The Year Of The Dog padded up to the boys without warning, briefly licked their faces, and then scampered noiselessly back to it’s kennel without so much as a yap. In fact the whole celebration for Chinese New Year had been little more than a whimper!
Paul had hoped the celebrations in Nong Khai, with it’s large immigrant Chinese population, would be barking mad as usual. But two firecrackers and a couple of lanterns do not a party make. It didn’t stop Paul and Andrew from having their own ‘do’ though.
They thought they ought to celebrate, especially as Andrew was a dog. And always had been! Having been born in 1970.
Apparently the Earth Dog was communicative, sensible and responsible in the workplace. Paul had always had the sneaking suspicion the Chinese were full of shit!
Still, he loved a ‘do’ and celebrated everything from Thanksgiving to Hanukkah. Despite the fact he wasn’t an American Jew. Any excuse for a knees up. He was most dogged in that respect.
Although ‘The Year Of The Dog’ proved to be a bit of a bitch, Nong Khai certainly didn’t. The city was an interesting mix of every breed. A real mongrel of a town. And, like the canine variety, having just as much character.
The boys had fallen in love with the place for a second time.
Andrew was already looking in local estate agents to enquire about the cost of being re-homed. It was definitely a city in which they could envisage themselves living. Exotically situated opposite Laos on the banks of the Mekong, and just scruffy enough to make them feel at home. They both concurred on this. But they knew it was time to pause for thought. Certainly not to jump in with both paws.
Not quite yet anyway.
But the moment for ‘walkies’ was fast approaching
The boys had also made friends in Nong Khai.
They had first met Prik a few years earlier when on a similar jaunt. He had worked as a ‘Man Friday’ in the guesthouse which they had terrorised with strident Barbra Streisand tunes. The handsome Prik informed Paul he now had Fridays off, as he had a bar of his own – a music bar called ‘Chillis’.
Prik is the Thai word for chilli. So when he invited Paul and Andrew to come and sing that very same night they accepted.
After all, how could they turn down Prik?
They were condescendingly surprised to find a rather sophisticated set up at ‘Chillis’. The bar was fabulously funky with an enchantingly cool garden and a very hot sound system. Chilli was certainly the leader of the pack.
Top dog in Nong Khai when it came to entertainment.
He played guitar and sang with perfect intonation – something Paul and Andrew found rather unusual. The rest of Thailand seemed to be awash with a cat’s chorus of vocalists. Pitching up perfectly to howl into the moonlit night like werewolves clawing at their own privates. Chilli, on the other paw, was the dog’s bollocks.
Of course, Paul managed to last only a couple of beers before he was put into the ring. He massacred a Nina Simone number and managed to put a few people off Diana Ross for life, before slipping onto the pool table.
Joe Public, however, didn’t spot a thing.
The audience of locals, along with a brilliant Spanish guitarist called Fernando, developed a case of endless love. Paul was thrilled to be thought of as best in show – for one night a least.
The following evening Andrew performed a few of his own tricks, culminating in a brilliant Latino version of Robbie Williams’s ‘Angels’. His West End pedigree shone through. Paul knew the best dog had won. The rosette went to his husband, it usually did.
They’d not lived a dog’s life in Isaan, more the life of Riley, running with the in pack. They’d sniffed out a place in which they could see a new future. The scent of it was exhilarating.
Paul knew the year of the dog was gonna be great for this couple of woofters!
But first they had a beautiful pup of their own to consider. Their beautiful Pomeranian Lola had not even used her passport yet. They just hoped she was willing to follow their lead.
On their final day in the city Andrew and Paul sat discussing their future in a dodgy bar. A hair of the dog was most necessary. They both agreed they truly loved the place.
Nong Khai? Woof!
Or perhaps. Yap! Yap! Yap!