Day 25: From Paradise to Pandemonium

Trip Start Nov 11, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Allarm went of at 8 and I could tell immediately that it was raining harder than I had so far seen it on Koh Chang. I left it till 825 by which time it still hadn't stopped but I couldn't leave it any longer. It was quite cool so stepping out into the ensuite was an experience to be worked up to; but there was definitely something about taking a shower in a tropical storm that sets it apart from every other morning.

One final bowl of rice soup (I'll miss it) and back out with all the gear to await the minibus. We were expecting it to be later than advertised (10am) but in fact it was bang on time more or less. We were the first ones in and we wound our way through Koh Chang's hilly coastal road. At one of the other resorts we collected another group of Tourists and we headed off to the Ferry, a few small pastries to tide us over and the Ferry crossing (again, about 40 minutes over which time Dave taught me the Thai for the numbers 1-10.

On the road to Pattaya we did very little, I glanced at the Thai Phrasebook but couldn't focus for long periods, I did learn Happy New Year (Sah-wat-dee pee mai) which I thought might be useful. There was also a significant amount of dozing. We did stop at a roadside eatery where we got a portion of curry for only 35B.

Graeme rang Dave during the journey and The minibus spoke to someone at the other end; hence when he dropped us at the side of the road on a busy outskirt of Pattaya we had to assume we were in the right place. Graeme didn't pick up first time but within 10 minutes we had spoken to him and discovered that we were in the right place. 20 minutes later a guy with a white and yellow beach shirt and close cropped red hair sauntered around the corner.

Graeme is pretty much the same as I remember him. The last time I saw him was during the Adam Bin Laden period (when I had long hair and a rather large beard) which puts it around, or shortly after, the millenium. We all talked and laughed as a taxi took us to the hotel. Pattaya hass the Asian city vibe - noise, heat, chaos, excitement, vehicles and people. It was a hot afternoon and I did my usual bit of bitching about the heat.

We got to the hotel and were shown to our rather spartan acomodation. There were no complaints however (once we got the aircon working) and we went downstairs for a bite to eat. I went and got a shirt and shorts and then handed in my laundry next door to collect the following day. When we were done and cleaned up a bit we headed into Pattaya.

How shall I put this into words, the main night-spots of Pattaya are on the Soi's - side streets that are lined with bars, each with anything up to a dozen girls standing around outside. They tend to be quite circumspect about who they approach but when they do spy a likely target they are like hyenas. We saw one guy on his own walk past a bar; one girl snagged his hand and he turned to talk to her for all of about 5 seconds; as he turned to go one of her colleagues leapt up and wrapped her legs around his waist. On this occasion the hapless prey was able to fight his way free but I felt like doing a wildlife commentary the whole time.

We observed this from the comfort of a bar over the road. Graeme has been to Pattaya before and his girlfriend is Thai and lives here, so he knows the places where one can go and not spend the whole time being groped. Of course, we didn't escape entirely unscathed: while we sat there a small child (maybe 10 or 12) came up and said to Graeme "Hey man what's happening!" they did a complicated homeboy style handshake and the kid gave him a hug before holding out his hand and saying, "20 Baht". I was astonished, but not as astonished as when the kid went up to Dave and held out his hand. Dave declined so the kid hugged him, held out his hand and said, "20 Baht" I still couldn't quite believe it when Dave actually put his hand in his pocket.

Of course I knew what was coming next and my resolve was firm, unfortunately I was stabbed in the back by my wingmen. As I started an emphatic refusal they both burst in, "Come on, don't be a cheap Charlie!!" Now maybe it's just me but I thought the Kid's scam was just a friggin cheek. While we were sat there Graeme also paid a guy 50B to shine his shoes, fair enough - the guy provided a service. We have also seen any number of people begging on the street and - when I have a few Baht in coins - I will stick them in the first cup I pass; but going around acting like you have just done something that is worth a price takes some nerve and I can't believe the kid walked off with 60B after less than minute for absolutely sweet FA!! Tch! Whatever I guess, that's Pattaya.

So, like I said; Graeme knows the safe places in Pattaya; but we weren't about to spend the entire night playing safe. There are endless bars up the Soi's either just bars where the girls will (basically) make out with you for a couple of drinks and are then 'available' to accompany you upstairs. Or there are the Go-go bars where buying the drinks will get you a lap dance and the same options are on offer. The Soi's have literally hundreds of these bars of varying themes. Bear in mind at this point that prostitution is still illegal here. I am not quite sure how this all works but it seems to. We even saw western families with young kids wandering around amidst it all. THis is a very strange town.

We visited a Go Go bar (well we had to really) and yes, there were drinks purchased (all in the spirit of cultural experience naturally). As with any sales based industry, there was a certain amount of the hard sell tactics (pun unintended), but managing to keep a (relatively) cool head we all got out of there with our lives. It is however, easy to see how one could blow large quantities of cash in a very short space of time in this temple of Decadence.

It was about 230am when Dave and I left Graeme and we got back to the hotel about 3. In spite of not going completely crazy, it had still been a bigger night than had been intended. Especially considering that tomorrow was new years eve... we'll just have to see how it goes.
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Simon on

Have a great New year Bro in law

Stu on

Happy new year Ad take it easy

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