Smut and sun in Pattaya

The next day, we wake up bright and early to load onto a rickety speed boat from our hotel, Long Beach Garden Hotel and Spa, to Coral Island, a small island that takes about 20 minutes to get to by boat. Mike and I sit on the ledge on the back on the boat to catch some wind and we get drenched by the waves long before we ever hit Coral Island.

Ken, our other tour guide, tells us in his broken English and an elephant camp t-shirt that the island gets very busy with tourists around 10 or 11 a.m., which was why we he had us wake up early to get on the boat by 7:30 a.m. After a few hours sitting on the seemingly abandoned, quiet beach, we see that he is right – more and more boats are being docked nearby and the once-silent beach is filling up. Still, we’re glad we got the morning alone before lunchtime, when Ken calls all of us over for a meal of whole fish, prawns, mussels and fried shellfish.

Mike and I on Coral Island. (Photo courtesy of Natalie Hecker)

After the boat takes us back to shore, we clean ourselves off from the sand and sunburn with a few hours more in the pool before heading back to the room and getting ready for dinner. Already, our intense sunburn is forming.

A Muay Thai fight in Pattaya. (Photo courtesy of Mike Politz)

Following dinner, Ken loads a few of us into a van and we go to a Muay Thai fight. I’ve never seen a fight of any kind before and I am definitely not into sports, but the matches are pretty exciting and I can soon feel my own heart beating as each Thai fighter, each no more than five-feet-tall and made up of solid muscle, dramatically come out from behind the massive walls and completely devote themselves to each fight, some being KOed in a matter of seconds while others battling through match after match with blood covering their tiny faces.

Me with the Muay Thai fighters. (Photo courtesy of Mike Politz)

When the seven Muay Thai fights are over, some of the group heads back to the hotel while Mike, Brandon, Heidi and I get dropped off at Walking Street, the heart of the red light district of Pattaya. Soon, I understand why my guidebook said, and this is a direct quote: “If you’re averse to encountering live sex shows and smut shops at every turn, avoid Pattaya. Commercial sex is not just a reality here: it is the lifeblood of the city.”

Walking Street, the heart of the red light district of Pattaya. (Photo by Jenna Intersimone)

Every 15 feet or so, a man holds a sign in front of your face advertising sex shows of every variety. Every bar has lines of prostitutes in skimpy or costumed outfit holding drink advertisements and obvious transvestites also walk the streets, towering over their female counterparts and dressed in leather bras, huge wigs and heavy makeup.

Everyone is clearly feeling tired from a day of sun and several days of early morning tours, but we pop into one bar for a drink which has a direct pathway to the back lined with about 10 smaller bars on either side, each filled with Thai prostitutes killing time before the bars get busy by texting, smoking cigarettes and climbing the stripper pole set up at each one. When Mike and Brandon walk up with Heidi and I trailing behind, they started to cheer and yell, trying to get them to sit at their bars. Heidi is ecstatic and laughing hysterically, but Mike and Brandon seem uncomfortable at this sudden influx of prostitutes.

Every woman you see here is a prostitute. (Photo by Mike Politz)

After a Chang, we retreat back to Walking Street before heading back to our hotel and then tomorrow, back to Bangkok for our final day in Thailand.

CONTINUE READING HERE: A very festive farewell to Bangkok

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