“No extras! No extras!” – That’s what I was shouting as I was led into a massage parlour by my good friend Ashley in Pattaya…
I made the decision to spend my first couple of days in the beach resort Pattaya to avoid the overwhelming chaos of Bangkok. I thought Pattaya would ease me gently into the Thailand pool of culture shock whilst stroking my hair rather than being thrown in and being held under by Bangkok but boy, was I wrong! Pattaya has its own unique culture that I had the privilege of experiencing. I had the best flight over to Bangkok and was picked up by one of Ashley’s friends and was driven in a lovely air-con car to Pattaya which is 2 hours away from Bangkok. The first thing I noticed when I got out the car – apart from the heat obviously (so hot… hits you like sauna!) was the amount of motorbikes everywhere! Apparently, that’s the way to get around! I’ve never seen so many in my life! Anyway, I stayed in a pub called AJ’s Bar and owned by a guy called Pete – another one of Ashley’s friends. Lovely guy. While I waited for Ashley to finish work, Pete took me to the market across the road. My first sights of a Thai Market? A giant pigs head, fish dying slowly and a huge black and white goat meandering around the stalls! Bloody hell!! Culture shock gave me a lovely kick in the balls there. But I carried on and was greeted with amazing smells of cooked fish, spices and incense. I bought my first meal – Kung Pow Chicken (40 baht – 90p) and a big cup of coconut juice for 20 baht – 45p! So incredibly cheap and they were both delicious! Ashley eventually showed up drunk as a bat as it was the last day of school and term has finished so we caught up in conversation over my new favourite drink in Thailand – Spy, which is basically a wine cooler as the wine here is too sour for my buds. I met more of his friends and had my first taste of what Thai people are like. Very friendly, lovely, beautiful people. Not the money stealing monsters and scam artists that people seem to think they are and I hoped there and then that the people I will come across throughout my journey are just as nice and that I won’t be bumping into any money stealing monsters (that I know are out there – i’m still being careful Mom!).
The next day, Ashley took me to Tesco – Yeah, they have Tesco here! Huh. Maybe Thailand isn’t the old school, living in huts made out of mud and grass… So in these places, you can pretty much get your hands on anything you desire! More so in Pattaya… So I got myself a Thai Sim Card which costs 50B and they set it all up for you at the kiosk. Job done. Money exchange – I was told not to exchange my money before coming to Thailand as they will exchange it for very cheap rates out here and they weren’t wrong! There are money exchange places everywhere including banks and a million and one ATM machines so it’s so easy to just bring your card from home and draw money out. However, there are charges attached to the equivalent of about £2—4 depending on the machine.
One of the reasons I wanted to visit Pattaya was for the beach! But apparently, Pattaya beach is a dump. Oh. So Ashley took to Jontiem Beach was very much like Barry Island in Wales but still beautiful all the rest and I didn’t care. I was on a beach in Thailand drinking beer. The best part of it was the way we got here – Motorbike Taxi!!! My first experience of a motorbike was pretty scary and awesome at the same time. I was holding onto the bike and clenching my abs so hard, anyone would think I was constipated looking at me! What a state. But I survived! So I got what I wanted, on the beach. Beer in one hand, 25B Papaya in the other… Aaaaaaaah. They do come around to you all the time wanting to sell everything to you… including birds! You buy a bird and then you set it free. Whaaa?! Set it free?! Only for you to go catch it again and put it back into the cage?! They’re having a laugh… We stayed for a few hours and Ash taught me some of the basic Thai phrases that I need to get by when buying food, etc. and my 1-10 so I’m making a start! I would really love to be able to speak a little Thai during my time here so I’m determined to make that happen for me.
So Ashley suggests a Thai massage – Uh Yeah! And then I remembered that we were in Pattaya. Ooh, maybe not. Come on! I’ll take you to a proper one. Alright. But no extras! That’s not what I’m about! I mean it Ashley! No extras!! So into this massage parlour we went. 250B for a Thai or Oil massage (£5). I looked over to a customer having a Thai massage and it was as if he was bread dough. He was being kneeded and pulled about like nothing I’ve seen before! Oil for me please!! The massage was great in all fairness. She pulled up some knots and stretched out my muscles. It did hurt but it felt great too. And I’m happy to report that the only happy endings that occurred was intrinsic ones.
So, do you really want to see Pattaya in all it’s glory? Aye why not. Seeing as I’m here, it’ll be rude not to… So we caught a baht bus to Walking Street. Oh. My. Days. I’ve been down my far share of ‘strips’ around the world but this is something else! Girls in the skimpiest of skimpy bikinis standing outside the bars holding plaques of drink deals, girls in skimpy fancy dress pulling you into clubs, people holding ‘show-boards’ listing all the ‘shows’ that the clubs are offering which I couldn’t possibly repeat on here as I will lose my domain for inappropriate language and I paid for it so it’s not worth the risk! I’m sure you can Google it somewhere if you’re that sheltered and don’t know what the hell I’m talking about… Music blasting, people everywhere or I should say, men everywhere. I stuck out like a lamb amongst bulls. I did peak into a Go-Go Bar.
I have an overwhelming curiosity about these things as a woman and what I saw made me feel quite angry and upset. Ashley could tell – he studied Sociology with me and has seen me heated about stuff like this many times! To see them girls parading around ready to be ‘bought’… it was like a cattle market. They all had their own numbers and men could purchase them for the night. Ugh. Safe to say we were out of there pretty quickly. They also had a ‘Boyztown’ nearby by which is pretty much of the same context as the girl go-go bars but with young men. But enough said about this night. We finished it off in a local karaoke bar singing ‘Hotel California’ and ‘Highway to Hell’.
The next day, Ashley’s friend Pim dropped me off at the bus station ready for my journey to Bangkok! As grateful as I am to Ashley and his friends for making me feel so welcome in Pattaya, I’m am very excited to meet all the other people on my course and start my adventure, training as an English Teacher!! Stay tuned…