Malaysia & Thailand Trip Report, October 2015
I have just returned to Oz from South-East Asia. It was a 3-week trip to see if I still wish to travel long-term, and yes I do very much, more than anything!
I left good old Oz on an open ticket to Malaysia, KL to be exact, as I hadn't explored there much before. I landed in KL and found my way to the Bukit Bintang area, basically the city centre. I really liked KL and the general vibe about the area. The hotel was basic but clean and central to everything. I went out for dinner on the tourist strip. It wasn't five minutes before I met a fellow Aussie who invited me to join him. The Filipino waitresses were stunning.
I ordered a beer and the waitress poured it for me, but into a bowl. I had to laugh, but was informed it was a Chinese custom. I felt like a dog drinking from bowl, but never mind, I went with it, all I really wanted was a good old stubbie, or a bottle. I had a great time, paid check bin with a large note, and was due about $15 Aussie in change. The change never came, so I enquired to one of the Filipinas as to where it was? There it came, it was basically the situation of if I didn't ask, they were keeping it, I guess! Call me tight, but $15 tip on an already expensive drink and meal was too much, especially when they were being dishonest to begin with. Of course I didn't leave a tip for their underhandedness.
I wasn't surprised, but I do not let people walk all over me, whether big or small money. It was off to Beach Club Cafe as I had heard so much about it. A 45 Ringgit cover charge applied with one beer free. I knew the reputation of this place already. Upon entry I was paid attention by many Vietnamese girls, hookers of course, but I politely mentioned I wasn't looking for a girl. They got the message, but the whole night they were approaching around the place. I spent the night drinking with Aussies and Brits and had a great time. Filipinas were asking me to buy drinks…no chance! I had some nice conversations with some Vietnamese; I found the Filipinas to be the most pushy and money grabbing, but they got nothing from me, A good night though, a cab fare cost me 15 Ringgit and I recommend a cab at that time of night if you are a distance away. 15 Ringgit to me was still overpriced, but I just wanted to get home safe. From what I saw that was fairly standard for late at night, to and from Beach Club. Most were actually asking 20, but I gave 15 take it or not! Even in the cab I got a sob story from the cabbie trying to extract more, but I stood firm and he respected that.
I had one more big night out there to Mongos, which is a type of disco on Jalan Changkat. Some Irish lads took me there, and they were a great bunch of guys, and I was truly happy to meet them. I met a local girl in there and got her number. Later on there were hookers too. Many mixed nationalities in there, partying hard, everyone nice, I found they had the utmost respect for me, the Aussie. I had one girl so keen for me, but she was too aggressive and too keen, it put me off as the vibe wasn't right. She was stunning, maybe a hooker, maybe not, but more chance she was. As I said it just didn't feel right, so I passed it up.
The rest of the time I just enjoyed the city, shopping and mainly the food. The food was wonderful! I ate mainly Malay and Indian. There are some great Indian restaurants on streets just off Changkat, and inexpensive also. Two big dishes, a big bread and a coke cost approx. 15 Ringgit, even with a weak Aussie dollar it was only $AUD 5! One Indian place in particular was amazing, the owner was running around busy, he had an amazing energy level and a passion for what he did. That alone made me want to eat there. He was a true champion. Lot 10 is a place also not to be missed for food!
I also spent two night in Little India, which was great. The Indian food was quality, and you were full for $5. I thought the Indian people especially were wonderful and were totally respectful and just happy to get your business. They were totally honest always. To sum up KL in 2015, only in my opinion, great! For food a plus, for beer not so good. A beer in a mini mart was about $AUD 3 or a touch under sometimes. A beer along Jalan Alor, very touristy, large 17 ringgit and above. A beer in a bar, sometimes 20 Ringgit a pint, which is about on par with Australia, sometimes could be even more.
Hotels were a little dearer than in Thailand. I paid approximately 120 Ringgit for a nice hotel, about $AUD 40. You could get them cheaper, or lots dearer. I didn't need to go too cheap, and never do. The hookers were always starting at 300 ringgit, which may or may not have been all night. I had an offer from a Thai girl for 150 Ringgit, as I was a Thailand veteran as I told her, and was considering, until I saw what I thought was a needle mark on her arm, and her explanation didn't add up, so that was it for me, I just got drunk instead.
In Beach Club, girls were asking a starting price of 400 Ringgit – that's what expats told me anyway. I am sure it was negotiable, but many seemed very hardened and business-like, so I'm not sure if one would get the girlfriend experience. I didn't go to KL for girls anyway, but I know for sure that if you aren't too old and are ok looking, then you would be able to meet and date normal girls fairly easily. All you would need is time and a phone. However, for 5 days I wasn't going there and just did my own thing really. If I was to date normal girls I wouldn't want to meet them in a bar.
I booked a $55 flight direct to Pattaya from KL. By the way, getting around KL is very cheap, especially via the monorail, which is great. The new Klia 2 airport is very good now also. Skybus from there to KL Sentral is just 11 Ringgit.
Moving on, I landed at Pattaya in the afternoon. Shared a minibus which cost me 250 Baht to central Pattaya. I went to Pattaya as I wanted to relax for a couple of weeks somewhere familiar near the beach, and I know the place well. For me, Pattaya is good as the beer is cheap, the girls also, and in general there are many things on offer in Pattaya for anyone's tastes. I'm not really into the seedy site of Patts, but the odd girl, a few beers, good food and time to relax appealed nevertheless. And some nights out in the old haunts, the gogo bars etc.
For me, the magic and wildness of the first few trips is long gone, especially when you can see the place for what it really is. I think one can still have an inexpensive, good time in Pattaya without throwing ridiculous amounts of money around and sleeping with loads of hookers. I lived life there as I would at home with the added bonus of easily available ladies if I fancied it. This trip I checked out a few gentleman's clubs, as I was quite tired, and bored with the usual bar lady chit chat which involves them sizing you up to see how much coin they can extract from you. Sometimes, not all, but after 10 minutes I have had enough of the mind numbingly boring idle conversations of many a bargirl, and to be honest I would sooner sit by myself and people watch over a meal and a beer.
In saying that, being younger and a bit handsome, it was very hard not to get attention from the girls in the establishments, but if they became too annoying I politely requested I be left alone, and mostly it worked with a smile. I want to mention one experience in a particular gentleman's club. I would say it is one of the most popular with the expat community in the Pratumnak area. The first day I met a nice guy there and had a drink with him. He filled me in on the details on the place. Initially I was told the ladies there didn't pressure you and the vibe was good. I enjoyed the conversation with the expat I met. I was approached by a few girls, some asked for drinks, and even though I mentioned I wasn't looking for a girl, sometimes they just didn't leave and tried almost everything to get me to short-time them. They actually became annoying.
My friend took a girl, but I just wanted a few drinks and to get the feel of the place, as I am not a hardened monger. I did sense a vibe from some of the staff, and it wasn't nice. I guess it was because I wasn't throwing money at them or buying drinks and short-timing a girl. As I was leaving, the worst offender – a short, what seemed to be a waitress, came up to me and asked if next time I will take a girl, and I replied maybe. She wasn't nice in my opinion, and she had a nasty vibe about her. I guess it was because she wasn't getting her way with me, and I'm sure her wishes were for me to spend more.
My drinking buddy there did say to me to come and give it a second chance, and he was unaware of the vibes I was picking up on. Ok, I go a second day, the evil little waitress is nowhere to be seen – not that I really cared anyway – as I just see through bad eggs like that. I bought a drink, had a girl approach, bought her a drink, as I liked her and went short time. It was a great experience all round, she was sexy, nice and attentive, ok good. The third day I went there was not so good. The vibe was ok, I bought a drink, I had intended on another short time. Girls were approaching me, but I wanted to wait until I liked one, I'm the customer, can't see a problem with that. To be honest, I had about $2,000 worth of foreign currency for the last week I was there, and I didn't intend on taking it home with me. So I am in the bar happily relaxing over a cheap JD + Coke. The evil little waitress walks behind the bar, glances at me turns around to some other girls, not really saying it to them, but neither looking at me, and says nastily, keeneow. She said it in Thai, but I understood it. I didn't let it bother me, but it did end the day for me, on principle alone, it just kills the happy vibe for me. She goes away, so I simply finish up my drink, and decide to check bin. I pay up, leave no tip and move on. I refuse to spend my coin in a place where the vibe isn't good. She was a nothing, just one of the typical evil little creatures one comes across once in a while in the LOS.
Places like that are better off without staff like that, as I was intending to visit daily and I would have spent. I actually did like the place a lot, price, everything, but that little specimen had to ruin it for me, due to her small, ignorant feeble little mind. The beauty of Patts is that I can always go somewhere else, no problem. I had the thought to email the owner and mention my experience, but it's possible he won't really care anyway. He is a foreigner though. He really has a good establishment going, but maybe he is unaware of some of his staff's behavior. What would be ideal in that place would be to have foreign staff only, but I know that's not possible. I do find that a lot in Thailand, you find a place you like but the experience is ruined by typical idiot, childish Thai behavior. I am certainly not saying there aren't many good Thai staffed places there, because there are for sure.
Sometimes I just wish they would get it together and stop being so damn rude, ignorant and money-grabbing. I am the type of guy that will spend at his own pace, but push me and the wallet will close and I will go elsewhere. It's a shame some Thais have no concept of giving a good experience, an honest one and lots of people will return and they will actually make more money anyway, but oh well.
The rest of the trip I enjoyed. I went with the odd girl, but selectively, so as to minimize the chance of a rip off or a not so good boom boom. I met many expats and travelers, had some great, intelligent conversations and learnt a lot about other people's lives, and what I would like to do with my own. The good people I meet are always the highlight of my trips. All in all, Pattaya was still good and enjoyable. Over time you just learn to ignore the attempts to get your money, no matter where they are coming from. I spent some time at bars, eating lots of good market food, and just enjoyed being back in Asia.
My summary of Thailand in 2015, well Pattaya anyway, the hotels in October were around the same prices as two years ago, or not too far off anyway. I did see some high season prices to be applied and they had gone up a bit. I could still drink at bars, and at happy hours for 50 Baht a beer, which was way better than KL. A lot of the food was still the same price and the odd regular vendor had gone up 10 Baht. The main noticeable difference that affected me was the drop in the Aussie dollar. The last time I was there I was getting 31 – 32 baht to the AUD, but now it is 25.50 or lower, so that was the main difference.
Girls? Well, from what I saw, there were many in the beer bars, and the bars in soi 6 were asking 1000 short time, not that I went with any on soi 6. I suspect I could have got it cheaper, but 1000 is still not too bad really. Two years ago I was paying 500 or 700 short time. Sometimes I just gave 700 as I didn't want to cheapen the performance as such, plus it's still cheap. It was still 1,000 baht long time, but just gave it in the morning, too bad really, I did show them a good time though, food, good boom boom.
I can see the girls attitudes have changed, but not all. Some were negotiating the time factor on a long time. A few years back I didn't experience this. That's not to say all did. I do think they need to be careful not to get too greedy as tourism in Pattaya is fickle in my opinion. The ones that keep prices good and continue with a sweet attitude will swim while the others will start sinking but won't realise why…
The last girl I was with was totally amazing in every way, the true girlfriend experience. I didn't want to spend too much time with her though, as I didn't want to like her too much. I never went with another girl as I wanted that memory fresh to take back home, and going with another girl could have not been such a good experience, too hit and miss, so I quit while I was ahead. I regularly walked the beach road early evening just people watching. By the way some, of the beach road girls were stunning, but still I didn't indulge. I saw many an Indian group of men negotiating for an even cheaper price to what was already on offer.
I still swear by the 150 Baht buffet breakfast at the Lek Hotel, it's always good. It will be interesting to see how the high season goes this year. I truly think the businesses which get too greedy and really jack up prices may suffer. My observation was that the established places whose prices were the same or still reasonable were doing a solid trade. Yes, the ones that don't do the Thai thing of business is down so raise the prices to compensate for low trade, I think will be ok. I hope this report has been interesting and has given those thinking of travelling soon a good update on some things.
Interesting that you touch on what is, for me, one of the downsides of Thailand. The Thais can be a lot of fun to be around and party with when things are going how they want then to go, but when things are not going how they want them to go (getting drinks bought for them etc.) they can become bitchy, nasty and maybe even throw a tantrum. It's really quite child-like and this behaviour is NOT limited to the bar environment!