Trip # 5 (June 2004)
It’s hard to find a new beginning to an ongoing adventure. This is my fifth trip to the kingdom in a year and a half, with another planned for the fall (Rainy Season). Yes, I know that I’m obsessed! I planned to spend one day in Bangkok, two weeks in Phuket & six days in Pattaya.
For this trip, I chose an airline that gave me a near-midnight arrival. The price just happened to be right. Five months ago during a raging snowstorm on the northeast coast of the USA, buying that ticket online was like turning an oven on inside me! Thoughts of 105-110 degree Fahrenheit. days helped me stay warm on those 10 degree days in New Jersey.
The flights weren’t bad. For the 14-hour leg, I sat next to an Eastern European fellow who wanted to talk to help pass the time. He was headed to Tokyo on business, but had been to Bangkok about ten years ago. It was interesting comparing his memories from the past with mine from the present. The 14-hour flight felt like a 10-hour flight just from talking to him. This person had had a religious experience some years ago and was no longer interested in the night time entertainment options in Thailand, but said that in the future he would return for a family vacation when he could.
The second flight (Tokyo – Bangkok) was 6 ½ hours. For this flight, I had a female American Tattoo artist as a seatmate. Conversation was light and this flight felt like a true 6 ½ hour flight.
Arriving at my hotel at around 1am, I knew it would be a waste of time heading out that night. I decided that I’d explore Gulliver’s on Soi 5 tomorrow. The last time I was there, they had just opened for business. It was a very nice, quiet place with good food. I had heard that a lot of freelancing girls now populated the place. I wanted to see for myself. The hotel I was staying in had a 24-hour bar, so I decided to spend a few hours chatting with the bartender and have a light snack. The bartender was fun to talk to. Her English was very good. She also happened to be good-looking as well. I was her only customer for about three hours. We had lots of laughs.
The next day, after breakfast, a dip in the hotel’s swimming pool & a light nap, I headed for Gulliver’s. The rumors were true: an obvious freelancer presence was felt. The aggressiveness level of the girls was thankfully very low, which still made Gulliver’s a very nice place to go and hang out. One of the waitresses recognized me from my last visit and warmly greeted me. She was the only person from before that I recognized. Everyone else was new to me. I hoped the turnover rate wasn’t as bad as it appeared! For those of you wondering – yes – I’d made the acquaintance of one of the many available ladies for about 4 or so hours. Nothing spectacular to report, I’m sorry to say.
The next morning, I headed back to Bangkok Airport for my flight to Phuket. This was my first time flying Bangkok Airways, and my first flight in a Boeing 717. The in-flight service was great, but the legroom on the plane was non – existent for me (I’m a big boy). I notice that Thai Airways flies everything from Boeing 737s to B747s to Phuket. It’s a much more expensive ride, but for plain comfort I have very little choice and will use them next time.
My first day in Phuket was like returning to a familiar rented summer home on the shore. The hot humid air took some of my breath away, but it was a welcome price to pay to be “home” again. The hotel I was staying at provides free transportation
from the airport. I was glad not to have to bargain with the taxi and limo hustlers on the way out of the terminal. After settling into my room, I took a nap and awaited nightfall.
There was a bar on one of the sois, known for having extremely pretty and fun-loving girls. I wanted to see for myself what really went on in there. I got there around 10:30 to what turned out to be a sorry sight. The girls were sitting around eating and watching TV. I was the first customer there and no one seemed to care, except the bartender (to take my drink order). I left after about 20 minutes. I tried a few other places before returning to my favorite bar from my previous trip, where I was welcomed like a king. I asked the bar owner if my previous trip’s acquaintances were still working there. She said “no”: One (an older woman) now worked in a factory in Bangkok; the other was up north with her family. It was unknown if either of them would return to the bar scene. I was happy for the younger one, and worried about the older girl. After doing bar – related work for a lifetime and then having to go do factory work just proves that the future isn’t too bright for lot of the girls. It made me realize how important the Thai family is in regarding one’s survival when one can no longer support oneself.
Rounds of drinks were bought and I was introduced to the newer staff. One of the new girls challenged me to some rounds of Connect-4, most of which I lost, but not without a struggle. I guess that playing every day for months on end will naturally make
one a Connect-4 / Jenga Expert. Still, it was fun playing with her and listening to her talk. I asked her if she wanted to hang out with me for the night and she agreed. Instead of the “all night lovemaking” sessions you hear about,
we spent a small amount of time playing adult games, and the rest of the night we spent talking. This wasn’t really what I intended to do, but I felt a strong sense of intelligence in this girl. She told me her life story of how she came
to become pregnant, and how she dedicated all her resources to supporting her child, along with her sister in college. She also told me stories about some of the people she’s had to deal with as a young bar girl over the years. One thing
she said made me consider the previous submissions to this site: A lot of people are quick to believe the lies told them, while doubting the truth. She’s very proud of herself (and I am in admiration of her as well) for recognizing and
taking advantage of this illogical behavior. I decided then that she would be my partner for my entire stay in Phuket, despite her lack of interest in wanting to do anything “touristy”. I was a little put off by this, but came around
to enjoy our week of hibernation. Other than leaving the room to check emails, a couple of professional massages, and an occasional visit to her bar, we ate, slept, talked and “played” with each other ;-). I probably needed the rest,
since I’d been pushing myself at work right up to my trip date. On my last day in Phuket, she told me that when I return, we would do everything normal tourists do. What made her change her mind? I’ve no idea, but we’ll see
what happens in October. I’ll probably ask her out again just to listen to her lovely accent!
Once again, back on Bangkok Airways to Pattaya. This time, it was on an ATR-72: a turboprop airplane. Once again, this was my first flight in one of these. At check-in, the rep told me that she was assigning me a seat which had the most legroom. It’s a good thing no one was sitting next to me, as there seemed to be even less room than on the B717! Service was once again excellent throughout the 1-hour flight.
Utapao Airport in Pattaya has the feel of a converted military base. Other than a DC-8 cargo plane that we followed in on approach, the terminal was very empty. It gives you the feeling of flying in to your own private landing strip. There were very few
taxi hustlers waiting outside, which was a big relief. I had made arrangements with a friend to stay at her hotel. This was a brand-new hotel, right next to Pattaya Memorial Hospital. She picked me up approx. 30 minutes after landing. Her mom
had accompanied her to the airport. Both of them are very warm and fun loving people. We shared a lot of good times.
Once I got settled, I went out, in search of another friend who worked at one of the soapy massage places. All the girls there wear numbered badges. The manager and all his staff had gotten to know me and my favorite number from previous visits. However, like in Phuket, my friend had left about six months ago. Nobody knew where she had gone. I tried the last mobile number I had for her & got a callback service. My friend from the hotel told me that this means the number was no longer owned by my friend and was in the process of being electronically reclaimed by the cellular company. I mentally wished her well, and returned to the hotel, very disappointed.
Every day afterwards was an adventure. I’d gotten to know some of the other hotel guests and went out with a few. When I wasn’t out with the guests, I’d go out with either my friend or her mom. One memorable place was an Italian-styled restaurant which brewed their own beer. I had a tall glass of wheat beer & my friend’s mom had a pilsner (I think). The beer had none of the bitter aftertaste I was used to with most American beers. I was so impressed that I returned to the restaurant for a repeat performance just two days later.
Another restaurant we visited had an interesting theme. The diners sat around a wide three foot deep tank with fishing rods. The staff had “seeded” the water with prawns, which were fished out by the patrons, then cooked and eaten. Some couples were sitting for over an hour, waiting for a prawn to bite. I had been fishing just once in my life, but after taking the rod, I had a tug just 15 minutes later!
On this trip, I had an opportunity to visit a floating market. This wasn’t in Bangkok, but about two to three hours south of Bangkok. I got carried away and bought all kinds of foods and toys and trinkets. The boat’s tour guide was talking
to my friend in Thai for most of the tour. Later on, she told me what he said. My friend was wearing a Vietnamese-styled hat for the boat ride. The guide thought that she was my Vietnamese wife and had asked her how life was with me in the United
States. She told me that she had left him wondering on that question. Very funny! I also got to see lots of Komodo Dragons in the river. This was the same river that people were taking baths in! There must be some interesting stories on some of
the hospital reports after possible lizard-human encounters!
There was a side of Thai life that surprised me. Not all Thai family members always get along well with each other. I saw a few knock-down fights that ended with visits to the hospital for stitches. Very scary!
While in Pattaya, I made a new friend from one of the nearby bars. She seemed very new to the whole bar-scene, since her co-workers kept telling her how to act with me. I asked her if she wanted to come with me, and she agreed.
She thought we were going straight baPAGEDUMP( @°0�0¾T€xÞT€L nÉN€AGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEAGEàÝS€ ¿žÿp¯PAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGEPAGE0##nÉN€
What did I learn from this trip? Quite a bit:
1. On the Tokyo – New York flight, I ended up with a window seat and a sleeping lady beside me. My movements were VERY limited. I ended the flight with painfully swollen legs. Thoughts of blood clots racing to my vital organs danced in my head. Lesson #1: DO NOT SIT STILL FOR TOO LONG ON THESE LONG FLIGHTS! You may start out as a passenger and end the flight as cargo!
2. I reflected some more on my week of “relaxation” with my new friend in Phuket. I think she felt bad that I let her be herself and not do much. Overall, I still had a good time. Sometimes a lazy girl can be a blessing in disguise. I hope she’s in town when I return in October.
3. My newfound bar girl friend in Pattaya has started showing more of her bar mates’ teachings. Her last email contained a few “tales of woe”, with some mild monetary requests. I politely told her that I do not entertain such requests, but would still converse with her via email. I haven’t heard from her since sending that reply.
4. Customs personnel take great interest in you when traveling heavy and have been out of the country for three weeks! I’m normally a kitchen-sink traveler, but am considering changing my packing habits in order to avoid future hassles.
Hopefully I haven’t bored any of you with this tale…and hopefully it merits posting, Stick. Thanks for providing and maintaining this entertaining and educational site!
Sounds like you had a good time.