FOUR DAYS (NIGHTS) IN PATTAYA
It began on a Saturday afternoon when a huge line of traffic was heading the other way as my four-wheeler soi van headed for the Ekkamai Bus Station to Pattaya. We couldn't figure out what that was about until finally the driver realized it must be some of the 50,000 idiots heading to Rajamangala Stadium so they could listen to Taksin's lies and evasions. A good time to get away from Bangkok.
The cost of a one-way bus ticket is now 121 baht, very fair, and the bus only took just over two hours to get there. On the bus I overheard a guy telling another about some brawl that occurred in one of the bars in Pattaya between Thais and Russians. The Thais were outnumbered and defeated. Apparently, the Russians thought that was that (Duh!) until lots more Thais eventually showed up, one with a gun, and one Russian died. I'm not sure if this story is true or not, but it is a good reminder and warning that fighting with Thais is not a smart thing to do no matter how tough you may be or think you are. In Thailand, it ain't over until (if I may coin a phrase) the fat bullet zings.
When I got to the bus station in Pattaya, I had a regular suitcase and a shoulder case. Both were heavy because I was carrying copies of Identity Theft because I was going to give a talk to Pattaya's City Expat group. I headed toward a van but saw that one was full and about to take off and the other was nearly empty and wouldn't be leaving for a while and when it did it would of course be making lots of stops to let tourists off. So I went up to a motorcycle taxi driver, held up my suitcases, and asked if he could take me to soi 1. No problem. Of course, if I'd had an elephant he probably would have figured a way to get it on.
So I straddled the bike behind the driver, my feet on the ground, while I adjusted my helmet and set my main bag onto the bike. And the driver, thinking the weight of the bag was me sitting down and ready to go, took off. I was so shocked I couldn't yell for a few seconds. When I did he was off a ways and hadn't heard me but others, including a female motorbike taxi driver, did. And they yelled to him. He turned around and saw that I wasn't with him and got real embarrassed. All the Thais in the bus station were laughing. When he came back I laughed and told him if he had got to soi 1 the suitcase wouldn't have been able to pay him.
I was hung over on the way to Pattaya because of Halloween and then that night needless to say I found my way to Walking Street. But I am told that my talk the next morning went well and I did manage to sell all the copies of Identity Theft I had brought with me.
I spoke to several bar owners and managers and most if not all said business was really slooow. Estimates of how many go go bars there are in Pattaya ranged from 76 to 92. Estimates of how many were doing well ranged from six to 12. Obviously, a lot of go go bars and beer bars are really hurting. Of course, being an old guy, I remember in 1966 taking a four-hour plus bus to Pattaya on an old road (which was all there was), getting off, seeing horseback riding on the beach, some beach huts, Nipa Lodge Hotel, and a fishing village. And not a hell of a lot more. Four hours later I got back on the bus and headed back to Bangkok. How things have changed. By the way, the automobile below is fixed sideways on the outside wall of Walking Street Pub, a crowded place at the beginning of Walking Street. Noisy. Loud music. But lots of girls go there!
It truly is an amazing nightlife scene. I always tell people who have come to Bangkok but have not gone to Pattaya; people who want to know what the Pattaya nightlife scene is like, that compared with Pattaya nightlife Bangkok nightlife was created by a Reverent Nuns Bible Society. What you want, it has, from good restaurants to go go bars, to coyote bars to the Castle (an S&M place) to the Galaxy (the All European Girls Only place), stylish bodellos such as Kinnaree Place Gentleman's Club, and a friend who lives in Pattaya told me he has seen half a dozen overweight Arab hookers as well. And, of course, Walking Street before 11 but especially after 11 at night starts to become a real scene in itself with juggling acts, kids acts, muay-Thai boxing, etc.
Thailand is always full of surprises. For example, after my talk, the expats get up and share any useful information they have to the group. One fellow said he was bitten by a dog and now has pepper spray which he bought (rather surprisingly, I thought) from the local police station. In Bangkok I live beside a klong and dogs have gone for me also, so I decided to go along to the police station and get some pepper spray myself.
As it turned out, the police have some tables set up (at least on a Monday, maybe every day but Sunday, not sure) and they sell lots of stuff. But when I mentioned the dogs and asked about pepper spray they said they were out of it but not to worry just buy a stun gun. I looked down and yes there was a pile of stun guns. I picked it up and pushed the button. Whammo! Yep, just like in the ads! So I said, you mean I can buy a stun gun? Sure, no problem, 1200 baht. But I said I don't want to kill the dogs, but they (two men and one woman police officers) assured me it wouldn't. So, against my better judgment, I bought the stun gun and they gave me lots of stickers as well. Then as I was walking along Beach Road, I spotted a stand selling pepper spray.
But that night when I was telling this story to a friend inside a go go bar with particularly hot women, he told me a friend of his had gotten himself mugged by some Thais and they stole his money and roughed him up. So he went to the police station and reported it. The police urged him to buy a stun gun. He said, "Twelve hundred baht? I can buy one of those in town for 800 baht." The police said, "Oh, those are illegal; if we catch you with one of those we'll have to arrest you." Come on, now, folks, you gotta love this place! And just wait'll those soi dogs come at me next time. They'll be dealing with Rambo.
When I was complaining that there wasn't really much to do in Pattaya during the day, some friends took me up to the Kinnaree Palace Gentleman's Club, between soi 4 and 5 on Pratumnak Hill, on the way to the Royal Cliff. It was a Sunday and a big day for the club which closes every day at 8 p.m. It is quite stylish and has a bar, lots of sofas and chairs, an indoor area and an outdoor area with tables and chairs. A great place to spend a few hours. The card I have for the place says: " Beautiful and sensual hostesses, relaxing jacuzzi, 2 bars/ air-conditioned lounge bar, games room, outside patio area with bowling green." And did I mention it has rooms off to the side, one up the spiral staircase, and lots of women around?
In one particular establishment during my stay I did venture off with a young lady into a side room for a, um, discussion of feminist literature of the Ottoman Empire. And a bit more. As I was about to leave the room I asked her what the two suitcases were doing in the room. Apparently, the owner pays off one set of police but not another set. The suitcases in the rooms establish that someone is staying there and it is not a House of Ill Repute. Yah gotta love Thailand!
A bar owner told me he paid off nine (yes, nine!) different police organizations and he went on to name them. Amazing Thailand! I didn't make it to Jomtien Beach this time but did hop on board a songtaew and headed up Naglua Road toward Naglua; past all the German restaurants and beer bars, past the Thai gold shops and markets, until the songtaew was at the end of its route. If I had had a bit more ambition, I was going to head for that strange temple way over there, but never made it. I also didn't get to an establishment known as the "Fashion Club," a bar on Beach Road in which the very lovely Thai girls may be barfined for something like 15,000 baht (no, that is not a misprint). I guess wealthy Thais and Russians can afford that. Not me. It is said they do good business, but I can find a beautiful woman for a lot less than that, so why do people pay it? Oh, well, to each his own. It is said people either love Pattaya or hate it. I enjoy it but two or three times a year is enough for me. What a town! - 2009
And here is a video and stills (7 minutes) I shot from Pattaya up on YouTube.
Trip Two - Pattaya: Three Days, Three Nights
This sign says it all
I can't really say Pattaya has changed all the much since my last visit. I can say the highway is finished and the bus time from Ekkamai in Bangkok to arrival in Pattaya was exactly two hours. Now that was quite a change from when I first ventured to Pattaya on a dirt road in 1966. And those of you who frequent Walking Street bars early in the morning: I have shocking news for you: there is actually a beach in Pattaya. Yes, that is why they called it Pattaya Beach rather than Pattaya Short Timers Row. Shocking, I know. And I doubt that I will be believed in any case.
Anyway, for those who like noise and women and nutty people, Walking Street is still there. However nowhere is it as crowded as it was at the same time (December) two years ago. Amazing. And yet new bars are opening! First there is Baccara and you can see a few pictures of it inside and outside just above. It was spacious and the girls are good dancers and not crowded together on the ground floor as they are in Bangkok. And as it is right on Walking Street rather than up some soi it might have a real chance of doing some business. Second, the new coyote dancing bar Teazers has just opened. It is two doors down from Baccara right on Walking Street. The gimmick here is a good one: The entire front facing Walking Street is of glass so everyone can see the coyote dancers as they pass by - and perhaps venture in. So this bar might also have a real chance of doing some business. Jesse and his partner are doing it and Jesse was once the manager of one of the Doll House bars. But as I get the Doll House bars mixed up, because they have similar names, I won't venture to say which one.
Yet another European Ladies Only bar has opened. The other one, the one with the woman dancing in the window, now has some of its girls standing about on the street below near the stairs (photo above). Not sure if that means business is slow or what. You'll also notice in a picture above taken by the elevator of the Areca Lodge on soi Diana Inn (where I stayed) that not only the King of Fruits, the durian, is banned from the hotel, but so is the Queen of Fruits, the mangosteen (mongkut). So sad...
Anyway, after visiting Canterbury Books and mucking about the town there wasn't so much to do. So three nights was about one too many for me. But, as I always say, Pattaya makes Bangkok look as if it were run by a Bible society. - 2010
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Mojos Dancers Bangkok