An Asian Adventure
Well, this started out as just another trip report but it's kind of meshed into a whole bric-a-brac of things really, but I think it'll make a good read (hopefully). After some of the rather nasty posts we've been getting recently maybe it'll lighten the mood a little (although I wouldn't bet on it).
There's tales of Singapore, Tokyo, Hua Hin and of course Bangkok but sorry to disappoint all the voyeurs out there that there will be no tales of sex tourism.
Still here? Ok, get ready for a tale packed with action, intrigue, mystery…nah, it's just basically my life for the last couple of months.
At the start of January I flew for an 18 day trip to south-east Asia, encompassing Singapore and Thailand. This was the first time I've been on holiday alone and the holiday was booked back in September. Being alone I quite fancied going up north to Chiang Mai and maybe even taking in some of Vietnam or Laos, but there was to be one thing that happened which changed my plans (yes I know what you're all thinking and you're correct).
I flew to Singapore on New Year’s Day and once I'd checked in at the hotel I ventured out to take in the city. It was absolutely pouring with rain and for a minute I thought the plane had just done a circle and dropped me back in London!
Staying near the business district and Chinatown I was perfectly located to explore. Headed up to Orchard Road and took in the malls, I was immediately surprised at how 'grand' everything was compared to London, here everything is contained
in great huge malls as opposed to London’s Oxford Street where most shops are just single storey lining the street. I've never seen so many designer shops like Gucci, Armani etc…even on Bond Street. It sounds a cliché, but everything
was so clean too.
Lucky Plaza was quite an experience, for a minute I thought I was in MBK but it turns out that this is where all the Filipino nannies hang around on their day off and this being Sunday I was in the middle of it. Probably a good place to go if you're on the lookout for a girlfriend.
That evening I took in the famous Orchard Towers, or four floors of whores as it's known. A very strange place, nearest to Nana Plaza in terms of layout but undercover and with lots of closed shops scattered around (Orchard Towers is actually a shopping mall with lots of bars inside).
I headed in and went in to the first bar up the elevators, I don't remember the name or the name of any of the others to be honest. Now this place was rocking, lots of middle-aged ex-pats dancing with young girls it was like being in Nana Disco. The live band was ok but I don't think many people were there for the music.
After buying my first drink I was accosted by a girl but she soon backed off when told I had a girlfriend (my reason for not 'shopping' will be revealed soon). Had a beer and a sit down, chatted with a couple of the girls including a very sexy
lady from Vietnam, and then headed off to try a few more bars. In all, I must have gone in most in the place and this along with the 2 bars in the basement were my favourites. There's a good reason for this – the higher up in the building
you went, the more ladyboys there were! There seems to be quite an international mix of girls, lots of Indonesians, Filipinos, Vietnamese although strangely I didn't speak to one Thai girl. I liked the Filipino girls most to chat to, always
fun and usually with good English. Looks wise I can't really comment as beauty is in the eye of the beholder so my babe might be someone else's horror.
I ended up staying in Singapore for 4 days, outside of Orchard Road I also explored Sentosa Island (bit of a tourist trap really but worth it for the view you get from the cable car on the way over), Chinatown (goooood food), business district (big buildings, nuff said), and the marina. I liked the place and I could definitely see myself working there in the future if the opportunity arose. The main reason for coming was because I've always been intrigued with Singapore and wanted to see it for myself, but in my line of work there may also be the possibility of coming here so this was a good opportunity to evaluate it.
My first time to Thailand was in May 2004 when I went with a friend and we blitzed the bars of Bangkok and Samui in what was basically a lad's holiday with bargirls thrown in (there's a trip report on this site somewhere). This time I had a different agenda…Yes, it was a girl.
I met S online in a chat room at the end of September and we had been exchanging emails and phone calls and had also seen each other many times on the webcam (so I knew I wasn't talking to Dave from Durham!). We got on well and as we chatted more and more she started to ask me when I was going to come to Thailand to see her. As I'd already booked my holiday (I did it before I met her) I thought it would be a good idea to see her for the time I was in Bangkok and see how we went. Needless to say, Chiang Mai, Vietnam and Laos went out of the window and I spent the entire 13 days (except for 2 when we went to Hua Hin) in Bangkok with her!
Now I'm sure this is where you're starting to get suspicious and think that something happened that turned it all sour, but actually it was the best holiday I've ever had in my life and I was never once suspicious of her motives. She met
me at the airport and paid for the taxi and actually paid for the first meal we had together too. She stayed with me in my hotel that first night (no sex though, that took a little longer) where we chatted along merrily and I was very pleased
with my decision to see her. The next day she had to go to work but she managed to get 3 days off for us to go to Hua Hin and her to show me around the bits of Bangkok I hadn't seen before (guys, there is so much more to Bangkok than Sukumvit
We took a taxi down to Hua Hin on the Saturday morning and headed back on the Monday morning for S to get to work. Hua Hin was great, the beach wasn't as good as Samui but it was still very nice and I especially liked the mountain / shrine at the south end of the beach where you can feed the monkeys. I also found out here that S's favourite food is crab, because she ate it for every meal!
The only sad thing about the holiday was that outside of those 3 days she had to work every day, so apart from meeting her for lunch I didn't get to see her until after 8pm and most nights it was more like 10 (she works in one of those posh plazas near central world plaza, I won't say which but it begins with a G). It did give me a chance to go for a few drinks and check out the Sukumvit jungle I'd so loved in my first trip though!
In all I thought Sukumvit Road was quite a sad place and certainly was nowhere near as much fun as when I'd been with my friend (that's probably a result of not having a drinking buddy though). I've always preferred Soi Cowboy so I headed there and had a few drinks, I told the girls who sat with me from the start that I was attached and most seemed happy with that, although it didn't stop them from trying to get me to take them ST as my girlfriend wouldn't know. I was a good boy though, although I was extremely tempted by a girl in Shark Bar who had the whole package in my eyes, others may know who I'm talking about – she's the girl who does something with her eye makeup to make her eyes seem more pointy at the ends, and she has a good rack on her too, stunning IMHO.
Also checked out Nana and went into Gulliver’s and Bus Stop bars for the first time, both were ok but not exactly full of stunners. I liked watching the football there though. Soi 33 got a visit as I stayed at the Novotel one night; prostitutes
in dresses are still prostitutes IMHO so I don't know how they think the extra money is worth it. Bit of a ripoff I thought (and the hotel was too).
Other places I checked out were Hard Rock Cafe (Stick is so right about all the hookers there I was amazed), the Witch's Tavern to meet S's best friend, all the shopping of Pratunam, and a trip to Kanchanaburi (a complete waste of time). I also met S's mum who visits her from Udon Thani every month and just so happened to time this trip with me being in town, funny that eh? Her mum is Chinese and speaks no English so even though she speaks two languages it was still no good to me, so I just smiled and nodded a lot. It seemed to work as she said she was happy for S to go out with me (no sex though, for the days she was in town S had to stay with her like a good little girl).
As I left Bangkok and flew home to London I had a nice feeling knowing I'd seen some of the 'real' Bangkok people talk about. As it turned out, I went to Bangkok and saw S for 4 days about a week ago.
So what has Tokyo got to do with any of this? Well, where I work we have a few opportunities to travel for a big project we are doing, and I had been haggling for a move to Tokyo for a while. The day I got back from Thailand I was told I was going
out to Tokyo for 3-6 months, so obviously I was well chuffed. As I've not seen many submissions about Tokyo I thought I'd give a few of my observations.
Firstly, don't believe the hype. Tokyo is no more clean or efficient than London or NY. Indeed the trains are not much good at all and run quite infrequently from Roppongi (very central) where I am staying. I think people tend to get Tokyo mixed up with Singapore where the subway is spotless and always runs on time.
Secondly, outside of Roppongi (which is basically the gaijin nightlife area) no-one speaks English. You've got no chance of going and ordering in an all-Japanese-menu restaurant. The Japanese are very much like us Brits / Aussies / Yanks in that respect as they think that why should they learn another language because they're doing fine on their own. Places like Thailand have to learn some English to attract the tourists, in Japan they'd rather you didn't come.
Thirdly, Japanese people are not the friendly welcoming people you're told about, not at all. When places have signs with 'no foreigners' on them it reminds you of apartheid or 50's deep southern USA.
I've painted a pretty negative picture of Tokyo generally, I'm sure others probably reading this love it and can't imagine being anywhere else, I personally cannot wait to get back to London. Even if I spoke the language fluently I can't get my head round the culture and for want of another word I would say that the Japanese are just plain weird.
People I work with are nice, but working for an international company where the company language is English they tend to be more open-minded, the average man on the street in Tokyo is very closed-minded and can't stand foreigners. Fact.
I will say that it is a heaven for finding loose women though, in Roppongi especially you should have no problem finding a girl for the night if you're a youngish half-decent looking guy. And some of the old guys I've seen with girls here put anything you see in Bangkok to shame, but these girls aren't prostitutes and actually like the guy!
I generally prefer to talk with the Filipinas who are around as I can chat with them and they're always up for fun, so far I've not taken one girl home in Japan but it's not because they aren't available.
So that's my story really, in general I'd say the last 3 months of my life have been some of the best and some of the worst. Meeting S was great, I really like her and am going to try and make a go of it with her. The distance is obviously an issue but I have plans to do the whole traveller thing in a year or so and I will spend a lot of time in Thailand then.
Coming to Tokyo, whilst I was really excited about it to begin with, has not really turned out how I wanted. A shame my company don't have their Asia offices in Bangkok or at least Singapore.
It would be interesting to hear more about Tokyo from readers living there. Sure, this is a Thailand site, but a submissions comparing Tokyo with Bangkok would be a good read.