Sodom And Pattaya!
Paul and Andrew left the ancient northern city of Chiang Mai and headed south to the incredibly popular and populous city of Pattaya on the Gulf of Thailand. On arrival, it was clear there was more than a gulf of difference between the two urban sprawls. The former retaining an element of class – the latter an abundance of brass!
Paul had visited Pattaya over two decades earlier whilst performing in ’The Mikado’ on the beautiful QE2 cruise liner. There had been an element of performance too within the city. He and his fellow performers had visited the red light district to experience one of the famous ladies table tennis events which featured each evening – minus the bats.
And the nets.
Oh, and the tables.
The serves were not conventional either, though no less impressive. Practically Olympian Paul had thought at the time. And if anyone had been impressed with Bette Davis’s smoke rings in the 40s they only needed to witness what a Thai lady in her forties could do with a cigarette.
Not to mention a string of razor blades!
And when the seductress on stage used a delicate part of her anatomy as a bottle opener it had proved a real eye-opener for Paul and his showbiz pals. But all this burlesque behaviour back then had managed to retain an element of decency – well, almost. It was comic, rather than crude, and fairly inoffensive.
After each trick, Gypsy Rose Chang had received a round of applause, and after her final trick with the Coca Cola bottle, when she changed water into wine of a sort, she had received a standing ovulation. Paul remembered it as outrageous but rather fun. Disappointingly, when he and Andrew finally arrived at their budget hotel in the north of the city, twenty years later, it was as clear as gin the vibe had changed. As the inimitable Ms Davis would have snorted,
’What a Dump!’
After they had de-rucksacked and showered off their journey, he and Andrew headed for the pool to chill out before hitting the town. Andrew drifted into oblivion on a broken sunbed, tired from the travelling. Paul, however, had unwisely remained conscious as he became all too conscious of the type of establishment in which they were staying.
Surrounding him and his partner was a veritable fat-club of obese sex tourists. European men whose stomachs came out of the pool almost five seconds before the rest of them. Pot-bellied Russians, short on manners and personal hygiene. There was even a sour German, (Paul resisted the obvious gag!), who was so outsized he acted as a wave machine each time he entered the water.
And that was via the steps!
He had never seen so many ugly people in such a confined space. These guys weren’t just unappealing they were fucking ugly.
Or as Paul liked to put it less crudely, fugly!
Each of these odious, superannuated dogs had a young Thai girl on a financial leash sat beside them.
It was most unseemly.
He thought he may put Andrew into the doghouse for booking such a place, but he soon realised it was not his husband’s fault. Almost everywhere they went in Pattaya they witnessed the same demographic. Old, unattractive men cavorting with young unaffluent women.
Sometimes in effluence!
Indeed the ocean off of Pattaya’s main beach was deemed unsafe for swimming, the bay being flooded with raw sewage. It wasn’t the state of the current that prevented a refreshing dip but the current state of the ocean.
It was filthy.
Paul and Andrew strolled along the once beautiful virgin sand as gangs of drunken Russian louts cavorted with once beautiful virgins amid the sewer purporting to be part of the Pacific. They yelled and grunted like pigs in shit – literally. Paul secretly hoped they’d all go back to the less appealing suburbs of Moscow with a healthy bout of Typhoid fever to replace the yellow one from which they were now suffering.
Either that or drown!
He’d begun to feel quite uncharitable.
Days before he had ignored the fact that one of his most trusted online guides had decided to omit a section on the shithole in which they now resided. He was, after all, after touristic, not moral guidance from such a website. He had considered it traveller’s snobbery and denounced the site for being high and mighty. He now realised they’d probably been right all along. It appeared many of the city’s visitors we’re definitely high and thought they were somewhat mighty. The old adage he’d once heard that good guys went to heaven, and bad guys went to Pattaya, was not an exaggeration.
He’d recently learnt that Pattaya had been a charming fishing village until the 1960s when 500 American soldiers from the Vietnam War had been stationed at the south end of the beach. They had quite obviously been charmed by more than the seafood and so things took off with a bang. Five hundred of them.
Despite prostitution currently being illegal in Thailand, there was estimated to be at least 27,000 sex workers in the place, meaning a fifth of its population were at it.
This was more than apparent when Paul and Andrew hit a back street later that night. They were harangued and hassled like never before. Prodded, poked and propositioned along every pavement. They could not pass a bar without being manhandled by ’ladies’ attempting to drag them into their dens of iniquity.
There were girly shows watched by burly Poles. And poles draped with burly girls. Rows and rows of the same fat, greasy men lubricating themselves with cheap beer and leering at the desperate teenagers, some of whom who looked as if they were waiting for the number 9 bus to The Strand.
Though not a strand of decency to be seen.
They were offered everything under the sun – with anybody’s son. The place was outrageously unappealing. Street after street of prostitution akin to a pornographic version of Monopoly. Only Paul had never witnessed this much rent – not even on the Old Kent Road!
The city may have been morally bankrupt but it’s financial position much less so. It’s vice dens were making a fortune by putting the wallets of the intrigued, immoral and incapacitated into a vice if their own. The lack of respect was coming both ways. Many of the hookers would have been asked for I.D. to pour a ’sex on the beach’ let alone do it. Paul, from his frequent sojourns east, knew many of the workers to be impoverished Cambodians or North Eastern Thais with little choice but to sell their bodies as casually as picking rice.
It certainly paid more.
And from past conversations he knew that to some of them it was an easier task.
He realised it to be a crazy mixed-up world, and he was quite accustomed to the dichotomies of Thailand. But Buddha knows what it did to these young people’s heads whilst giving head. Perhaps only Buddha knew.
’Bugger me!’ he thought, but didn’t say it out loud, fearing someone may take him up on the offer!
The following day he and Andrew ate lunch at the shopping mall opposite their abode, eschewing the ever-present fumes which choked the city streets. Street food in Asia was normally their thing, nearly always being superior to an overpriced restaurant, but neither of them were fans of a dusting of exhaust fumes covering their noodles. Or a bowl of Carbon Monoxide. Their patience with the place was near exhausted as it was.
That night, after a smoggy ten-kilometre journey through town they had a brief respite from the filth. Some friends from Spain had invited them over to Jomtien, a more upmarket part of the city. It had been a veritable oasis from the hell-hole in which they were residing. Nice bars, decent eateries. One could at least breathe, and the prostitutes were less apparent or at least more polite. Paul would advise anyone he knew to stay that end of the city.
Not the end where one got their end away!
He and Andrew were no angels, but there was a desperation and a sadness to some of the scene which provoked sympathy. They both liked a happy hooker. Indeed, they’d met the woman who’d written the famous book of the same title once. She had come to their show bar on the Costa Del Crime – with tales of Versace and vagina. Rich as Croesus but not in crisis! She had been in control and not controlled. Paul was old enough to know there was a big difference.
The following morning he set out to find ’The Sanctuary Of Truth’, an apparently impressive teak structure which had been built in the 80s. One of Pattaya’s remaining bits of culture. Other than the penicillin which no doubt abounded in the town. It was meant to be an imposing structure to remind humans of religion and philosophy. When Paul asked Andrew if he wanted to walk to the wooden marvel his partner was quite philosophical on the subject.
’No – You go’, he said, ’it’ll be good to have some time on your own.’
Paul knew he meant on his own. And he knew what Andrew meant. Working, travelling and loving together twenty-four seven was an arduous task – sometimes impeding any ardour! And he also knew that he could hardly be described as easy – other than in the bedroom department.
It would be good to have some time apart.
He set out onto the six-lane highway in order to find the truth – or rather, ’The Sanctuary Of Truth’, sadly it wasn’t to be. He was sent in quite the opposite direction by a little git who was peeved that Paul wasn’t using his taxi service. He had opted to walk.
This had been a bad move.
He walked the walk but soon realised nobody could talk the talk, as every time he asked for directions he was lead up the garden path. Only there wasn’t a garden in sight. Just an urban jungle and a shopping mall. He ended up an hour later drenched in sweat and stuck on the wrong side of the tracks.
Not for the first time in his life.
It was now noon, and Paul laughed to himself, mid panic attack, musing that it was only mad dogs and Paul Darnell who went out in the midday sun.
There wasn’t a pedestrian to be seen.
He soon realised why as the traffic grew worse and he struggled for breath. The temperature had soared and any oxygen was obviously rationed – or perhaps in Pattaya one had to pay for it. He turned around and headed back towards the hotel – he knew to find truth was going to be an impossible task, even with his map reading ability. ’The Sanctuary Of Truth’, in truth, probably didn’t even exist. He knew he was growing bitter, a trait which he did not care for.
When be arrived back at the fat men’s pool he was drenched in sweat and sporting a badly cut leg.
’For fuck’s sake’ Andrew growled, ’there’s always a drama with you.’
’No there bloody isn’t’, Paul said in his defence, as blood trickled steadily down his calf.
’You look like you’re gonna die!’
’No I don’t’ Paul replied, feeling as though he could expire at any second.
That night, the boys hit the town for their last night. They wanted to see the hole in all it’s filthy glory.
The ubiquitous walking street was a sight for sore heads. It was a mile-long party stroke orgy, along with some of the best live music they’d ever heard in Thailand. It was raving.
But it was fun.
They had gone to the neon-lit dark side and the energy was palpable. Neither of them could help but be entranced by the lewd vivacity which surrounded them. They both had balls whilst holding onto theirs.
There was more pussy on display than in a cattery. More cock than a rural dawn. With something in between to please, or rather pleasure everyone. The atmosphere was electric but Paul knew they could not be static for too much longer. Tomorrow he and Andrew were taking the bus east, then the boat south, to a small island called Koh Samet. It was apparently where the Bangkokians came to party. It was also a part of Thailand they had never visited – so adventure was to be had.
But on route back to the north he thought they might stop off again in Pattaya. They couldn’t swim off the beach, or breathe properly, but that was a minor inconvenience. The city’s dubious charms had won them over. Neither of them were ’Snowflakes’ and they were falling.
It was true Pattaya was a tart – but she still had a heart. Guidebooks could be so judgemental. There was no need to be lonely on the planet when in Pattaya.
Even though oxygen was lacking in the city both he and Andrew had already decided to head back to breathe in the unique atmosphere. Though perhaps not in the heart of the city.
After all, neither of them minded a little sin!
Especially when it was so much fun.