Amazing couple of days I've had! Let me try and get a recap going.
On Tuesday morning, we got on a van for Pattaya at 06:30. Talk about early, at least compared to our normal days. Ah, well, I managed. Pattaya was a beach resort a couple hours from Bangkok, and in the past couple decades has sprawled to its own small city. The tourism made a huge part of it, so it had a lot of influences from around, including India, Turkey, Germany, Sweden, China, you name it. You could tell alot from the local pubs to the architecture, as well.
We arrived around 09:30, and checked into the hotel we had booked as part of the package. En route, the road got a little bumpy, and I was napping against an odd ridge in the window with a strip of velcro on it. So, you'll notice a small mark on my forehead in a few of the shots. We got ready to go by 10:00. We joined another group, primarily Indian, and got in a small pontoon boat. We were to hit up Coral Island, and on the way, we made two optional excursion stops.
First stop: Parasailing! We pulled the boat up to a floating barge with a large takeoff platform. They also had a small bar. All of this very open and taking full advantage of the warm air and ocean breeze. The parasailing was pretty simple and organized: A harness sewn into a life jacket, and attached to the cords of the parachute very quickly with buckles. The rest of it stayed attached to the motorboat, which made a quick circle of the barge. Participants were allowed a single, optional dunk in the brine right upon takeoff. They also took pictures for you. Mine came to me framed already, so this shot might look a little funny.
Upon landing, you were caught by workers and quickly detached. All you had to do was run in the beginning. But man, what a fuckin' ride!!
Next stop: Deep Sea Walk. I had to sit this one out. Doctor had ordered me to keep the surgical area dry for the next couple of weeks, and an underwater soak was pretty much out of the question. K went, though. They had O2 tanks, large old-school bubble helmets, all connected to a line. They also wore gloves, as they got a chance to feed some of the fish that were down there. Did I mention coral reef? Yeah. Damn, I wish I could have gone for that. As it was, I hung out on the barge.
Finally, we landed upon Coral Island itself. A large beach with several souvenir stands and carts. Also available were jetskis and towboats, and a lot of sun and sand. Not a whole lot more, but who needs more? Did I mention I think I was a mariner in another life? I could live on the water!
Lunch was included in the tour package. While walking along the carts towards the restaurant, I noticed one interesting technique that I would later find all over the place in Pattaya. The carts would have water pump systems and large bowls with several live fish in, including shrimp, lobster, crabs, and some small white fish. When one was ordered, they scooped them out with either tongs or grated baskets, and drop them straight into a steamer! The white fish would be gutted, scaled, breaded and deep fried whole. This restaurant did the same thing, and served with fried rice, corn, salad...and french fries. Apparently ya gotta have french fries. Good fries, actually, I can't complain. Our meal was two crabs, six shrimp, and two of the fish. Lot of food for just the two of us!
By 13:30, we were on a boat back to Pattaya. I took a nap while K got a look at our surroundings. We walked around and checked out some of the block. It was filled with a few malls, hotels, souvenir shops, small food carts, major restaurants, and several bars. On the way back, I got a quick "Hello" from a few girls from a katoey bar. I never made it back, but I kinda wish I had the time to step inside for a drink.
At 17:30, we got another ride. The final included part of the package was the Alcazar cabaret show! There was no photography allowed, however. It was certainly interesting, nothing I've ever seen before. The show and the songs were primarily Thai, but I saw a lot of outside influence. Indian quarter-tone scales, Korean and Chinese set and costume designs, even some American pop. Oh, and speaking of American, between the song selections like "I Will Survive" and "Poker Face" AND a shit ton of sequins and glitter, well, it was enough to make a WeHo boy cry.
The next day was spent leisurely in comparison. We slept in, and did some souvenir shopping after breakfast at The Coffee Club. This restaurant was a nice blend of American, European, and Thai dining, along with a coffee and pastry shop, all in one. They also had a full dinner menu with draft beers. I can see that kinda place taking off in the states quite well!
Afterwards, we had an hour on the beach before heading back to Bangkok. All in all, a great trip. It was also pretty good for distracting me from the constant reminders of how long this trip is taking, and how much longer before I get home to my honey. Tomorrow morning, one last touch up procedure, and I'll probably take it easy, just to play it safe.