|Club Insomnia on Walking Street, Pattaya in Thailand|
When the locals tell you something about their place, pay attention. Unless you want to pay a heavy price. If you are male, like me and traveling solo in Pattaya (again, like me), here are five things you are not supposed to do.
1. You want to explore the place on a bike? Never hire a self-driven motorcycle. Locals say: "They scam you." Apparently, they usually hire out defective motorcycles and at the end of the day you will be blamed for the 'handicapped' motorcycle, and will be made to fork out fifteen thousand to twenty thousand bhat. If you insist on seeing the place on a two-wheeler, seek the help of your hotel staff to guide you to the right people - "who will not scam you". Also, in Pattaya you can ride a motorcycle only if you have an international driving license — unlike in Goa.
2. The above principle applies to hiring jet skis. Do not go to the umpteen jet ski joints that have mushroomed on the shoreline, thinking that you will save some bhats. "Go to a reputed company," advised my genial friend from the hotel where I stayed.
3. You are single. Male. And in Pattaya to "have fun". I am sure you are a normal guy — which means on that to-do-in-Pattaya-list there is an item: Girls. Get Girls. I bet my last t-shirt that is the first on your to-do list and you are desperate to tick it off. Beware, my brother. Do not, ever, NEVER, pick a girl from the famous Walking Street in Pattaya. Simply because you will not be able to tell the difference between women and the lady boys. The latter can make Angelina Jolie look like a matron. My Man Friday at the hotel says: "For an outsider it is difficult to tell the difference. Always look at the feet. The lady boys tend to have larger feet and usually they are taller than the average Thai women." Apparently there have been many cases where men have taken back to their hotel room girls from Walking Street, only to discover that they are Lady Boys. And if you ever find yourself in such a predicament, never, EVER, EVER, ask for a refund. "If you do, you will be thrashed," says my man, "it is all a mafia." Trust a local. They know the mafia in their backyard much better than you do.
4. Now, if you happen to walking down one of those famous SOI by-lanes, thinking you are in Paradise — beware. Do not make eye-contact or indulge in idle banter with those extremely beautiful, tempting, inviting women. They are beautiful AND street-smart. You might end up losing your mobile, wallet and more.
5. Don't put all your money in one wallet. Carry them in different pockets. Leave your passport in the hotel locker and carry only your passport copy.
Here's an additional tip from my Thai friend at the hotel: Don't get tempted by "cheap massages". It will hurt you more than you think — in more ways than one. Go to reputed massage parlours, if you do not want to end up being kneaded by the local mafia. "And never tip a girl before the job (here I am thinking, my friend refers to massage when he says 'job'. But somehow I get the feeling he means more than that). Never tip them before. If you do, they will not do a good job. Give them 50-100 bhat. Not more than that." Always, ALWAYS, trust the locals. If not...you, my solo-traveling bro, you are in big trouble.