Pattaya - Thai Beach Time

Trip Start Jan 13, 2009
Trip End May 17, 2009

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Working on the reintegration plan.  For those of you who have been here - Pattaya probably seems like an odd choice considering all the other great places in Thailand.  For those who haven't - Pattaya is to Thailand what Tijuana is to Mexico.  Neither is very representative of their countries.  I did spend a fun day into night a few years ago in Tijuana, but was all to happy to walk back across the border into San Diego when it got dark.  Pattaya is like that, although it is creepy even in the daylight.  It is a the closest beach community to Bangkok, a city of a zillion, so it has huge weekend traffic of Thais who escape the summer heat to flock to the beach on the weekends.  That is the good part.  The creepy part is that it is a mecca for package tour sex tourism so every big fat westerner comes here to buy flesh - male and female.  It is really cheap because of the dearth of tourists resultant from the Thai political problems and exacerbated by the downturn in the economy.  Seems that even the sex starved creeps have felt the pinch as there was hundreds of girls and lady boys ( male Thais who are trans gender - often with new parts, some who just dress up as women) sitting around on the beach front on their straw mats calling out to everyone walking by.  It is definitely bargain basement time.
Why Pattaya for me, knowing what it was all about?  Well, as I wind down, I am getting lazy about the travel and I wanted the beach for my last few days before Bangkok as I need also to escape the heat.  I lucked out, and with about 10 hours of Internet research, found a pretty good hotel in a great location, considering the choices here.  I am staying in Jomtein - an upscale part of Pattaya:  Pattaya is a really big City as well.  This particular beach prides itself on being less 'sex trade' as the others so I gave it a go.  Pattaya/Jomtein is only a couple of hour outside of Bangkok so it was easy to get to - no more boat trips for me this trip - and easy to get back into the City.

The Hotel I chose is primarily Thai, very few Westerners stay here and that is good:  It is across from the beach and also has a nice pool, is a trade up to what I am used to so the reintegration back to amenities begins.  It has been very quiet through the first few days and now really busy on the weekend.  The interesting thing about Thais and water is, like most Asians, they don't know how to swim and they do know how to bring huge amounts of picnic stuff to the beach.  Also, like most Asians, they do not wear bathing suits.  No, not nude or semi nude like the Europeans, they wear all their clothes.  Yup - women wear tshirts and jeans or shorts and men wear jeans or shorts and often their shirts.  I remember how weird that was a few months ago but now it almost seems normal.  More here than anywhere else, I think because of the wealth, women who don't wear their street clothes wear these horrible bathing outfits.  They range from wet suit types of getup's, made from that Lycra fabric, but not tight obviously to long sleeve knee length dresses with long pants underneath made from the same nylon Lycra.  Speedo even has a whole line in all the stores.  I do remember the first time in Egypt seeing whole families at the beach, women in full burkas, some wading or attempting not to drown, others sitting in the intense heat with their husbands who were in swim trunks.   I think here another reason for no bathing suits is the obsessive desire to be whiter than you were born.  Every second advertisement is for whitening cremes or surgical bleaching of skin ala Micheal Jackson.  Whiter means prettier in Asia.
So here I am, frolicking in my bikini, attracting probably not the nicest looks but at least I am not buying their sons or daughters.  The kids love me and think I am a superhero because I can swim.  Yesterday I tried to teach a family of two little girls and their brother (who is in the Military - first year, about 18 years old)
to swim in the ocean. The boy had some English and loved to chat and the girls loved learning to float.  As always, Mom and Auntie wanted to know a) where was my husband, b) where were my children and c) how old I was.  These are the standard questions that come up within 5 minutes of being around any Asian women.  It is so foreign to be on one's own as a woman.  Obviously, looking at all the sex tourists, Thais and Japanese and Chinese included, it is not odd for your husband to take his vacation and leave you with the kids......  hmmmm, guess it is not something open for discussion.
The water is actually too warm to be very refreshing.  It is a very shallow beach so the water stays at hot bathtub water temperature and I could not even swim far enough out to find cool currents.  Ahh the stressors!

So next stop, last stop, Bangkok. Truly back into the noise and the traffic and the pollution and the heat.  I plan to shop and relax and rest up for the long journey home.
If any of you want something brought home, movies, games, Gucci bags, Rolexes, etc, let me know - I am going to buy another bag and fill it up so I should have room for small stuff.
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tgcanada on

Swim Teacher
As always, an interesting and insightful entry into life far away (in many ways) from life as I know it. I shared your 'url' with a social studies teacher since they cover 'Globalization' in Gr 10. I am sure her students will love your photos and will benefit from your 'eyes on the world' commentary. (She has the benefit of a 'SMART' board in her class so the students can see the photos in class the way we see them on the computer). Good luck with your assimilation process. 'Safe travels' wishes being sent your way :-)

cjarvis on

Devastated losing my cherished moments!
Oh pleez don't tell me your wonderful sojourn is coming to an end....I am going to miss your missives somethin' awful.... You have brightened many of my days with your hilarity and cleverness of description with word. I truly want you to just continue travelling the world and dictating all your experiences and interpretations. Canada is so glad you are coming home safe and sound, 'cause honestly, a few times with your long breaks, I know a few of us were pretty panicked. Come home, enjoy your family and friends and know that you have been a 'true part of the world' sharing and caring these past few months....Hope I see you someday again. I honestly am delighted you will return to secure and safe CANADA but you will be a hole in my week that I have come to cherish....Cheers, Nursey Catherine

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