Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Trip Report 8: Arriving in Pattaya

Making a food and hong nam stop on the way to Pattaya

[This is part 8 of a series that may or may not ever find its way to a proper conclusion. It has to do with my latest trip to Thailand, and the people, places and things I encountered along the way. You can find the rest of the series by clicking here on Trip Reports.]

We made a rest stop along the way between Bangkok and Pattaya but still got there in good time. Since we'd come into town closer to my friend's hotel than mine I rode along as the driver took us first to the Ambiance Hotel on Pattayaland Soi 3.

A night shot of the Ambiance Hotel in what's known as Boyztown - at Christmas time a few years back

The Ambiance is right in the middle of some of the longest established and most - let's say organized - commercial gay nightlife in Pattaya. The colorful history of the place is easily found on the web so there's no need to go into it here, but for those who appreciate stories worthy of the worlds finest tabloids it's worth looking up.

A small boat sails along
beneath the seemingly huge
orb of the setting sun on
Pattaya Beach
As mentioned before my friend and I were on very different missions this trip, so I was staying farther North in town, at the Sunshine Vista Serviced Apartments on Soi 3. I'd stayed there before and had been looking forward to staying there again. I'll probably do an Accommodations piece about it within this series.

We were in town for a few reasons. The more important for me were to attend a convention, check in with the students I sponsor there and visit with a few friends. I was also looking forward to a side trip to see some new territory and a couple of days to just rest on the beach.

My friend, already smitten with the activities available both day and night, was there for the convention and as many encounters as possible with the contacts he'd made via an online dating-type site. Well, that's not entirely true; he'd made friends on two previous visits in the Phuket area and was looking forward to seeing them again, too.

The last time I'd attended this convention was a couple of years before, and that time there were two other complete newbies along in addition to the friend with me this time, so I was run somewhat ragged doing some of the standard rounds in Bangkok and Pattaya. There's something about seeing familiar sights with a newcomer that makes them fun again, but it's not something I'd choose to do every trip.

I had a nice room waiting for me at Sunshine Vista, overlooking the front area of the hotel this time instead of what passes for an "Ocean View".  Those are nice for sunsets if the clouds and sky are right, but otherwise there's precious little of the ocean to view - as you can see below:

The ocean is visible beneath the violet Vs

Settling in at our hotels only took a short while. I walked the short distance to Beach Road and caught a baht bus down to Soi 13/4 where I cut up to his hotel and we made our way to Walking Street for dinner.  Neither of us could remember the name of the place my Thai friend had suggested as an alternative to the old standby, so we ended up at the Sea Fare.

Yes, it's a dragon - but still a
part of the siren's chorus
We wandered around and watched the divers selection of humanity that make up the crowd along Walking Street on any given night.  Dodging the suit shop touts along with the ones trying to get us into one club or another we made our way along back towards the bend where Beach Road curves to soon become South Pattaya Road.

I would have been willing to visit a club or two to keep my friend company but he said his stomach wasn't yet back on track, so we agreed to make it an early evening. I dropped him back at his hotel by 9:00pm.

After taking some pictures I took the baht bus back to my hotel, transferred photos from my camera to the laptop and went to bed, trying to be in some sort of decent shape for the convention that was to begin tomorrow.

My friend was evidently caught again by the siren's song and went back out into the neon of the night, going to bed somewhere around 03:00. Such determination!

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