Pattaya, Thailand

I know, I know, I am absolutely terrible at keeping up with this blog. Yes it has been six months since my last post. To be fair, not a whole lot has been going on other than work. Did I mention I work in the frame shop on base now? I make custom frames for people. It’s difficult because there is a lot of attention to detail that is needed, but the process is pretty simple.

SO. What can I say about Pattaya… It is very different. If you aren’t from Southeast Asia, everything is an adventure in Pattaya. From the various taxi services (car, baht truck, scooter, scooter with side attachment) to the “ping pong” shows and everything in between, it is all funnewscaryexciting. I’ll get to the ping pong shows later –don’t you worry.

Dan and I went to Thailand for a softball tournament I played in with a mixture of girls from Misawa (Japan) and Osan (South Korea). Our team’s name was Osawa. I was a little worried about playing with a bunch of girls I had never met before, but it turned out great! I made a lot of new friends and we had a good time playing with each other and hanging out after games. The tournament was intense because every team was very good and in it to win it. We kicked ass the first two days of the tournament, but we didn’t play well offensively the last day so we ended up in third place. Womp womp. The night before the last day there was a big party with all the teams at Hooters, and I think a couple of our girls partied a little too hard, so that could have been one of the reasons why we didn’t play well. Oh well. I had a good time. We played on a polo field where three softball fields were made. The ground was extremely wet and muddy (mostly with horse manure) and my cleats and feet were soaked. Everyone had dirt all over them from running on the field. One day it rained very hard, and another day we played with lightning surrounding us–that was scary and dangerouso. I played really well, which I am happy about. I’m a so-so hitter, but as lead off batter I did my job by hitting the ball and getting on base, so I call that a success. I played left center field and made some nice catches too. I also got 16 runs.

The conditions of the women’s field versus the men’s fields was the first instance of the Thai not treating women equally to men. One of the men’s fields was fine, but they flipped around the other men’s field after the first day because of all the mud. They should have also flipped around our field, but they did not. So instead, we had the men’s balls fly onto our field when they hit home runs. The men and women put the same amount of money in for the tournament, so it stinks that they really only treated the men. Other times I have noticed this unequal treatment is whenever I would talk to a taxi driver the driver would often disregard me and look to Dan for a response. One time at a restaurant, I didn’t receive the water or the food I ordered, but Dan got both. That was screwed up.. I do believe that was because of the language barrier, which I don’t mind, because we are in their country. However, everything on the menu was in English, so I thought it was safe to assume that they would understand English. Whatevs. I wasn’t outraged or anything. I just didn’t have dinner.

Anyway, Pattaya is very lively! And it’s very cheap to get around. We mostly took baht trucks which are pick up trucks with benches and a roof in the bed of the truck. Usually 200 baht which is like $6. This place was scooter heaven, too. EVERYONE has a scooter. They’re everywhere! We learned that you only need to be 12 years old to drive a scoot. So we saw a lot of school children driving around and adults wearing helmets and just holding their kids or babies (without a helmet). Pretty wild. There also seems to be no traffic laws, but I haven’t seen any crashes. It’s as though everyone is very intuitive to every other driver. Something I liked was that nobody honked their horn unless they absolutely had to. Like if someone is cutting you off, it’s ok because they understand that you’re just trying to get in there. It’s normal for them, unlike in the states where the majority of people either do not let people in lanes and cause accidents, or throw a fit because a driver is doing something they don’t like.

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Pattaya is generally a lawless city. At night on Walking Street which is a street with restaurants, bars, a ton of massage shops, and many go-go’s (strip clubs), no cars can drive after 7pm. And there are prostitutes everywhere. There are also many people shoving advertisements for ping pong shows in your face. The ping pong shows involve women shooting things out of their vaginas, so the advertisements are a list of things they shoot with pictures. The ad alone is gross, and I have heard from friends that the show is both mesmerizing and traumatizing. I was not interested in going. There are also live sex shows? That’s crazy. So odd. Needless to say, we did not attend the live sex show either. Apparently these shows are very popular though. Dan and I chose to get foot massages, eat, walk around and marvel at the outrageous sights along the street.  Outside the go-go bars, the women who work there stand outside to basically show what you’re going to get when you go inside. And there were kids everywhere too! I guess their parents wanted to visit Thailand and had to bring their kids, but it is not a family-friendly place at night.

Most Thai people, specifically the men, are not very friendly compared to those in Japan. I don’t want you to expect everyone being rude. There were definitely friendly people there. But there were also not so friendly people there, like anywhere else. It just seemed to stand out a little bit more. There’s also trash all over the place, except for the beaches. We saw a trash can next to a field filled with trash, and I swear that when the can gets full, they just throw it in the field. That’s how it looked at least. It’s a huge difference coming from Japan where everything is so pristine, it’s surprising to see a cigarette butt on the ground.

Despite all of the bizarre things we saw, Dan and I had a blast. Some of the bigger things we did was see the Big Golden Buddah, the Floating Market, the Sanctuary of Truth, Alcazar, and the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary.

The Big Golden Buddha had well, as the title suggests, a big golden Buddha. There were also other smaller golden statues. At each statue there was an area to pray and a donation box. Our friends told us that when they went in November, there were a bunch of doves in cages and you can pay to free a dove to symbolize a sort of blessing for a loved one who has passed away. I had to wear two big scarves around my waist and shoulders to cover my arms and legs. There was a guy who had short shorts on and was probably showing more leg than I was, but he is a guy so he didn’t have to cover up. Boy, was I not a happy camper. those scarves were very thick and Thailand weather is extremely hot and humid. Thankfully the area was not very big and we got done with it quickly.

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The floating market was pretty cool. There were a bunch of shops on some really disgusting looking water. I wish the shops were more native than touristy though. It’s really difficult to look at anything without the person that works there being up your butt showing you everything they have. I don’t know if it’s anxiety, getting annoyed, or a little bit of both, but whenever that happened, I would just say thank you and leave. I have never liked it when people hover over me. Like in school when the teacher would look over my shoulder to see what I was writing– I would just stop what I was doing and be like, “can you not?” It just makes me nervous. Another example of this happening in Thailand is when you are at a restaurant. “We need a little more time” means nothing to them. They will wait at your table until you decide what they want, because they will not return. So then I feel pressured to pick something while Dan will take his sweet time to make them feel as uncomfortable as they are making me feel. But when Dan does that, I get even more uncomfortable because I just want the guy to leave! Another thing about restaurants is that the waiter will sort of demand a tip. Like while he is picking up your plates, he will say “tip tip tip” before he leaves. I thought that was annoying too. Like damn, we were going to tip you anyway, but now I don’t want to.

I digressed a little bit there… At the floating market they made us dress up to take a picture and we did a boat tour. There was also a little zip line we went on! I’m usually afraid of heights, but this wasn’t that bad, and it was fun! I wanted to post a video from Dan’s GoPro but the free version of WordPress apparently doesn’t accept video files. Well, I ain’t payin’. Here’s a snapchat video (which they except for whatever reason) of a swinging bridge we had to go across.

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The Sanctuary of Truth was breathtaking. Before we got to the massive building, there were horses walking around and goats wearing flowers on their heads. There was also my first elephant sighting. I felt really bad though because people were riding it. I paid to feed her some bananas. I learned that elephants love bananas. So I really don’t know what exactly the Sanctuary of Truth is, but I just Googled it and Wikipedia says that it is an all wood building filled with sculptures based on Buddhist and Hindu motifs. The top of the building is 105 meters high, and it was initiated as an idea in 1981 and is scheduled to be completed in 2050. Okay, so that explains why there was construction being done on it. I thought they were just renovating it, but I guess they are just still building it. I thought it was much older. Regardless of its age, it’s absolutely beautiful. Every bit of it is covered with some sculpture. There are too many details to even know exactly what is there. That was very cool. I also had to wear something to cover my legs, but the material was a lot lighter than at the Golden Buddha.

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There was a show outside the sanctuary of women doing a traditional Thai dance, and two men who did a sort of comedy fighting show. That was fun. They took someone from the audience to play along with them, and she was terrible. She was the kind of person who would give you the limpest handshake, where you would actually be holding their hand up. Do you know what I’m talking about? Gosh, she was so unenthusiastic. Sure, maybe she was just shy, but damn, she didn’t even smile until her dad or whoever it was took a picture of her. My friends, Dan and I were very disappointed in this girl that we didn’t even know. Maybe we’re just a little more outgoing than her.

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We also went to Alcazar which they called a drag show, but it wasn’t like a drag show I had ever been to. Most drag shows are clearly men dressed as women with awesome, extravagant make up on, lip syncing and dancing to a fun song. Well I guess this show was similar to that, except none of them looked like men dressed as women. And it was in a big theater. I later learned that everyone in the show is either mid transition or post op from having male genitalia and features to female. Just saying, if I ever need/want to get plastic surgery, I am going to Thailand because these trans women were gorgeous and with the exception of one or two, you really couldn’t tell they were born male. I may be using the wrong terminology to describe some things.. I want you to know that I do not mean to be offensive in any way, I just don’t have a lot of knowledge around the terminology. Like I thought “lady boys” was a disrespectful title, but these “lady boys” actually call themselves that. It could just be because they don’t have the same words in Thai as they do in English. So when people would talk about all the lady boys in Thailand, I thought that maybe there were just a ton of people born intersex and I didn’t understand why. Nope, it just turns out that there are a ton of trans people. I still wonder why though. Is it because it is popular and more accepted in Thailand? Is it because it is popular in general? Is it because their plastic surgery is cheap and efficient? Does there need to be a reason why? Not really.

So we went to this awesome show and snuck in some pictures and videos. We weren’t supposed to take any, but we saw a bunch of Chinese guys in the front row taking videos, so we thought why not. WELL, a man that worked at the theater came around to all of the women taking videos and flashed them with his flashlight. But the four men that weren’t even trying to be inconspicuous didn’t get flashed at at all. Sexism, I tell ya, sexism! So here’s a video I snuck in! It was pretty easy for me because we were in the front row, so I just kept my phone up against my stomach. It uploaded upside down for some reason… Enjoy!

 

I will make a separate post for the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary soon.

Thanks for reading!

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