other bars play. Hip Hop and what else it’s called, will never be played in this bar, as long as I have a say in the matter,” Allan exclaims.
     So how is the bar doing?
     “There are not as many people here, as there would normally be this time of year. It could be worse, and it could be better. But if you look around, you’ll see that many of the other bars are empty. So I can’t complain,” says the fisherman, who during our talk has doubled the afternoon catch.
     “At the moment, our only concern is the new law, where bars must close at midnight. In the long run, I’m afraid the type of customers we attract in this bar will find somewhere else to spend their valuable time and money,” explains Allan, who in every sense takes one day at the time.
     “Right now I feel I’m gonna stay in Thailand forever, but you never know what can happen,” he says.
     Allan returns to his recliner, with its clear view of the street and the entrance, from where the guests enter again and again. Just like fish in the nets back home in Nord Kap.

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