A long day today, getting to Pattaya via a variety of transports – a motorbike taxi to the bus station, a bus to Bangkok, a taxi to Khoa San Road, walk to the longtail boat, then the boat, then the sky train, then another bus to Pattaya which turned out to be a bit of a scam. As I got near the bus station someone called over and asked if I was going to Pattaya, and indicated to the bus sitting nearby looking like any other normal bus with Pattaya etched into the windscreen. Thinking it was about to leave, which it did, I got on.
Only when we left did alarm bells start ringing, there was only me and 2 Thais on it, strange for such a busy route. Then he quoted the fare as 80 baht, whereas translating the sign in the bus by cross checking the Thai script in the Lonely Planet it read 70 baht. And he hadn’t given me a ticket…. First I insist on a ticket and he eventually produces two 45 baht tickets from somewhere. Then I tell him I think the fare should be 70 and he eventually gives in and returns me 10 baht. Then all the way, there is this bizarre behaviour where the bus stops anywhere and everywhere, the guards jump out and try and drag Thais into the bus from the street and from other buses as they’re climbing in. In the end the bus was full of Thais, and I came to the conclusion that the guys doing this must be employees of the bus company who’ve “borrowed” a bus and just charge very low fees to the Thais. Of course, I’d paid top dollar and had an hour longer ride than I should have done because of all the stops. I’ve taken the bus registration number and may report them to the tourist police tomorrow, depending on what mood I’m in!
Anyway, after one final moto-taxi I’m now in South Pattaya, and what a dump it is! At first glance, having just been for a walk to find some dinner, it’s nothing but wall-to-wall girlie bars with the full support team of fat German and English blokes to supply them with cash. And the prices of food and so on are astronomical, I fancied a curry but the bill would have worked out to about 5 pounds with all the trimmings and booze which is crazy for Thailand (ironically one of the first things I plan to do when I get back home is to get a curry from my favourite curry house which’ll be a tenner, without booze…) I’ll take a look around in daylight tomorrow, I think it may be a case of heading either north or south to find a little more civilisation. Otherwise I might engage a contingency plan and move on!