Friday, August 14, 2009

Just Beachy

With my one-year Indian visa in my hot little hand, I decided it was time for some beach action. I went online and checked the weather forecast that said it was nothing but thunderstorms no matter where I decided to go. So, I decided to go to Ko Samet. By the time I got my visa, there would not be time to get to Ko Samet the same day. I picked up my visa at four and the last boat from Ban Phe, 3 hours away minimum, leaves at five. I opted to go only to Pattaya for the night before continuing on to Ban Phe and Ko Samet.

I got to Pattaya and headed immediately for the beach. I was desperate for water and waves and sand between my toes. What I got was a lot of loud music, drunken people and girls dancing on poles. My hotel was just a hundred or so meters away from the infamous “Walking Street”, which make the ping pong bars in Bangkok and Bourbon Street in New Orleans seem so Disney and family oriented.

The place is full of “Nana Couples”, which is basically an older western guy and his much younger, sometimes shockingly so, young girl/boyfriend. The whole place is geared for drinking and sex. Girls dancing on the bars, girls on poles, girls lined up outside, girls pulling you in, calling after you and for just about thirty dollars, girls to go home with you and do whatever you like. If girls are not your thing, Boyztown is the same thing, just change the gender, and if you are looking for a smash of the two, there are ladyboys everywhere…

After the quiet ruins and temples of the week before, it was a bit of a shock to the system, just a little too much and all up close and personal. I didn’t like it at all and so opted to go to bed and get an early start, which ended with me going to bed and then taking another look at the place in the light of day. The whole place smelled of suntan oil, stale beer and cigarettes. While the dancing girls were hanging out at the bars, the ladyboys were out in full force. the streets were deserted and I had the full, if not unwanted, attention. “Where you go? What you like to do? You want to have the sex with me? Why not?” is what you hear as they grab you around the waist to pull you closer. And they are freakishly strong and one time I actually had to shove the person away. I took that as a clear sign I needed to get my things on a minivan and get myself to Ko Samet.

I had been warned a bit about Ko Samet. Told how touristy it was, the drugs, the noise and everything else one can imagine from an island cut off from the rest of the world after five in the evening. I had also been told the weather would be horrible, that I should stay in Pattaya, but I had decided that I would risk it. And what an amazing choice it was. The skies were clear, the water was blue-green and the sand was white. I found a little place just a few meters from the sand and spent the next two days shoeless and lazy. I would wake early and take a sunrise swim followed by a walk, another swim and then I would stake out a beach chair and an umbrella where I would hang out, swimming and eating until about four, when I would take a short nap, shower and head out to the beach for a beer and dinner and a sheesha. At night I would watch the fire show, go for a walk and then off to bed to repeat it all again.

That is how I spent my birthday. I was worried about being alone, wondering if I would get sad or depressed, but not at all. I am at that place where I enjoy my own company. Yeah, it would have been nice if my friends were there, but I had a great day on my own.

Now I am back in Bangkok for the final few hours before heading back home to Delhi. I am both ready and not ready. I feel relaxed and detoxed from the past few months and not really ready to head back to reality… In fact, the entire trip, only four people had my Thai mobile number, so I was able to really disconnect. On the other hand, I am excited to be heading back as I am working on a fabulous project that I am planning on kicking off on October 1,which I will tell everyone about when the timing is right… And Ulco is coming for a holiday in just two weeks and we will be backpacking around a different piece of India than last time. What he doesn’t know is that last time I was gentle on him. This time, he is getting the full Indian backpacking experience.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous15/8/09 04:42

    Great experience Robb and you are quite the adventurer. You are a proliific writer and I can actually visualise all that you wrote about. Keep up the good work and welcome back Gora Sahib.Now get that foto album going.