What’s Pattaya Like?

What’s Pattaya Like?

The lights of Pattaya reflect off the water and add colour to the velvet blackness of the night. It’s 1 am and the rooftop pool is a languid green. It’s a tiny lagoon about 12 metres square trapped between the thrusting towers of the surrounding hotels clawing their way toward the sky. The Pattaya city lights are changing colour and glowing,  flashing in the darkness, sending out sparks. We catch the tiny elevator downstairs still in our swim wear. The door opens and we are caught snogging by a fat, rural Russian and his fatter wife. This gives me great pleasure and amusement and for the first time in Pattaya we make a Russian look away. England 2, Russia 0. Get in there! Back on 2nd road another Russian steps so close to me that I say, ‘ what do you want?’ He lurches and looks surprised. There are so many of them and they are everywhere. This is no longer ‘our’ place. The Western star is waning. The Slavs all stare and stare with no sense of grace or warmth or even sentience. They stare at Annie because they have never seen anything like her and they stare at me because in their own hideous country anyone different is likely to be hunted down and attacked. Physically handicapped people, gays and people of colour stay indoors. Neo-Nazi skinhead groups roam the streets of Moscow looking for someone to vent their anger, frustration and dissolution on. It is however a country of great contradictions. The Russian soul is indeed a beautiful thing, sad and yearning for a lost age...
Bangkok Love Story

Bangkok Love Story

Prologue The sound of a farang shouting at a bar girl who has poured too much coke in his drink makes you look to your left and the Big Dog bar. The girl speaks no English so perhaps this is among her first weeks in Bangkok. Music is playing very loudly in the bar, ‘I met a gin soaked barroom queen in Memphis, she tried to take me upstairs for a ride’. The girl looks frightened. The smoke of the barbecue’s mixes with the stink of the rotting garbage, stale sweat and piss. Decay, degradation and the faces of the Thai vendors and motorcycle taxi drivers are etched into the grey concrete at the entrance to Soi 4 like an ancient economic truth. Their look is not envious, nor jealous and not full of hate; but the look of those trapped in the waking dream world of constant and chronic poverty. They are the faces of the drowned and drowning. ‘It’s the ho, o, o, nky tonk women, give me, give, give me the honky tonk blues’. This is Bangkok. This is Nana.   But you are looking past the messy third-world order of cracked and dirty tarmac and paving slabs that border the car park. You have lived long enough to know that under the surface of things lays the dream reality that you seek. Bangkok; full of men and women with plans to escape back to Surin, Korat, Leeds or Texas; just as soon as they have enough money or less desire. But what you see is something tender in the way Bangkok holds its residents. In...
What’s the best way to get around Bangkok?

What’s the best way to get around Bangkok?

If you are visiting Bangkok you will need to travel around the confines of the city. It’s easier than you probably imagine for such a bustling city. This little guide may save you time, money and help you remain sublimely ‘sabai’ (relaxed, happy, comfortable) while you travel, see the sights or go to meet a little honey in some place you have never heard of before! 1. Airport Links/BTS (Skytrain)/MRT (Underground, Metro, Subway) Useful when arriving or departing Bangkok The  map below shows The Airport Link, which is kinda part of the Bangkok Transport System anyway but usually referred to as a distinct entity from the BTS (Sky-train), the BTS proper and the MRT (Metropolitan Rail Transit) or the underground train and the way it can link you to various parts/districts of the city. Suvarnabhumi Airport, pronounced A.I.R.P.O.R.T (sorry!) Soovan-a-boom is to the east of the city and you will see that the line is made up of 3 lines; one yellow, one red and one blue. Check out the map as there are two express lines and one city (regular, slower) line.The express runs about every 15 minutes or so and the city line every 5 minutes or therabouts. Anyway, you will be on Thai time by now and taking life a little slower if you take my advice. Most folks are advised to catch the airport link to Makkasan where the light blue line intersects and you can transfer to the MRT from there or get a cab to your hotel as Makkasan is close to the area of lower Sukhumvit road where most travelers choose to...