Through circumstance, appointment or coincidence. Because of passion, lust or money. Surviving on wits, labour or fortune. We all have our own story to tell, however bizarre it might be, why, when and how we came to be here in Pattaya. Below is my story, the story of a failed backpacker, a career changer, a guy who fell in love.
Before I ever even heard of Pattaya, I was a bored, dogmatic factory worker, back living with my parents after a failed relationship. Life in sunny Bacup had lost it’s appeal, the daily 8 to 5 work routine, the Friday and Saturday night blowouts, followed by the inevitable Monday morning blues had become repetitive and boring. Summer was waning fast, another cold and miserable British winter loomed on the horizon, promising nothing more than cold feet, dark nights and seemingly eternal greyness.
Preparing to Backpack Round The World.
It was time to break this cycle of monotony, to seek, to find, and maybe to be found. I wasn’t alone, a good friend and work colleague also had the wanderlust, we saved as much money as we could, set a date to quit our jobs, bought all the gear a backpacker would ever need, rucksacks, tent, walking boots, mosquito nets and lonely planet guides. We had all the jabs, and like most novice backpackers and first time visitors to Thailand we wholeheartedly took the advice of our doctor, got inoculated against rabies and invested in doxycyclene anti malaria tablets.
So, on the 5th of October we would be saying bye bye to England and her cold miserable winter, and the first destination of our wonderful adventure was going to be Pattaya, why Pattaya ?, simple really, we had a friend living there and by chance he had a spare room we could use free of charge, Pattaya also happens to be a beautiful tropical place in Thailand, backpackers can eat and sleep cheap in Pattaya, and it’s a long way from the cold and frosty nights of England. So you can imagine, Pattaya had a lot to offer to these 2 novice backpackers, it would be an ideal place to start, and a good base from which to explore the rest of Thailand’s sun kissed beaches before taking on the more serious task of working our way around the world, and hopefully finding the elements which were presently missing from our life’s.
The Pattaya Shock.
The first few days in Pattaya could easily be explained by the following metaphors “rabbits in the headlights” then “lambs to the slaughter” then “kids in a candy store”. You arrive in Thailand and experience a culture shock, you arrive in Pattaya and the shock is not so cultural, it’s a shock that numbs all your senses, confounds all your beliefs, then slowly becomes a shocking, surreal reality. I have wrote a more in depth description of the “Pattaya shock“, read it but don’t let it deter you from visiting Pattaya, I’m sometimes prone to exaggeration.
The remote sois of Pattaya replaced the Sumatran jungle, Pattaya’s shanty towns replaced the tribal villages of Borneo, the outdoor fresh food markets of Pattaya replaced the fruit picking experience in Australia. The tent we bought to shelter us from the elements never saw the light of day. The walking boots were replaced by flip flops. The mosquito net and mosquito repellent still proved to be wise investments, but the rest of the backpackers gear, like our best laid plans, would remain zipped tightly in the rucksacks.
Pattaya Grows On You.
Was it my new status as a “sexy man”, was it the pampering, was it the famous Pattaya nightlife, was it the abundance of famously beautiful Thai women, was it the vibrancy which made Pattaya grow on me. No I don’t think it was one of these things, but it was the difference, all of these and a thousand other things which collectively made Pattaya so appealing, because it was simply like nothing I had ever experienced before, and the novelty was remaining steadfast.
Found It In Pattaya.
The whole idea behind our backpacking expedition was to see if there was something else out there for us, to escape the mundane factory life, the bureaucracy, the cold and the greyness of England. Circumstance, chance and coincidence all played their part in the premature death of our backpacking adventure. The friend we stayed with in Pattaya, was, like us, from Bacup, in fact he lived just 3 or 4 doors away from me when I was a child, but I personally had not seen him for many years, he was a close friend of my backpacking buddy though. The taxi we took from the airport delivered us at our friends favourite bar on Soi Post Office in South Pattaya, it was also in this same bar that I met the woman who is now my wife and mother of our 2 children.
It’s a small world, and there are times when you wonder if there really a destiny waiting for us. I traveled to Pattaya, almost half way round the world to stay with someone I have not seen since childhood, someone who lived literally a stones throw away from me. The same someone I must also credit for my new career as a commercial diver, without which I probably would never have had the opportunity to stay in Pattaya, and I never would have been able to call Thailand my home.
3 Months in Pattaya Changed My Life.
It’s fair to say that backpacking indirectly changed my life, and that 3 months in Pattaya changed my life, but so did a guy from my hometown. After 3 months I left Pattaya with a mission, a life changing mission which would involve a career change, if I could become a commercial diver I could work almost anywhere in the world, I could make Thailand my home. By this time Thailand was where my heart lied, Thailand was where my love lied, Thailand was the place to which I wanted to return.