Day 5: 29th May – Singapore, en route to Pattaya
I woke up for the last time in Singapore, really sad about our stay there coming to an end. The only thing that cheered me up (as it had done in the past few days) was the superb breakfast. We had a tough time checking out (the elevators were always too full to accommodate all of our luggage) and ended up spending a quarter of an hour trying to board one of the elevators to the lobby. I felt an enormous sense of relief when we finally made it to the basement with our luggage. The honesty of the tour operators was the source of a huge sense of relief. Our driver had found the iPod Touch that we had mistakenly left in the van a day earlier and he returned it to us before we left.
With a huge smile on our faces we proceeded to the Changi Airport, from where we had a Tiger Airlines flight TR-2104 to the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. The plane left at 12.30pm and we looked forward to another dose of adventure. The beauty of the Changi Airport made me doubt if I was actually in a mood to leave Singapore. After clearing Immigration we boarded our flight and our hour-and-a-half journey began. With increasing altitude we saw the Marina Bay Sands shrink and in a matter of minutes disappear altogether.
The airplane was relatively smaller than the Jet Airways one we had boarded while going to Singapore. About half the seats were vacant and hence I had the option to choose my seat. The only drawback was that there was absolutely nothing to do – I had to settle with seeing the sights outside the window, which wasn’t half as boring as I expected to see. An hour later the fluffy white clouds soon gave way to the huge landmass below. We could see the shadows of the clouds on the land – a pretty interesting sight. As we lost altitude we could see the highways of Bangkok, and soon the ant-sized vehicles gained size.
We reached on time and proceeded to the waiting area, from where we were given a new SIM card and the travel itinerary. Cox and Kings had a tie up with DS Travels for the Thailand portion of our journey. The thing that I found really amusing was the fact that the representative from DS Travels chose to rush us outside even before we could finish our tea. We weren’t even given the time for having lunch (ouch!) as we hurried to board the two vans proceeding to Pattaya. I don’t recollect much of the journey as I was asleep. The only thing that I remember well was that I had a feeling that I was back in back in Mumbai. The weather and the slightly bumpy roads added to that feeling.
I woke up just in time as we reached the Centara Pattaya hotel. The staff was pretty quick as they had already allotted rooms to us and had the key-cards ready. On being requested to provide rooms on higher floors, they were pretty quick. Our guide for the day, Pimmi, was very much better than the representative we had at the airport. She was warm and made us feel really at ease and gave us a fair idea about the itinerary. She knew a few Hindi terms which made the elderly more able to comprehend with what she was saying. The room we got was pretty good and spacious. The only problem I had was the stench in my room in the beginning. Other than that I was more than happy with what we were allotted. The best part was the free WiFi provided to all rooms, unlike the hotel at Singapore. I was surprised with myself as I spent 5 whole days without absolutely any internet.
After resting for a couple of hours we proceeded to the Alcazar Show in the evening. The auditorium was barely a two-minute drive away. We reached there in time for the show and got decent seats. Pimmi told us that the show was about 70 minutes long and this show was something we have never experienced before. Alcazar is a transvestite cabaret show which could be enjoyed by the entire family.
The show had a lot of acts and each act required a change of set. Having studied drama in high school I was more than amazed by the way they managed the stage and time. The precision was such that not even a single second was wasted. It was surprising to see that most of the audience comprised of Indians and thus gave rise to the feeling that we were watching continuous live performances at an award ceremony. The whole package – costumes, stage design and lighting was really very grand. The best part about the whole thing was that the performances weren’t limited to Thai culture – off the top of my head, I remember a Japanese performance, a Jazz show, a performance where the statues came alive, a really awesome performance in which a guy played a girl and a guy at the same time, a dance performance in the court of a King, Gangnam Style (yeah – that one brought a lot of life in the audience) and yeah, my favourite, Aaja Nachle.
We just sat there, completely enthralled, wishing that the show never ended. The finale was the grandest of all – all the main characters of all the acts came to take a bow and bid us bye. After the performances ended, the dancers came outside and one had opportunity to click photos with them. I had a really wonderful time at the show. It was a pity that the dinner that followed at the Annapurna restaurant was not half as grand. We retired to our rooms, to recharge ourselves for the ton of adventure planned for the next day.
Here are a few tips regarding the Pattaya experience:
- Thailand is more of a singles-place. If you are travelling with family it will be preferable to stay in a 4 star hotel, if the budget is not an issue
- Centara Pattaya is a good hotel. The rooms are spacious and comfortable and the staff is very efficient.
- Alcazar Show and the Tiffany’s Show are the two main transvestite cabaret shows in Pattaya. While I haven’t been to the latter, the Alcazar experience was very good.
- Finding good Indian restaurants may be an issue. It would be preferable to carry your own food. If you want to eat outside, it would be advisable to consult travel websites to get a better idea.