I got to Bangkok around midnight on the morning of the 23rd, and promptly got into a cab to head to Pattaya. Pattaya is a town an hour and a half south of the Bangkok airport that caters more towards families nowadays (and traditionally towards single men, or at least ones forgetting they’re single) so I doubt I would have headed there on my own. As it stands, however, my parents bought their house from a guy who owns a hotel in Pattaya, and they surprised me with a few nights stay there for my birthday.
It was my 23rd birthday and it took place on the 23rd, for anyone who didn’t know that detail. I remember in my much younger days (you know, the ones where you don’t think you’ll make it to high school) what a shame it was that I would be too old to think of something cool to do on such a momentous numerical event, so I hope my young self would find Thailand acceptable! Picture of the pool-
And picture of my birthday dinner- pad thai with fried egg, and giant drink fashioned from a pineapple to continue the “drinking from giant fruits” theme I mentioned earlier with the coconut (hey, you’re supposed to be careful of what you eat around here anyway!).
As for what I did in Pattaya, well, I took up the life of the resident minor eccentric in the hotel due to my alone-ness and non-German-ness (pretty much everyone in this hotel is, to the point that that’s the first language posted) which I relished by asking myself each morning “ok, Yvette what do you want to do today?” It’s funny how long something like this can take getting used to because traveling with others ends up being a long set of compromises on what you will be doing (not necessarily a bad thing, but it happens nonetheless) whereas if I just wanted to sit by the pool drinking beer no one was going to argue. Which I did a good amount of frankly, once I discovered even the expensive poolside beers were 100 baht with tip (about US $2.80). Now if only I could convince the old fat German guys that sharing a lobster’s color (red or brown) is not attractive, nor are Speedos…
When the poolside got boring all you need to do is go out onto the street and hop onto a songthaew-
What is a songthaew, you ask? It is, in short, a pickup truck that has been converted into a miniature bus- you wave to the driver when you want to get on, and buzz and pay 10 baht when you want to get off. Totally great around here because it’s so hot the breeze is greatly appreciated! Here’s another view so you get the idea-
Of course, when they start getting full some of the guys will stand and cling to the back, as they think it’s very macho.
It’s interesting just how quickly you get used to the traffic around here, by the way (or at least I did)- constant bustle of cars, trucks, songathaews, and motorcycles in a neverending stream. To cross the street involves the most aggressive jaywalking skills you’ve ever had in that you just walk into the street when you detect a gap you start crossing, and traffic will just move around you. After Japan where everyone patiently waits at the zebra and only crosses when there’s a signal, no matter how long the wait, it’s quite a cacophony.
Picture of Pattaya beach with Thai children playing in the surf, where the beach is hardly removed at all from the bustling street. This beach is interesting- you can rent a chair for next to nothing on it, where you will immediately be harassed by a neverending stream of vendors selling everything from prawns to purses to pinapples to popsicles. And those are just the “p”s! (B had a good list too- bananas to beaded bags to birds trapped in wooden cages.)
A much more quiet beach- now this is more like it! Actually this is the island of Ko Long, an hour’s boat ride out from bustling Pattaya, where I went on a snorkeling daytrip. Such a lovely reef, swarming with schools of glittering fish of all sizes and even baby barracuda! I can hardly wait for the waters of southern Thailand, which are said to be even more spectacular…
Chilling on the boat, starving for lunch because being out on the water makes you really, really hungry. But luckily unlike plane food boat food is pretty good stuff, so starvation was averted. It helps that Thai food is just awesome, of course…
… But I confess I’m not really in the mood to try everything around here. I saw these in the store while buying my Thai cell phone, and really? Seaweed-flavored potato chips?!
Another food item I wasn’t thinking I would get behind soon (though to be fair, I’m more likely to try than the first one). Man, those corn sundaes sure hit the spot!
And last but not least, a bit of orientation for those wondering where I am. New York City is listed as 16,827km away- even Melbourne, Australia was a few hundred kms closer, meaning I have never been so far from home.
So that’s Thailand so far. My first impressions of the place are while it’s busy and obviously more impoverished it’s not an “oh my goodness this is impossible, I am never leaving my room” reaction, but rather one of “hey, this is different and interesting and fun! What other drinks can I get served in a fruit husk?” I can’t wait to see more of Thailand and see how this initial reaction holds up!