Our Trip To Thailand
I've been reading Stickman's website for a few months now and thoroughly enjoy the readers' stories so I thought I would share with everyone the details of our 2 week holiday to the land of smiles. I am not a writer so this might not be grammatically the best article you've ever read but hopefully it will be entertaining.
We are Jon and Steve, two 26 year old lads from the north of England. I'm Jon. We are friends from school but due to the fact I now live in London and Steve in Leeds we don't see each other that often, so this holiday was a chance to spend some time together and experience a whole new culture. Neither of us had ever been to Asia before so we were unsure of what to expect (although I did a lot of research including getting lots of info from Stickman’s site), and boy was it different to London or New York!
We arrived in Bangkok at 6am on a Sunday morning but we were ok as we'd checked with our hotel that we could check in early and sleep and they said it was ok. After paying 650B for a taxi to the hotel (yes I know now we were ripped off), we arrived and were told that our room wasn't ready and we could have another smaller one to put our bags in. Ok, not the best start but it'll do and I'm too tired to argue.
So off we went to the new room, it had a nice view actually and we took a few pictures with our mobile phones to send home to jealous mates. We tried to sleep but were too hyped about being in Bangkok, so as we were staying on Sukumvit road we thought we'd have a walk around and survey the area.
Obviously the Thais can spot new people a mile off as we were peeped at by every tuk-tuk and taxi that we saw, and in the first hour or two we felt like a bit of a side-show. Within an hour of being there we had been shown numerous brochures and asked to go to massage parlours (are they even open at 9am on a Sunday morning?) or buy some adult DVDs. As we were staying on soi 19 we walked down to nana to try and find the famous nana plaza and also up to soi 21 to find soi cowboy and had our first meal in a british-style pub at the top end of cowboy. After finding the areas that we knew we would be frequenting for the next few nights we went back to our hotel and got our new room, unfortunately I left my phone on the coffee table of the old room and, by the time I realised and went back to check, it had gone. I'm convinced that either the hotel staff or cleaners took it but I had no proof and they simply played dumb. If I'd been in England I'd have gone mad and called the police but being new in Thailand I wasn't sure what to do so just called England to get the phone disabled and left it at that, I certainly wasn't going to let it ruin the holiday that I'd spent 6 months planning.
After this we managed to get some sleep and arose about 4pm, we realised later that nothing gets going until after 9pm in Thailand but we got down to cowboy at about 7pm and had a few games of pool at the first bar at the entrance (piccolo I think it’s called) and spoke to a couple of the girls. It was here that we met another couple of English lads called Jeff and Steve (Steve2 from here on) who were Thailand bargirl veterans and probably the sort of people that the government wants to dissuade from visiting Thailand. We had a laugh with them though and they introduced us to some of the other girls that they knew. Steve ended up actually pulling (no money changed hands other than the barfine) the girl he spoke to and took her to the Norman Bates hotel (as we came to call it) over the road, and I took her friend. They were called Rai and Min. Min told me she was 27 although Rai later told me she was 36! Oh well, I like an older woman.
Anyway, I don't want this to turn into a sex tourist report so I will just say that the first was a bit of a struggle but once it was out of the way the rest were a bit easier.
I think Rai and Min expected us to take them with us then but we got taken away by Jeff and Steve2 to explore the rest of cowboy and go in a few of the go-go bars. I felt a bit bad about that actually but in the end the girls understood. Rai actually came to be a girl we saw around a lot as we went back to the bar to play pool a few times, and she never played games or acted like she should be Steve's girlfriend. She was really nice and is one of the girl's who I sincerely hope doesn't have to do this job for too long as it may damage her, although as she works in a pool bar I don't think she's pressured to go with customers, at least that's what she said.
After leaving, down soi cowboy we strutted and that first time walking down seeing all the lights and all the girls shouting at us will stay with me forever. We tried spice girls and the dollhouse (which for sheer looks I thought was the best gogo in Bangkok), and then went into black and white where Steve would meet his tilac for the next 3 days until we went to Samui. Her name was Lin and as soon as he saw her he was getting his wallet out and paying the barfine! She had a few nice friends too (one of whom I barfined the following night but then her American 'boyfriend' turned up so I got a refund) but Jeff and Steve2 moved us on pretty sharpish and it was down to nana plaza.
Nana immediately struck me as a lot pushier than cowboy, although I expected this from reading stick’s site. We had a couple of drinks in the bars on the bottom to get situated whilst Jeff and Steve2 competed for the attention of one of the girls hiding behind the curtain of one of the gogos. I got sent over with a rose for her and to ask which one she liked and, yes you've guessed it, she turned out to be a ladyboy! The Barry White voice kind of gave it away, and it was confirmed by Lin. I think I became a bit of an expert at spotting the ladyboys by the end of the holiday. I'm amazed anyone could get caught out, some are gorgeous to look at but unless you never actually talk to them then it must be pretty obvious.
After that embarrassing moment for the lads it was onto a few of the gogos upstairs (I still don't remember any of the names other than carnival as it's got the bull) and then back down to the final place where Steve2 and Jeff knew a girl who worked there and it was her birthday party (who'd want to party at work??). Anyway, it was the gogo on the ground floor with the pool table right outside, and we went in and left Steve and Lin to get acquainted over a game. Steve2 got suitably rowdy and started dancing on stage with the girls and it was here that I found my tilac for the night, you'll be pleased to know I bargained to 1500 baht so any of you ex-pats out there complaining about prices don't blame me as I did you proud. Blame those damn Japanese tourists who turned up a week later throwing 5000 baht around and making all the girls get greedy! I have a good job back in England and can afford to pay that but I’m not stupid and certainly am not going to start paying over 100% more than I have to.
Then it was goodbye to the nutters (they were going to Pattaya the next day) and back to the hotel. I have to say that my girl went from being the sweetest, sexiest girl in Thailand to a complete weirdo who clearly didn't want to be there so I was quite glad to see her go in the morning. Such is life though and I'm sure I'm not the first or the last to have it happen to me, and nothing could dampen my incredible memories of our first night in Bangkok.
To be honest, the rest of the holiday never quite lived up to that first night. It's probably because she were so new to it all that it seemed like the greatest place on earth (I actually still think that it is for a night out, if only it wasn't 12 hours flight away) but that's not to say that we didn't have a couple more very good nights in Bangkok before we left for Samui.
The second day we went for lunch at a restaurant a stone's throw from the Japanese embassy near our hotel. Steve took Lin and it was here that we got our first experience of the class system in Thailand as she was generally looked down on by everyone in there. Needless to say we ate quickly and got out of there, the class system in England is bad but not like this as Lin was literally ignored by the waitress and all because she's got dark skin and is from Korat. Ok, she's clearly a bargirl too but I don't see why people have to be so rude and it was one thing I didn't like about Thailand at all – those seen as lower class are literally treated like shit by the apparent 'superior' people, what a load of crap!
Anyway, enough negativity (for now). During the 2 days we were in Bangkok before samui we went to MBK and we also went to the grand palace and the big Buddha. Predictably we got done by a tuk-tuk driver who must have taken us to half of the jewellery stores and tailors in Bangkok before we eventually got into the grand palace, at least it only cost us 20 baht though and we managed to get our accommodation on Samui sorted out at TAT (after much intense bargaining). The grand palace was very impressive, although if I'm honest I don't think anything in there quite had the wow factor of say Westminster abbey or St Pauls' but then I'm English so maybe I'm biased. The last couple of nights were mostly spent at soi cowboy where I met Nok from the dollhouse and Steve stayed with Lin. Nok was nice and when we returned to Bangkok a week later I saw her again in the bar although she was sat with an older guy and looked a bit worried that I'd come in. Hopefully she realised I was there just for a drink and not to make any absurd claims on her like some guys may do. She left shortly afterwards with the said gentlemen so I didn’t get a chance to speak to her. I’m glad she had a customer, he looked pretty well off so I hope he looked after her.
And so onto Samui we went, this was a bit more unknown for us as although I have friends who have been there they are couples who clearly wouldn't have gone in for the nightlife.
The airport in Samui is beautiful and the mountains on the side of the runway make it a very impressive sight. We were staying at the bottom of Chaweng (big mistake as we ended up spending most of our nights at lamai) in a couple of huts next to the beach and I can't fault the beach at all as it was beautiful. The only disappointing thing for me is that I'm very light-skinned so couldn't spend a massive amount of time on the beach otherwise I'd burn, but that's my fault and I can't blame Thailand for that!
First night we went up to green mango road to see what all the fuss was about and if I'm honest I wasn't that impressed. Afterwards we actually discussed just upping and going back to Bangkok but our accommodation was paid for a week so that was a non-starter really. I think it was because we were tired after 3 days of caning it in Bangkok but it was the only night in Thailand that we felt that a fight could start due to the amount of drunk and obnoxious Brits and Aussies. If I wanted that I'd have stayed at home in London.
So the rest of the week was spent relaxing on the beach in the day. We also went to Hat Rin beach on Koh Phanghan and took a couple of girls called Nat and Joy from Lamai beach with us as they’d never been there before – the looks we got were a bit off-putting to me but as Steve has thicker skin than me he just said 'fuck em' and smiled really smuggly at anyone that stared. At the end of the day we treated the girls really well and gave them a nice day out, but I’m sure jurgen the german and his missus with their disapproving looks wouldn’t understand. He can kiss my arse, if you’ll excuse my French.
At night we mostly went down to Lamai beach to the numerous bars there (I have played enough connect 4 to last me a lifetime!) and chatted with lots of the girls, including obviously Nat and Joy who worked together at the Rambo bar near McDonalds. Nat had actually tried to get me to go with her friend June who also worked at the bar, and if I’m honest I would have done if she had spoken better English and been in the bar longer as she was absolutely gorgeous. Alas the language barrier was too much and she was very shy and she had never been with a farang before. I’m sure some of you guys out there would probably love the opportunity to ‘break in’ a new girl but I’m not that cold-blooded and didn’t want to be the farang who mentally scarred the girl for life. I’m certainly no angel but that was too much for me. So it was Nat I stayed with because she spoke good English and was a lot of fun.
We also watched the FA cup final in a small bar with no girls in it (yes, we found one!) in Lamai and spoke civilly to a few westerners for probably the only time on the island. Overall in Samui I went with 2 girls and Steve with 3, one of whom he's sure robbed him. I know that makes us sound like blatant sex tourists but I only want to highlight the fact that we didn't just go to Thailand for as many women as we could get, indeed half of the nights we were there were spent alone.
After 6 days we had had enough of Samui and were chomping at the bit to get back to Bangkok! Like I said, Samui was nice but there’s something addictive about the energy and vibrancy of Bangkok that was drawing us back. Maybe it’s the women or maybe it’s the 100 mph rate of everything (probably a bit of both), but we were really excited stepping off the plane.
However, once we got back something had definitely changed. The people didn’t seem as friendly anymore and we were definitely starting to understand what people mean when they say a week is a long time in Bangkok. I have to say actually that although I loved the place, I don’t feel that Thailand deserves the “land of smiles” tag as we certainly weren’t given too many smiles by anyone other than bargirls on our return. And we researched the customs so I’m sure we weren’t doing anything to offend anyone, maybe it’s just the heat although from reading sticks site recently there seems to be a lot of talking about anti-western attitudes from the Thais so maybe we were on the receiving end of some of that (although thankfully it was only unfriendly stares rather than anything physical).
We tried to do some more sightseeing in the last 5 days in Bangkok and went down to the river to try and take a river taxi. Maybe we were looking in the wrong place but we could only find tourist boats, which we didn’t fancy, so in the end we didn’t bother. It wasn’t a big deal though as by now I had developed a really sore throat and the pollution was starting to effect me a little. It didn’t stop me drinking though, I just had to move on to vodka and coke as beer was a little harsh.
We also went down to the emporium and had a walk around soi 33. We used the Sky-train quite a lot on our return and found it to be a very pleasurable ride, certainly a lot nicer than the London underground (and the underground doesn’t have as many drop-dead-gorgeous girls in work uniforms on it – I thought I was in heaven!).
In the evenings we did the usual rounds of nana plaza and soi cowboy for the first couple of nights. Steve took a girl home from nana plaza which Lin found out about and didn’t like. She got in Steve’s head a bit but thankfully he told her to go away when he realised what a manipulative money-grabber she was so we were free to go off and do what we wanted for the final 3 days.
So then it was on to Patpong. We’d heard about the reputation but thought we’d go and see for ourselves, and to be honest I didn’t think it was that bad and a polite but stern ‘no thank you’ seemed to do the trick. I’ve seen seedier things on Brewer Street in London’s Soho on a Saturday night, although we didn’t go and see any of the shows so maybe that makes a difference.
Anyway, we walked round the market and bought a couple of things and we decided that we might as well have a drink in one of the bars. We chose one of the less threatening ones outside called Horse Shoes and it was here that we met Hom and Bum. The bar is the usual format of pool table and a TV so we relaxed there whilst chatting to the girls. Hom spoke excellent English, the best I heard on our whole holiday, and Bum spoke ok English too. I found myself really liking Hom as she had a good sense of humour and I didn’t have to speak pidgeon English to her. However, as we had already planned to go back to nana plaza that night we had to leave them at around 10pm with the promise of returning the next night. So after a quick detour into the pink panther bar we made our way back to the Sukumvit area.
The next night we returned to Patpong and met the girls and this time took them out of the bar and let them show us a few of the more normal bars in the area, including a hip-hop bar and a place called music with a live band. Steve went back to Bum’s apartment for an hour (both girls have their own apartments, someone is doing well out of this line of work) whilst I stayed with Hom in Music. It was a really enjoyable night and when Steve and Bum returned we went to see some Thai boxing in the Pink Panther club. The one thing we both agreed we liked about the girls was that neither seemed like they were there only for the money, of course we had paid their barfines and they would require a little something for later, but they weren’t just after all they could get. Indeed Bum paid for the taxi to and from her apartment, and in Music when I went to the toilet Hom paid for a round of drinks and wouldn’t hear of it when I offered to give her the money. I don’t know if it would change if we’d have been there a few nights but it was a nice change from most of the graspers at cowboy and especially nana.
Our final day in Bangkok and I gave Hom her barfine for the evening before she went home with the promise that I’d meet her later. In the end this didn’t happen as we went out around Sukumvit and took it a bit easy due to our flight home the next day. That is the only thing I regret about the holiday because I thought she was really nice and I would have liked to have said goodbye properly. But in the end half the reason I didn’t go back was because I probably liked her too much and if I’d returned I could have fallen for her, and I’ve read enough stickman submissions to know that that’s not something I wanted to happen. Steve wasn’t too concerned about Bum so in the end Sukumvit won the day. Back in the Dollhouse, Steve was approached by a girl he’d spoken to the previous week, with a view to “using the room upstairs” for a short while. The silicone pair tipped the scales and they vanished for half an hour or so, with Steve returning saying he was convinced the smoked mirror in the room was two-way with a camera filming behind it. However, this had only spurred him on!
To sum up the whole holiday, Thailand (and Bangkok in particular) has stolen a part of my heart. It sounds really cringe-worthy I know, but that’s how I feel. I realise I have been critical of one or two things but overall I loved the place and never realised how different things can be, and at the moment I'm finding it extremely difficult to adapt to being back in England (we've been back about a week).
I'm not sure if I could ever live in Thailand and the job opportunities are not really there for my line of work, but 2 weeks was not nearly long enough and I will be returning as soon as I tie up a few things in England. I didn’t fall in love with a certain girl, just a place and at the minute I can’t wait to return. I had considered going travelling before our trip and now I am certain that it's something I need to do so as soon as I can I will do it. I’m 26 and have a good education and a good looking CV so I don’t think taking a year off will adversely affect me. If you see a Mancunian backpacker hanging around Patpong next year then you’ll know who it is!
Steve agrees too (he made a promise to hear Joy speak English – and is a man of his word!) and has started to think about maybe moving to Thailand, although I don't know how he would make a living there. Maybe he’ll do the TEFL course as that was something he considered doing 3 years ago before he got a job instead. I know he’ll definitely be returning though.
Till next time Thailand.
Busy like crazy so no comments for now.