Sunburn City (Weekend in Pattaya)

Friday I had the giant chocolate brownie from the night market for breakfast. The breakfast of champions is chocolate cake, but a giant brownie comes as a close second. It was delicious. I moved the ant trap into the bathroom, so far no hits. There was a giant dead cockroach at the entrance to my apartment building; I was not pleased when I saw it. Giant chocolate brownies are delicious but I was still hungry. I stopped by the food cart with the meat on a stick that I have had before, but they were out! Therefore, I had to go to class still hungry.

I do not like having first period class; most of the students were late. Class started fifteen minutes after it was supposed to and there were five students. In the next 35 minutes, more students trickled in until there were 20 of the 50 students. I guess first period is basically a blow off class. If I have to show up for class, the students should have to show up as well. I walked to class with a teacher who told me I need a stick for hitting the students if they are naughty. I am unsure if they were actually serious about hitting the students or maybe just hitting the desk.  I lectured M3 during their class. They did not want to participate in the activity I had planned. I sat them down and asked them if they wanted to do the activity or have me lecture and give a test. They chose the activity and actually behaved during the activity. They also really enjoyed the scrambled sentence activity. It was good to see them actually enjoying English and using English. But it gets noisy with lots of “TEACHER SUSAN, FINISHED!” They were disappointed that I only had eight sentences for them to do.

After school, I booked it back to my apartment to quickly pack for my weekend in Pattaya. I booked it to the bus stop where I had to wait for the green bus. While waiting for the green bus, I got three mosquito bites so I put on bug spray and realized I forgot my sunglasses. A green bus showed up but it was bigger than the green bus I am used to riding on. I got on anyway, hoping it went to the same place as the other green bus. Things look different when you are sitting up so high; I was constantly worrying the whole trip that I was on the wrong bus. However, I got into Chon Buri where I needed to go, eventually. The directions I got from my coordinator said to go to the post office across the street for a bus to Pattaya. I went across the street from the bus stop and there was no post office.

There were a bunch of motorcycle taxi drivers who wanted me to get on their motorcycles. I suppose I did look like a super lost farang. One of the younger ones was super insistent on helping me. (I realize that the crossing guards in Ban Bung are actually motorcycle taxi drivers. The motorcycle taxi drivers all wear orange vests and sit on street corners trying to find business, which made me think of them as crossing guards.) Unfortunately, I cannot say post office in Thai and I forgot my Thai phrase book, and the taxi driver could not speak English beyond, “where you going?” He was helpful though, asking a bunch of people if they could speak English. Finally, he found a woman who could speak English and she pointed me in the right direction of the post office. The post office was kitty corner to the bus stop, off on one of the more obscure streets on the six-way intersection.

When I made it over to the post office, my directions said to take the white or orange bus to Pattaya. There were no busses, but there were vans going to Pattaya. I got on a van and away we went. Busses are generally preferred to the vans since the busses have rules and regulations, but vans work just as well. When my roommate from China and I were in Thailand in February for vacation we took a van from Koh Chang to Bangkok which is a three or four hour journey. We were stuffed in there with a bunch of other people. The van I took this time was equally stuffed, except there were not suitcases this time. It took us a half hour to move a couple of blocks to get out of Chon Buri due to road construction. I was quite anxious the whole ride to Pattaya since I did not know where I needed to get off or where I was going really.

During one stop, I used my phone to create Wi-Fi so I could look up to directions to my hostel. Turned out that was the stop I needed to get off at. I quickly got off the van, they gave me weird looks since they were about to leave when I got off. Then I had the problem of actually getting to my hostel. The map said it was going to be a long walk. There were many pickups where the van dropped me off. The pickups are actually songthaews, a cheap and reliable form of transportation. The bed of the pickup is converted into benches, there are railings so you do not fall out, and a cover for shade. I will have to take a picture to explain it better. They can be found in most cities and depending on where you are going it is around 10-30 baht. I went to one of the drivers and showed him the address of where I was going. He told me it would be 250 baht.

I decided I had a long walk ahead of me, I turned around and he dropped the price to 200 baht. Still much more than I was willing to pay, Chon Buri to Pattaya was only 80 baht. As I started to walk away down the street, one of the motorcycle taxi drivers offered to take me for 100 baht. Still more than I wanted to pay, I probably could have and should have bargained, but I was tired and it was past the time I told the hostel I would arrive. I agreed. It was one of those 20 seconds of insane courage. In a saner mind I would not have given in. However, I rode sidesaddle on the back of a motorcycle taxi, holding my skirt out of the way from the wheel. We cut through side streets, shortcuts that only motorcycles can maneuver, we even cut through a hospital complex. He delivered me safely to my hostel, and I was glad I did not walk that far. The ride was pretty fun as long as I did not think too hard about it. As I learned later, the songthaews did go past my hostel and it would have only been 20 baht.

After checking in to the hostel I decided to go exploring a bit, get oriented with my new surroundings. I went down the street, turned around and went back to the hostel for the night. Central Pattaya is scandalous. Thailand has a profitable sex industry. However, it is usually well hidden, you have to squint to see it or actively search it out. Not in Central Pattaya. I was the most conservatively dressed on the street in my teacher clothes. It was late anyways so I just went to bed. The nightlife usually goes away during the day, hiding from the sun. The hostel was lightly populated, I had the room to myself the first night.

Saturday I was beach bound! I slept in and had a leisurely breakfast at the hostel. There was a breakfast buffet, I ate well: potatoes, toast, scrambled eggs, and real coffee. I asked the front desk how to get to the pier for the ferry. They first suggested a motorcycle taxi. I refused; I did that the previous night, I was not about to do it again. I asked if I could walk and they told me it was too far, about a 30-minute walk. I could handle that. Finally, they suggested a songthaew. I secretly think they were conspiring with the motorcycle taxi stand next door. However, I flagged down a songthaew with a bunch of Australians and their Thai guides. The distance to the pier was totally walkable, but I was glad to not walk it.

I took the ferry to Koh Larn, an island off Pattaya. The ferry trip was quite nice, peaceful and relaxing. The ferry was completely full, I heard the island is becoming more popular. When you step off the ferry, you get assaulted with motorcycle taxi drivers. They all swarm to the passengers with their maps and their price list. “Hello! Motorcycle taxi! Where you go! Hello! Where you going! Motorcycle taxi!” It was quite overwhelming because I had no idea where I was going. They would flock around you and if you even looked at them they would push their map in your face asking you where you were going. I decided to walk down the street a bit, I just needed to get away from them. I found the songthaews! Moreover, they were cheaper and I feel safer on them. I bumped into the Australians and Thai tour guides that I rode on the first songthaew with. We ended up going to monkey beach.

I got to the beach, found a bit of sand that did not have chairs and umbrellas on it, and claimed it for myself. I applied my SPF 80 sunscreen, but it was so hot I went into the ocean. The ocean was so clear and cool; it felt so good. I spent the four hours at the beach in the water. I reapplied sunscreen once. When I went back into the ocean you could see the sunscreen floating off me. No surprise I got sunburnt. Fortunately, my face did not get sunburnt. I guess since I did not put my face in the water the sunscreen stayed on. It is called monkey beach because there are monkeys. The monkeys stayed in the trees on the cliffs but people kept going back there to take pictures and feed the monkeys. Some people even coaxed the monkeys onto their shoulders. It amazed me because the monkeys were obviously wild animals and the people were petting them and feeding them. One couple even brought their baby up to take a picture with the monkeys.

Before heading back to Pattaya on the ferry, I grabbed a strawberry smoothie. It was refreshing after spending the day in the sun. I could feel my skin getting tight and sore. Why is it when you get sunburnt you don’t know it until after you get out of the sun? I made it back to Pattaya no problem, but then it was getting to my hostel that was the problem. I found a songthaew and asked the man if he was going to the street where my hostel was located. He told me it would be 250 baht, or I could take an actual taxi for 200 baht. I have a feeling it was the same guy who tried that stunt with me when I first arrived in Pattaya.

There was a chicken kabob food cart next to the pier and it looked so good I had to have one. It was a giant skewer with chicken on it; the man toasted a wrap between the chicken and the heating grill for the chicken. He then loaded the wrap with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, ketchup, mayonnaise, and cut chicken off the giant skewer. It was so delicious, it reminded me of a gyro. I was so hungry, being out in the sun all day makes you hungry. After my lunch snack, I found another songthaew that was willing to take me where I needed to go for 30 baht. When I arrived at my hostel I went to the 7-11 across the street to try and find some Aloe Vera for my sunburn. They had small bottles of Banana Boat for 300 baht. I got some aloe soap instead, hoping it would work just as well. It did work pretty well. It felt nice on the sunburn whereas some soaps hurt sunburns this felt so good. I wanted to bathe in the stuff rather than just use it in the shower.

I was still hungry so after my shower I went out on a food hunt. I found a restaurant that served Thai and Western food, I got Thai food for dinner but I ordered a milkshake to go with it because it sounded so good. It was good, more liquid than shake but I had no complaints. It was cold and delicious and I finished it before my meal arrived. I felt it was too early to turn in after dinner so I asked if there was a night market around. A big city like Pattaya should have a roaring night market. The woman at the front desk didn’t know where one was, but after asking a coworker she told me there was one down the street. However, it was too far to walk, I had to take a motorcycle taxi. Again, I refused. She said I could take a songthaew too. I decided a 20-minute walk would be nice. It took me ten minutes to walk there, and ten minutes to walk around. The night market in Ban Bung is better than that one. I felt no need to get any food from the food carts, it just did not look appetizing. I stopped by a pharmacy because I saw rows of green bottles that I knew held Aloe Vera. There was a Thai brand that was much cheaper than the Banana Boat, if it is good enough for the Thai’s it’s good enough for me. The pharmacist looked at my purchase and chuckled at my sunburn.

On my walk back to the hostel, it started to rain. I thought I could make it back before it started to pour but I was wrong. I took shelter under the awning of an open aired bar. There was another man also taking shelter under the awning, we struck up a conversation. He expressed his surprise at a single American woman in Pattaya because single Caucasian women usually do not go to Pattaya. I totally understand why. He went inside the bar to get a drink while he waited out the rain. I was left under the awning, another man offered to buy me a drink while I waited. I thanked him and politely declined, I was not part of the Pattaya menu. The rain started to let up so I braved it for the block and a half back to my hostel.

Sunday was the day I left Pattaya. I got a delicious iced mocha outside the hostel. There was a fried dough cart out there on Saturday but it was not there on Sunday. I think fried dough is one of those things when I see it I need to get it. That is my new quest, eat the fried dough, and it had better be delicious for all searching I am doing to find it. I asked the front desk how to get back to Chon Buri, they told me to take a minibus across from Friendship Center. First, I wanted to go to walking street. I hopped on a songthaew and off I went. But then, the songthaew turned and went farther and farther away from where I wanted to go. Finally, it stopped and the driver motioned for me to get off. I got kicked off a songthaew in the middle of Pattaya.

Fortunately, I was kicked off not too far away from the ocean. I was able to walk to the ocean and flag down another songthaew to walking street. I expected walking street to be touristy with little stalls, shops, food, and whatnot. I was wrong. It was all bars, dance clubs, and other things. It was dead quiet, there were only a few people walking on it to the pier. I went to the pier and got a frozen banana dipped in chocolate and rolled in peanuts for breakfast. You had about five minutes to eat it before the chocolate started melting. I say this about a lot of my food that I eat in Thailand but it was delicious. Chocolate cake is the breakfast of champions but this may be in second with that chocolate brownie from Friday.

I walked back along walking street and made my way toward what I thought was Friendship Center. The walk was not too bad as long as I stayed in the shade. I arrived at what I thought was Friendship Center (the sign was all in Thai), no minibuses. I walked down the street more to a technology mall, no minibuses. I walked back to what I thought was Friendship Center, no minibuses. I walked back to the mall, no minibuses. I walked to what I thought was Friendship Center, no minibuses. I walked to a hostel that was along the route had been walking and asked for directions. The woman told me to take a songthaew to the main road, turn left, go to the gas station, and the bus stops there. Got on a songthaew, took it to the main road, got off, went to the gas station, and there were no minibuses.

I went inside the gas station because I was overheating and getting cranky. A chocolate covered banana is not a very good breakfast for walking around in the heat. I asked the women at the gas station how to get to Chon Buri. They didn’t speak English, nor could they understand my accent when I said Chon Buri. One of them called her friend who could speak English but the cell phone kept breaking up and I couldn’t understand what her friend was saying. Though I did make my point clear and her friend was able to translate what I wanted. Then the woman was able to point me in the right direction. I had to go to the vans, which stopped next to the gas station.

I went to the vans, the driver asked, “where you going?” I have decided I hate that question, I have heard it way too many times this weekend and I’m done with it. It’s a pushy question. It’s also a completely normal question in Thai conversation, like “have you eaten?” Anyway, I said Chon Buri, and he gave me a blank look. The Thai’s say Chon Buri, and they kind of roll the “r” and it’s a nasal sound at the end. I can’t really do either of those so I just say Chon Buri hoping they understand it. The driver did not understand where I wanted to go, “where you going?” “Chon Buri.” “Where you going?” “Chon Buri.” “Where?” After a while of me repeating myself he goes, “Ohhh, Chon Buri.” Then he says something to the other passengers about the farang and Chon Buri, and they all chuckle. I wish I knew more Thai.

I made it to Chon Buri without much hassle. The ride back was a lot shorter than the ride there, probably because I knew where I was going this time, and we were not stuck in traffic forever. I got motion sick on the way back, probably because I was hot and I needed to eat something. The green bus ride was fun, which was sarcasm because it was not fun. The man sitting in front of me asked me, “where you going?” I was rude and ignored him, I was hot, hungry, and cranky. He kept turning around in his seat to look at me during the bus ride and I was in no mood to play hide and seek with the locals.  I swung by the Tesco Lotus on my way to the apartment for some Gatorade, 7-Up, and some crackers, I needed to hydrate, and calm my stomach. Back in my apartment I ate, drank, and did everything I could to cool off (air conditioning and cold shower). Needless to say, it was quite the exciting weekend. I am looking forward to going back to Pattaya (a different part) and doing some scuba diving!

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