I did really not plan to go to Pattaya, Thailands notorious hub for partying.
Because when I thought Pattaya I always thought: overflow of tourism and bordellos oh, of course I meant special massage places… I actually specifically planned not to go.
But since this was the only opportunity to meet with a friend I hadn’t seen in eleven years
(yes, I do feel slightly ‘mature’ writing this) here I was on a minivan to Thailands sin city.
For the two hour bumpy ride in a very full very small mini-van to Pattaya I sat on one of the two last free seats at the very back of the van. The seat was so high that my feet didn’t touch the floor, it felt a little bit like a throne that was meant for somebody taller.
Beer-bellied old Westerners and their young Thai girlfriends
When I get to Pattaya it is noon and I flag down a hawthong …?, a truck with an added on benches and metal constructions at the side to keep passengers from falling off. When I get on the … I am the only foreign woman except for a Russian mother with her two grown up pouty children. Except for us it’s strictly beer bellied men with younger Thai women.
I take a deep breath. Don’t judge. Don’t judge. Don’t judge! If they at least looked happy I would have an easier time forcefully keeping my right eyebrow at a normal level. Anyway, that’s none of my business. I focus on the fact that soon I will be sitting at a beach.
I picked the cheapest hotel with the highest cleanliness rating (I’ve learned my lesson from the hostel of horrors). The hostel is far away from the ruckus of the main part of the beach and closer to the less crowded and possibly less beautiful Jomtien beach– perfect.
Jomtien hostel is in a quiet Thai street with lots of (genuine) massage places and local food. But even here most places are bilingual. The other language additional to Thai is Russian. Pattaya has been flooded with Russian tourists throwing their brand new ruble riches at the local populace.
Russian Rubles roll all over Pattaya
Some restaurants don’t even have Thai or English on their signs but just Russian. It feels a bit strange, like a parallel Russian universe, where there is just as much shashliki but more beach and sun. I see it as a great preparation for my month in Siberia (at least I remember how to read the word coffee-which is pretty essential vocabulary).
I sit at the beach and wait for my friend. He’s working for the US coastguard and since he’s working has quite a few restrictions to where he can go and with whom.
While I’m waiting a handsome blonde guy approaches me. I guess he’s Russian and am proved right when he asks me ‘kag dilla?’ (how are you). ‘Harasho’ (good) I reply and then give up and confess that I don’t know any other Russian. He looks surprised. You’re not Russian? Nope.
With a thick Russian accent he disappointedly asks where I’m from and says that he’s local. I don’t question that he fits into Pattaya perfectly. When I tell him that I am waiting to meet a friend who I haven’t seen in eleven years he can’t quite comprehend.
‘You’ve been waiting here for eleven years?’ he asks, gesturing at the spot I’m sitting. I giggle and try to explain but obviously don’t succeed as he wishes me good luck with a very confused look and leaves.
When my friend and his buddy arrive we decide to go to the livelier side of the beach for a beer and some Thai food. The beer is delicious as it’s a yummy Guinness but the food is everything but spicy and though tasty catered to farangs.
It’s amazing seeing someone again after eleven years and just picking up where you left and chatting away. Good friends that last over time and distance, especially with my nomadic lifestyle, are very valuable.
The rest of the evening is spent catching up savouring spicy soup on the side of the street and
Thai Whisky at the beach. Two sailors, BBQd fishcake and a bottle of booze- what more can one want. And at the night at the beach with good company it’s easy to turn your back at the bizarreness that is Pattaya.