I've never been more excited for a holiday weekend in my life. This weekend was Mother's Day in Thailand which is a big deal because it is the Queen's birthday. They LOVE their royal family here. If you thought Americans were patriotic, you haven't seen anything! When I first got here I tripped out because everyone was wearing yellow shirts. There were whole stores that sold practically nothing but yellow shirts. You see, yellow is the color of the royal family and on certain days everyone is supposed to wear yellow shirts in support of the King. They even gave me a yellow shirt to wear every Monday which is great because I hate the ugly uniforms I have to wear the rest of the week.
So since this was a three day weekend we decided to do a little travelling. We were in desperate need for a beach holiday so we decided to go to Pattaya which is the closest beach to Bangkok. It was supposedly only a 2 hour bus ride to get to Pattaya but it took us 9 hours to get there! That is Thailand for you. Someone told me that there isn't a word for logic in Thai and I believe it! We had to get to the bus terminal so we looked at my bus map and got to the bus stop where it said the bus would come. We waited for 30 minutes for the bus to come but it never did. We saw the same bus coming literally 4 in a row at the same exact time. What a waste. After a while I decided to ask someone and this lady was nice enough to ask other people in Thai how we could get there. She told us to follow this guy because he was going to the same place and then told us to get on this bus because it would go the same way. We got on the bus and we asked them if they were going to "Ekamai" and they said no, no. Crap! But then they told us to stay on because we could take it to someplace us that would get us to Pattaya. So we listened to them and miraculously we got to the bus station.
It's funny how Thai people give directions. Obviously there is a language barrier but they are so vague. Example, Susan was asking one of the Thai teachers at the school what bus we should take to get to the Northern bus terminal. She told her it was called Ekamai but somewhere along the line the misunderstanding was that Ekamai was a completely different bus station than the Northern bus terminal so when we were asking other people for directions we weren't asking for the right thing. Luckily, even though we didn't understand them and they don't really understand us, the Thai people are so nice that they just figuratively push you in the general direction you need to go and it always works out. It was a miracle we made it there! On the way back we found out that there was a bus that went from our main street directly to the bus station and that saved us about 2 hours getting home. I wish someone would have told us that in the first place!
It was all worth it though because Pattaya was really beautiful. A lot of people don't like Pattaya because there is a big sex industry there and a lot of old white men with young Thai girls but it's not as bad as I expected it to be. We went further south of the central area where more families go for vacation and we really liked it. Compared to Bangkok this was paradise. You could see the sky. The streets and sidewalks were paved so you weren't always tripping over uneven concrete. It was relatively clean and there was food to eat! Yes, food! We ate like we might never eat again. It was expensive for Thai standards but reasonable if you think in American dollars. The water was clear and green and warm. They have beach chairs and beach umbrellas you can lay in and order drinks. Unfortunately, they didn't have margaritas but a nice cold beer hits the spot. And they have people go around selling food and other things which can be annoying at times but is nice when you want it.
I realized Thailand is not all that bad. It's just Bangkok. I would love to move out of Bangkok and live by the beach. Pattaya was the perfect blend of Western and Eastern influences and it didn't have the dirty, smelly, choking feeling of Bangkok. On more of our time off we plan to go to some of the other beaches to check them out. There are probably even nicer beaches to explore and maybe relocate to. After the weekend I feel totally re-energized and ready to stay in Thailand.
Oh, and I'll be posting a few more pictures at Flickr if you want to check them out.