Ko Samet, Pattaya, Bangkok
February 2011
Part II

From Ko Samet to Pattaya

At the reception of the Saikaew Villa we made reservation for the whole trip to Pattaya leaving next morning. The one ticket for the speed boat to Ban Phe we now only paid 4.80 Euro, that was 2.40 Euro cheaper than for the speed boat to Ko Samet (which was filled with 12 passengers versus 6 passengers now). So next time we will negotiate harder.

The ticket for the van to Pattaya did cost 6 Euro per person. Together with the ticket we received a map how to get to the transport office in Ban Phe: just 500 meters from the pier and then around the corner of a 7/11 shop. After half an hour waiting time we finally left for Pattaya.

When we arrived in Pattaya we were still cruising and cruising and I was wondering were we are going. Pattaya didn't seem to end. What has become of a little fishing village more than 50 years ago. Even in the nineties it was comparatively small as far as I remember (yes, I was here before).

So many new streets with buildings, even high-rise buildings, we passed. Until we stopped at a hotel. We were lucky to be "delivered" first to our hotel before the other passengers are brought to their final destination, despite the fact that ours was almost at the north end of Pattaya.

Click the small picture to get it enlarged

Pattaya has changed a lot new buildings in every spot
Mostly high-rise condos Mostly for a Russian kolkhoz?
A building boom: no limit to the height In the midst: our small hotel in white
And now. How is our hotel we were looking forward to? I had made reservation for a promo package long time ago. The reception was overwhelming, so that I slipped on a marble step and almost broke my back. I didn't need a pullman to get up. Not "nomen est omen": the name of this hotel was
445/3 Moo 5 Soi Wongamat
Pattaya-Naklua Road
Banglamung Chonburi 20150
Tel.: 6638411940-8
Beside the shiny floor the lobby was impressive with an inside look up to the last floor. The room we did get was on the 7th floor, a delux room with a king size bed, so was our room as you can see for yourself.
Our room supreme Our television flat screen
Bedroom to bathroom look Bathroom to bedroom look
Ok, how much did we pay for the room? Actually, it cost 90 Euro per night. But because I did get as a promo one night for free, we paid 90 Euro for two nights. Breakfast was not included, though. So, we had to pay another 68 Euro for four breakfasts, i.e. 17 Euro for one. By the way, the buffet was pretty good but actually not so good to keep in shape.
Our swimming pool in black Our restaurant in the back
Our wellness center Here you can be pampered
View from our balcony to our neighbor's cool landscape But the people on the next beach don't like the shade
What a shock. I thought I was in Sochi at the Black Sea. I only heard Russian around me. All the Thai vendors and ladies offer their services in Cyrillics. What has become of this little fishing village? Little Moscow?
Massage ladies, massage ladies Remedies, remedies, remedies
Same evening we escaped from the Russian Buffet Night to experience the Pattaya nightlife. But how to get to where the action is. We were located way up in the north. No way to walk down south to the "Walking Street" - the main pedestrian area - almost at the end of the Pattaya Beach.

First experience: We tried to take a Sawngthaew (local minibus) passing by in front of the hotel, but they didn't stop or were empty and just waiting. What for? When I asked the driver how to get to the "Walking Street" he could only answer "two hundred". That was almost 5 Euro, if he meant 200 Baht. That's all he could say in English.

A hotel guard told me that the price is the hire of the whole Sawngthaew. The only way is just to get into the car and wait for other passengers. And then I still wouldn't know whether we would get to the "Walking Street". Even asking other locals would be futile because the English proficiency of the Thais are very limited, even in tourist spots like this. Maybe they rather learn Russian now.

Instead of going through all the trouble we finally hired a taxi for 7,20 Euro for the 8km or so. Fixed price, despite a meter sign. On our way back a taxi didn't even want us to take on a half a distance trip. So we must have been very lucky to finally get another taxi in the middle of the night, but same price of 7.20 Euro, of course. No further comment.
A must in Pattaya: The night life to see Or going on a shopping spree
We finally arrived in the "Walking Street". It was supposed to be a "pedestrian only" street, but cars and bikes are still curving around you, despite the crowd which is also around you. The street is lined with bars, discos, restaurants and shops. And this continues almost all the 5km along the Beach Road parallel to the beach, not to mention all the side streets.
Shall we visit the Rolling Stone Bar? Unfortunately it isn't Mick Jagger
What about German sausage to eat Or indulge in a lobster feast
The place looks nice but too expensive The Alt Heidelberg's menu was extensive
And now we are getting hungry. Where to eat. I did get homesick and nostalgic and ordered my favorite German dish: Königsberger Klopse (Kingsberger Dumplings with capers) at the German restaurant: Alt Heidelberg. Hard to get that dish for the price of 6 Euro in Germany, if at all, because German restaurants are endangered species in Germany. My steak lover Joy had a pepper steak for 7.80 Euro. And my half a liter beer was 2.65.
German pork knuckle like in Bavaria Fish and chips, English nostalgia
T-shirt for a Russian becoming nostalgic But a bad Soviet couldn't go to Pattaya
Next morning: breakfast at the Beach Club restaurant. The buffet was attacked by Russians. Some overloaded their plates as if they have just escaped from the last famine in Siberia. And it was very loud by a gutteral sound. At least at the pool later on it was comparatively quiet. Then in the afternoon we were wandering around and wondering about the many condominiums offered around. Also here mostly for Russian clientele.

And in the evening, oh wonder, no Russians around at the Beach Club restaurant. Maybe they had another Russian Night somewhere else. How relaxing. But we had the Brazilian Night tonight. I was expecting a Brazilian Samba Dancing troupe but it was named for the food.
Evening serenity at the pool. You hear no sound. Nostrovia! We enjoy our Brazilian Night dinner with no Russians around
Ok, how much was that dinner: 48 Euro including two bottles of Chardonnay for the two of us, which was not that much (I mean the price), despite the fact that there were no Brazilian Samba dancers around.
This was just the hors d'oeuvre. Just another course cut with a machete
This second course alone can get you full We couldn't make the sixth course in the pool

From Pattaya to Bangkok

Next day it was time to leave our Pattaya stopover but with a Chardonnay hangover. Instead of going through the hassle of changing means of transport several times we decided to take the tourist bus for 15.70 Euro per person. We made the booking at the hotel the previous day.

But what a ride. I would never do it again. Be advised: Public transport would have been faster and cheaper.

Ok, we were picked up at the hotel, but with a 30 minutes delay. Then the minivan was touring around to pick up more passengers from other hotels. Then we drove to a bus station, still in Pattaya. There it took another half an hour to get on a big bus before we could finally leave.

Then after two hours we arrived at another bus station in the outskirts of Bangkok. That was not the outskirt between the highway from Pattaya and the middle of Bangkok but way up north close to the airport, which we almost passed. A big detour.

From that bus station we boarded another minivan to bring us to the central district. But what a ride. That was worse than what we experienced up to now. We were stuck in several traffic jams. The main reason was that some of the passengers wanted to be brought to their hotels in way out small streets.

After we may have curved around another two hours and because there were four more passengers before us to get off, we decided to get off right away. Easy. Relax. Keep cool. No taxi in sight. It was a small side street. Finally one stopped but didn't want to go where we wanted to go. Then another taxi came and offered us a fixed price of 3.60 Euro we couldn't reject. Also here no meter usage despite meter sign. And then, finally we arrived at the
Viengtai Hotel
42 Rambutri Road
Tel.: 662280-5434-45
We were lucky. They had a double room available. This time I didn't make any reservation, because there are a lot more hotels and guesthouses around to choose from. However, the receptionist lady offered 58 Euro for the room instead of 43 Euro I read about in the internet.

She said that this is the price if you book via the internet. After I mentioned that I will try another hotel she agreed to the internet price, which included a breakfast buffet (which was very good, by the way).
Our next swimming pool: in the Hotel Viengtai In the area around the famous Khao San Road

The Khao San Road Area

Why staying in the Khao San Road Area. Because this is the backpacker area with the most condensed budget accommodations, restaurants, food stalls, travel agents and cheap shops, etc., etc. in Bangkok. Ok, it was cheaper and less crowded when I was here the first time in 1984.

Since then it has changed a lot. Not only backpackers come here but also package tour tourists on a daily sightseeing tour. Also some better hotels have sprung up like the Viengtai, even with a swimming pool (I can afford now).

Now take a look at this bustling place. The Khao San Road is the first and only pedestrian street in Bangkok. Supposedly. There are still cars and bikes not obeying the rules.
Cramped with shops and vendors selling everything Cafés and restaurants where you can eat anything
Food stall meals are cheap They are also save to eat
We rather ate in one of the many street restaurants. The menus are extensive and mostly pictured. One of my favorite dish was a Green-Curry-Veggies for 3.40 Euro. Joy's pepper steak came up to 6.75 Euro.
Fruits are also cheap and healthy Delicious pancake, my specialty
Does she really want to try a Thai sausage or a spring roll? She rather was buying a bracelet and earrings from the jewelry stall
It's better to pamper your body instead of being a materialist If you want a new look, then leave it up to the hands of the hair stylist
So, if you want also to change not just your look but also your identity then you are at the right place. If you were looking for a student card, press card or a driving license then you are at the right place. But better check the spelling of the fake. With a driving "licence" you will not get far.
Here you can even get a new identity But do not tell anybody. This is all done secretly
If you need a diploma or a doctor's degree then you don't have to make the effort of going through the exam or doctor dissertation by copying from others without stating the source. It's not necessary to make a quadrature of a circle. Just buy the diploma or doctorate document.
You easily can even get a diploma, or become a doc All under the eye of the police round the clock

The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

What is seeing Bangkok without visiting a floating market? That was valid in the old days. But not now anymore. Instead of a visit it you better miss it. First of all you have to drive 80km down south to reach the nearest floating market. In the old days there was one in the khlongs southwest of the Chao Phraya River, just a 30 minutes boat ride away.

The floating market in Damnoen Saduak mostly consists of rows of souvenir boats and stalls lining the canals. Ok, some lady vendors are still paddling around while offering all kinds of fruits or cooked food. The only traditional outfits are their hats.

If you still wonder why I photographed mostly these kind of ladies then they were the only photogenic pictures around. I didn't take any photos of the hundreds of other boats including the many tourist boats clogging the khlongs. Especially the speed boats (with an eight cylinders engine and three meters long propeller shaft) were a nuisance.

Ok, what kind of a boat did we have? A traditional row boat. Who was rowing? An old local lady. Where did we leave from with that boat? It was from a local house along one of the canals leading to the market. How did we get to that house? By a mini bus directly from our hotel in Bangkok. How much did this package tour cost? Only 8.50 Euro per person. Not much else to tell. See for yourself.
Paddling along a khlong with flower pots at the side Lined by house after house with traditional khlong live
After reaching the market of Damnoen-saduak Tourists have to drink first fresh coconut
You want a coconut pancake? But I would like a banana pancake
Have some fruit Or something fried
Hello farang, want to buy a nice hat. No we want the hats of the market ladies. How about that?
This is all for the tourists That's all about her business
So many Floating Market ladies Selling mostly the same fruits and veggies
So many Floating Market ladies Selling mostly the same fruits and veggies
So many Floating Market ladies Selling mostly the same fruits and veggies
But here you can have a hot meal It's spicy, cheap and a good deal
To be finished with something sweet Also the durian fruit is a special treat
Women are using the boats Men are building the boats
There is always the obligatory visit of a special handicraft and souvenir shop if you book a package tour because the tour operator will get a commission. But this place was really worth a visit even if you don't buy anything.
Women are only sales ladies, you may think Wrong. They also can produce something
Not necessarily carving a big elephant Or a Happy Buddha riding an elephant
These paintings and potteries are very nice Furniture may be delivered for a cheap price
The Buddha heads I liked most. Just by looking at them you fall into a serene mood. But you may get into trouble if you want to take them out of Thailand, because it is illegal. Why? Because Buddha statues may be used for other purposes, like a mannequin, than for worshipping by profane farangs.
These beautiful Buddha heads are for sale But how can they be exported if it's illegal
You may export him if you can proof that no misuse is being done You may take this Happy Buddha out, because it is not the real one
Ok, that was Thailand, again. This time even a much smaller part of it. We could have seen and done a lot more, but our time was limited. Also I could have written more. If you want to know more about all the places we have visited, then just look up any of the many guidebooks or in the internet.

Final comment: Thailand is not that Thailand anymore I know from previous travels. Of course, of course, changes occur everywhere but not necessarily to the better. Too many tourists make too many places too crowded. There is no necessity for the locals to become more friendly, because the tourists pay anyway.

© WEW Tours

Created April 2011