Amidst all the chaos, neon signs and power lines are some incredibly excellent people. Everyone here is willing and hoping to talk to you. True, most are trying to sell something but more than that just the effort put forth to try and speak a language they, be and large, have no grasp of.

Like Rujee, a waitress at a German-themed sports bar, who served my food but was concerned it would be too spicy for me. (It was, but I didn’t tell her that. I told her I normally am drenched in sweat like this.) Beyond this just sat down to talk. She asked me about my trip, told me about the time she got too drunk off whisky in Phuket, about her friends in Las Vegas, with whom she wants to open a small clothing shop in Pattaya, and about an island nearby that she loves, of which she grabbed a map from her place the day after just to give to me so I can take my friends there instead of Bangkok.

I’m not the best conversationalist and it is great to watch these people continue to try and talk, so much so, that I can’t help but reciprocate. Every cab driver could just put on music or talk on their phones, I’d be cool with that, but instead they ask questions, to which, they don’t understand the answers and point out landmarks as we drive past and lists of things I should do. The conversations are fragmented, often repeated and many times misunderstood, but they keep going. I haven’t said a complete sentence this entire time, except to a Canadian on my boat, and it’s been great. 

I’m glad I did not bring my iPod on my walkabout this evening because, as nice as a moving soundtrack can be, the observation/experience would be severely limited without hearing, olfactory and touch. How else would I truly have been able to enjoy the “ellooooo” and groping from the prostitutes posted up at EVERY bar? or the shit smells next to “Pussy bar”? Nothing gets me more in the mood than overrun sewage and fecal matter! Careful that you should not make eye contact for too long or they come a runnin’. elloooooo!

elloooo!

massage? massage?

ellooooo!

I can’t imagine what it is like around two am. It was six pm when I was wandering which, yes, means the sun was still up. I walked past a bar called the Armageddon bar, which had a life-sized, movie quality Alien replica next to… any guesses? Yep… a stripper pole. complete with stripper. on the patio.

The alleys/streets/blocks, around and including the one my hotel is located, are dedicated to prostitution. Even if some are less overt than “3som bar and guesthouse”. What is interesting is its coexistence with every other person in the city along with their overt spirituality. Buddhist shrines can be found chilling in every conceivable corner. Some in abandoned locations or in the heart of the seedier streets. The sight of a prostitute in her praying with her oils and that in front of the bar she’d end up playing pool and waiting for patrons to file in, actually stopped me in my tracks. Like the apparent lack of traffic lines or laws, people here not only deal with it, they embrace it. run with it. Moms with children in tow use the foot traffic to their advantage as food carts line the bars. There is nothing to shy away from or be embarrassed about/ashamed of. Every one here adapts to their environment. Or, like my cab driver on the way in to Pattaya, brags about it, how beautiful the ladyboys are.

“If you sting me, jellyfish, I will kick you in the dick.”

“Ooh you’re pretty. I love you.”

“You’re like a symphony of light.”

“I’ve seen you at the zoo.”

“I know I just ate a couple of your cousins for lunch but we’re cool right?”

“You look like easter.”

“I’ve got chills. They’re multiplying and I’m losing control cause the power you’re supplying. It’s electrifying!”

“It’s so purple in there. Maybe you were always supposed to be this purple cause I’m supposed to touch you.”

“You are the one I want. oooh oooh oohh honey!”

(I simultaneously fell in love and was scared of several things swimming by me today. Aquatic life is beautiful and frightening.)

9.4.13

The thrill of the unknown

Faraway lands, easy living.

Look further than two feet, please.

Scheming, thieving

Panic sleeping

Continental breakfast,

too little butter, too much bread.

never ending kindness covers

overexcited blindness.

Hat Naklua is leagues above whatever beach my hotel is next to in Central Pattaya. Hat Naklua is to the north about seven minutes. It is quiet and full of sun-burnt eastern Europeans. Far from pristine, the coastline still boasts beautiful, soft white sand and the sea is warm and calm. Islands in the distance make for a nice horizon line and to my back are the tall towers of some cushy hotel/resorts. There are no lockers and I don’t feel safe enough to leave my camera and other belongings on the beach while I take a dip which I presently yearn for. I asked the bartenders if they’d watch my stuff or if it was safe enough and they looked at each other and laughed. (Although after enough scanning for thieves or even heavy foot traffic, I figured it’d be ok if I ran in real quick. I ended up floating in the sea for a good hour with no problems. Oh god was it worth it.)

Immediately upon my arrival I took a long, slow stroll up the coastline, walking in and out of the amazingly warm waters. Pattaya is allegedly famous for its production industry and prostitution. A billboard on the drive in from Bangkok asserted that Pattaya is the “Detroit of the East.” (…I don’t think they’ve been to Detroit recently.) The beach closest to my hotel shows it with lots of trash, broken glass and freighters speckling the bay. But here at Hat Naklua there is none of that. The litter is minimal and no ships. Just the sea, myself… and pink Russians.

The resorts seem relaxed with random guests as I walked up and, without question, ordered a couple beers. While on my stroll I saw a good array of sea life including a dead crab, what appeared to be the top half of a small squid, something that was either a jelly fish or a plastic bag, a dead fish, a live crab eating the dead fish and a hell of a lot of sand dollars.

Post-script: This place is absolutely packed with Eastern Europeans, especially my hotel. In fact, as I type this there is a surly Russian male staring at me and my writing. He’s presently alternating between glaring over my shoulder and sitting next to his travel buddy, discussing in harsh, loud tones about what I can only assume is how they’re going to kill me and take all of my stuff.

I seriously have no idea what time or day it is. Damn you, international date line1 Well, better go find some beaches.

Ps. It took literally three minutes in my hotel before I was offered a ladyboy. I guess that’s what I get for checking in a 2 am.

The knocking cut through the dim haze of the apartment echoing off the stillness of the scattered bottles and boxes. I stared at the dust idling around my room glowing with the infused light slinking through the blinds, hoping it’d tell me that whoever was pounding on my door had left, but as soon as it felt safe to breathe again the knocking came back steady as before. I feared that this hammering would continue all day if I did not actively get rid of it. Stepping over a face down brunette, I threw on what clothes were within reach and made my way to the source of my current aggravation. One last check to see if the nuisance had a change of heart, I waited, leaning into the door, listening. Nothing. Until the shock of the next blows sent me back a step, like the door wasn’t even there. I flung the door open and glared into my assailant. Unprepared for the blonde 5’4″ female frame that was not only not hotel management but also not unfamiliar to me.

“What are you doing here?”

“Well, aren’t you ready to take on the world? Do you smell as ripe as you look?”

And she walked casually past me, just like that, like she did this every Sunday…or Tuesday, whatever day it was.

“Oof,” with a quick inhale. “I wouldn’t leave this shithole if I were you either.”

Rifling through my mind to find something caustic to say back, I grab at what words I can find and lamely repeat, “What are you doing here?”

The comatose brunette stirred at this point. She rolled on her side while her skin embraced a soft warm glow detailing the topography of her chest. I had hoped that my indisposed guest would spark some embarrassment from the uninvited one but instead she cleared off a cushion and plopped down on my couch.

“Got anything to drink? Coffee would be ideal,” she smiled mildly, surveying her cluttered surroundings, ignoring the dormant brunette.

Finding nothing better to do or say, I went and put a fresh pot on.

A bright light quickly consumed the apartment, putting its contents in sharp relief.

“You wouldn’t believe it, but you’ve actually got a great view of the city from here. You’d have to quit this den lifestyle though.”

“Would you kindly close those damn blinds?”

“Cave men lived in caves…underground. Not on the fourth floor of some swanky hotel on top of a hill. I mean…is this a balcony?! Shiiiiiit!”

She bust through a door I was unaware of and walked the parameter of my newfound balcony, scanning the skyline, forgetting that this wasn’t her place. So I sat back in the kitchen and waited for the coffee to finish wondering what I should do about this incessant guest. The whole while she never looked back, never spoke to me. She seemed to have forgotten I was even present.

I joined her on the patio with two cups of black coffee. She accepted hers casually, without looking, and drank slowly. She didn’t ask for anything more.

“Doesn’t rain up here as much as they say it does, it seems. This sun even reminds me of back home.”

“Since you seem set on not revealing your intentions, could you at least tell me how long you plan on being here?”

“I don’t like thinking in absolutes. I’m just gonna see how long this place can keep my interests piqued. Lets go down there.”

“Listen, I don’t know what you’re plan is up here, but showing up randomly and unannounced, while it has been…invigorating, doesn’t really work for me. I don’t have the time to play tour guide for you. It’s a great city. Go to the visitor center, get yourself a map and go nuts. It has tons of places to see, things to do and other unoccupied hotels to barge in on.”

“You don’t have the time or you don’t have it in you to talk to someone outside the tired lines of shit club music, alcohol and the promise of getting some?”

“Pick one. I gotta go.”

As I closed the hotel door behind me, I couldn’t shake this losing, ‘down at half’ sensation. I had a feeling she’d be right here when I got back.