I really couldn’t think of anything to do…having cancelled my planned driving trip, I’ve been killing time and catching up on a year’s worth of sleep here in Pattaya. I came to work on my traditional Thai tattoo, visiting Ajarn Anek once again and it took about three days under the needle to get to a point where I feel like I can quit again for a while. My back still hurts and I can’t swim for another week (to be safe) so the itinerary has been mall walking, sleep, eating light, more sleep, and movies on cable with the rare beer at the bar.
Today, as I left my current hotel, the Nautica, right across from Pattaya Beach, my rough intention was to go left to Mike Plaza, the oldest and smallest of the three shopping malls along Beach Road. Instead, as I walked towards Beach Road, I looked at the umbrellas shading the chairs there and thought to myself “what the heck, it’s super touristy, but I’ve never done it.
So I found a spot that seemed to be the least crowded and had a seat. Now, for those who don’t know, these beach chairs are not a public service. Vendors carve out a small section on the beach, sharing with other vendors the limited space to set up chairs and umbrellas and usually a cooler of beer and soda. The cost to sit in one of these chairs is 30 baht, or about one American dollar. I saw some western girls purposely move when they were told the chairs cost money and shift to the walking area between two vendors to put their towels down on the beach where there really wasn’t room for it. These people work long, hard hours for those couple dollars. If you want a chair, just pay them 🙂 It’s a buck.
I also saw what looked like a middle aged Eastern European woman do the topless at the beach thing. I know some people want to spread their customs everywhere, but it’s generally frowned upon here in Thailand, so be forewarned. (note: in some areas, the police have gone to issuing fines for public indecency. I’ve got no problem with nudity, just giving you the head’s up so you can have a better trip).
Grabbed a chair and wanting a natural shot of electrolytes, a coconut.
So the cool thing about the beach is everything comes to you. Yes, I know…whether you like it or not! If there’s a vendor has things you don’t want, just smile and “Mai Ow Krup/Ka” (Krup for males, Ka for ladies) and that particular vendor should leave you be the remainder of your stay.
After a relaxing stretch of oh…. thirty seconds, I was approached by a lady offering me leg massage. I think she was a ninja in a previous life because unlike the other vendors, I didn’t see her coming until she was only a few chairs away.
“Tao Arai?” I asked, “Sam Roi Baht” she replied… 300 baht?! expensive! but this is the beach, so I figure everything is a bit more (Farang/tourist prices). Well I’m not doing anything anyway and my legs could use a massage, so I just smile and say “OK”.
As she’s working on the legs, various vendors come by. Pirate DVD? No thanks! Tattoo? No, check my back bro. Food? hmm whatcha got?
I’ve been eating very light and the trip to the beach was no exception. First was lunch. It was about 2:00PM and I treated myself to fish. 100 baht. I think it was a mackerel, though I really have no clue. It was fish. It was scaled and gutted and a rolled up piece of pandan leave was inserted into it before it was grilled. The guy carrying them had a portable hibachi he would wear around his neck and they’d cook as he walked. Neat.
The fish had firm flesh and was lightly salted. It came with a small cup of sweet chili sauce, pretty much the same as the bottled sauce you can buy at the Asian grocery. It wasn’t huge, but I picked it clean on both sides and after a while my hunger went away.
After the first hour passed, the foot massage lady noted my heels and asked me if I wanted her to work on them. Now, you have to understand y heels are like elephant feet. Dry, hard, cracked, and thick as the leather soles on an old pair of boots. I didn’t hear a price, but I just said “ok”. She went to work on what eventually would be a grueling (for her) 45 minute trip into epidermal hell. I kid you not… as I write this, I debate posting the picture of all the skin removed because it’s pretty gross.
But lest I get ahead of myself, back to the story! The foot massage lady is working on my feet and nearly an hour has passed since I ate the fish. I’ve always wanted to try the steamed-on-the-run shrimp that I’ve seen some of the vendors carry around and finally one appears. I go ahead and order a plate. It’s 100 baht for 10 shrimp. Each one is bigger than my middle finger.
They weren’t too bad, but I think if you’re sharp you can see the problem already. They aren’t cleaned very well. That means that the gritty black guts are still stuck on the bottom of the shell along the legs. What I suspect is because water is inconvenient, they may run a stick or tool through to pop the intestinal tract out, there’s no water to rinse it away so they just pop it and leave it.
The shrimp also came with a free serving flies because out of nowhere all these little flies came and started attacking the shrimp, lol. I hurried to eat the shrimp while shooing away the flies and it wasn’t bad. Although the sauce looks the same, it’s not, this one is a vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, and chili sauce. Thin and made for dunking.
By the time the foot massage lady finished my feet, the sky was starting to darken and feel ‘thick’, meaning big rain was coming. I headed back to the hotel just in time.
It was a good day.