Ah yes, Pattaya. Ten nights in the Amari Orchid Hotel, one of the top establishments in that particular resort. How did it go?
Well, a fairly mixed result, but in general I would say it was a pretty successful holiday. We arrived about 7 o’clock in the evening, pretty tired and very hot and uncomfortable after more than 24 hours of traveling time. The hotel was great, couldn’t fault it, apart from them charging top prices for everything from a beer to a taxi. The waitresses are all drop-dead-gorgeous young Thai girls, dressed in traditional gear, made-up and perfumed, looking like a million dollars. When they bring the drinks to the table they get down on their knees to serve you – a very effective and endearing mannerism. One particular girl tended to look after us, my beloved often said she wished we could take her home with us.
No money ever changed hands, it was all charged to the room, and the lobby bar was open 24 hours. We often came back to the hotel about midnight, stopped for a swift nightcap before going off for bed, then found ourselves still there at 2 – 3 in the morning. A lovely hotel, couldn’t fault it. One thing I’ve never seen before in a high class hotel is condoms in every room – most hotels give you a Gideon Bible and a tea making kit. In Pattaya you get condoms and loads of whiskey.
The town of Pattaya, however, was a different kettle of fish. It started life as a fishing village, then began catering for war-weary American troops on R&R from the Vietnam war. The place exploded into a busy town, then a big city, then a sprawling blot on the coast that grew bigger and bigger, there was no planning, no infrastructure, just lots of beer bars and go go bars. The streets are full of dusty pot-holes, the sewers are completely overloaded, the place stinks of shit much of the time and the beach is dirty, polluted and overcrowded.
And everywhere you look there are bars, bar girls, more bars, lots of market stalls full of knock-off goods, street traders, more Bar Girls, street prostitutes, gorgeous-looking KaToey transvestites, motor-bikes, baht-buses – and did I mention bar firls? The whole place just throbs with sex. Pattaya is built on it. There are about ten high quality 4 and 5 star hotels, about 30-40 decent middle ranking 3 star hotels, and literally hundreds of cheap ‘beer and birds’ flop houses. Everything is cheap – very cheap, compared with western standards, but still vastly inflated over what the Thai locals pay. There is a local price for everything, and a tourist price for the same thing. The Thai traders are noisy, colourful and ‘in-yer-face’ all the time, the pressure to buy buy buy is there all the time…and did I mention the bar girls?
The main bread and butter of the Pattaya sex industry is the older western guy who wants to travel to Thailand a couple of times a year where he can find a ‘Thai girlfriend’ who will see to his every need, treat him like a young attractive stud and make him feel he’s not washed up any more. There are loads of elderly Brits, stacks of fat Germans, a lot of Danes, Aussies, Russians – all with money to burn and looking for a young nubile beauty to help them spend it. For the first few days I kept doing double-takes all of the time as I spotted some wrinkled old grand-dad holding hands and smooching with a gorgeous dark-haired, flashing-eyed beauty. I mean, it just didn’t look right, but after a time I just stopped noticing. It was just Pattaya normal.
The Thai girls are impossibly lovely. Small, slim, petite, lovely hair, nice figure – and so many of them. It is literally impossible for a western guy to walk down a street without being propositioned every 5 yards, or lured into a beer bar to chat with 2 or 3 bright eyed attentive girls. ‘You buy me drink, handsome man? You Number One guy, I like you a lot.’ ‘You want to take me with you, I show you Number One good time?’ Jesus wept. The beer bars are open to the street, their main purpose is to get guys in to buy drinks for the girls – all very cheap, good fun and not blatantly sexual. Don’t get me wrong, any and all of the girls are available should you want to take her back to your hotel. But there’s no intimate touching, nothing to offend anyone.
Thai’s are generally quite restrained and conservative in public. It’s not like that in the go go bars. These are closed establishments with bouncers on the door, higher prices for the drinks, and live sex shows on stage for most of the night. In here, almost anything goes. Now, it’s important for your average tourist to remember that these places exist solely for the purpose of extracting the maximum amount of money in the shortest possible time. The only reason these girls are dropping at your feet or sticking their tongue in your ear is because they want to relieve you of all the money you have with you. If there is more in your hotel safe, then they wouldn’t mind some of that as well. They do this for a living, and they’re very very good at it.
A very strange thing happens on the air flights from Europe to Bangkok. On lifting off from Frankfurt the plane is full of fat middle-aged men, mainly in their fifties or above, their wallets stuffed with Thai currency, all looking forward to a couple of weeks of sun, sea and sex. When the plane lands at Bangkok International Airport these men have changed into throbbing love machines, with finely toned and muscled bodies, their smooth faces a cross between Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and a young John Travolta. They just know they’re gonna pull, man. What woman could resist? As the steps from the plane are rolled up, an invisible band breaks into ‘Night Fever’ and the guys salsa down the aisles waving 100 baht notes in the air. The hordes of invisible naked Thai girls waiting on the tarmac burst into song ‘Give it to me, Baby! Give it to me, Baby!’ And so the holiday begins.
You might think that I quite liked Pattaya, but you would be wrong. If I was there on my own, or perhaps out for a fling with my brothers then I can’t think of a better place to go on holiday…but not with my wife. I would never dream of going there again with my family, either – it’s just too much. Pattaya is not there for the western female, young, old or in-between. It exists to become Shangri-la for middle aged men. As a place for trying to rebuild a relationship with my beloved it was a bad choice – not disastrous, but not moonlight and roses either. We got on pretty well together, no fights or sulks, and in general we enjoyed our time on our own. Sounds a bit insipid, doesn’t it? Where’s the fire, the passion, the romance? The whole holiday seems a bit like a kiss from your sister, nice, but nothing to get excited about. Well, that’s not quite the case. We managed to get some serious talking done, a lot of ‘cards on the table’ stuff, a few tears here and there, then a bit of kiss and make up. This was all done on the little terrace of a pub on 2nd Street called ‘The Nag’s Head’ – pretty original, eh? So, there’s hope for the future after all, maybe we will grow old together. Or if not, then I could always find my way back to Walking Street in Pattaya. (joke).
There are other things to do in Pattaya. The place is stuffed with restaurants, street traders selling fresh Thai food, fresh fruit everywhere, all cheap as chips. We went to a seafront place on Walking Street called ‘The Lobster Pot’ for a meal, it was great. Built on a pier over the sea, lots of flowers and greenery, all the waitresses in traditional dress, choose your own lobster swimming in a tank – just great. We had a full three course scoff, lots of beer and wine, a couple of Irish coffees and the whole thing came to about 12 quid for two. We saw Tiffany’s Amazing Transvestite Show one evening, and I would never have known all the singers and dancers were blokes. Most of them had already had their tackle removed, but even the ones with their balls tucked up their arse still looked stunning. On another day we went to the Elephant Sanctuary, had a go at driving one of these enormous things, all I managed was to get it plodging in a pond. Great fun.
So, in a nutshell. Go there…soon. But don’t take the missus. Take your wallet instead, ‘cos you’ll surely need it.