Stickman's guide to Bangkok
Delightful Pattaya - Good, Clean Sanuk
By Pothole Research
Somewhere in Pattaya: The music is pounding, the place is full of sexy girls. Everybody has a good time, including Mr. F. There is this delightfully curved waitress, wobbling with the beat, he'd really like to squeeze her a bit. After all, this is Pattaya! As they try to communicate over the music noise, Mr. F. puts his arm around the waitress's shoulders. Hey, she feels good, he considers to even barfine her. But the chick seems not at all receptive of his sweaty hug. Lazy gal does not even massage his balls - now is this Pattaya or not? Oops, sorry, indeed this is not Pattaya, it is a Thai enclave on the soils of Pathet Pattaya Wild Life Zoo. It is a regular disco for 1000 regular Thais and a handful of farangs. Please behave accordingly.
Music afficionados, have you ever wondered if Pattaya is all silly tekkno music, grotty garage bands in girlie bars and a bit of oldies but goldies in the Tahitian Queen 1? Have you ever looked for a place where you can enjoy quality live music with a hot rhythm and where you shake a leg without agitating your exhausted willy too much? Where for a change you meet real Thai people on a night out?
Actually, good clean Thai style sanuk can be had in Pattaya. Mr. F. has been tipped off that the Star Dice disco (not the beach road resto of the same name) is a great place. He has no idea where to look for it and no intention to do pothole research on his rented Honda Dream at night time. So Mr. F. hires a motorcycle taxi. It is the usual spiel: The guy asks for 30 Baht, and after some smiling and moaning they settle for 20 - why pay more than a rich bar girl with all her farang sponsors? The motosai guy claims right away that Star Dice is not the best sanuk option in town, and after a ride across town and a short peek Mr. F. agrees: Star Dice plays boring hectical tekkno music and seems to get Hong Kong tourists by the busload. Otherwise, it's your average Thai style disco, you stand around small bistro tables, get drunk on whiskey and motion to the thundering beat without loosing grip of your booze.
Star Dice mai sanuk, but Mr. F. is lucky anyway: His motosai driver is a knowledgable chap who knows more discos and live music venues - and he can tell which place is heaving on which days or hours. Mr. Motosai suggests a tour through some more music places. By Pattaya standards, he isn't even greedy. So they bounce away from Star Dice without ever finding out if this location boasts a live band or not.
There are several more discos that do function as discos indeed, not as meat markets like the Marine. After a bumping ride through dark backroads, the Honda taxi screeches to a halt at Hollywood: This disco features a live band with fun Thai pop music, and a fancifully dressed dance ensemble. It is almost like cabaret, the singer changes dress after every song, or maybe they switch the whole guy, who knows. The 250 Baht entry price includes two drinks, among them fresh orange juice and lemon juice - what a healthy place. (A few days and a few destinations later, around 2004-05-12, Mr. F. hears some talk that Hollywood has burnt down.)
Then there is Xzyte, a huge dark dance hangar. The house band plays guitar-based Lohso-style macho rock without any show dancers. At the door, Xzyte customers fork out 200 Baht which gets them one drink. The robust waiters here cut through the enthusing crowds with machetes, but upon request refuse to castrate a pimpled male whore who repeatedly touches Mr. F. while pretending to dance. Lots of Thais wave shining camera phones to snap the sexy lead singer; this looks like the lit-lighter-ritual at rock concerts in the west. Just like at Hollywood disco, the musicians play up quite perfectly and way more mature than the noisy garage bands in some of Pattaya's girlie bars; they do cover versions of Thai favorites, so everybody happily sings along.
Like most discos in Thailand, when the band pauses there is speedy tekkno sound. Compared with popular dance places in Isaan's Khon Khaen or Ubon Ratchathani, Mr. F. feels that the Pattaya discos play less beats per minute, and the customers dance less frenetically.
But Pattaya does not only sport glittering hi-tech-discos. After some more bouncing and reporting all about his family, his motosai driver delivers Mr. F. at old style pubs with live music non stop. One such place is called "Chem Isaan" or so with spicy luuk thung country pop. Menu and signs are in Thai only here, because it is Pathet Thai and not Pathet Pattaya. Elated Thais dance with delicate hand moves; but the band does it rather soapy, not spicy as the excellent hot acts upcountry, in Khon Khaen or Udon Thani. Mr. F. feels sorry for the sedate dance ensemble; they all had too much valium for dinner.
For non stop live rock with lots of Thai flavour, there is "Kum Punn", a venue decked out in rustic wood furniture; the house bands here play Carabao tunes and other Thai rock pieces. But they have no qualms either about squeezing luuk thung Thai country and the superdull "We Will Rock You" into one bizarre medley. Dancing is around the tables, as usual. The menue can be had in English, but the cooks are proudly Thai: Spiced out and under tears, with his mouth and throat on fire, Mr. F. decides to come back, but to come back unhungry. Later, after one sensual afternoon with Nui, his Pattaya regular, Mr. F. discovers that the delightful spring rolls at Kum Punn can actually be digested without much harm to the interiors.
Mr. F. wants to tour more of the music scene around Pattaya. So he sits down for an hour and tries to remember where he picked up his useful motorcycle taxi man. Wasn't it on Pattaya 2 road, corner of soi 8? So he walks for an hour and yep, there he sits, his music guide, and he smiles. But good old Mr. Motosai simply cannot be hired: Several other drivers on this post have a higher priority when Mr. F. shows up.
Mr. F. returns to Kum Punn, which can easily be reached by Baht bus. The place is down hilly soi 2 between Pattaya 2 and beach road, next to a lively girlie bar park. It is also very close to the gorgeous "Sabaidee" body massage temple towering over soi 2. If you frequent "Sabaidee", Mr. F. suggests you request an extra layer of soap from the massage bitch of your choice; walk out naked and slide down the soi; ignore the screaming girlies left and right until you see a car park to your left; there you stop, the soap might be used up anyway; now walk on two feet to Kum Punn beyond the car park. You will be waied upon entering. Good clean sanuk.
Kum Punn and all the other discos and music pubs are packed with 100s or 1000s of regular, sanuking Thais, the kind of people you never meet on the beach strip. No Pattaya Wild Life, no cock fondled, but lots and lots of good vibes. The Farang-Thai ratio might be 1:100. Actually, Mr. F. creates some friendly attention here and there not because of his wallet, but because of his skin colour and his knack for Thai tunes. Very few ladies here show cigarettes, tattoos or a Heineken addiction; whiskey isn't abhorred, though. Mr. F. realizes almost no meat market.
Just take a heart and venture out into the heaving Thai enclaves within Pathet Pattaya Wild Life Zoo. Just remember it is not Pattaya proper - so be a good boy and ask for permission before you squeeze that bouncing breast.
That's a new side of Pattaya.
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