Pattaya Memoires 4
5. Mike's in May
Mike's Shopping Mall, Pattaya. On a steaming hot May afternoon I walk into Mike's from the Beach Road side. As there is no wind, this is my only chance to escape from the unbearable heat and humidity.
The mall seems deserted, almost no customers are in sight as I enter. As I walk slowly to the 2nd-Road side, I am missing something … Or did I become deaf ? Why don't I hear "Sir, T-shirt for you !" or "Pants for you sir, cheap cheap." ? I go up to the second floor. Salesgirls are taking their siesta's. Sleeping with their heads in their arms on the counter, completely bored, or still tired from the night, who will tell. A few salesguys are watching an apparently extremely exciting and funny Thai soap on TV. I am ignored by everybody. This time, they don't give a shit about a potential buyer looking at their merchandise. They don't even look at me. I need some jeans but I decide to bother nobody and buy them elsewhere. I guess these guys don't work on a commission.
The cosmetics- and jewelry department hostesses, imho, are some of the most gorgeous women in Pattaya. They are well-dressed, look self-confident and are extremely beautiful. I think they are way more sophisticated and intelligent than the average bargirl, at least they look that way. In fact some of them look more like the high-class Thai actresses or models you see on Thai TV than the girls that you normally find in Pattaya venues. I wonder what these pretty girls, obviously not from the North-East, are doing in a sleazy place like Pattaya anyway. Can't they get a job in Bangkok or Phuket where whatever they do, (even what they perhaps do on the side), would pay more ? I catch myself gazing at them …
They look at me, don't smile and turn their heads the other way. It's like if I can read their minds : "Another pathetic, old and ugly farang, staring at us wondering if we're for sale. Not for you anyway, bastard. Get back to your Isaan whores, stupid sex tourist."
I feel terrible … I hope the night falls quickly over Pattaya bay …
6. Green Space
I got out of bed around 5 pm after a night and half a morning of boozing with Will and some other friends in a bar in Soi LK Metro. It was fun and everybody had a very good time story telling, drinking and joking. After taking a shower and watching some TV I got hungry. I was staying in "The Silver Town", a small but very nice Thai owned hotel just off 2nd Road, close to the Royal Twin Palace hotel. The staff are a fun couple of girls and women, very friendly and helpful.
"Good morning Mr. Forget, how you todaaaaay ?" I hear a happy voice asking, of course with a little bit of irony, because it was 6 pm by then :). The staff calls me "Mr. Forget" because I forgot to take out the key of my room with me a couple of times during my stay, locking myself out. "Good morning,", I answered, "what a beautiful day it is", I returned the irony, "I slept very well and I am hungry, I'd like to order two American breakfasts please". They were not surprised as it wasn't the first time I ordered a double breakfast. They knew I was without a lady otherwise I would order 3 breakfasts.
Breakfast, as always, was very good and I finally started "waking up" due to the good espresso they serve in this hotel. After having answered my emails, I call Will to check if he and Nok are still in bed or not. They are staying in a hotel in Soi Buakhao. Nok answers the phone and puts me through to Will. "Hello..o ..o..", his voice sounds as if it comes right out of the tomb of Tut-Anch-Amon. "Take your time buddy", I say, "I'll be in the Green Space complex having a coffee outside Starbucks. See you in an hour or so." The Heineken Green Space is a fairly new shopping and dining complex along 2nd Road. A few well-known franchises have an outlet there and there are many restaurants and shops. I like the round building style and the central square where, every night, a band is performing live. You can have a seat and listen to the band below on the square enjoying a drink or you can sit on the balconies of restaurants and bars at higher floors. The top floor of the Green Space is a cinema complex. As it was around Christmas time, the whole complex was impressively decorated with thousands of lights. This creates quite an enjoyable atmosphere to spend some time in the evening. The seats on the square are almost all taken. I enjoy sitting outside Starbucks at the 2nd Road entrance of the Green Space complex, an ideal spot to watch people entering and leaving the complex : Thai couples, Westerners with their Thai wives, Western tourists, sex tourists with their Thai girlfriends, Russian tourists with their wife and kids, Russian prostitutes (the wives and the prostitutes can easily be distinguished by their clothes, shoes and hairstyle), Western and Russian mongers with Russian prostitutes, Thai freelancers, Thai bargirls heading to work … What a wonderful place this is. I never saw a Russian guy with a Thai girl though hmmm … guess they feel superior and do not want to be seen with "lower" girls, or maybe it is just because of the language barrier, but that would surprise me. You can spot Russian men from a mile away by their square faces and angry looks. They never smile, even the Russian women almost never smile (except for some of the prostitutes). They should know smiling is not forbidden in this country, it actually seems to be quite popular. Russians are very introvert, a-social and only seem to care about their own bunch. Maybe it is because they don't speak any English, I don't know. Ah well, luckily they leave us alone and so we leave them alone. Every time I am at Jom Tien beach though, hearing almost nothing but Russian around me, I feel like I'm in some "cold war" movie. And it is over 30 degrees in Pattaya !
An hour and a half later Will arrives. He smiles, although he looks like he's just been ran over by a bulldozer. "I need a coffee", he explains, "a double espresso ! Nok is coming later on." After a coffee and some chit-chat we take a walk through the complex. There are some nice restaurants. There is a Chinese restaurant which is quite big. Each seat has it own cooking pan, with a heating system build into the table, so you can "wok" your own dish with the ingredients you choose. Will and Nok had a meal there a couple of days before and he asked one of the waiters if he could show me the place, which was no problem. Business is good, the place is really fully packed. As we leave the restaurant, I hear a voice calling "Heeeeey Mr. Forget, how are yoouuuuu ? You remember me ?" Of course I remembered the girl who used to be at the reception desk at night in the hotel I was staying. Apparently she changed jobs because she no longer enjoyed working at night. She indeed looked a lot happier than when I saw her the last time. Maybe she got more exciting things to do at night now, who will tell … After a small chat we leave, I would have liked to talk more to her, but she had no time, too many customers, too much work. We pass a real upmarket restaurant, I forgot the name, with a nice big roof terrace. A stunning girl comes towards us and explains us, in absolutely perfect English, the concept of the restaurant. She informs us about the Holiday menu's and possibilities. Hey, we even got a voucher for free champagne on New Year's day !
Slowly we walk to the other side. We are on the first floor now and take a seat on the balcony of the New York Deli sandwich bar where also delicious fresh fruit juice is served. We overlook the Green Space and the spectators below. We can hear the band playing but we have no direct vision on them. Next to us is a busy stairway. Good place to spot people going up and down. We order a sandwich and fresh pineapple juice, both taste superb. Too early for beer anyway.
After a couple of minutes 2 nice Thai girls, very well dressed, I guess in their mid twenties, come off the stairs. Both smile at us and we friendly smile back. This happens just in a second as they descend and immediately disappear out of sight. "Freelancers", says Will, "No doubt about it. We got a bait, I'm sure they will come up the stairs in a couple of minutes.". It didn't even take them a couple of minutes, rather a couple of seconds. They are very discrete and don't pass us directly, instead they walk the way round the bar to take a seat at the opposite side of the balcony, still in our sight though. They did not went in to order anything. Nobody could see what was going on. At first they pretend to have nothing to do with us, but after a couple of minutes one at time they smile in our direction. They do this very rapidly by just looking in a seducing way at us very shortly, just as if it was a coincidence. We smile but don't move. "Once Nok's here, we can let the mind-game begin" said Will.
Now 2 farangs come up the floor together with their girlfriends. We did not really pay much attention to them until the 2 farangs leave the table and go inside to order. Will whispered : "Screw those freelancers Barry, let's go over to that table, throw 10000 bath on it and tell those gorgeous chicks to come with us, I would like to see the faces on those farangs when they come back with food and drinks to find out their girlfriends took off haha !" We both had a good laugh with this joke.
Having just said that, Nok arrives, smiling at both of us. We were seated at a table in a way that Nok could sit in between Will and I. Of course she immediately noticed the 2 girls sitting at the other end of the balcony. As we don't underestimate Nok, we are sure that Nok suspected right away what was going on (hey, this is Pattaya and Nok has been around for a while !), only would we like her to think that we are both unaware of anything going on and we would like her to believe that we did not notice the girls. Yeah right … Anyway, Nok took place in between us with her back to the girls, which was perfect. We both talked to Nok and every minute or so we touched her gently and softly. It was Will's idea, for fun, to completely confuse the freelancers. They had no clue who Nok was and even if they thought she was a girlfriend of 1 of us, they could impossibly figure out who's. How bout all that for a "mind-game". We thought the 2 girls would leave but no, they stayed put and dared to look at us once in a while. Will suggested (in our own local Flemish dialect so we would be sure Nok would not understand a word as we think Nok understands English far better than she lets us believe) to go to the girls and stand next to their table, pretending to look at the band below. I was supposed to get into an "coincidental conversation" and ask for their numbers. Now at that very moment, like it was some kind of telepathy, Nok stands up and says to us she is going to watch the band and walks up to the table of the freelancers. Unbelievable timing. Will and I look at each other not believing what just happened. She passes the table of the girls and stops 2 meters further to look downwards. I guess Nok wanted to make the freelancers feel she was up to them, or something like that. The girls were sitting there like sculptures, they did not move a finger, not even blink. I walked up to Nok and joined her in watching the band. "Me think singer farang", said Nok, "but singer Thai !!". "You are right", I replied, "I also thought the singer was a farang". The girls did not dare to look our way. I tried to make eye-contact with the them as I walked alongside their table getting back to Will. Too bad, they did not look at me at all with Nok with me. I was wondering what the freelance girls were thinking. They would probably wait patiently until one of us makes a move. But we couldn't because Nok was with us. Maybe they were waiting for Nok to leave.
On turn, Will and I made a walk to the toilets at the other side of the complex. The girls stayed put, neither of them was coming after either one of us, which they could have done discretely and which we hoped they would do. I went second but when I got back the girls were still sitting there. What were they waiting for ? What are they thinking. Why haven't they left yet ? They easily could have contacted one of us in order to find out what was going on but they didn't. They weren't looking at us anymore, but just sat there, with no drinks, no food and nothing to do. It more and more looked like they were playing us instead of the other way round !
We realized we were sitting out there on the balcony for over an hour already, as were the girls. We stood up, paid the bill and went downstairs to the exit. I looked one more time in the direction of the freelance girls but neither of them returned my smile.
When we were downstairs I looked up to the balcony and saw, to my utter surprise, that the 2 freelance girls were, very enthusiastically, talking to 2 Thai men ! They were touching them and were smiling and very shortly after that leaving with them !! It was obvious these 2 guys are the boyfriends of the supposed freelancers. Then it became clear to us it was not them, but us, who lost the mind-game. We left the complex more confused than them, so it seemed, wondering if these were Thai girls waiting for their boyfriends, or if they were freelancers out for some trade … But hey, TIT, so quite possibly they were both. Probably we will never know as we never saw them again during our daily visits to the Green Space entertainment complex …