Some First Impressions
A submission from Phet is like receiving a gift from a rich uncle, and, like expensive gifts, they don’t come often enough. Anyway, his latest epistle has inspired me to commit some memories to ‘ones and zeroes’ before they fall victim to senior moments, or more likely, Singha moments.
Before I kick off, it seems customary to say a bit about myself, so here goes; I’m a 55-year old from the north of England, have managed to hold on to most of my own hair and teeth and have a wardrobe of drinking shirts that doesn’t include a Singha beer vest. My 20-year marriage bit the dust a few years ago and a mate persuaded me to go to the LoS. He is an old hand, visiting 4 or 5 times a year, and regaled me with many a story of a land bursting with young beautiful ladies. After much prevarication, I put my pre conceived ideas aside and went for it. Arriving in Pattaya for the first time in November, 2010, was like arriving in heaven and hell simultaneously. I’ll maybe try to describe this in more detail in another sub, but here’s a snapshot; after travelling for the best part of 24 hours, getting slathered in sweat just by walking, not being able to walk anywhere of any distance anyway due to the obstacle course that passes for pavements, breathing polluted air, then using baht buses and getting snarled up on the woefully inadequate roads, I began to wonder what I’d let myself in for. Looking at the city, I couldn’t work out whether it was being knocked down or being built up.
The farang that hang out in the place, at least half of them, looked and behaved like they should be locked up immediately, but then, I guess each country doesn’t send its best ambassadors to Pattaya.
But then there are the fantastic girls, the beer bars and the gogo bars. The upshot being for all its shortfalls, I’m pretty much hooked and have returned many times since. The problem is that once experienced, you can’t unexperience it. It is very much like a double-edged sword in that respect for me. I’ve seen some sorry sordid sights but also some incredible acts of warm-hearted kindness.
The point of this sub, is to relate a conversation I had with a girl in a gogo bar on Walking Street. She was beautiful in an unconventional way, not your usual long legs and long hair with dazzling eyes and smile; she was more understated but importantly, appeared intelligent and articulate and didn’t immediately drain the drink I bought for her in order to get another. After disposing of the usual formalities i.e. what’s your name, where you from, how long you stay, she started to tell me about herself. She told me she had land in Isaan and was in the process of building a house on it. She said she had no kids but was looking towards independence for herself in the future to support herself through university. It was as if, cartoon style, a thought bubble appeared above my head, ‘could this one be different’? Yes, I know it’s a cliché, but there it was! She told me she had returned to ‘dancing’ after a relationship with an American guy had recently failed. Apparently, this guy had fallen head over wallet for her. She said he had been sponsoring her to the tune of 30,000 baht per month for at least 9 months, but she said she ended it because he was a ‘butterfly’. That ubiquitous put down never fails to surprise me how Thai ladies have the ability to skew the moral high ground! Straight away I was puzzled. Why would she turn the money tap off?
Anyway, I asked her how she felt about it and she said she was sad because he was a good man and had paid for the construction of half of the roof of her house in Isaan. I was visibly shocked. This guy had invested a lot of money and no doubt, a large amount of emotional equity thinking this one is different and his net worth to her is summed up as only funding half a roof! She read the expression on my face, which was registering a combination of shock and disbelief, and said it was time to go dance, which was my cue to checkbin.
I stumbled into the heavy night air pondering how the American guy would have told the story, a sad story no doubt, including heartache and financial pain. There are sure to be a few roof tiles in Isaan with my name on them, but I have absolutely no intention of going for a full roof experience. My final thought was that it doesn’t just take a little prick to burst a bubble.
Nice first up sub with a couple of classic quotes. I love the one about arriving in Pattaya and not knowing whether it was being built up or torn down!