The Russians are Coming

January 29, 30, 2013

Another wonderful trip to Pattaya. Left around 9:00 a.m. from Laem Mae Phim and headed for the big city and bright lights – and Russians!
Our first important stop was Index, a department store which is similar to Ikea. That is, most of the furniture has to be assembled when you get the big boxes home. However, if you have a delivery, the delivery boys/men will assemble the furniture for you. I had bought a desk and chair at Index last year, and after seeing how much work my husband has as Chairman of the Board of Seaview Condos, we decided that he really needed a desk, small cabinet for his printer and a proper chair. The dining room table was looking a bit cluttered. Unfortunately, the desk and chair we bought last year were no longer available. After several trips up and down the showroom stairs and consultation with the Thai salesman, we made our choices, but found that the items would not fit into the car as we had planned. So, there was no alternative, but to have it delivered. I showed them my Index Membership, which I originally opened because it gave me a 3-5% discount. This only led to filling out umpteen forms and papers, concluding the transaction with drawing a map of both the village where we live and a map of where the apartment complex is situated, a couple of glasses of orange juice and many “Sabai di Ka’s later, we left the store. By this time it was around 12:30. We had had no breakfast, so lunch was a definite requisite.

We checked into the hotel (The L. K. Empress) after some discussion with the front desk clerk – can’t remember what that was all about, except that my husband said every time we come, there seems to be a change in procedure. I do think one of the girls at the front desk recognized us and after being upgraded to a room with a Jacuzzi and balcony, we were on our way. There are two large buildings to LK Empress Hotel. Because we tend to economize when it comes to staying in a hotel in Pattaya, we followed the instructions to “B Building”, but could not find our room. After asking one of the maids, she suggested that we were in the wrong building. So, down to the main floor, across the loooooong lobby and to the “A Building.” Yes! Right place at last. No sooner had we entered the room when the phone rang and the front desk clerk asked if we had found our room alright. As if we could answer the phone, if we weren’t in the right room! Couple of minutes later the door bell rang, and the bellboy stood there with a couple of suitcases, which we had to convince him were not ours. He looked a bit unhappy, but we insisted that we had our two small bags with us and those really weren’t our suitcases.

Off to lunch. One of the main reasons we like to come to Pattaya is that it is a large city, many wonderful shops, markets and food carts. I always break down and have either a mango or banana crepe from one of the food carts. Highly recommendable and very delicious. But, we did have to have something more substantial first, so we headed for Central Festival, a very modern, 5-story shopping center. The Center even has shops with sizes that could fit me. In Thailand all the women’s sizes are
super small, small, impossible medium, shrunken large and finally something that fits called XL – Extra large. Depressing. But back to that later.

We sat down to some Thai food – glass noodles with minced pork and prawns. Waited a while, but it was good. Next to us sat four men. Two of the men were European and two were Thai. One of the men was in his late 40’s early 50’s, I would surmise, blond, good looking, well dressed and well-groomed. Next to him sat a very handsome young Thai man probably in his early 20’s. Next to him, and this is the interesting part, sat a lady boy. He had long dark hair, red lipstick, was quite tall and slim for a Thai. The European man next to the lady man was a somewhat seedy-looking man (in my opinion), long dark hair with a thin patch of hair at the back of his head, slim, dark jeans and shirt. I never saw his face, because his back was turned toward me. I couldn’t help but look at the handsome blond man and then happened to glance over at the young Thai next to him. I think the blond man got my message – people tell me that my facial expressions and eyes are easy to read – because he dropped his gaze and looked a little uncomfortable. I don’t judge. In this instance at least, as both the “Thai companions” were of age, and, in my opinion, responsible for their actions. Life can be tough though.

Our lunch enjoyed, we proceeded to go shopping. We went to the sports shop first, because the big search was for a one-piece bathing suit. I had tried to find something in Rayong which has a rather large shopping mall called Lampoeng: I found some three-piece suits consisting of a top part, the bikini pants and then a skirt to fit over the bikini pants. Thais are very modest when it comes to swimming attire. All I wanted was a simple one-piece bathing suite. So, here we go. There were some popular, well-known brands such as Jantzen and Speedo, but the sizes??!?!?!? First there was super small, small, impossible medium, shrunken large and finally a possible fit called XL – Extra large. Again, depressing, but no alternative. After being suitably depressed that I would have to try to fit into an XL size, I ventured into the dressing room with 4 bathing suits. One suit was so padded in the top, that I looked like an oversized replica of a Barbie Doll. One of the other suits was very sexy, but not at all suitable for a woman of my vintage and dimensions, which left two other possibilities. I finally decided on the one suit which I thought would not draw too much attention. I do now understand why so many large women in Thailand wear bikinis. You don’t have to fit an abdomen into the lower part of the bikini nor a large bust into a top part of the suit. Consequently, you end up with women wearing “hang-over suits.“ Honestly, the parade of women at the beach is quite amazing. At least I feel like I don’t have to be embarrassed when I go swimming. It is also a good incentive to continue to try to lose that plump middle that seems to be hanging on despite all my efforts – probably because I like to cook, like to eat and like to eat all those wonderful fruits and drink all those juices and smoothies. Sugar, sugar, sugar.

We continued to Mike’s Shopping Mall, where my negotiations began with my husband. I wanted a facial which lasts about 30 minutes but he did not want one. So we agreed that he could go back to the hotel, which was right next door and we would meet in an hour. A whole hour on my own; what a wonderful outing! My facial was wonderful. I enjoyed a 20 facial massage and when the girl finished, she trimmed my nose hairs! I had NEVER had that done before. I was a little embarrassed, but to her it was part of the program, I guess. My skin did feel wonderful and I felt absolutely refreshed. I wandered through Kim’s Shopping Mall and headed for the top floor to buy some small presents to take back to Denmark with me. I bargained a little and found some nice, small items as gifts. Wandered around among the shoes but could not decide on anything – much to my disappointment. Not sure if they are genuine, but I do like Clark’s shoes and at these prices!

Met my husband and we bought some very nice quality T-shirts for Jørgen. We have gone to this stall 2-3 times when we are in Thailand, but not sure the owner recognized us. His friend, wife, neighbor, sister, whatever, was sitting on a chair in the stall and started feeding me sweets that she had bought at one of the carts outside. We laughed a lot, because she insisted that I taste this food and then she told me I owed her Baht 20, so I turned to the owner of the stall and told him to give me a discount of Baht 20, so I could pay his friend for the food I had eaten. That brought more peals of laughter from them and some jokes, etc. Also gave me a chance to practice a little Thai. The Thais love it when you try to say a few words in Thai. I tend to practice a lot of Thai on the golf course, because I spend about 4 to 4-½ hours with the caddie. Caddie 16 at Chon Buri as well as TaTa, another caddie, are very good teachers. I get a lot of my golfing tips and help in Thai now. Apart from improving my Thai, I have even learned to get that ruddy ball in the hole on occasion – hooray for my putting.

My husband headed back to the hotel, but I wanted to wander a little longer. That’s when I spotted the pancake cart and waited forever while these two Russian men ordered, changed their order and fiddled around getting their pancakes. These Russians. No manners, rude, aggressive and, usually, oversize and dressed in the most horrendous attire. I am convinced that the only taste they have is in their mouths, and even that is doubtful. Anyway, finally got my pancake and took it back to the hotel to share with Jørgen, so I wouldn’t feel so guilty about indulging in such a delight before dinner. No wonder I am a little “pompooi” (chubby).

Before going for dinner, I decided that I wanted to check out that Jacuzzi in the hotel. Couldn’t get the darn plug to stay down. Finally got in the tub, put the heel of my foot on the plug to hold it down and filled up the tub. While the Jacuzzi was bubbling and spluttering and doing what a Jacuzzi is supposed to do, I tried to keep my heel on the plug and enjoyed the bath. So much for the room upgrade! Couldn’t get out to the balcony either, by the way, because there was an over-sized chair and foot rest in front of the door, blocking it. Oh well, that’s Thailand. Wasn’t much to see from the balcony any way.

Had a good dinner at the hotel restaurant and watched this Russian couple ordering, eating and phoning during their dinner. First off, the Russian man wanted a bottle of wine, so the bartender and waiter headed for the locked refrigerator. No, the Russian wasn’t going to open that bottle of wine until he had a sample. So, the waiter brought him a small sample – now, knowing the Russians – I know I am sounding a bit prejudiced but then you haven’t seen the Russians in Pattaya! I am sure the Russian thought he would get a generous glass of wine, but I smiled to myself when the waiter brought him the equivalent of a tablespoon as a taste. A sour face and grimace, and the Russian couple opted for beer. Then, now this was even better, they ordered a plate of seafood and shared it! Meanwhile, they spent the entire time eating, drinking and switching the phone back and forth, speaking quite loudly to someone, probably in Russia, the entire time. When we came back a couple of hours later, the couple was still sitting at the table, drinking and talking on the phone.

We headed down the corniche to the Green Bamboo for our usual foot massage when we visit Pattaya. If you have never had a Thai foot massage, you have really missed out in this life. Both Jørgen and I fell asleep during the massage until these three obnoxious Russian men came in, talking, arguing and negotiating their massages. You don’t negotiate on everything here; some things are fixed! The Russian men ended up going upstairs for a Thai body massage – I do not envy the girls who had to spend an hour with those three. I noticed the two girls who gave us our foot massages, looked rather perturbed at all the commotion and made a face after the Russians had gone upstairs. Honestly, those Russians are absolutely everywhere in Pattaya. I asked my husband how the Thais could put up with them and he felt it was just money and business to the Thais. Thais are so accommodating and nonjudgmental. We noticed a lot of fancy ladies/ladies of the night on every corner, along every street, in front of every restaurant, and in the sidewalk bars. So, I guess the Russian invasion is good for the local business. They do shop a lot, too, I must say.

We had a wonderful breakfast the next morning. The L K Empress does put on a western and Thai spread like none other. I am, of course amazed what people can manage to consume for breakfast. Spaghetti, spare ribs, rice soup, salad, pancakes, sausages, eggs, fruit, yogurt, coffee, milk – and the list could go on and on. But then I shouldn’t be so critical. I always have my 2-3 spring rolls and baked custard at some stage of my breakfast, but then it consists of a little muesli with yogurt, some fruit and coffee. I guess the spring rolls and baked custard are my one deviation from what one might consider an otherwise normal breakfast?
Anyway, rejuvenated and invigorated from the two-day excursion to Pattaya, we headed for Big-C special, which used to be Carfour, the French food and department store chain. What a treat. I found a whole chicken, without feet and head! That will do for 2-3 meals, starting with roast chicken, then chicken salad and at the last, chicken soup. Then, I guess, it is back to Thai food. Anyway, we trundled home at a leisurely pace. We didn’t need lunch after that substantial breakfast, so I had only dinner with which to concern myself. A wonderful outing and back home.