Young Boy’s Playground Part 2
By Kee Nok
Ok, let's recap. I'm 18 years old. I moved to Pattaya to live with my father for a year. I wrote an article about 3 months into my stay, illustrating my first impressions and experiences. Well things have changed since then, and about 6 months into my stay I just had to get out of there. I'm not sure what it was exactly. Lack of friends, no money, struggling with the language. And then there was the people. I think it all added up and was driving me cuckoo. Even leaving the airport I had a couple of incidents, adding to my frustration.
Immigration counter at Don Muang. A young lady takes my passport with an emotionless stare. She stamps once, and then flicks through a few pages. "You have overstayed". My stomach drops. "Are you sure?" I specifically booked my ticket on that day so this wouldn't happen. "YES. OVERSTAY. COME WITH ME." I'm led into another room, where 3 immigration officers are seated. 1 lady and 2 men. None of them are happy to see me. I sit down while the female officer flicks through my passport. I start to ask a question but her finger swiftly moves to her lips, indicating that my input is unwanted. After a few minutes, my passport is stamped again. By this moment I am sweating profusely and quite frankly, a tad scared. The officer finally hands my passport back. They made a mistake. No apology though. No smiles either. Not even a "You may go now Sir." I'm sitting in this chair with my passport in my hand, feeling as if I'M the one who's supposed to apologise for wasting THEIR time. "Can I go now?" I get a nod and with a sigh of relief I'm on my way.
Not so fast, here comes the x-ray security check. I walk through the metal detector without incident and wait for my backpack to come off the conveyor. I'm about to grab it when the guy watching the screen stops me. "Pocket knife" he says. I'm shocked. I know for sure there is no knife in my bag. I'm led over to a table not far away by a heavy-set Thai woman. She asks me to unpack my bag, which I curiously do. Hmmmm….about 20 pairs of dirty socks (I packed at the last minute), my CD player and a lighter. I re-pack my bag and it is put through the x-ray machine a second time. The man points to the screen. "Pocket knife" he says. I'm led over to the table again. The woman says it's my lighter that is showing up on the screen and she wants to inspect it. I hand it over when my gut drops again. You see, this wasn't no ordinary lighter. It was a practical joke I intended to play on all my friends back home. When the button is pushed and the poor unwilling person expects a flame to come out, they actually receive quite a nasty shock to their hand. I thought it was the funniest thing in the world, but this quite large Thai security guard is turning it around and examining it. She flips the top open and is a split-second away from receiving the shock of her life when I snatch it out of her hand and hold it up. "See!? Lighter!." I give a nervous chuckle. "OK….just don't light on plane" she says. Phew. I start re-packing my bag when a thought comes into my head. I ask the lady "Why are we allowed to take lighters onto the plane when we're not allowed to smoke?" She gives me a look of confusion. "Never mind." She quickly hurries off. Yeah, I was pushing my luck. And with that, I was happy to turn my back on this country and get back home. I could not wait.
Well my plane from BKK was delayed, forcing me to wait. This made my arrival in Australia all the more satisfying. The drive back home was amazing. Seeing the clean streets of Surfers Paradise. Being the only vehicle on the highway. When I finally reached my house at 2am, I was buzzing with excitement and I couldn't sleep. I decided to take a walk into town to see how the nightlife was these days. I walked for about half an hour and I got a bit worried. Where the hell is everyone? Surely they can't all be sleeping. This place was dead. So I walked home and went to bed. I laid my head down on my pillow but I couldn't get to sleep. There was this noise in my ears. It was deafening. It was……silence. I realised I hadn't heard this in months. Finally I fell asleep and had wonderful dreams.
During the next few days I was hit with the most hardcore depression I've ever experienced. This can't be right. I'm back home. I should be happy. Maybe it was the feeling of isolation. I reckon it was the quick realisation that I'm not God's gift to women. As I walked around the town, looking at all the faces, it hit me. I'm just an average guy. Possibly even a bit below average. No smiles my way. No-one calling out "hansum man". And all the girls seemed to be really fat. Weird.
After a week, this feeling was killing me. I needed my Thai fix. So off I went in search of a Thai meal. I entered a restaurant that I vaguely remembered going to back in the day. As soon as I walked in, I felt a wave of relief. There were a few young girls behind the counter, and it was really cool hearing them speak to each other without it sounding like complete jibberish. I looked at the menu. I recognized a few bowls of soup but they didn't have any of my favourite dishes. I looked at the 2 amazingly beautiful girls behind the counter. "Can I have a pad Thai please?" "Uhh, would you like beef or chicken or seafood?" "Pad Thai gai kap." Their ears stood on end and it took them a few seconds to click. "Ohhhhhhh, u speak Thai…" They giggled nervously. So thirteen dollars and fifty cents later, I'm seated at a table with a huge plate of steaming pad Thai. I expected the worst but it actually tasted quite good, if not just as good as over there. Texture of the noodles was a bit off but hey, can't complain. While I was eating, the more beautiful of the 2 girls came over and started talking to me. What do you do, where you from, etc. (Here's an obvious tip: If you ever meet a good Thai girl abroad, don't tell her you're from Pattaya. Even if you have a legitimate reason for being there.) All I saw was a look of shock and horror hidden behind a sweet Thai smile. Like I had a chance anyway. I finished my meal and left, vowing never to pay for overpriced Thai food again.
My city is strange. It's a tourist spot, just like Pattaya. Except instead of being over-run by Brits, my city is full of Japanese. They are everywhere, and I never noticed them until now. You see, I never really liked Asian women. It's not that I didn't like them, I guess I was just brought up around white girls and they seemed to me to be……better. It's normal to fear the unknown, and in retrospect, I don't think I had ever spoken to a truly "Asian" woman. When I first arrived to Pattaya (it was low-season), I was quite sad at the lack of white girls around. Eventually though, a shift happened. I'm not sure exactly what it was, but all of a sudden I became infatuated with these beautiful, feminine Asian women. So you can only imagine what it was like for me coming home to these Japanese beauties strolling around my city. My jaw was on the floor all day long.
Oh, get this. I was in Australia for 3 months. 3 months. I got laid once. Once. And it's not like I wasn't trying. I don't think I've ever tried that hard in my life. This had to be the most surprising (and most depressing) thing about my trip back. Courting is such a mission there that it turned out to be not at all worth the effort.
1am. I'm about to cross the Gold Coast Highway. There's no cars on the road. I take one step forward when I hear a vehicle approaching in the distance. I wait for it to pass and as it does I take a closer look. 3 wheels. A canopy on top with a funny looking falang crouched down behind the wheel. A tuktuk! What the hell!? Maybe I was trippin…….Nah, it was a tuktuk.
Well, after my little break it was time to return to Thailand. You're probably wondering what I'm actually doing here but I assure you it's something constructive and educational. If I could just get around all these distractions I'd be fine. How can you not be taken in by beautiful women coming onto you? OK, maybe eventually one gets over it, but by looking at the age of most people who hang out here, this does not seem to be the case. I wonder if I'll be back in 30 years? I wonder how this place will turn out by then.
For about 2 months, I thought that all of Thailand was like Pattaya. Nowadays I marvel at my ignorance but it seemed totally plausible at the time. It was only until I made a trip to BKK and hung out with some Uni students did my eyes open and my perception flip. It was weird at first hearing Thai teenagers speaking fluent English but it was very cool to get into the mind of a Thai and be able to understand their viewpoints without any trouble. (Personally, I didn't feel I could relate to some of the 'upper-class' people. I remember getting into a taxi with them and casually asking the taxi driver how he was doing. That gesture right there automatically lost me a lot of respect in my new friend's eyes. What a load of BS.)
Bargirls are a weird bunch. I've been here long enough and talked to enough of them to realise they're basically here for money. I've had a couple of what you'd call "relationships" with them, but no matter how much they like you, they're eventually going to get sick of your poor ass. Sometimes when I'm in bed with these girls, I'll just snap into a trance and everything will be surreal. Am I really here doing this? I never would've expected it. And it is just like a drug. You always seem to want more. And you can suffer from withdrawals. Whenever I try to relax at home for a night, I feel this longing to go out. Like I'm missing something really good. I don't think it's very healthy or beneficial and I hope I don't get messed up too much in the long run. Physically or mentally. Saving up lunch money for short times doesn't appear to be normal teenage behaviour. I'm a pretty strong person, but no matter how strong you are, there's always a member of the opposite sex (or the same sex in some cases) that can chew you up, spit you out, hang you out to dry etc. etc. What I'm trying to do now is learn the language at a respectable level so that I'll be able to get a respectable girlfriend. But this could take years and who knows, I might get sick of the place by then.
Things have definitely changed here since I've been away, and judging by everyone's attitudes lately, this doesn't seem to be a good thing. The locals don't seem as friendly. I actually feel scared walking around at night by myself. I never did before but this could come down to naivety. Every week you hear of crazy sh*t going on. And the fact that farangs are easy targets doesn't help put me at ease.
Do the police here go to sleep at midnight?? Sure seems like it. At least I can ride my bike without a helmet in the wee hours of the morning. Haha, get this. Today I was walking down Beach Rd and I nearly tripped over 2 girls fighting right in front of me. At first I thought they were playing but it soon became obvious they were very seriously pissed off at each other. They must've been Muay Thai fans, because they were really beating the crap out of each other. The funny thing about it was, it was right in front of the police station! Yet there wasn't 1 cop to be found! In fact they kept fighting for a good couple of minutes. By this time they had attracted quite a few onlookers and I thought it would be best if I left the scene. Still no police around though.
When I first came to Pattaya, there was an air of magical mystery about the place. I didn't know where I was at any moment of time, and there seemed to be something new everywhere. Everyone smiled at me, and I happily smiled back. After a few months, this magic all but disappeared. Sometimes these days I'll see or remember something that will re-trigger this feeling in me and I'll feel tingly all over. I could not think of a better place for a holiday, but to live?….Well some people could handle it, and some people couldn't. And some people will trick themselves into thinking they can handle it, but….you all know and read about what happens to these people. I'm still a newbie. Young and impressionable. But I know how to take what I see and learn from it. I've seen some crazy stuff here I never even dream existed, and I'm sure I'll see a lot more. I thank my Creator for this, and just pray that I'll be safe until it's my time to leave. Wish me luck. I'll need it.
GREAT stuff. A thoroughly enjoyable piece. I think many of us are worried just how we would cope if we returned to the West.