Pattaya Days and Village Ways

I don’t know whether it was the pure hard sales pitch or the mention of Tina Turner’s classic song ‘Simply the Best’ that made me buy it. I was in Abu Dhabi International Airport duty free and had a litre of regular Jack Daniel in my hand. She made her move.

‘Sir you really should try Jack Daniel’s Silver Select, it’s the top of the range Tennessee whisky’
‘No, I’ll stick with the regular,’ I replied
‘Sir, believe me Silver Select is the top brand. It’s simply the best.’

Perhaps I’ve developed a soft spot for ageing American rock singers. I bought it and I’ll pick up again on JD’s Siver Select later in the story.

My flight landed at seven in the morning at Suvarnabhumi and just two hours later myself and Wonderful Wi had checked into our hotel on Soi Buakhaow, Pattaya. I’d been warned by many people that Thailand was very very hot for this time of year. I think they were being gentle with me, the heat was near unbearable. Even macho Australians were bleating about the weather. Perhaps the Sheila’s drink the tequila in Adelaide.

Escaping Thailand’s oppressive summer time heat and suffocating humidity is near impossible bar locking yourself in an air con room 24/7. Even hitting the streets of Pattaya after midnight leaves you with a sheen of sweat within minutes, though I still prefer this sweltering climate to England’s much colder ways.

Pattaya was just that, Pattaya. Nothing much ever changes. It was just another year older. A few of the bars had been renamed and the smaller lock up units were as always being ripped out and refitted as someone new chased their own version of a foolish dream.

Pattaya’s people never change much either. The phompoi (fat) lady was still selling slimming aids to young lean bar girls, and there was still a Thailand newbie in every soi who thought he knew more than any ex pat. I just hoped Khun Phompoi didn’t move to Abu Dhabi, I’d have to get a bigger flight bag.

Our four days in Pattaya took in a couple of visits to Jomtien Beach (top photo), Mini Siam and Pattaya’s Floating Market (excellent). It was all good clean fun in a sin city which Sim City would struggle to simulate. Sheila’s drinking Coca Cola as an ageing Englishman fought another Tiger Beer. Pattaya was Pattaya.

On day five we endured a long ten hour coach journey from Pattaya to Udon Thani, the bus only stopping to allow time to stretch your legs or whatever just once. I had three cigarettes and no alcohol in all that time. It was a mobile detox unit at 500 baht a time. Cheap. I stepped on the bus aged 50 and disembarked 45. Sweet.

Our choice of overnight accommodation in Udon Thani was fully booked so we checked into a lower standard place just down the road. It was a kind of love motel and Wilai wasn’t over impressed but it was my sort of joint. The air was thick with cheap perfume and alcohol, and there were plenty of cans being kicked loudly.

The next morning we rented a car and mid afternoon headed out to the village. About 10 kilometres from our village home we hit a wall of rain, a real heavy storm and by the time we’d reached our house the village electric supply had been knocked out by the downpour. The power didn’t come back until late in the evening. Typical, we’d just done a big shop at Tesco Lotus and what was already thawing, thawed. It went into the warm freezer with fingers crossed.

Late afternoon I cracked open my Jack Daniel’s Siver Select and set about seeing if it was up to much. It tasted a little bit different but regular Jack seemed to have more of a kick. I always drink JD alongside Beer Leo when I stay in the village and I was starting to feel a little disappointed with it. It was eight in the evening, the house was boiling hot and lit by a couple of candles. The village was in total darkness. We were all praying for the power to come back on. Jack, Leo Jack, Leo.

When it comes to nightfall in a Thai village then I’m very wary of stepping out of the house. I’m petrified of snakes. Even the normally placid soi dogs growl at me come darkness. I ventured out into the garden for a cigarette. The village was completely blacked out bar a few flashing lights over the road from our front gate. I decided to investigate.

They were four village locals with torches strapped to their heads searching for frogs in a rain made pond in the overgrown land opposite our home. I rushed back to the house grabbed my camera and waded in. Here’s the best photo I got and boy does that Silver Select have one hell of a kick. I might buy a bigger flight bag for my next trip.


I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

12 Responses

  1. Lawrence says:

    Martyn, welcome back. I like the idea of stepping off the bus 5 years younger. Don’t think it would work for me, though. The minivan trip from Hua Hin to Bangkok aged me by at least 10. I don’t step out of the house at night unless the street light opposite is working. And defnitely don’t go near any frogs, I don’t like the legless competition, and I’m not thinking of JD drinkers! Keep cool, enjoy the rain when it comes.
    .-= Lawrence´s last blog ..Pic of the Day 3 May – 9 May 2010 =-.

  2. Hoo Don says:

    Lawrence my apologies to you and everyone about not getting round the blogs lately but my internet access is on a hit and run basis. I’m off to a hotel in Udon tomorrow for a spot of swimming (pool not pond) and will try and catch up with the stories I’ve missed.

    Boy it’s hot here and the village has its Bang Fai rockets next week, that should bring the rain. So the story goes. Are you still in Blighty or Thailand.

  3. Mike says:

    Martyn great blog, having just spent 4 sweltering days on the road I know the feeling. My shirts walked back!

    As we left SS this morning it rained but back home no rain and 40 c!

    Had a few great days away though, however please call me Hue(You) now and not Mike…….will explain the the blog! Lots of Thais drinking cheap whiskey and a lot of fat ladies it up….great fun.

    Hope the village cools down, can’t see it at the moment though, by the way humans are not the only things that hunt frogs up your way.

    Any probs with the MIL slip her a JD special in her Tom Yum 🙂
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..White Elephant Photographic Idiom =-.

  4. Catherine says:

    Martyn, I keep thinking about you sweltering in this tropical heat. It can’t be fun flying all the way here, just to hide away from the sun. I am careful to manage my exposure at this time of year which means I do find myself canceling a few things. Like, life.

    Can we look forward to reading about your Bang Fai rockets?
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Thailand Voice: Women Learn Thai is Blog of the Month =-.

  5. Talen says:

    Martyn, I live in the States and haven’t even heard of the silver select JD….then again I haven’t been a big Jack drinker in a long long time. Been on the bus before and it is a very long journey to Issan…luckily the bus I have taken hits a rest stop about midnight-1am and you get a free meal and drink if you show them your bus ticket.

    Venturing out in Issan in the black of night is a scary proposition but the nice part is looking up at the sky and realizing all the stars you have missed out on for so long.

    Hope the trip goes well and lasts much longer than it seems.
    .-= Talen´s last blog ..UDD Conditions for Peace, Arrest Suthep =-.

  6. Hoo Don says:

    Mike the MIL is behaving rather well, she doesn’t ever drink alcohol and so a slipped JD is a good one to remember for some future time. Sounds like you had great fun in SS, fat ladies it up, magic.

  7. Hoo Don says:

    Catherine congrats on your award.

    I’m actually getting a lot of the sun but making sure I drink lots of water. Udon feels even hotter than Pattaya and so I’m drinking nitnoi beer during the day and having a better go at night. The heat sure beats the hell out of you.

  8. Hoo Don says:

    Talen our normal bus from Bangkok stops a couple of times but this Pattaya one just the once.

    Nightime is scary but I’m getting kind of used to it and I haven’t seen anything wriggling about yet.

    The time is going nice and slow. Sabai, sabai.

  9. Kirk says:

    The trip sounds rather eventful. I’ve just return to the States from Thailand two weeks ago. Just one day after the U.S. State Department issued travel advisory restricted leisure travel to Thailand until July of this year citing the ongoing political situation. I took my annual three weeks vacation back to my homeland to spent time with my mother during Songkhran holiday in Bangkok. I also ventured out to Chiang Mai and of course, to Pattaya City. I stayed at the Eastiny Hotel on Pattaya beach, Soi 8. The weather was brutal and the scenery was even more eventful. Explored the north, central and south beaches were quite an adventurous. How long have you been living in Thailand? I have always been fascinating with how foreigners who came to Thailand who have such a fond affection with the country, the people and the Thai way of life and decided to never leave. I am Thai but I’ve been living in the States for thirty years. I do miss the old days growing up in Bangkok. I’ve never been to Udon Thani, never know how life is in the region. You seem to like it there okay. I am very glad to hear about it. I am also glad that you enjoyed the Jack Daniels, who wouldn’t.

  10. Siam.Rick says:

    Aha, back in the Land of Honey, eh, Martyn. Nice. And hot!

    That’s quite an intro to “back home”, long, one-stop bus ride to another steaming town. I’ll trade ya! Temps in Thailand are triple, maybe even four times, what they are here, probably not unlike what Talen is experiencing in the States.

    Sorry, but I haven’t been reading blogs lately (Catherine’s award???, I must look), but I’m gradually coming round as I come up for air more regularly now at work. Three months to when I finish (really finish) work and then a few weeks of decompressing at home after 33 years of making others rich.

    I’ll probably be out and about the Blogverse more often.
    .-= Siam.Rick´s last blog ..Thai director Apichatpong back at Cannes =-.

  11. Hoo Don says:

    Kirk I’m only holidaying in Thailand myself although in a few more years I hope to make the move more long term. The weather here in Udon is brutal too and I really do like the area. If you love a beer you’d enjoy Udon Thani city. Thanks for your comment.

  12. Hoo Don says:

    Rick I haven’t been getting around the blogs much myself being in the village at the mo. I tried dropping a comment in on your latest post today but I’m not sure if it stuck. I seem to have a few problems now and then with comments on your site.

    Hold your breath long enough and those three months will soon go.

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