Angeles City/Philippines vs. BKK/Pattaya
I’ve genuinely bored with Pattaya now. I’m bored with being told I can’t stay up late drinking because I’m the wrong kind of tourist. I’m bored with wandering into (already overpriced) showbars and then being pressured into buying a drink for the (albeit attractive) farm girl next to me that doesn’t speak a word of English. I’m bored with the haggling. I’m bored with the scrounging. I’m bored hearing tourists moaning about getting ripped off by ladyboys, jet ski operators and other thieves. I’m a tourist and I’m on holiday, I don’t mind spending my money, but I don’t want everything to be so much of a chore. I follow the basic rules, be sensible about where you go, only take out a nights worth of spending money, don’t wear flashy stupid necklaces and don’t ride motorbikes (never have, never will – I don’t even drive in Thailand).
So after ample visits to the land of smiles, and with a week of holiday to take, this time I thought I’d go and explore Angeles City in the Philippines. I did all my homework online, so getting a hotel and transport I wanted was no problem (I picked the Dollhouse hotel because it’s the centre of the action of Field Avenue, but I found it quite comfortable and surprisingly quiet, with some really friendly and helpful staff). Contrary to Frankie’s fanciful tale, I never once got hassled by anyone going in or out of my hotel at any time of day. And funnily enough, it would appear I was in the same town at the same time. And having stayed right on Field Avenue I can categorically state that Frankie has no idea what Field Ave. traffic is like in the daytime. It’s like treacle. There are no speeding trikes flying past at breakneck speed. Not one. Complete lie.
By far the biggest differences between Patts and AC is the language. I’d actually forgotten what a pain it can be in Thailand if you can’t speak reasonable Thai.
(By way of example. I had a night in Bangkok on the way home and was sat outside a bar on Soi Cowboy with a group of farang friends. I asked for a round of drinks on a new bin. So she picked up the bin nearest with me and went to cash it up! So I stopped her, and explained again. “Drink for everyone”. Nod. “NEW bin for me”. Nod. She picks up all the bills. I can see where her confusion was if she only understood fucking sign language, but this is a busy tourist district for fuck’s sake. Everyone tried a new permutation. Got there in the end because my mate’s Thai g/f heard me and explained it to her. Then you realise, how crap is that? They want my money, but they can’t be arsed paying a bit extra for a waitress who can speak a bit of English?)
And it occurred to me that not only had I had no such problems in the PIs, but that every conversation had been in my native tongue and needed no such clarification (or translation, obviously).
In fact a lot of the bars had adverts for waitresses, mamasans, dancers, and clearly implied that having languages like Japanese and Korean IN ADDITION TO English and Tagalog was a bonus.
Every place I was in was a hoot and you felt more relaxed not having to resort to Tinglish, with its appalling-sounding grammar.
It also made everything else a lot more fun as well J
Pricewise, 3000 pesos (about bt2250 I think) pays the barfine and “entertainment fee” for a gorgeous showgirl (or two in my case, after the mamasan explained everything they would lay on for me. Cheaper than Eden!). A tip for the girl, over and above what she gets from her place of employment, is encouraged if she excels at the services provided, and mine certainly did.
If you’re on a budget you can pick from the less attractive girls (bear in mind, beauty is in the eye of the beholder!) for as low as p1300 (just over Bt1000 including bar fine).
Freelancing is discouraged because apparently farangs can be an easy target for thousands of dollars if the girls can trap said farang in room with an underage girlfriend , and apparently this happens several times a month in collusion with the police (what does that remind you of?). It involves your girl saying she has to bring her friend to give her money or some such shit, and once she’s in your room, she asks to use the bathroom. Once in there, the police arrive double quick and remarkably said girl is naked with her birth certificate ready. My hotel were ahead of this game, and explained that they don’t let any girls come in to the hotel at any time on their own, except to the coffee shop. That made me feel quite safe.
But enough of that, my point is that I found the whole being able to converse thing made it lots more fun and a lot more relaxing. I also found that almost everywhere people are polite when serving you. Excuse me sir, Good morning sir, thank you sir, etc. from the security guards at the malls, shop assistants, waitresses, etc. All pleasantries to me get returned in spades, my dear old mum would have murdered me for grunting or just ignoring like the Thais frequently do.
Again, Frankie’s assertion that the place is full of thugs who hate you is complete nonsense. Perhaps there were those that had a reason for hating Frankie, and from his obnoxious submission, I can see why. Every person with whom I dealt was polite. I even got no abuse at all when saying “No thank you” to beggars, no abuse when haggling with trike drivers, same as Thailand, treat people with respect and a smile and things go very easy.
Onto other subjects:
Beer in PI is San Miguel, San Miguel, San Miguel and San Miguel (yes I found four of them!). All dirt cheap really, especially in happy hours. You have to find one of them drinkable.
Drinks are cheap, although lady drinks for showgirls in the top clubs can run up to p250 (I think that was the highest I was quoted), so do your homework if you want to visit these places.
I’d heard a lot about the Perimeter Road bars, and they really are just evening places – close at 12 midnight or thereabouts. Good for knocking about with girls, game of pool, etc., and a takeaway if you feel like it. There are plenty of these two explore and PIATNIGHT.com have a discount card which encourages you to drink in several of them.
Food is plentiful and cheap. They seem to have every fast food outlet every invented on the planet, most of which I hadn’t even heard of, but tried every time I went shopping (yes, there is an SM Mall everywhere, they are more plentiful and cheaper than Centrals!).
I didn’t try street food, only because the food in my little hotel coffee shop was great, from the pick your own ingredients breakfasts to the Philippines dishes I tried.
One other aspect I like was that there is at least one 24 hour show bar (Think Angelwitch without the actual shows; funnily enough owned by my hotel’s owner!), and a 24-hour sports bar round the corner! (N.B. There is an Angelwitch in AC and Subic I believe, but I’m not sure they are related to their Thai counterparts).
I found it quite disconcerting waking up early and seeing people stumbling into a gogo after a long night out!
I’d recommend Angeles and Subic for a visit – in fact I took two ladies from one Show bar with me for a couple of days looking around Subic, and we stayed in the Blue Rock, although many of the AC hotels seem to have a Subic equivalent. Although Subic does have its rather more limited go-gos, you can easily have a couple of good nights down there and spend your days on the beach if that is your wish. Actually, I recommend the Blue Rock for its innovative and very good fun Floating Bar, replete with ladies!
Bad Points – It would be unfair not to describe some of them:
Poverty: Like Thailand it is endemic, but more so in a country that is told to reject family planning advice. Mothers with babies seem FAR more prevalent that Thailand. And apparently they’re very light fingered. Lots of children wandering around begging as well, although I don’t know if they dip like the Sukhumvit kids. Having said that, if you’re on your toes, and don’t make it easy by keeping a big wad of cash in a very accessible pocket, then it is piss easy to avoid them. I never had any kid “launch” themselves at me.
Transport: The trikes (motorbikes and sidecars) are like tuk tuks. Agree the fee with the driver before you go. They haggle like Thais, the more patience you have the lower the price. Not exactly expensive anyway. I didn’t use the jeepneys and the hotel provided taxis the few times I needed them.
Traffic: In AC and down to Subic is nothing, but it took us one and a quarter hours to go 13km from Manila airport. It’s infinitely worse than Bangkok even used to be. We went past this couple of ladies walking on the path, and 30 minutes later they overtook us. And they’d been on foot all the way! Apparently you can fly direct into Clark Airfield, and regional airlines are starting to get more and more interested in this (I believe Air Asia fly there).
So in summation, it’s cheap, English is no problem, you can get a drink and breakfast and watch some wiggling 24 hours, and if you are prepared to accept the down side of a poverty stricken country then it’s a good alternative to Thailand. I certainly never felt threatened at any time just by following the simple rules of common sense. I never got scammed either; no-one even tried. You can safely ignore Frankie’s fanciful “Escape from New York”-style tale of dangerous criminals on every corner. It is complete and utter bollocks.
Funnily enough, I read online more and more mention of the Thailand residents planning a visit there to get away from the cretinous madness of Songkran.
I’d say it’s worth a look if you have the inclination, or if, like me, you want a bit of variety. I’ll definitely be going again, and it will be at the expense of at least one of my Thailand trips, especially if Thailand continues to make the farang less and less welcome, either as a resident or a guest.
Oh, and I did my bit on the plane (flew there through Bangkok). I had a good Bahraini lad next to me going to Phuket with a load of mates. So I explained the Phuket jet ski operator scam and told him to stay away from them, and to explain that one to every Arabic tourist he met (there’s always loads at this time of year), and also communicate it to all his Bahraini mates that the same should be avoided in Pattaya and Samui. I was able to say, without insulting him, that they particularly like ripping off “dark-skinned” people, as has been my experience in Pattaya. From his reaction, it was clear that he’d got that impression the last time he was in Thailand and asked me if there were any good “escort services” in Phuket! Now this is someone flying in the forward cabins, so there’s got to be some inventive Thai girls (i.e. three holers) out there missing out on some good cash purely by being racist!
Finally, to Frankie, I would say get a life my son. If you take such personal pride in the number of whores you fuck, and the disgusting manner in which you treat people, that you feel the need to share it with people, then it probably is better that you do everyone else a favour and stay at home in the shallow end of the gene pool.
Very nicely put together and balanced report. There is definitely a growing feeling amongst long-time Bangkok / Pattaya visitors that Angeles City is a very real alternative.