Chuck Hillig's Travel Blog

Well, I'm going to be doing a lot of traveling over the next 6-7 months so I thought that I'd better re-activate my travel blog. The last time I posted anything here was way back in 2006 when I was traveling through SE Asia. Feel free to read my entries back then about my earlier adventures through India,Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, the Philippines and Hong Kong. This time (at least for the next six weeks), I'll be traveling through Greece and Turkey.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Playing in Pattaya...

While I was still in Bangkok on Saturday, I re-visited the major attractions that I had first seen back in 1988: the Grand Palace, Wat Phra (home to the Emerald Buddha) and Wat Pho which houses the world's largest reclining Buddha...about 150 feet in length with ornate designs of inlaid mother-of-pearl on the soles of his feet. Truly extraordinary and every visitor to Bangkok ought to put these attractions high on their list of places to visit. Bangkok is a city of opposites. For example,islands of brazen sexuality co-exist next door to Buddhist wats (temples). But the Thais have a great sense of humor, too. For example, two of the restaurants in Bangkok are "Eat Me" and "Cabbages and Condoms." Yes, after you eat at the latter place, they actually give you a free condom!
On Sunday, I checked out of my hotel and caught a van down to Pattaya...the infamous playground for adults about two hours south of Bangkok. Pattaya has been developing as a tourist area for more than 40 years. Now, it's become a haven for expats from the UK, Oz, NZ and the US who have taken up with Thai wives. They operate the myriad of go-go bars and restaurants that innundate this beach resort in order to cater to the hoards of westerners who are willing to pump millions of Baht into the local economy. As you might suspect, Pattaya is the home to, quite literally, many thousands of "working girls" who are available to service the male tourists...short term, for a night/week/month or however long you want. Everything is negotiable here. At night after 9 P.M., the hundreds of open bars are filled with noisy customers and hustling girls. Naturally, there's a lot of drinking, red lights, drinking, loud music, drinking, eating, drinking, etc. etc.. Amid all of the activity and chaos, however, there's also a lot of negotiating going on, too. With all of the people walking down the the well-known "Walking Street" (an area of about a half a mile that's shut off to vehicular traffic every night after 8 P.M.), it becomes a celebration of barely-contained craziness. Inside the go-go bars, several dozen girls (18-25) dance for hours around poles to pulse-pounding music (lots of rap) and in various stages of undress. Often they're completely nude. Sometimes they eagerly simulate sexual intercourse with each other or even oral sex using bananas, etc. Last night, (Sunday) I went bar-hopping with two guys from India and Belgium that I had met in the van coming down from Bangkok. They had both been to Pattaya before and were happy to introduce me to their favorite places of iniquity. For example, the Thai humor about sexuality includes the opportunity to sit at a mirrored bar table a foot away from a young dancer (in go-go boots with 3-inch soles) who is dressed only in a tiny wrap-around waitband and with no panties. Since she's dancing on a mirror, the view looking down is as interesting as is the view looking up. It's all done with great fun and laughter and everyone seems to be having a great time reveling in this blatant and in-your-face kind of sexuality. Paradoxically, outside some of these establishments are the usual "spirit houses" with burning incense, candles etc. In Thailand, sexuality and spirituality are not at all incompatible. I'll be in Pattaya until Wednesday when I take a van back to the airport in Bangkok for the flight to Cambodia to finally see Angkor Wat. After Pattaya, it'll be going from one extreme to the other. More later...

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