Monday, January 24, 2005

We both woke up late after being up late the night before. Justin got up and immediately turned on the television, which was showing live the AFC championship game. He got “interrupted” a couple of times, once to take care of arrangements for the trip to Pattaya and once to eat breakfast. In the end the correct team won. After the game ended we finished packing and walked around a little more in search of souvenirs. After about 30 minutes we realized that we were in fact in the wrong part of town for finding anything inexpensive, so we gave up and went back to the hotel.

Back at the hotel we ate lunch at the free buffet. Since we were staying at least 3 nights, we got a coupon to have a free lunch at the authentic Thai buffet restaurant, across the river by the gym. Since the Oriental ran out of room on the East side of the river, when it wanted to expand it just built on the opposite side of the river and started having a boat go back and forth all day. The trip across the river is very short. The restaurant had tables about 18" off of the ground, like you see at Sushi restaurants. Fortunately, there was a lowered floor underneath the table so that people with limited flexibility (Justin) could just sit on the floor without any problems.

We finally did work out our travel arrangements to Pattaya. Rather than get a ride to the airport and have someone from the Amari Orchid (our hotel in Pattaya) pick us up, we decided to just have a representative from the Amari Orchid pick us up from the Oriental. The drive there was interesting – the countryside was very nice (and largely undisturbed) once we were outside of Bangkok. It looked much nicer than on the ride up to Ayutthaya.

When we got to Pattaya – we saw with our own eyes what we had already read in all of the travel books – that Pattaya was a definite notch (if not two) lower than all of the other areas that we had visited. It was like a mini-Bangkok, only without any of the big city amenities. The hotel was nice enough – the grounds were nice, and had we not been on the first floor our view definitely would have been good. The bed, however, was something else. It was rock hard, to the point we couldn't even sleep on our side.

We went out for a walk down the main beach road, looking for a ride to the Sugar Hut, a restaurant that we had read good things about. As we walked past the pool we saw our first nudity in Thailand – a couple naked euro women that we would have much preferred kept their tops on. The ocean looked very nice, but we knew better from reading the travel books than to go in. We kept walking south down the main drag, trying every so often to catch a Sangtao (basically a pickup with two benches and a roof on the bed), only to be rebuffed. Either the Sangtaos wouldn't stop to pick us up, or they would and they'd want about 20x what the ride should cost.

So we walked, and we walked, and we walked, farther and farther south. Eventually we got to the main mall of Pattaya, but found nothing all that interesting. There were some carved wooden statues in "provocative" positions, with an amazing degree of detail, but we couldn't bring ourselves to purchase any, even for Justin's college friends. We left the mall, giving up on catching a Sangtao, and walked back to the hotel, starving.

There was a restaurant down by the beach on the grounds of the Amari Orchid, and for the second time on our trip we had an enjoyable, yet classically bad, dinner. The drinks were really bad (we were wondering if they would have botched a rum and coke), the food was both bad and undercooked – all Justin had to do was bite into his burger to realize it wasn't done. Nonetheless, there was a cover band playing music, and actually playing it quite well. Also, everything was super cheap. We finished up and tried to sleep on our board disguised as a bed.



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