Trip Start Oct 27, 2004
35Trip End Aug 17, 2005
The first thing that struck us was that we had our own seat on the bus on the way there. The second was that the bus was air-conditioned, the third was that the town didn't stink and the most impressive thing was just how NEW everything looked. If you're coming to Bangkok for a culture shock, the shock is more likely to be "Wow, this place is more modern and developed than anywhere in Europe!".
Don't take this the wrong way, we were like kids in a fruit store, or moreover, like dirty and tired travellers in a 7 eleven
It was strange to meet other travellers there too, many of whom had only just begun their r trip or two week holiday. A totally different vibe from India. We made friends with a couple from England, Neil and Kerry, and enjoyed spending a few evenings drinking with them as they discussed their plans. What struck us was the guilt. They were about to cram as much into two weeks as we have in the last five months. I think by the time we had got our stuff packed and left Bangkok, they had already seen half of Thailand!
The time came to leave all the hedonism behind and go to see my Nain and Gearge (nan + grandad) who were holidaying in Pattaya. The surprise worked, but only just. After checking into, by far and away, the nicest hotel I ever set foot into we missed them both by 5 minutes. We spent a frantic hour searching for them, dreading that they had left for Pattaya town, finally finding them sitting in a cafe outside the hotel. What a shock, my Nain jumped to her feet and, promptly, steadied herself and sat back down with a thud!
It was lovely to see them, it really felt like Thailand was washing off the cobwebs of India. First all the familiar products on the shelves and now some familiar faces from home. In the evenings we enjoyed some European food with my grandparents followed by a few drinks and then retired to our air-con fith-floor honeymoon suite and played with the soap dispensers and digital safe! What a change from our 8' by 8' windowless cell on Kao Sahn!
It was also lovely to see the place that they have been staying in, yearly, for the last 8 years. Such a lovely, peaceful hotel with friendly staff and caring neighbours. Kind of a little community within itself. It was a lovely and refreshing experience for the both of us to have a hot bath and be in the company of my grandparents, who always have a tendency to over-pamper you anyway! It also felt great to surprise them in this way, I got the impression that it came as quite a shock. Perfect!
Pattaya itself, about 3km away, is one of the seediest places I've ever seen. The town founded itself on providing women, or men who look like women, for American servicemen on leave from the Vietnam war. After the war finished it marketed itself as a kind of 'cheap Amsterdam-on-sea' and its popularity has just grown and grown. I have to admit that I was a little worried driving through this town looking for my Nain, especially when a large sign outside their hotel read "Condoms and Cabbages*", we though maybe the surprise would be turned on us and had a brief talk about 'phoning ahead' just incase.
The time we spent near Pattaya was perfect though. The time flew by and, before we knew it, we were back on the road. This time to go find some Island paradise.
*Condoms and Cabbages is a Thai charity that provides nutritious food and condoms to poor rural areas.