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Al's epic odyssey "A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving." - Lao Tzu

Bangkok / Pattaya / Jomtien, Thailand

THAILAND | Wednesday, 16 September 2009 | Views [1039]

My last few days in Thailand: Bangkok – Pattaya – Jomtien

In hindsight, I probably could have spent an extra day on each of the islands to make best use of my time; however I decided to head back up to the Bangkok area as I needed to fly to Phnom Penh. When I arrived at Bangkok airport I still hadn’t quite decided where I was headed. As it turned out the next bus to Pattaya was quite late so the decision was made for me.

I headed back down to the Khao San Road backpacker area of Bangkok as I know the area and I knew I’d be able to get a cheap room. Up till now I’ve paid between 750 and 300 Baht a night. This time I found a room for 200 Baht (or GBP 3.59 / USD 5.92). OK so you don’t get much for that - a single room with a fan, a window onto a corridor and a shared bathroom, but it was clean and perfectly adequate for sleeping. The downside of having a really cheap room is that you spend as little time as possible in the room and you end up spending any savings outside in the bars.

I felt I’d spent enough time in Bangkok, so the next day I travelled to Pattaya in a shared minibus taxi. Pattaya is the second or third largest tourist destination in Thailand and yet is omitted from my Rough Guide to South East Asia. The authors have (probably quite rightly) decided that Pattaya has few redeeming features as a backpacking tourist destination.

Pattaya itself existed only as a small fishing village up till about 40 years ago, at the time of the Korean War, when it became a R&R destination for American troops. Thai entrepreneurs who saw the opportunity to relieve thirsty and horny troops of their dollars and Pattaya was born. There is little to Pattaya apart from the bars, go-go girls, beach loungers and tourist tat, not too dissimilar to certain areas of Bangkok and Phuket.

The neighboring town of Jomtien is slightly more upmarket in outward appearance and is not too dissimilar to parts of Dubai in terms of ongoing developments. There too, the entire economy revolves around beaches, booze and babes. Some of the Pattaya malls rival Dubai’s maybe not in size, but do in terms of splendor.

The Thai people are incredibly resourceful. Any spare piece of pavement, rear of a truck or motorcycle side car becomes a place of business. How everyone gets by amazes me. The markets are filled with curious looking fruit, veg and other foodstuffs. I was a little saddened to see a few hundred live baby turtles in one market, and I’m sure they were not destined for a local aquarium. Some were as small as a large coin, others around the size of a fist. There were also several hundred small live fish at the same stall so maybe he is the local pet shop.

I had the most severe Thai massage so far, I was wondering if I’d make it through the hour and how I was going to continue with my travels with fractured limbs. I could have sworn I asked for a gentle head and shoulders massage but was treated to the full Thai torture treatment instead. I’m sure I’ve lost most of my body hair (some of which won’t be missed), but managed to keep all bones intact. I felt surprisingly good afterwards but I’ve decided I’m not going to use a masseuse who weighs more than 50 kg from now on.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been in Thailand for almost a month. Time has absolutely flown by. I’ll definitely be back at some point to explore northern Thailand. I head to Cambodia next.

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Tags: bangkok, jomtien, pattaya


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