Pattaya vs. Angeles City / Philippines
I have been making far too much of a habit venturing off to Thailand over the last couple of years. In fact over the last year it was work for 2 months back home and venture to Thailand for 1 month. It was a pattern. Some asked whether I was running away from something at home. This I could not answer, but one thing I do know is that it was extreme fun, a place I could be myself without anyone judging me, and on top of that I thoroughly love the food and the silly amounts of clothes shopping.
BANG! I landed in Pattaya again for New Year's Eve. Thought it would be a fun time to go and I had heard the weather is better this time of year rather than mid year. That proved true, I even found myself cold at stages throughout the early mornings.
Well, I have been to Thailand many times and Pattaya the majority as at least one destination to spend the bulk of my time. I have been with friends and without friends. But there was something about it this time which didn't gel with me. It didn't have the magical feeling it once had for me. Now it is only a personal opinion, and perhaps my mood was not set up appropriately for the place, but I started to really feel the ugliness of the place. Now I am not turning anyone away from a Pattaya experience, but it seems that I was more aware of the types of people that live or visit the place. There are a lot of nasty creatures out there. I don't even want to put a generalisation on nationalities, though it's easy to do.
What was it? First night in…New Year's Eve night…in a nightclub dancing with a bunch of Nepalese tourists. Lovely bunch…so sweet and happy. Next thing a guy comes leaping out of nowhere and pushes one of the girls. He wasn't Thai and he wasn't Nepalese. I don't know. He then takes several swings at her to try and knock her down. He was a drunk she was lucky to avoid. Unfortunately, I was stuck in the middle of it all and could not see a girl be attacked by a man. A bouncer didn't remove the guy from the nightclub but just moved him away up at the bar. (Yeah, nice location so he could feed himself more drinks?) The guy then begins sprinting across the club which was gradually filling with people and tries to hit her again. The bouncer just caught him and took him back up to the bar. I was in disbelief and felt sick that a guy could be so aggressive towards a woman. I kept my eye on him. After another 10 minutes the guy starts walking slowly towards the girl again and I had to go up to the bouncer and really give him a good earful on how to approach the situation.
"Go get him right now, prevent the situation from happening rather than stopping it. Now you go RIGHT NOW and get that guy!" and I pushed the bouncer towards him.
That night another Australian mate of mine saw 7 fights on Walking Street. On a side note, that mate was in Khao San Road in Bangkok just sitting there, and received a Thai foot right in the face. Broke his nose and both eyes were extremely swollen. He had no idea what he had done. As he came to he asked who the hell the guy was that was so gutless to kick him without showing himself. Well that guy didn't show but a whole group of Thai guys stood in front of him. My mate's main issue was he just wanted to know what he did and if there was a problem would prefer to apologise etc. Well…he never found out.
Funny that we were in another place on Soi 6, Pattaya. A mate of mine walks out of the toilet smiling at one of the girls inside. A 'shaved head UK' bloke asked what was my mate's issue.
My mate replied, "to wake up every day with a smile". Next thing he was grabbed by the back of his head and slammed down on the bar and threatened not to speak to a particular Thai prostitute working in the bar.
Seems like everyone is just a bit worked up. Macho blokes everywhere…whether they are big or small, so many of these guys have either a really large chip on their shoulders or very low self esteem that they feel the need to protect every ounce of their small lives with physical intimidation. The countless times I would walk along the street and men wouldn't want to share the footpath (road) with me, and prefer to go the hip and shoulders root is absurd. Who the hell do these people think they are? I would make a concerted effort to at least turn the body a little so we could pass one another, but a greater percentage than not needed to show their manhood by not moving out of the way. Grow up little boys, you're not in high school!
Five days into staying in Pattaya, I already felt like getting out of there. So I went to the Philippines. Had no idea whatsoever about that country other than the bits and pieces I quickly googled before leaving. I went to Angeles City. It is the Pattaya of the Philippines. As my enthusiasm for much of this type of scene was almost gone, and I know I would not partake in such adventures like this much more, I really wanted to see the differences in the countries. I would say it was huge. For one, it felt like Mexico. Most of the people can speak English, (the girls have a lovely accent) and there are many spaghetti and meatball, tortilla and hamburgers to eat.
So in some more detail…
I arrived at the airport, got myself a taxi and off I went on a supposedly 2 hour drive to Angeles City which in the end took just over 4 hours. Without any choice in the matter the taxi driver took me down a dark narrow alley where there were many extremely poor homeless looking people. He wanted me to meet his daughters. Constantly asking him to keep going he still persisted in showing me. I locked every door in the taxi while the driver left. It was one of the first times I feared for my well being in any country. I began stashing money in different areas, passport separately. If I was going to get mugged, at least I would have something somewhere. Then the back door was unlocked and the driver returns. Six girls get in the back seat of the car and he asks me how many I would like. He then rattled off their ages. 14, 15, 16, 18, 21 and 24. They were mainly little girls. His brother then jumped in the very back of the taxi (van). And we start driving. It took me a very long time to ask him to stop the car and let the girls out and just to take me to my destination. Finally the girls left and I said to the man that 14 was such a young age for a girl to have sex with a man, and he just replied, "14 is very good".
Welcome to the Philippines. Above all, when I got to Angeles City, it was OK! I would say it is mainly Americans there rather than the German / UK guys in Pattaya. I would say that the farang tourists there were much friendlier and unheroic than in Pattaya. The place is far more dangerous than Pattaya in regards to locals in the country as there are armed security everywhere you go which includes 7 Eleven, McDonalds and all the in between. Though that can make it safer as well, I would suggest not venturing too far away from the main streets at late nights though.
The girls there had no tattoos, had lighter skin in general, and could all speak decent English with their lovely Mexican inspired accent. If one is concerned about the price of these girls…YES, it is much cheaper generally.
As an overall opinion on the Philippines, I would say it was a rather sad place. Some very beautiful and friendly people but the poverty was disturbing, and you cannot walk more than 10 metres without people either begging for money or selling Viagra. The street scum (which is sad to call it that way) is something else and can get very tiresome. And the biggest problem I had with the country was the underage sex trade. It was everywhere and in your face in broad daylight. I cannot accept this and it makes me very sad.
I would say it is an experience to go to Angeles City if you like Pattaya for its entertainment. In my opinion the girls are nicer and you can have a good conversation with many. If I was a guy who wanted to get myself an Asian wife, and the sort looking in bars and clubs for them (wrong!) I would be looking at Angeles City rather than Pattaya. At least it can be honest bullshit conversation that you can understand when you get done over later on down the road.
I did go back to Pattaya after my journey to the Philippines, and enjoyed myself. I also met many very nice people and enjoyed their company very much. And I am not talking about bar girls etc, but just good people from Thai guys and girls, tourists from all around the world and expats. It's just a shame there are so many wankers in the place, but perhaps it is because of high season, where it just makes it more noticeable because there are more of them. I have one more trip in 2 months, then my Thailand adventures will be concluded. I really feel like I have had some amazing life experiences from visiting the place, done things I could only have dreamed about, lived a life I have always wanted live and above all learnt so much about myself.
I hear many mixed reports about the Philippines. Some love it while others hate it.
As far as Pattaya goes, I have to admit that it is unfortunate that high season does see some rather "interesting folks" visit en masse.