LITTLE ADVICE ON TRAVEL, FIND A LOCAL FRIEND

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I can still remember my last trip to Pattaya and Bangkok, Thailand with my family a few years ago. It was a mix feeling during the whole trip when we’re there. More towards bad than good actually. It was all due to the fact that we were a complete stranger there. Here’s the story.

pattaya garden city

Preparation. I can still remember my wife’s glowing face that Saturday morning when I told her and the kids that we’re going to spend our upcoming holidays in Pattaya and Bangkok, Thailand. That night we were busy Googling the web, looking for interesting places to visit, food joints and other tourist attraction stuffs for both cities. They said if prepared early, our eight days in Pattaya and Bangkok should be more than fun. I laughed. The excitement began three days prior to that Saturday when I told myself that it’s been awhile since we last had our long holiday. After checking through some places, Thailand is the perfect choice and straight away I look for a good timing, then quickly firmed up everyone’s flight tickets and hotel reservations via online. Flight and accommodation are done!

“I can still remember my wife’s glowing face that Saturday morning when I told her and the kids that we’re going to spend our upcoming holidays in Pattaya and Bangkok, Thailand.”

Thailand for the first time and disaster begins. A couple of weeks passed by and now, Pattaya here we come. 3 hours later, we arrived in Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok from Kuala Lumpur. Being a complete stranger there, I suddenly realized something. What the heck would be the best way to go to Pattaya? I missed this part during the preparation. Now I badly need a transport that is comfortable for 5 people and not that expensive. Feeling scared to get conned by the local taxis out there, I decided to use an airport limousine – Toyota Camry. The choice seemed decent enough as the rest of the packages were too expensive. The counter girl backed that up by saying, yeah the price is reasonable. So I believed her, and eventually paid 5,000 baht to transport us to Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya.

This part I admit, we truly didn’t do our homework well. And to make things worst, Pattaya is soooo far away from Bangkok. It was a two and half hours journey to be exact. After an hour in the car, I then realized that I just made a huge mistake. 5,000 baht isn’t worth it, I should’ve look for more reasonable alternatives. To tell you the truth, I wished I had a local friend to help me with these little things.

pattaya hard rock hotel

“To tell you the truth, I wished I had a local friend to help me with these little things.”

Reaching Pattaya.A few hours later, we reached Pattaya and our hotel. While unloading our luggage off the taxi, I truly hope that we’re going to have a rockin’ stay here, as we will be spending 4 nights stretched. The checking in was fast and the hotel was fantastic beyond words. That night we decided to stay in and just checked out the hotel. The pool was super awesome, there’s a huge guitar logo erected tall next to it and hey, there was a Hard Rock Shop as well. Being one of the Hard Rock Hotel regular customers, they really know their way to get personal with their guests. The ambience of their hotel alone will make the guests thinking of coming back.

Rounds of disaster. Accessing internet and getting online was a disaster there. The hotel’s internet access somehow was under maintenance at that time and aren’t available throughout our stay. I don’t subscribe to mobile roaming either as the rate was very expensive. My mobile carrier suck in their roaming services. So to access all our where-should-we-go list saved, we relied on a few nearby local food joints that offered a free wifi. After all information retrieved and written down, we lay our executions right away. During that 5 days, we really had our Pattaya tour sessions. We visit many great places, enjoy great seafood, the beaches and experience many great things there.

Taxi in Pattaya is the worst.Those memorable visits somehow was marred by the obnoxious taxi fares slapped each time we took a ride. Since we had to rely on local taxis to move around, we didn’t realize that those rates we paid for are way beyond the normal rate being paid by locals. The rates we were paying for are tourist’s rates and by far more expensive than usual. I realized this after I had a chat with the Hard Rock Hotel’s General Manager. He just wanted to see and thank me for filling up the guest survey form which I gave a very positive feedback with a few key areas to improve on. I told him personally that we had a great time here in Pattaya but something wasn’t right on those taxi fares that we paid. I shared with him that even after I do a currency conversion from Baht to Ringgit, these rates are way too high. I told him that even for unbelievably lousy Malaysian taxi standards where I lived in, the Pattaya rates are just too ridiculous beyond words. Then he confessed that, the attitude of the local taxi drivers are killing the Pattaya’s image as a travel destination when it comes to transportation. They are working their ass out to take advantage of foreign tourists which needed to be curbed by the authorities.

“Since we had to rely on local taxis to move around, we didn’t realise that those rates we paid for are way beyond the normal rate being paid by locals.”

Once our checking out were done, the General Manager then helped to call a taxi whom the hotel trusted for us to head back to Bangkok. The journey back was much more pleasant. This time we rode a comfortable Toyota Innova, and paid less than half what I paid for Toyota Camry.

MBK-Bangkok

Coming back to Bangkok. We reached Pathumwan Princess Hotel in Bangkok slightly after 3pm that day. The hotel is adjacent to an electronic shopping mall called MBK and it is the best location to stay. We stayed for another 4 days here in the hotel. Everything was great in Bangkok, no bad experience whatsoever. The shopping sessions were totally awesome and there were so many malls!

Standard sightseeing is a disaster.The only thing I regretted much was only the list of places we went. Those are the main tourist spots recommended by Mr Google, when we went to each and every place, they were all crowded like a busy wet market. Seriously, I hate when a place is cramped with people. I told my wife, what kind of holiday is this when we need to wait for an hour just to go in? I insisted that next time when we’re coming back to Bangkok, Pattaya or any parts of Thailand, we need to experience something different than these tourists. Enjoy something else that just visiting places. To me standard sightseeing is getting to my nerve, no fun at all and darn boring.

We came back to Kuala Lumpur after spending eight days in Thailand with a great lesson learned. We need to find a friend or friends who can bring us around, see the other side of Pattaya and Bangkok, experience unique activities, talk to local people, eat something new and maybe we need a motorbike or even a bicycle as transportation to see the true version of the city. Going deeper is always the best rather than stay wide with the normal tourist stuff.

I believe the true places are never in maps, and to go to these special places I need a local friend.