Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Nightta Pattaya - Part Two

This is a continuation post from A Nightta Pattaya - Part One

Showered, and now looking -- and smelling -- like a functioning member of society, I set out in hunt for some incredible Thai food.

The women of the Pattaya Beer Bars began to clamor for my attention near the moment I stepped outside.

"Come, come on, just one drink"
"I'm... I'm really hungry."
"Do you want some company? I come with you. You so lonely."

"I'm not lonely, but solitary.

"Really though, I just want some food. Is there anything good around here?"

The ladies pointed me in the direction of an outdoor eatery that was obnoxiously sponsored by Heineken. I took the suggestion, nonetheless, because of the stage and live music.

In my travels through Asia (Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong), I've found a common thread with non-native English speakers performing English songs: Mispronunciation and misinterpreted lyrics. I'm glad to say, however, this late-evening eatery with the band who looked straight out of Scott Stapp's fan club - Thailand branch, was a great exception to the rule. And boy, was it.

In fact, their performance was near flawless...

What drew me to the patio was not the flashing neon Heineken sign on the stage, but the serenade of my all time favorite Aerosmith ballad. Even from across the street, it was unmistakable. As I drew closer, the band moved to the chorus and I confirmed my excitement. The singer brushed back his hair and belted out, in great Steven Tyler fashion, "Don wan Messy Ting."

After ordering what I hoped would be the best coconut curry I've ever tasted, I sat back to listen to more music.

A female vocalist donned the stage and offered her rendition of Sarah Connor's "Bounce Baby On the Door."

At the time of my order, I requested from the menu what looked to be a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice (they didn't have Thai Iced Tea). During this song the waitress brought me a cup of Tang...

The vocalists teamed up for a slow ballad, certain to be a cross-platform crowd pleaser. Even in Thailand, a little Country goes a long way with an audience.

It was a touching affair, and the duo shared a strong sense of chemistry on stage as they seemingly sang to each other Shania Twain's "You Still the Why I Wan."

My food was served. And while the coconut broth of my soup was admittedly delicious, I couldn't for the life of me piece together the sticks and leaves floating next to my chicken. It wasn't until half a song later that I realized the foreign floating objects to be dry bamboo and stale basil (though I had seen a planter with remarkably similar leaves just outside the "kitchen tent").

As I continued to crunch away, and began opting for the meat-itarian version of my meal, the drummer and keyboardist hit the first note of the band's final number, which nearly made me choke on a rogue bamboo shoot the moment I heard it.

Could it be? A chart topping smash hit by a Southern California band from my own backyard? The first line confirmed it: "I holdin on yo rocks got me ten feet on the ground." Yes, this was the work of none other than One Republic -- made famous by Timbaland. Unabashedly, I sung along with the chorus: "Is too late to Paw-jiz-eyes!"

Despite my disappointing meal, I left the cantina thoroughly... entertained... by the stage show.

After a quick trip around the block, it became clear to me that I would not find anything to top that entertainment in this part of town. So, decidedly, I returned to my room and retired for the evening.

My next night in Pattaya, at a different hotel and different part of town, I found the cuisine to fit my fancy - and a tall, frosty glass of Thai Ice Tea to boot. If you've never had Thai Ice Tea, search out your local Thai food joint, and ask for some there. Now. My blog will be here when you get back.

When the last of my meal hit the bottom of my stomach, I thought to myself, "Where's the one place I can go where I know I'll find other travelers and won't be hassled by the working girls... and boys."

(Did I mention Thailand has one of the largest populations of openly transgendered people? "Lady boys," as they're known, are simply considered a part of Thailand's tourist culture. Sometimes it's blatant, sometimes... you'd never guess it. I'm no anthropologist, but I have a thoughts as to why they're so affluent here.)

I digress.

Only one place came to mind, but I knew it was all that I needed. Walking along the street with determination, I stopped only when the neon lights illuminated my view. I arrived.

The bar/venue at the Hard Rock Cafe and Resort, Pattaya was quite less than packed, but the Thai-filled house-band was about to hit the stage, and promised to be an improvement on the previous nights affairs.

They did not disappoint. And I was right about my hunch. As soon as it became painfully obvious that I was there by myself, a guy/girl duo of Australian friends bounced over to me and told me of their pact with each other not to let anyone in the bar that night sit alone. Not one to cause others break pacts, I was obliged to join them.

Hard Rock closed early for a nightlife-driven town, so my new friends Lyndon and Cassie, and I hit the streets. I was surprised to find the working class of Pattaya were much less persistent - or even noticeable - when traveling in a group.

We walked the streets and the beach, and even popped into McDonald's (or Mackers, as they called it) for a late snack; they had not yet eaten dinner and it was open all night.

Having to catch an early bus to the airport the next morning, I retired to my room with very little time for any sense of a good night's rest.

Though I enjoyed my time, and though my second night proved a great advance over the first, I never did have the chance to relax on the beach for long hours during the day.

Why, you ask? Well for that answer, you'll simply have to wait until the next post.


Andhari said...

Don wanna messy ting LMAO I SOOOOO get it, I saw a few of them bands in town but maybe in a bit that kind of areas. The good kinds are so much better, by the way!LOL

I love thai iced tea :)

Kristy said...

That was a great post. I can just here them singing . .. Steven would be proud!

floreta said...

whaaaat no thai iced tea the first time?? ok, i guess tang is a close second.. ? haha i haven't had that in forever.

so what are your thoughts as to why ladyboys are so affluent? i'm curious.

Don said...

Chase, Another fun read. I did some research on Pattaya after reading your first post. It is evidently, internationally famous for it's bar scene, much as you described it.

Interesting how traveling in a group changed the dynamics.

And who says you are not an anthropologist? This all sounds like field work to me!

the other Don (not don wanna messy ting)

Chase said...

@Andhari, yeah, guess I'm still learning that lesson. But like I said, it WAS entertaining :P

@Kristy, Steven would be proud. ...or would he? btw, I talked to Jessie today just to tell her you're doing a much better job at keeping up with my blog :) Great to see you back.

@floreta, isn't Thai Tea great? I was shocked when places didn't have it. Too sad.

@Don, "things I wish I knew before..." Yeah, I've done the same research since. "Now they tell me." Nothing like first hand experience, though... (Glad to know you're not messy, Don)

Carson Leith said...

did you ever have some chicken curry? At King & I, the Thai Cuisine on El Toro Road - it's really great.