Some beach time was desperately needed after our stay in the mountains up in Chiang Rai. With a week and a half left until our visas were up in Thailand, we booked an AirBnB in Pattaya, a small beach town two hours southeast of Bangkok. We were sore and just couldn't wait to lay on the sand and sip on some drinks with endless views of the Gulf of Thailand. After our mountain visit, we rode back to Chiang Mai and caught a 13 hour sleeper night train back to Bangkok. Eli has never taken one and was sort of childishly fantasizing that it would be like riding on the Hogwarts Express from Harry Potter. It didn't turn out to be as magical but still exciting. I had top bunk, Eli had the bottom and we had two "roommates" on the opposite side of the car. An older Thai lady on the bottom bunk across from us was so sweet and had the best lemon cookies that she gifted us, which we crushed in a matter of minutes. The woman in the top bunk was from the Philippines and had been in Thailand for almost a year training in Muay Thai and learning the language. Everything was cool until the woman in the top bunk decided to run through all her Iphone alarm tones at 2am, making her a super villain in my book.
We woke up exactly at 6am in Bangkok and hopped right on a 2 hour bus ride to Pattaya. Being able to simply catch a bus to all these exotic locations is amazing and some of the most rewarding disco naps I've ever taken. We hopped off the bus and very foolishly decided to walk to our room which looked much closer on google maps. After a few wrong turns and dead ends we finally found the place, a studio apartment in a newly built building on a street they haven't seemed to name yet. After the mandatory Thailand relief shower, we rented a motorbike and headed to the beach. The sun was just on the cusp of setting when we got there and I can tell you I've never seen a sun like this one. Just a deep orange orb floating above the horizon, like magic. We spent a couple of days lounging on the beach, soaking up the sun, because what better is there to do?
We got up early enough one day to make a trek so we headed up to Khao Chi Chan, better known as Buddha Mountain. The image was laser carved into the stone and then gold leaf was laid into the carving. The Buddha was in celebration for the King's 50th year on the throne. Honestly, its really big and the photos are cool, but there's not much to do here. With no spots in the shade to chill, hanging out by the mountain can be a bit taxing.
Once back in town, we decided to spend one more evening at the beach and check out Walking Street. After another cool sunset, I went to go get a massage while Eli read her book on the beach. Somewhere in between the sunsetting and me getting back to Eli, the night came and the freaks came with it. When I get back to Eli, she starts whispering something about "all these prostitutes." I'm not sure if I was still dazed from the massage or focusing on finding Eli, but I hadn't even noticed all the women now standing on the side of the street. I asked Eli if she was sure, mainly because I was curious at that point, and she told me she even heard prices being quoted. I feel like we all have an idea of Thailand's "pleasure" industry but since we were in the north most of the time it hadn't been so blatant. We made our way to Walking Street and it only seemed to intensify. There are huge blinking club signs lining the street, twice as many "ping pong show" offers, back alley muay thai fight bets, and an open air anything market. Walking Street reminds me of the scene in Fear & Loathing right after they take the ether and try to make it into Bazooko Circus. Crazy lights, muay thai fights, strip clubs on top of other strip clubs, this walk was a quarter mile of sin city.
Our last day in Pattaya we went to check out Mimosa, nicknamed the "City of Love". It's a theme park style little town with shops and an evening cabaret show. The shops weren't that cool, but I'm always up for a good cabaret show. There's about an hour of customed Thai performers lip-syncing and dancing to all kinds of tracks from Whitney Houston to Michael Jackson. Mix that with the colored water fountain that dances with the music and it was a thoroughly entertaining evening.
It was a milestone having our first bit of beach time since landing in Thailand. For me, the city can get a bit grimey and the mountains a little too quiet. I think the beach is where I belong.