A good way to make the transition from South Asia back into the (over) developed countries of Europe and the New World is via a stopover in Thailand. This is because Thailand is an easy country to travel within and serves as a segue for other more challenging journeys (well, in reality, Thailand gets 14 Million tourists a year and I doubt most of them will ever get beyond the Singha Beer and cheap massages let alone undertake more challenging journeys).
After leaving Kolkata I flew inro Bangkok and like all the other times I have bèen to this exceedingly hot Asian city, I found myself, like a tired Bob Marley record, walking up Khoa San Road. Eating pineapple pieces and chicken, I ran into my old friend Sebastian who I met on the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal (2 weeks before). We sat down, had a Singha, and of course, discussed travel. He was going to Ayutthaya the next day and asked if I wanted to come. I said I would think about it and that I would meet him at the bus stop.
I decided that I didn’t want to go to Ayutthaya, but saw Sebastian off anyhow. At the bus stop, a man with a strong Dickensian, English accent asked us if we were going to Pattaya. He wasn’t exactly a pleasant looking man, he had some sort of skin condition and problems with what remained of his hair. I said no we weren’t going to Pattaya, bid Sebastian farewell, and then I went to walk Khoa San and.get some more pinapple and chicken.
The next day I am on the bus to Pattaya. Its not far from Bangkok, a couple of hours via mini – mini – bus. I was curious, I had to see this place, and discover why people go there. I check into my hotel (nice accomodation in Pattaya btw), and start walking around the city to get a feel of the place.
The first thing I notice are all the bodies. Pattaya is a city of bodies, where bodies come to meet. There are old bodies and young bodies, overweight bodies and skinny bodies, white bodies and dark bodies, gay bodies and straight bodies (and some in between), hairey bodies and waxed bodies, short bodies and tall bodies, badly tattooed bodies, pieced bodies, pre-operation bodies, and post-op bodies. There are bodies from Russia and the Ukraine, from Germany and Poland, from China and India, and from North East Thailand and Cambodia. There are some huge industrial bodies from America and small village bodies from Laos and Bangladesh.
Pattaya is a city of bodies, it does not descriminate based on where your body comes from or even what condition it is in. So stop worrying about your body, grow old, drink and smoke and eat as much as you like, but do remember to keep topping up your pension scheme because there is one place in the world where you will always be welcome. Pattaya!