Bangkok Pattaya Part 1
Returning to Australia from my first trip, my perspective on life changed. My two weeks in Thailand had transformed me. From a place in the world that I really had no interest in seeing, to somewhere that I now continually talk fondly of.
It was such an ego boost to be the hunted, the pursued, the chased. To be in an environment where the rules are different. No bra burning here! Picking them up off the floor, removing them, choosing them for a gift, yes, but NEVER burning. I felt my manhood restored. Now I understood why my friends were always trying to get me to go. Why workmates would come back from the Land Of Smiles with such satisfied smiles. I was now one of them, fully initiated, a member of the Thailand tribe.
I was always going to return to Thailand and Pattaya. I had left with a feeling that I had not done and seen as much as I would have liked. I knew there was more to the area than just girls and bars, more to do than just root, drink and eat. But then again, I did want to return to root, drink and eat. When I was to go back and whom with I did not know. That question was answered about 6 months later, via Europe.
Arriving in London from a lovely 5 weeks in France visiting family, I was excited and happily looking forward to at least a 12 – 18 month stay. Having lived there before, it was nice to be back. Like meeting an old friend you haven’t seen in years. Yes they change, but the feeling is still there. Life is change and change is a constant, positive or negative. This time though the change was sooner than expected, quickly changing from a negative to a positive.
Thanks to a miscalculation of funds and a passport issue on my part, my time in London was to be cut short to six days. It was all my budget would allow. I had also intended to work, but that plan was also derailed. What a shock that was. A trip to the consulate was of no use, although they were informative and helpful. The reply was basically “Sorry, your fuck up, will take 6 months to sort out.” As Homer Simpson would say, “Doh!”
I had to make alternative plans fast as I had no return ticket back to Australia. The six days of sightseeing in London was enough anyway. It’s such an expensive city.
It took me all of about 5 seconds to think of a solution. ”I can return home via Thailand. Yay, the perfect excuse.” After many frantic emails to my travel agent in Melbourne, flights and hotels were booked. Thailand via Abu Dhabi. Five days Bangkok, eight days Pattaya. I couldn’t wait. I was returning to the LOS, and I was going to visit a city I had never been to, and I had a great excuse.
Heathrow was busy and efficient as usual, and my flight left on time. A sight I had never seen, sand dunes. They looked like wrinkly skin from the air. Abu Dhabi airport was hectic. Queued to use the toilet. Connecting flight caught, take off smooth, flew over India. I arrived in Khao San Road, Bangkok in the evening. The hotel to my relief was nice and clean, and provided a decent breakfast. It cost $20 AUD a night. The hostel in London was forty a night for an eight person dorm! After sharing a room with seven other people, it was nice to have my own privacy and space.
The evening in Bangkok was hot and sweaty, totally the opposite of London where it was summer, and the temperature struggling to get above 20 degrees. It was nice to be in shorts, sandals and t-shirt again. Wandering the streets, I did not have a clue where I was, and where I was walking to, but I didn’t feel lost. I slept well. A rain storm woke me, then gently sent me back to sleep.
I ate breakfast at the hotel buffet and set off for What Pho, which houses the reclining Buddha. I quickly worked out that Khao San is a convenient area to stay. All the main palaces and temples were close by. What luck. I arrived at the temple early to beat the tourists, and there were already hordes of tourists. Drats! I wandered around the gardens. The intricate tiling work and colours of the temple is amazing. Coming from drab-looking European monuments and churches, Thailand’s temples are exciting, colourful and seemingly animated. The way they reflect light and their deep colours makes them look alive. The reclining Buddha was huge, and so were the crowds.
Getting around was easy, if a little daunting at first. In the end I caught a taxi if it was too far to walk. A Thai local told me to always insist on meter fare, and not take the price the driver would aggressively and opportunistically suggest. Many times when I said to a driver “meter fare!” They would look angry and just drive off. No manners at all. Thankfully not all are like that, and most were helpful and courteous.
“Patpong, meter, meter!” I told the taxi driver. Thankfully he agreed , the previous three wanted to charge me 500 baht for an 80 baht fare. Arriving in Patpong, I was initially underwhelmed. Is this all it is? I laughed at the Super Pussy neon sign. But other than that, I didn’t really think much of the area. I wandered around the streets. Nothing different or unusual here. It just didn’t have the same intensity as Bangla Road or Walking Street. The girls looked lackluster, seemingly only looking for triple four Japanese. “I will return, with more research”, I promised myself. Since then, I have stumbled across Stick’s website, and have Googled “Bangkok bars”, getting many varied responses. I only blame myself for being underwhelmed by Bangkok’s red light districts.
Being a computer nerd, I made a beeline for Panthip Plaza. It was huge. So many floors full of computers and electronics. I couldn’t get enough. I was in computer / electronics heaven. In the end I only bought a couple of memory cards for my cameras. Like you, Stick, I love taking photos.
My mate Stevo asked me one day, “What do you do with all those pictures you take?”
“Fucking look at them , what else?” It seemed like the dumbest question ever. But then that’s nothing unusual from him.
The rest of my time in Bangkok was taken up by temples, tours and shopping centers. I did a day tour which I thoroughly enjoyed – visiting the Floating Market, Thai Burma railway and Tiger Temple, The shopping centers were huge, but they really are all the same to me. How many floors of clothes and gadgets does one need to digest in a day? The flower market was incredible. A photographer’s delight. The extraordinary colours and exotic smells were just amazing. My only regret was not being able to make it to Chatuchak Market, but that’s a great excuse to book another trip.
My 5 days in Bangkok went quickly. In a flash I was boarding the mini bus for my 2.5 hour ride to Pattaya. TBC