Part 3. Running from Walking Street.
The monetary unit in Thailand is called the Baht. It looks like weird monopoly money that comes in different sizes. Each bill has a picture of the king on it. These people LOVE their king. I'll talk more on it later, but it appears that he's some kind of Asian Chuck Norris. The current exchange rate is 30 baht to 1 dollar.
One thousand baht, or as I like to call it, the 33 dollar bill.
It was also very exciting to see the numbers in my bank account multiplied by 30. I felt rich for like 20 seconds.
Pattaya has an interesting form of public transportation. They're just trucks with seats and rails in the back. They go on loops all around the city, so you just hop on one and they'll take you wherever for 20 baht.
|They're called Cattle Trucks... Not the Most Flattering Name.|
This is an excellent form of travel in theory. You get to see the sights, have the wind blow through your hair, and have a communal travel experience. However, the sights are mostly just Russian tourists eating in restaurants, the wind blowing through your hair smells like a wet dog pooping out rotten fish, and the people you travel with are Russians who have never bothered to learn how to smile. The diagram to below shows how I was poisoned by the exhaust.
|Air Currents travel under the truck creating an upwelling, which forces the exhaust directly in to the lungs of passengers.|
Malls are all over the cities here. If you're going to buy something, it's either from a mall or a 7/11. This mall was 8 stories tall. Each floor was designated for different type of product. The floor we walked in on was all food, including a grocery store. To really put the size of this place in to perspective, we managed to find two different McDonald's on the same floor! Capitalism at it's finest. We were still feeling queasy from the car exhaust that was coating our lungs, so food wasn't in the cards. We headed to the 3rd floor, Electronics.
The third floor was not particularly exciting, but I managed to get a hilariously small cell phone.
|Put the phone down, Lennie|
On the ride back, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. A beautiful place with bright lights and loud noises. I wanted to go to that place. I've since learned to be careful what I wish for.
I made it back to my hotel and the next day I went though a teaching seminar that just ended up honing my doodling skills. Afterwards, I invite my roommate Craig out to go get some food (I was going to use the term grub, but in Thailand grubs are a type of food, so I must be specific). He said that he had a nice place to go eat. We went. I got something... I don't really remember what, but I know I eventually had pineapple there, and it was so delicious. Seriously, it was a sweet as any of the sweetest mangoes I've ever had. We were hanging out there and some other friends from our seminar came to eat. It was all fun and laughter and trying to understand broken English. Then the Sang Som started flowing...
Sang Som is a type of Thai whiskey that you can get just about everywhere (by that I mean at 7/11's, which are everywhere). As far as I could tell, it has three attributes. 1. It is dirt cheap 2. It is easy to drink 3. It is alcohol. Apparently it's the drink to have if you're a burned out beach bum trying to live cheap in Thailand while maintaining your buzz.
Needless to say we were all starting to feel tipsy why my buddy Jared came in with a big ol' bottle for us to share. So we're sitting there ripping shots with friends, and suddenly all the workers in the restaurant have joined in with us and they've brought more alcohol. We were given permission to change the music from the Alanis Morissette/ Taylor Swift playlist to something more fitting for the evening. After getting whooped in pool by the (5'0" tall, 98 pound female) owner, I noticed that Jared was gone. So I peeked my head outside to see where he was.
I found him outside, sitting on the ground with 5 mangy dogs surrounding him. Naturally, I sat down next to him and started playing with the diseased animals. It's worth noting that the street dogs here are really cool. They just kind of hang out. They won't bother you if you don't bother them. I even found one who was napping in a corner of 7/11 because it was so hot outside. The only thing off-putting about them is the fact that all the dudes still have their giant floppy balls. Once you get past that they're as cool as any dog. Long story short, I probably have ringworm.
Heading back inside, I found that everyone was gathering up their things to get going. Suddenly, there was a brief moment of clarity. I looked out to see people from all over the world spending time together. Truly enjoying each other's company. Some spoke English, others communicated through body language and finger points. That's when I realized that it doesn't matter where you were born, or how tall you are, or even what language you speak. In the end, everyone just wants to get really drunk.
|The Beginning of the End|
Apparently everyone was heading to the glowing street that I drove by earlier. I squealed with excitement and we hopped in one of the cattle trucks to head toward Walking street. On the way I bummed a cig off of one of the guys from the restaurant. Every pack in Thailand has a really gross picture on it like below.
In an instant we were on walking street and the debauchery was in full swing. I was finally back in my element, doing something that made sense for the first time in weeks. This street is something like a combination of Vegas and Bourbon street. A ton of bars/clubs. Oh yeah, and a ton of hookers, but I'll get to that later. There was this awesomely hilarious AC/DC cover band of all Thai dudes. They were playing thunderstruck and SHREDDING on guitar, but they did have very heavy accents which made it more awesome in a way.
|Just a Pole Dancer in a Glass Box Looking Down on Walking Street|
Eventually I had to whizzle, so I went to the bathroom and commenced. Mid stream, I sense the presence of someone behind me. I turn my head, and it was in fact two someones. Standing right behind me. When there were plenty of open urinals. I look forward again, thinking that maybe if I don't believe in them, they'll stop existing (like Santa Claus). This didn't work. They both started digging their hands in to my back, giving me a very pleasant massage. Fortunately, I had been drinking, so I kind of just went with it.
After emptying the tank, I zipped up and turned around. They were both standing there, smiling. Then they advanced! One went behind me and lifted me off the ground, cracking my back. The other grabbed my arm and twisted me while the first kept my lower body in place. Finally, they went in for the finishing blow by grabbing my head and quickly twisting my neck. In the end they cracked my spine four times. At the time I wasn't sure if I had survived attempted murder or if I should thank my assailants. Since I was feeling way better, I gave them the benefit of the doubt and tossed over a few baht.
At the end of the night, I was all alone. One thing had led to another and I was separated from everyone. No worries, I drunkenly told myself. It's a warm night, I'll just walk back. It's only 3:00 in a foreign country in a seedy part of town. What's the worst that could happen? I put on my "don't mess with me" face, and start walking. In retrospect, I should have paid closer attention to where I was walking and not how I was walking. Whatever.
So I'm walking down the side of this beach and it's kind of odd. I can't take 5 steps without there being a scantily clothed woman sitting there, staring at me. Then the cat calls began. "ooooh handsome man!" they squealed. "You so sexy", "Take me home!". I was getting some serious deja vu of how it was back in America, but I powered through. "Not tonight!" I told the ladies of the night.
I had almost made it through the Sea of Hooker. Their population was much thinner now, and their calls did not have as much fire in them. I thought I was in the clear, but then a giant ladyboy appeared from out of nowhere. She must have been 6'4" in her heels, and she was bearing down on me like some kind of freight train that used to be a man. It was like the boss battle at the end of a level. I would either pass this test or meet my end. "Slow down, sexy!" the monster roared as she attacked from my left. She went high, trying to wrap me up in some kind of hug/tackle. I went low, employing the spin move that I practice before bed every night for just such an occasion. My head grazed her arm, but I had escaped... for now. I followed through with my spin move, catching her in the back and adding to her sideways momentum. Instinct took over and I jogged through, finishing my technique. I figured I would be well ahead of her.
I turned around, preparing for another onslaught, but no one was there. I can only assume that after being defeated, the ladyboy, like Dracula, turned into a bat and flew away, searching for the next victim.
After all of the excitement, I calmed down and realized that I was totally lost. I couldn't turn back, I would surely be captured after the hooker regrouped. So I continued to walk. After about 40 total minutes of walking, I gave up. Luckily, there were still some motorcycle taxis that could take me back to the hotel. I survived the night, but sometimes at night, I think I can hear the flapping of leathery wings in the distance...