Dare to get lost in Pattaya, Thailand, and you might find yourself surrounded by lady boys. Or, you might find yourself at a scandalous ping-pong show. Pick your poison.
My adventure began on the Southeastern tip of Pattaya where the clubs and dirty-disco, night shows are a must see for curious eyes. This rowdy town became famous during the Vietnam war, when U.S. soldiers would find refuge here for shelter and ‘affection.’ Nowadays, this town is a tourist attraction thanks to it’s walking street and dirty beaches, which are often compared to Amsterdam’s Red Light District. As a traveler, I can’t say I lived in Thailand without venturing off into some questionable Thai towns.
My travel companions and I had rented an Airbnb for 10+ people, meaning we were all going to get really close.
What could go wrong?
Fifteen twenty-something year-olds, unsupervised, under one roof sounds pretty responsible to me. We took advantage of the freedom and acted our age.
The following morning, we woke up ready for an adventure. We headed for the coast and loaded onto a ferry. We were traveling to the white sand beaches of Koh Larn Island. As if this trip wasn’t magical enough, we rented motor scooters to go beach hopping. Flying down the back roads of this little beach island town was an ultimate high for us.
We arrived at the first and most crowded beach, Tawaen Beach, which was overcrowded with Chinese vacationers. To escape the overpopulated sands, we headed for deep sea by boat. This time, our boat was a giant blown-up banana. I’ll never understand why, but Thai people LOVE my friends Lauren, and as a result we got a great ‘peel’ on this adventure ($3/person).
Banana boating as a kid is one thing, but doing it as a grown up with five heavy bodies and thrashing waves is a whole new level of fun. We boarded our fruit and took sail. We told our newfound friend and jet ski driver we’d pay him afterwards if he would “f*** shit up,” and he did exactly that.
We were whipped from the tube at least six times, spitting up salt water in pain and laughing all at once.
When we returned back to land, we scootered to the next beach in search of less bodies and more food. It seemed that each beach was more beautiful than the last, making it hard to leave even after 7 hours in the sun and crispy, crunchy skin. But, a party awaited us at the BnB for Buddhist Lent.
The next morning, I woke up late with a pounding headache and I was still wet from the storm the night before. I didn’t have time to think about this though because it was crunch time. We had to make it to the airport.
New day, new beach right?
We landed on the west coast of Southern Thailand this time, ready as ever to get down and sandy. Krabi, Thailand is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. Maybe a bit expensive but worth every baht. So if given the opportunity, please reward yourself and go.
When we arrived, we all checked into the hostel and got ready to go out. This time was different though. I’m not sure if it was the whisky or the salty breeze, but next thing I know, one-by-one, we’re stripping down and plunging into the ocean. It was like children playing in a pool but the X rated version. Imagine taking a walk along the pier, and in one spot is a cluster of naked bodies screaming and laughing. Yep, that would be my squad.
Waking up at 7 a.m. the next day was rough, as it always is. But with a backpack full of cashews, bananas, and lots of water, we were ready. We boarded our long-tail boat and headed for the islands.
Every two minutes or so the boat would sway with the waves and nearly tip over, sending us overboard. We made it to the first island intact, and debarked into its crystal waters to snorkel with the little fishies.
Heading to the next island was a breeze. Tup island was a small stretch of sand that connected two other islands together, making it walkable from one side to the other. Of course, our group got there during high tide, meaning we were ‘prohibited’ to walk its length. Lauren, being the bold person that she is, warned the security ‘lifeguards’ that we were going to walk it regardless and ignore the safety measures.
Being whistled at for five minutes straight sounds annoying, but it’s actually pretty entertaining and even more impressive considering the man had the lung capacity to sanction us for that long.
Island number three was the best and the worst island yet. It’s technically called Railay Island, but we called it Penis Island for its collection of giant cocks beneath its limestone drop off. It was the only island that served food, so we couldn’t help but love it. Our bodies needed some nourishment aside from Pad Thai.
It was the worst island because we were trapped there. One hour of exploration turned into four hours after the motor to our boat broke. Remember that game of “if you were
trapped on an island?” Well, since actually being trapped on an island, my answers have changed.
If I were trapped, the three things I’d choose would be an unlimited supply of Hot Doritos, a crate of rum, and some super strength bug spray.
The chips, because who doesn’t love Hot Doritos, and I was craving them badly that day, the bug spray because bugs love the chips as much as I do and the rum to numb the pain from the bites.
We sat in the beaming sunshine and warm waters for hours, waiting until another boat arrived. Finally, we headed back, but not without almost crashing first. The weather had shifted from sunny and mellow to breezy and rough, and of course we weren’t getting the best of it.
At one point, the captain (if I can even call him that) asked us to put on our life jackets, all the while cursing in Thai under his breath every time the boat nearly took on water. It was 10 minutes of dead silence as we all waited in anticipation for our boat to flip and dump us into the middle of the ocean. When the captain in panicking, you know you should worry.
Somehow, we made it back to the mainland. We decided to spend the rest of our day kayaking around the Thai lagoons and celebrating our friend, Oscar’s, 23rd birthday.
We bought beer and whiskey and packed into the open-ended truck to head for the Thai lagoons. We kayaked into the sunset around Hong Island, stopping at the sandbars to take in the last night we’d be spending on this sublime island. Our extended weekend of island hopping was a success, and somehow not even one person was injured.
After the sun set, we headed back to the hostel and sat by the pool, dozing off into the early morning sunrise. This time we slept in, letting our aching bodies recover. That is, until Camille convinced me to do one last hike with her.
Reluctantly, I agreed. 1,260 steps didn’t sound too bad, but after feeling like I was going to collapse from cardiac arrest halfway up the hike, I realized I had made a mistake. Four days straight of drinking and island hopping had gotten the best of me, and I was in no shape to climb a mountain. This feeling of death was only made worse when I realized I left my camera battery at the hostel.
I swallowed my pride and descended the mountain in a pool of my own sweat and no photos to show for it. Other than one where we asked a stranger to take one of us on his phone. It was a bit awkward but none the less we got the picture. Finally though, our trip had come to an end, and our flight awaited us.
It was a wild weekend with one righteous adventure after the next. My calves and my body are still recovering, but my soul has only been replenished. This adventure will always be one for the books.
And to my squad… Stay humble.
Originally published July 26, 2017 at sunflowergypsy.com.
Photos courtesy of Ashely Lipasek.