Over the years, I have developed a fondness of craft beer. It could not be possible to resist exploring Australian brew when I got down there.
My drink list wasn’t as long as food craving mission. The very first beer I got had to be Coopers pale ale at the Bank Hotel, one of my favourite spots to watch the world flowing by. Coopers and James Squire were the two established breweries I was longing for. There were also my new-found favourite local craft beer, especially Young Henrys from Newtown. Shame that I didn’t get a chance to visit their bar.
That was simply because my the pub time was in the regular one, Kelly’s on King. And another one that I went more often this trip was the Townie, where I stopped for variety of Young Henrys and to write travel journals.
It was good to see that Kelly’s, the Townie, and Warren View Hotel still had as the same vibe as when I left the city. Most of others in the local has changed. The Duke and Newtown Hotel became so hipster. The Sando was renamed to Newtown Social Club even tough it got the same spirit.
Closer to Sydney’s CBD, Lansdowne Hotel is gone. The Clare Hotel turned posh. However, Stonewall Hotel on Oxford Street were still the same gay bar. And fortunately, Brighton Up Bar were as a dive bar as I hoped it would be.
Although the pub wasn’t my usual spot because of the location but it always have a special place in my heart. It was where I started transitioning works. One day in winter 2007, I randomly sat down there to write a script for Anywhere Chairs while sipping beer. Since then, I found pubs have been my preferred choice of writing environment.
You can expect anything a tourist could expect in Sukhumvit Soi 11 but not really a toilet when you drink in one of the stalls in the soi. Except only this stall that a friend of mine told me that it was the one that had a restroom, just a few metres in the sub soi. Much better than the wall.
While I am sitting in a pub called The Australian Pub and BBQ and a big chubby bloke enters with an Asian girl. They both wear green-and-gold jerseys. The music is quite load although the band has just stopped or on their break. Some girls have Australian flag tattoos on their faces and some has the flag cape on. Most of the staff is girls and wearing green-and-gold cheerleader outfits. There are only sports on TV monitors. There is a variety of beer on tap but the one you can call it Australian is Forster’s. However, there are bottles of Crown Lager, VB and Coopers on the tables.
Of course, I’m in an Australian-theme pub on Australia Day in Bangkok.
Why am I here, apart from having the first Coopers in weeks? I guess to see what is happening in the context of ex-pat national celebration like I did when I was back in Sydney.
This comes to the point that to realise how significant your identity is. This morning at work and could not share my yarn and thoughts on this nationalism (whether you are pro and con to this particular day) to anyone apart from friends on social media. My identity has been mashed up for a long time, maybe even before I moved to Australia nine years ago.
No, actually, one of the reasons I want remind myself of being an Australian when I heard the news that Don Ritchie was awarded as Australia’s Local Hero. He has saved many lives in a typical Australian way—inviting people who are about to jump off the cliff for a coffee at his place.
The understanding why and how he does it; and why and how he gets the honour gives me that identity.
Eurovision at the Pub is the party at our regular pub in Newtown, Kelly’s On King. Eurovision Song Contest has a big presence in Australia because of its gayness and colourfulness. On top of that, it becomes Sunday night social event and an excuse to party while watching it on SBS. Think about a sport on TV but with songs and flocks instead of grunt and sweat. Beer and nibbles are still involved.
There have been many speculations that Australia should be able to send an entry. That would give another way to be cynical about ourselves as we do about the contestants. Most of all, it would change the whole broadcasting structure in Australia because it is restricted only to Euro Broadcasting Union, too much of an effort with the politics in the local broadcasting industry. We just see what the Europeans have to offer. That is absolutely entertaining enough.