World Trip — Thailand

6 January 2014

It's been only five days in Thailand, the land of smiles. Pattaya is an interesting mix of chaos and harmony. Maybe all of Asia is. A mix of contrasting pictures: bars and restaurants on the top of the highest sky scrapers and long traffic jams down in the streets.Something Thailand is well known for are the massages. A massage is a good way to get rid of the tension from a twelve hour flight. The idea of massage is something new to me — I never get a massage in Munich, and I never got one in Brazil. My friend recommended a nice SPA in Pattaya.

The place was was big, wooden floor, low white mattresses. I arrived at the reception and the lady, who came to greet me, was a beautiful Thai girl, with very dark hair and perfect teeth. "Beautiful." I thought, "but can you handle eighty kilos"? Never underestimate the power of a woman. The thai massage is done with the elbows and knees. There is a certain pain involved, because she presses single muscles with her elbows. But after the pain you have relief. In order to massage your legs, the little lady stands on your thighs and walks your body up and down. Is that too much for you? Then you need to ask for an oil massage, instead of a Thai massage. An oil massage is basically done with the hands only. After the massage, I was allowed to lie on the mattress and stare at the garden for a while. Then you come out still on your robe and they offer you a cup of tea. If you want to top that — get yourself a foot massage at the beach, while you're drinking milk out of a coconut. That is how my trip started.

Cruising though the Pattaya in a moto—taxi was an adventure. Second day in Thailand, I got out of the SPA and wanted to go home. But I did not know which bus to take. So I asked for advice — I have a friend who lives in Pattaya and is now traveling with me. He wrote: "take a moto—taxi". I got out in the streets and found one immediately. It was a young guy, probably nineteen or twenty years old. We agreed on a price, he gave me a helmet and the trip started: No jacket, not protection except for the helmet that would probably split in two with any impact. Driving in Thailand is a science per se. I don't know if my driver was trying to impress me or if that is the way it is: not all red lights are respected, zig—zagging through traffic jams, honking horns and starting conversation with other taxi drivers when he did choose to stand in the traffic light. This was definitely fun.

At first I did not know whether I would like the food, because I knew that the food in Thailand could be very spicy. And I was right. But you get used to it. The food is another plus: different types of salads and soups, teas and fried fish. One evening we went to a restaurant called "Cabbage and Condoms" — strange name for a restaurant, I thought. Later on I read that this restaurant works in social projects in Thailand. The restaurant had great food: glass noodle salad with lemon grass and lemon juice, fried shrimps with chili and Thai basil, fried fish with different types of dips. Yes, I ate all that. But the restaurant was special, not only because of the food or the social projects they engaged, also the location was a plus point — the food was served on wooden terraces overlooking the sea, so you could enjoy the sunset, listening to the sound of the waves and have the best food while you're at it. On this day we did not enjoy the sunset on the restaurant though. We went to the Hilton Hotel in Pattaya. The hotel has a bar on the top floor, with the best view over Pattaya and great drinks. The sunset from the bar at Hilton is beautiful.

All of this sounds very expensive, if you'd do it in Europe. But a nice meal in a good restaurant does not have to cost more than 8 EUR (all in). You can get a massage for 5 EUR at the beach. A double room in a three—star hotel can cost in average 60 EUR — maybe a lot less than that.

Thai People also make a nice impression.The best word to describe them is politeness. They bow to say thank you or simply to greet you. There are those who claim that Buddhism has a big contribution to the patience and respect people show to one another. Something you notice is that you can walk around with your camera and take pictures. Thailand is safe, including Bangkok. It's also interesting that Thailand has now the year of 2556. They count their years with Buddha as a reference. You also see a lot of temples in Bangkok, which probably indicates that the religion has an important role in the life of Thai people.

Pattaya is known for its nightlife for a reason: the city offers anything for every taste, from posh bars on top locations to brothels in the middle of street. There is everything: live music, local bands, drag—queen shows, go—go dancers, street performers, karaoke, cheap shows, classy clubs, you name it. This also means that Pattaya is not the place to go if you're looking for peace and relaxation.

Well, tomorrow the trip will continue. Next stop: the Philippines!

Highlights: Pattaya, Hilton Bar, Restaurant Cabbages and Condoms with with sea view, every sunset, foot massage at the beach, three hour Thai massage, local restaurants, local bars, run through town with a moto—taxi.