It was the middle of January. Classes were in full swing at the school where I worked at that time. The weather was not so hot as it was still supposed to be the 'cool' season in Thailand. One evening I got a phone call from an unfamiliar voice of a woman saying that she and her husband had just arrived in Bangkok, and were staying at the New Siam II guesthouse and asked whether I could come over. Well, it was a working day for me the next day, so I said I would come see them on Friday afternoon.

The lady turned out to be Linda whom I met a couple of times when I was in Nyiregyhaza, Hungary a year or so ago. I recalled at that time she told me she and her hubby were planning to spend their vacation in Thailand, and I had replied that I would be happy to show them around. Anyway, when I went to see them at their hotel they had bought a big packet of Jacobs brand coffee which was not available in Thailand. They wanted to go to the beach resort of Pattaya for the weekend, and wondered whether I could accompany them. Well, I had been to Pattaya before but can't say it is my favorite beach city. This place is notorious for its wild night life, raunchy go go bars, etc., etc. Thailand is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, but is also known for the seamier side of its tourist industry. However, I agreed to go along with them, and told them I would come and pick them up the following day which was a Saturday. I spent the rest of the day taking them on a boat cruise along the Chao Phraya River. (A separate entry for the river cruise has been posted here already).

We made the Pattaya hotel reservations for two rooms with my travel agent. His office is located just around the corner from the hotel where my friends were staying. The next morning I went back to their hotel and after breakfast, took a cab to the Morchit Bus Station which is the main terminal in Bangkok for long distance buses. The bus to Pattaya from this station leaves every 30-40 minutes, and a one way fare is around 120 baht or 4 US dollars, although it may be about $5 now, which is still very cheap!

The Bangkok to Pattaya bus ride normally takes about two and a half hours, but it's fairly comfortable with air conditioning and reclining seats. When we arrived at the Pattaya bus station (located just outside the city), we had to transfer to a smaller mini bus that goes to town, a short distance away. We got off at the Nova Lodge Hotel which is one of the oldest hotels in Pattaya, and situated just across the beach front. I believe the name of this hotel was changed a year or two ago.

After we checked in, I suggested going to the beach, but Linda said she wanted to relax by the swimming pool, so Janos (Linda's husband) and I went to the open air bar near the pool, and relaxed in our own way with a few bottles of 'Chang' (Elephant brand) beer. Janos turned out to be a regular guy, and I got along well with him. The only problem was he spoke only two or three words of English, one of them was 'good' and the other 'thank you.' But between the bottles of beer we consumed, and with a few hand gestures, we managed to have a somewhat meaningful conversation!

In the evening the three of us walked along the promenade on Beach Road. I don't think they were very surprised to see fat old Western men, hand in hand with dark skinned Thai girls of various shapes and sizes, or of Middle Eastern men with fair complexed and prettier looking ones.

After dinner at a seafood restaurant, we strolled over to the 'Walking Street' section of the city where the bars, night clubs, discos, and what have you, are all bunched up on this one street for pedestrians only. While we were sauntering along this street, Linda and Janos were talking to each other in their own language. Although I didn't understand a word of what they were saying, I'm sure they were making remarks about this place and the people there.

The next morning after breakfast at the hotel, Linda decided that she needed another sun tan by the pool. I had already made arrangements at the travel desk of the hotel for the two of them to continue their tour in Thailand, and as I had to work the next day (Monday), I said my goodbyes to them at the pool, and took the next bus back to Bangkok. I think they were happy with my company, and I would have stayed longer with them had it been during the school holidays. I didn't know it at that time, but I was to come back to Pattaya again in another two years time for another occasion!

Besides the above mini-vacation with Linda and Janos, I was in Pattaya several times before and after. As mentioned earlier, Pattaya is not my favorite destination but a lot of people who visit Thailand want to go there, mostly out of curiosity. Also, this is the closest beach from Bangkok. However, there are better (but farther) beaches such as Hua Hin, Cha-am, Krabi, etc.