A Quick Return 3
Having a live-in companion, guide and hot local babe along for this trip had it’s ups and downs, but added local spice to the trip, which made it more memorable. I figure that C saved me nearly as much as she cost me on a day to day basis, and
at the end of the day I had a lot of fun that I wouldn’t have had on my own due to language difficulties. I have no idea how my interactions with the Police would have gone without C interpreting and negotiating for me.
Helmet fines are being handed out a lot more this time than on my previous trip, and it seems the Boys In Brown are moving around, not just sitting on certain known intersections. If you read my previous post you will have seen how my helmet got full of rainwater. When it was raining anyway this seemed only mildly more wet than the rest of me so I put up with it ok, but when it was warm sunny and dry I figured I would let it dry out as I rode. Imagine my surprise when a whistle blowing arm waving brown clad figure jumped out in front of me and waved me over to the side of the road, along with another bike. I turned and got an ‘I told you so look’ from my helmet wearing pillion C, while the officer talked with the bike in front, who then rode off. PC plod then turned his steely gaze on us and conversation ensued, and the ticket book came out. I asked C why the other bike had not gotten a fine, and she said it was because they said they had just been fined the same day and were going home to get a helmet. When I suggested we use the same ploy I got the evil eye from the big tough 60 kg officer, and realized he may just speak a bit of the ole foreign lingo after all. I didn’t figure he would find my excuse of ‘It messes up my hair’ funny, as I have a shaved head, so I saved that for comedy night back home where my humour is tolerated in direct proportion to the amount of alcohol consumed. (Sometimes I just crack myself up, though the headache the next day is usually far less funny).
An enterprising taxi operation had sprung up on our corner, and on paying the motorsai rider 50 baht more than the fine (200 baht) – he waved the paperwork at the officer, who handed me back my keys and we putted off into the sunset…..fade to black…. But wait – there’s more!
I usually do wear my helmet back home – honest!! But the very next morning it was such a nice day, and I was only going to the beach for breakfast, and nowhere near the notorious corner from yesterday, so I had the helmet firmly where I felt it would do me the most good – in the front basket. (Honestly – my helmet was little more than an ice cream container with a strap anyway!) Lo and behold – another diminutive brown and leather clad whistle blower jumped out of the bushes and flagged me over. He had disguised himself cunningly on the corner where 10 taxis usually parked under a tree – doing whatever they do between fares, probably eating from a never ending procession of semi mobile vendors. C proceeded to try to use the excuse the other rider had used to good effect yesterday, and a long conversation ensued. The officer took her excuse into account, and possibly due to feeling sorry for C being stuck with me let us off the fine – if we would go get him some water. I could empathise, as it was stinking hot under his tree, and he did have to blow a whistle once in a while after all! So we trundled a few hundred yards down the road to the never far away 7-11 and proceeded to buy a half gallon bottle of water, which we returned with.
The officer looked at it and said he was only a bit thirsty, not dying of thirst, or words to that effect, to which C said he could give the rest to the taxi riders who shared his leafy hideout. The riders looked pretty happy at this prospect, the officer not entirely happy, but either way we made our escape for around 50 baht this time. Later that day we saw helmets priced from 100 to 200 baht all over the place, and there really was no excuse why anyone was not in possession of one, or a few – for rainy days. I had learned my lesson, but in an act of defiance which I am sure the local constabulary all speak about in awe – I never did my strap up again – unless riding faster than 50 kph when it kept flying off. So there! An interesting note is that when your helmet does fly off, there really is no need to move all the way over to the proper side of the road and back around to retrieve it, just do a u turn and go against the flow and retrieve it – amazingly everyone gives you a bit of room and the whole system works out ok. Trying this back home would probably involve more cops than the original offence, if not a life shortening injury or three, just for good measure. Due to most drivers being semi law abiding in NZ, no-one keeps an eye out for bikes travelling in the wrong direction, unlike LOS where anything goes so everyone is constantly vigilant, and even somewhat considerate.
One fine evening a few of us parked our bikes together, and slid one of the chains through two of the front wheels, which then kind of looked locked, but wasn’t. Some kind soul took it upon himself to demonstrate our stupidity, by pinching the lock and chain, but kindly leaving our bikes and helmets untouched. We never mentioned the missing chain and lock, but simply took the key off the bikes keyring and – problem solved. I did scratch my head over that for a while, and wondered if there was a good market for used chains with an unopened and keyless lock attached, or if they made a key for it, or just cut off the lock? Maybe the thief saw us park there and figured he would teach us a lesson for not locking it? Who knows the inscrutable Asian criminal mindset. Our ex-pat friend R’s scooter was one of those new fangled automatic ones, which were apparently stolen much more often, so he used a disc lock, which prevented anyone wheeling it away, but not putting it into a pick up truck if they were really keen to nick it. One fine day we went to Mikes to do some shopping and upon our exit T said he had lost his keys. He searched frantically in his pockets while I sat on my bike laughing, when I looked at his scooter and noticed his keys still in the ignition!! We both had older model dreams (nightmares) which squealed on braking and wheezed on acceleration, which we figured were not the most desirable bikes around, but we heard from a few people that up to 50 bikes a day get stolen around Pattaya. Sometimes they are stolen by the very company that rents them to you! Apparently insurance covers lots of things, but not the cost of your bike if it is pinched, so some less scrupulous outfits have spare keys for your bike, and make them disappear regularly (so we were told)!
I had enjoyed the Inferno Disco last time I was here, and decided a return visit would be fun. I was pretty sure my hearing had almost returned from the abuse it received last trip, and I really should have tried to find some flesh coloured earplugs, as it was damn loud! However, the sight of hundreds of scantily clad slim tanned babes gyrating in time to well played versions of clubbing songs was worth the ringing in my ears for days afterwards. I had never tried myself, but figured picking someone up in these discos would be more sign language than spoken word. C was very sure to be close to me the whole night, holding my hand anytime a freelancer shared our table – to stake her claim, as it were. Watching the thronging mobs gyrating, some even in time to the music, and seeing some obvious pairing up going on, was fun. You would see a guy get a table and slowly get eye contact from a likely lady, usually followed by a drink offer, and I am sure some polite conversation. Actually by reading lips I am sure the words ‘long time’ came up once or twice.
This time around I found it a lot of fun just people watching, and sure enough there was a group of soccer hooligan types who struck out again and again, so the girls were a bit more picky than in the Go Go’s. When the band took a break the crowd quickly moved up onto the stage and we were treated to several pairs of young ladies who seemed very comfortable touching each other as they danced, making one and all wonder how sharing they could be in bed. Some of these girls were blatantly dancing with the idea of winning a customer for the night, looking around catching guys eyes and smiling. They sure did put on a nice seductive show, which I preferred to some of the strip shows further down the road, in all honesty. A funny thing I had noticed about some of the dancers in Go Go’s was that they dressed very conservatively when they changed for you to take them out, maybe trying to disguise their real jobs. Apparently most local girls preferred to go to the disco’s away from walking street, and I will try one next time and see what the difference is. Some of the local girls attending the disco dressed more seductively than any bar girl, so it made things a bit confusing at times.
It wasn’t till this trip that I figured out how all the roads worked and more or less knew where I was in relation to everything else. Pattaya is funny to get around until you have the basics, and even then we went to the go-karts and were pointed towards the ones we wanted, but found a sign for go karts and went in, only to find the right ones were only a few hundred yards away on the other side of the same street. In most countries when you go go karting you have slow 4 stroke karts, but here we had our choice of 3 different speeds of 2 strokes – yeehah. Naturally we chose the fastest ones, and were given race jackets and helmets, and off we went. There was a small lake in the middle of the track and were sternly told if we slid into it a 200 baht charge would be incurred to clean the engine out. I was actually thinking of spinning into it just for fun but remembered some of the guys had hit and one had spun in there accidentally and had come out with a snake around his arm. I decided to save the 200 baht and amused myself by continually passing the guys, slowing and letting them past and doing it again (being light does have an advantages in karts) All the time waving like a kid to C cheering me on in hot pants and singlet. Having minimal regulations re safety was good for karting, but when I looked at the bungy jump set up I decided that the dodginess of that gear meant a slip there would be fatal, not just a 200 baht charge, so wisely kept to safer pursuits, such as scooter riding.
I found the whole experience of riding around a lot of fun. I ride road and trail bikes here, so I just kept an eye out and had fun riding around on our scooters. I was always aware you had to expect the unexpected, and video taped a few trips to play back to friends back home, complete with bikes going down our wrong side and passing a police pickup on the wrong side at a T intersection. Right on cue one of the back street dogs had a go at C’s foot as we passed, which made for a wobbly ride, but good tape. It was way more of a problem for guys who don’t ride bikes back home, but get them in LOS for transport, like some from our last trip. They had to spend more time remembering how to ride than actually paying attention to other road users around them. I would ride behind the group and beep when we were being passed etc, so they didn’t get bowled over. C said she had her own scooter, and we delivered R’s nice scooter back after a drunken night, and I saw C get pushed over by a baht bus creeping at the lights. There was no damage except to C’s ego, and she and the female taxi driver had a good ole argument over who’s fault it was, all the while being passed on both sides by bikes as the light had gone green. I could see how a traffic incident could turn nasty to save face, as neither one wanted to back down at all.
Many of the fun things there really don’t translate to video very well, as I can sit in open fronted bars on walking street for hours just watching the freak show walking by, having a great time, but the video never really shows how it is. I still crack up watching the guys who have a lady-boy and have no idea – kind of going – look how cute my one is – and dressed so hot!! So funny! My friend P would still point a hot one out and go – wow – that one is a hot one and we would all laugh. One time we should all say nothing and let him take one home and see what he says lol. That would make a submission in itself!
Next instalment – going home, then sick water buffaloes!
Hurry up and get to the sick buffalo!