Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day 63 - Pattaya Sleazefest

After arriving at the train station in the morning, I took the subway and skytrain to the Bangkok International Airport to meet with my CS Friend, who arrived from Ho Chi Minh City. We took a charter bus from the airport to Pattaya to start our week-long journey together.

I didn't really know what to expect from Pattaya, but I knew that it was known for its seedy establishments as well as its beaches. Quang was in contact with a couchsurfer, who we called for advice on where to get a cheap hotel room. We ended up taking a songthaew to the center of Pattaya beach, and I soon made up my mind that this wasn't a place I would want to stay for too long. All I saw were bars, hotels, condos, and shopping malls lined up along the main street. This was definitely a tourist vacation getaway.

After settling into our hotel room, we walked to the beach, passing by the plethora of bars, including “go-go” bars where girls and ladyboys performed different acts in front of paying customers. Prostitution is illegal in the country, but is condoned and so easily accessable. The beach was not at all impressive compared to some of the other places I'd visited. The sand and water were dirty and there was only a small patch of sand between the sidewalk and the ocean. Cramped beach chairs and umbrellas lined the coast, and fat, old, hairy, and pink-sunburned sexpats were scattered throughout.

Quang and I sat on the beach for a while and purchased some of the street food from the vendors walking around. We had some mussels, fried shrimp, and baby crabs. I noticed that there were a lot of Russians and Indians on vacation here. I wonder why they choose to vacation here. It seems like it'd be quite the trek to get from Russia to Pattaya...

Afterwards, Quang and I decided to meet with his couchsurfing friend, who owned a condo near our hotel. I had some reservations about meeting him because I wasn't the one who was initially in contact with him, and I wasn't able to make my own assumptions or conclusions about him based on pictures, or profile views, or even interaction through the website. He also didn't have any references on his page. The only contact I had with him was through the phone, and he sounded older than Quang said he claimed to be on the website. After seeing his picture on the website, I finally decided it would be OK to meet with him. I tweeted the location that I would be on twitter just in case something happened to us.

We went to the 26th floor of his condo and took some pictures of the incredible views of the city. Afterwards, we met with him, and upon first view of him, we noticed that he did not look the same as the picture on his profile. He was supposed to be a 28 year old blonde-haired, fit Canadian. Instead, he was hefty, bald, and looked to be much older. I mentioned this to him, and he acted surprised that I thought he looked different. I was very cautious, with my senses heightened when we walked in. The door to his condo remained open the whole time, and we talked on his balcony, where I stayed closer to the room than the railing.

He was very friendly and seemed very willing to show us around on our trip through Pattaya. He suggested we take motorbikes to the countryside or take a boat to the nearby islands. There was something very odd about him though, and soon afterwards, we found out why.

In talking more about our plans tonight, he suggested that we take a tour of the “Walking Street” which is the main tourist draw at night. It's a street closed off to cars at night, lined with “Go-Go” Bars. He told us we could have any girl we wanted there for 500 baht or even free because we were young, and it was hard to find younger tourists in the area, and asked us what we wanted to see or do here. Both of us declined his offer for us to find girls for the night, but we said we would like to see what the street was all about.

We talked about couchsurfing in general and he finally told us the truth about his identity. He had two previous profiles that were both shut down due to complaints by females and he said he had to use his cousin's identity to create this third profile. The reason for these complaints? He told us stories that he would use the website to genuinely show people around the city, but also to hook up with girls, who he would try to get to sleep in bed with him instead of the couch if they happened to be surfing at his place. If they were staying for long periods of time, he would insituate that they should sleep with him because he “wouldn't be able to bring home other girls” if they were sleeping over. Sleaze....

We ended up at Walking Street where I was able to ask him some more questions about his views of the Thai women here, and the reasons why he was in the city for so long. All his answers were appaulling, degrading, and chauvinistic, and I knew this should be a sign that I shouldn't be in this city much longer. It's sad really, the way the city has developed to become a sort of playground for dirty, old men.

While this isn't fool-proof, I think there are certain things you should look for when viewing a CS profile and meeting them:

1) Make sure they have a good number of references and/or actual friends
2) Get a sense of who they are from their photos
3) Read their profile to see if you can sense that something isn't right
4) Read into the interaction you have with them through the website
5) Talk to them on the phone when you get there, and if they sound like a dirty, old man, then ABORT.

Pattaya Beach

Pattaya at Night

Walking Street

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