Singapore-Thailand Trip: Back to Reality

Day 9: 2nd June, Bangkok

The week we spent abroad almost felt like living a dream. It was now time to get back to reality and regular life – back to Mumbai. It was slightly disheartening that the trip had come to an end. I was absolutely in no mood to leave. The biggest (and maybe the only) upside, however, was that we had the entire day to ourselves and could spend it the way we wanted. For once we enjoyed the breakfast in leisure. We checked out of Atrium a couple of hours later.

1

Near Fortune IT Mall

 

Our agenda was to visit the Fortune IT Mall, which is basically a huge mall dedicated mostly to electronic items. It was almost 1 in the afternoon when we reached there. This mall (unlike the Indra Mall the previous day) had the actual original branded stuff. We spent quite some time there exploring the mall and having lunch.

We had a hilarious experience at McDonalds. Being all vegetarians, we had to tell them particularly to not add any fish, meat or beef. We also told them that we wanted tomatoes in our burger. Although the lady who took our order confirmed it thrice, our burgers lacked tomatoes. I guess mentioning just the exclusions would have sufficed. 😛

The best thing available in the mall was salted pretzels. I really wish I had chosen pretzel for lunch instead of the burgers. After a little bit of shopping, we decided to leave for the hotel.

 

We witnessed another random act of kindness from a complete stranger, who helped us find cabs back to the hotel. Although she spent 15 minutes of her valuable time trying to find us cabs, there was nothing but a pleasant smile on her face. We just couldn’t thank her enough. I guess that is the best part about Thailand and Singapore – the people in general are really friendly and kind. We reached the hotel just in time to collect our luggage and proceeded to the Suvarnabhumi Airport for our 9.30 pm flight back to Mumbai.

DSC_0412

We reached the airport three hours before departure. Although it was a wise decision I wish we had gone there a little earlier. The richness of Thai culture was visible in the artwork displayed – the huge statues near the check in area. It was just grand.

Thailand lies between Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia. Cambodia was ruled by Indian kings and hence having Indian influences in Thai culture is not really surprising (If you notice, the name Suvarnabhumi is Indian and it translates to “Golden Earth”). Thai culture also follows Chinese traditions. I was pleasantly surprised to find images of Samudra-Manthan (The Churning of the Ocean) on the way to the waiting area. The king of snakes – Vasuki had a Chinese touch in the image.

As we boarded the plane awaiting take-off, I couldn’t help but wonder about the experience we had in the week. Going abroad, meeting new people, exploring new places, seeing and learning a little about the culture of two countries, and of course, shopping was a really enriching experience. I recalled the little things (like the friendliness of the people) that played a huge role in the experience all the more special. I understood one thing – the simplest of smiles transcends the greatest of language barriers. It just seems to make the world a better place.

As the plane took off we saw the surroundings shrink and the city of Bangkok slowly fade into a network of lights. Although I was more than sad about the trip being over, I was looking forward to see the Arrival lounge of T2 Terminal in Mumbai.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I want to specially thank Cox and Kings for planning the trip out so well and ensuring that everything went smoothly.

 

Here are a few tips which might be helpful:

  • I don’t know about other countries, but in comparison to India, most of the goods were less expensive in Thailand. However, that being said, do check the authenticity of the electronic goods before you purchase.
  • VAT refund is available for tourists at the airport for electronic items. If you plan to buy any electronic goods, it is advisable to talk to the seller about it.
  •  I have said this loads of times earlier. Food might be an issue for people with special dietary needs (like vegetarians or vegans).
  • Airport Rail Link is available to Suvarnabhumi Airport and is an express mode of transport. Although we couldn’t give it a try, I have heard that the experience is good.
Advertisements

Singapore-Thailand Trip: Shopping!

Day 8: 1st June, Bangkok

Part 2

The planned part of the tour had now come to an end. The tour had gone pretty smoothly and we now had about a day and a half to ourselves. Following the wise advice of the friends and relatives who had been to Thailand recently we decided to invest the time we had in shopping. The plan was to visit the local markets after an hour of rest. I was actually more interested in exploring the local market than the shopping part. My grandparents decided to spend the remainder of the day resting.

DSC_0395

We decided to begin with the Indra Square. The first place we visited was the Indra Mall. I was excited because the mall housed a lot of shops selling electronic goods. The place has a lot of variety when it comes to knockoffs – you can find the knockoffs of whatever brand you like. The only issue you might face is the quality. I remember my uncle telling me that we would find knockoff iPhones for about THB 2500. Sure enough I found iPhone 5S which worked on latest Android OS! 😛 The options weren’t limited to the phones – they had everything ranging from phone accessories to the wireless speakers. The choices were endless.

Splitting into 2 groups, we decided to meet up later in the evening. We decided to explore the street shacks. It was a pretty smart choice, as the street markets had a lot more variety to offer in terms of trendy stuff and options. The place was more or less like Mumbai’s Fashion Street – all the trendy and fancy clothes and accessories available without burning a big hole in your pocket.

We spent some time in the nearby Palladium Mall before returning to the street. It appeared as if the streets had come to life after sundown. Bright and vibrant shacks adorned both sides of the roads. The range of items they had was really cool – for the first time we found ourselves spoilt for choice. The coolest thing I came across was custom made t-shirts – the guy had all the blocks and ink and a blow-dryer. We could have our tee exactly the way we wanted it to be in a matter of minutes. Speak about personalising!

 

It is one of the general observations in life that we tend to ignore the simple pleasures and desire for the complicated stuff. One of such highly underrated pleasures is having a hot cob of corn in cool breezy weather. I was glad we decided to give McDonalds a miss. I felt for a moment that I was back in my childhood days again.

The lady who prepared it was like a pro – she boiled the corn along with the husk. The corn was put in a plastic cover and seasoned. The best part was that she was really efficient (she took barely a minute to make one) and didn’t have to touch the cob even once! The best part about the whole experience was seeing the lady’s face break into an infectious smile when I thanked her. Seeing her smile made all of us smile. A nice long walk later, we hopped into a cab back to the hotel.

 

Here are a bunch of tips for those who plan to spend a decent amount of time shopping:

  • You get knockoffs of almost every brand you can think of near Indra Square. That being said, do not expect to find any original stuff there.
  • If you are looking for cool accessories or gadgets, check it before you buy it. I wasn’t satisfied with the headphones they had (in fact I couldn’t even recognise my favourite song while listening to it through the headphones!).
  • Instead of looking at big stores, try looking at small roadside shops. They have trendier and cooler stuff.
  • Many street shops open in the evenings, after sundown. I suggest enjoying the scenery of the market area. The best time to visit would be in the evenings.
  • The clothes from the street shops have the latest trends and interesting ideas. They are totally worth.
  • Don’t shy away from bargaining. No matter how big or small the shop is, you get a better deal if you bargain well.
  • Regarding the transport: We had a tough time finding a cab or tuk-tuk (equivalent of an auto-rickshaw) back to the hotel. It is advisable to insist on travelling only with the meter on (or you end up paying more than twice or thrice the actual fare).
  • There have been cases of pickpockets. Avoid carrying any such thing in your purse whose loss will ruin your holiday
  • It is advisable to carry copies of the documents and to keep the original documents under lock and key in your hotel room.

 

 

Singapore-Thailand Trip: The Safari World Bangkok

Day 8: 1st June, Bangkok

Part 1

This was the last planned day of the tour. The only place to be visited in the itinerary was the Safari World. After the usual breakfast we headed to the venue in our van. The journey was more than half an hour long.

The place is interesting. There are two main parts – the safari and the animal shows. The main safari area surrounds other exhibits and the area where different animal shows are conducted. Unlike the Night Safari in Singapore we were allowed our own vehicles inside. The experience lasted 45 minutes and we got a chance to see many animals in their almost-natural habitat from up close. The giraffes rested in the shade while the hippos had a mud bath and the zebras played around. I enjoyed seeing a rhinoceros again after Singapore. There were quite a few varieties of deer – Sambar, Eld’s Deer, Fallow Deer, Black-buck and so on. The safari is the home to a number of birds like pelicans, peacocks and storks.

The best part of the safari was seeing the enclosure of the lions and tigers. This part was undoubtedly the best experience, as a family of lions came and sat within 3 metres of our vehicle. It was an absolutely amazing experience as I had never seen an entire family of lions from that close. They were practically posing for photos! The same enclosure also housed the tigers. We didn’t see much of them in action as they preferred to nap. We were not so fortunate to make it to the feeding program due to time constraints. The next enclosure was that of the Black Bears. I have to admit, they actually looked like a jumbo sized version of the Teddy Bears.

9

We moved on to the next part of the experience – the animal enclosures and shows. The first show on the list was the Orang-utan Show. On the way there we caught sight of a couple more attractions – the ponies and the crocodiles. The crocodiles stood so still that I actually doubted if they were even alive.

12

Again, we couldn’t manage to get the best seats in the house as we reached just in time for the show. The set for the Orang-utan Show was very interesting. The actual show was even more so, as I had least expected orang-utans to play music the drums and cello, leave alone 2 rounds of Boxing! The funniest part was to see an orang-utan imitating and slapping the host! The sound effects were really cool and the comic timing was spot on.

13

We took a detour to the enclosure housing a pair of white tigers before we proceeded to the Sea Lion show. The tigers were undoubtedly the most beautiful and majestic animals I had seen in the day.

We somehow managed to get decent seats even though we reached just before the show began. I knew that the show was going to be almost the same as the Fur Seals we saw in Singapore. Although most of the tricks were the same, the show in Bangkok was a tad better than that in Sentosa Island Singapore. The comic element in the Bangkok show was better. The seals imitated the caretakers, played fetch with rings and balanced balls on their snouts. They even raced each other and perfectly aimed balls inside nets. I was pleasantly amazed as I had never even thought of sea lions getting a massage or standing and shaking hands. Another act that really caught my eye was of the sea lion balancing on its nose a ball on a stick. It climbed steps balancing it perfectly. It was mindboggling.

This show was definitely a lot grander than what we saw in Singapore. It involved a greater number of seals and a lot more tricks. We then proceeded to the next item on our checklist – the Western Cowboy Stunt Show and passed by the enclosure of the striped deer en route.

 

19

The Western Cowboy Stunt Show was perhaps the only show where I managed to get the second row seats despite reaching just before it started (I didn’t notice the warning in the front saying that the people in the first couple of rows will get completely soaked). One of the actors came outside to welcome us. He acted so well that I actually thought he was completely drunk although he was pretty much sober. Although the show was pretty lengthy it had its moments. The fact I really appreciated about the actors was that although it was raining they didn’t let it get to them at all. Their stamina and determination really was commendable. Of course I emerged soaking wet after the show, but it didn’t seem to bother me much.

We proceeded to have lunch after this. The lunch was arranged at the venue by our tour operators and a large table had been booked especially for the 11 of us. The lunch was decent and was followed by the last attraction of the day – the Dolphin Show.

 

The Dolphin Show was really enjoyable. I again managed to get myself a decent seat (without getting soaked this time). The main tricks were more or less similar to the show we saw in Sentosa but overall, this show was a lot better than what we saw there. The number of dolphins were greater here and they were very much bigger than the pink dolphins.

The dolphins looked really charming as they swam a couple of laps with their neon “goggles” on. Other tricks included standing up and saluting, really high jumps, jumping through hoops, balancing big exercise balls on their snouts, playing with hoops and synchronised swimming with the trainers. The cutest part about the whole thing was seeing the dolphins sing. It was really a wonderful experience. For the grand finale, six dolphins charmed us as they jumped high together and bade goodbye.

 

Safari World was one of the best experiences I had in Bangkok. Here are a few tips if you intend to visit the Safari World

  • Check out the feeding times of the lions and tigers in the safari and plan your trip accordingly. It is supposed to be a unique experience. Unfortunately we missed out on it due to time constraints
  • Enquire about the timings of different shows and plan your day accordingly. We missed out on the Elephant Show.
  • Regarding the attire, wear clothes that dry quickly. The weather is humid and it can rain anytime. It rained twice during our visit. (Also, if you are sitting in the front seats for the Cowboy Stunt Show, there is a high chance you will emerge soaking wet!)
  • Our buffet lunch had been arranged through our tour operators DS Travels. There was a hall dedicated to vegetarian Indian food only. Jain variants were also available.
  • Lastly, a comparison between Safari World Bangkok and the Dolphin Lagoon in Sentosa, Singapore. The Dolphin Show and the Sea Lion Show in Bangkok is a lot grander than the Dolphin Lagoon in Sentosa.

Singapore-Thailand Trip: The Nong Nooch Village

Day 6: 30th May, Coral Island, Pattaya

Part 2

After the parasailing and snorkelling experience we proceeded to the actual island experience. Our itinerary included a ride in the glass bottomed boat. We decided to split in 2 groups as the motor boat would be faster option than the glass bottomed boat. The sea was rough and the organisers asked if we wanted to continue with the experience even if we wouldn’t be able to see anything underwater. We chose to go with it anyway.

We met up at the island a few minutes later. All I wanted was to just sit down for a while and relax a little before lunch as I was completely exhausted. We sat down on a recliner under one of the umbrellas and observed the rest of the world take banana rides and jet-skis. The beach was one of the most picture-perfect ones I have ever seen – bright blue water and pristine white sand.

We had to wait a little longer for lunch than expected as there had been a raid in the morning and it would take some time to set things back to normal. Our lunch was arranged well in advance by the local travel planners – DS Travels at the nearby Seven Star Restaurant. There wasn’t anything Seven Star about it, except perhaps the name. Although the food was more or less similar to the dinner we had the previous night, I was impressed because they managed so much even though water was not naturally available and had to be brought from outside the island.

We proceeded back to our hotel room after lunch. The motor-boat ride was surprisingly fast and we reached the shore in about 20 minutes. I was thrilled to be back in the room but my joy didn’t last that long. After a quick bath and a change of clothes we left for the next place in our itinerary – Nong Nooch Village. Our guide for the day was Simmi.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I don’t remember much of the journey to the village as the adventure activities earlier in the day drained me of all my energy. I woke up as we neared the Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden. It was a really cool place, even in the afternoon. The garden was really lovely – a lot of artwork made of earthen pots. I was surprised to find a variety of animals and birds there. They had a pair of tigers (enjoying their afternoon nap), a cockatoo and a bunch of macaws which stood so still that I doubted if they were statues. Our stay there was very brief – we barely spent 15 minutes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We had a refreshing walk and proceeded to the Nong Nooch Tropical Garden. I really loved the landscaping on the way to the garden – it was really well maintained. There were 2 attractions we wanted to cover – the Thai Cultural and Dance Show, and the Elephant Show. We were just in time for the first show (and hence couldn’t manage to find the best seats in the house). However we were lucky enough to get decent seats.

With the help of the show we broadened a little more about Thai culture. The dance show was slow and soothing. I really enjoyed the Muay Thai fight on the stage. The drum show was really interesting. It didn’t appear much at first, but the effect of various kinds of drums was visible in the end as the whole place seemed to come to life.

The grandest part about the show was the enactment of war. It couldn’t get more realistic as sparks flew when the swords clashed. For the grand finale, the elephants were brought to the show. It was a interesting and spectacular display of Thai culture.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The next item on the agenda was the Elephant Show. This experience left me completely dazzled, amazed, and finally shocked. Most of us were fortunate enough to get the first row seats. The only thing that irritated us was the hot sun. A group of children sold bananas to the audience to feed the elephants. The opening act was really impressive – the elephants entered age-wise, starting from the youngest. Trunk-to-tail, they walked in. The acts that followed kept on getting more and more interesting. Most of them were never-seen-before acts, such as the elephants playing darts, hoops and basketball. I was all the more astonished when I saw the elephants paint! I couldn’t help but smile when the elephants swayed and (almost) danced to the tunes while playing with hoops. It was unbelievable. After the show ended, the elephants played with the audience, lifting them with their trunks and waiting for bananas.

Although Nong Nooch Village was the last part of our itinerary, we decided to take a detour to the Gems Gallery. We reached barely a few moments before closing time. I was amazed by the sheer size of the store and the variety of jewellery they had to offer. They had something interesting in every price range. After some shopping there we retired to our rooms completely exhausted.

In retrospect, the only thing I wish we had done differently would have been visiting the Nong Nooch Village first. We could have enjoyed the evening and the sunset at the Coral Island.

 

Here are a few tips for the people who plan to visit Coral Island in the near future:

  • For elderly and people who have trouble walking, skipping the island trip altogether is a good option as it is really draining. Boarding and alighting a motorboat is a nightmare.
  • Wear clothes that dry quickly. It is advisable to carry a spare set of clothes and waterproof shoes. Avoid sneakers altogether.
  • Do not get your hopes up about seeing the coral reef from the glass bottomed boat as the sea could be rough. I haven’t met anybody who has achieved this.
  • Visit Coral Island early in the morning or in the evening. I felt that visiting the place in the afternoon wasn’t an excellent idea as our activities became very limited.
  • I found Coral Island not-so-interesting as there wasn’t much to do apart from Jet-skiing and banana boat riding. Carry  something like a volley-ball or a flying disc to make things interesting.

 

Here are a few tips for those who intend to visit Nong Nooch Village in the near future:

  • Check about the show timings in advance
  • Visit Nong Nooch Village before you visit the Alcazar Show. Alcazar is purely entertainment, whereas Nong Nooch show focuses more on the Thai Culture.
  • The weather in Nong Nooch is hot and humid. Dress accordingly.

Singapore-Thailand Trip: Parasailing and Snorkeling

Day 6: 30th May, Coral Island – Pattaya

Part 1

The very name of Coral Island meant that there was something special planned. Our guide mentioned casually that there were quite a few activities we could participate in, such as parasailing, snorkelling, banana boat ride and the water-biking. I was more than thrilled when we heard that we would be going there via motor boat. I had absolutely no idea how interesting my adventure was going to be.

DSC04176

We had to walk a little on the beach to the place the boat was anchored. My grandma had the toughest time of all – she wore a saree for the adventure. I was more than impressed by the energy with which she approached every part of the trip. Her fearlessness amazed me as she is over 70 and suffered from pain due to non-stop walking in the past few days. Coming back to the motorboat ride, it was a task boarding the boat as it bobbed up and down with the waves. Once on it, we sped to the first check point – the parasailing platform.

It journey was very bumpy. Even more so for the three of us (my sister, cousin and I) as we were sitting in the very front of the boat, where the effect of bumps was the greatest. The bobbing of the boat was now replaced by jumps, and we held on tightly for we feared the possibility of getting injured, or worse, being tossed out. In a matter of minutes we could see huge colourful parachutes filling the sky. I was thrilled by just looking at them and was more-or-less tempted to give it a shot. I realised what we had gotten into when I understood how we were to alight the motorboat. Even though it was tied to the platform the boat rose and fell with the rough waves. I was seriously worried now.

 

Somehow all 11 of us made it to the platform unhurt. Following my sister, my cousin started showing special interest in parasailing (Her grandparents were really apprehensive about letting her go for it). Their interest was pretty contagious, because three of us (my parents and I) queued up for the experience as well. I remember being harnessed and buckled to the parachute. On being given an option about taking a dip in the water my sister went for it, while I instantly refused.

DSC04193

The area from where we “took off” was very hot – standing in one place for more than a second was out of the question. That, in addition to my harness (which made it very difficult for me to stand upright) made me walk in a weird way. I threw a last look at the place where my grandparents were seated, only to see my grandma frantically praying for our safety.

I was told to run until the edge of the platform and that the motor boar attached would do the rest. The only sense of fear I felt was the split-second my feet left the ground. The rest of it was really fun. I rose high in the air as the motorboat picked up speed. Thanks to the harness, I almost felt like I was sitting mid-air. The force of the wind made the experience all the more fun. It felt unreally good, as I saw the platform shrink. I screamed in delight! The best part about the experience was the view. It was so awesome that it felt unreal. The only thing that they could have improved was the duration of the ride. By the time I really started enjoying the scenery the speed of the boat started decreasing and I began losing altitude. In a matter of seconds I landed on the platform, and saw my parents get ready for their share of experience.

 

Finally, after convincing her grandparents somehow, my cousin got prepped for her take-off. We expected my cousin to go with a helper, but she went solo (we noticed that only at the time of her landing!). Our guide led us to another boat which would take us to the next platform, this time for the snorkelling experience. I was now more worried, as my grandparents would have to endure another dose of getting on and off the motor boat.

 

We made it to the next platform after a decent amount of struggle. I was thrilled and scared at the same time. Like parasailing, I didn’t really know procedure when I would get an opportunity like this again. After deciding and deliberating for a while we decided to take the plunge. My sister and my cousin joined me in the adventure.

Soon after the payment, our shoes were collected and placed in a basket and we were led to the region of the boat having all the snorkelling equipment. There was a Tamilian family with us, all set for the experience. After handing us a strip of chewing gum the organiser explained in detail about the procedure, equipment and the rules we were supposed to follow, along with some symbols to help communicating underwater. He gave us a glove for the right hand and explained to us how to relieve the pain in the ears once we were inside. The most crucial part of the experience were the first 30 seconds of complete uneasiness. If we can handle that, we would be comfortable for the remainder of the experience. The other family, too shaken by just listening to the protocol, decided to back out. I just gave my grandmother a quick glance before going in. Her face had even more signs of worry now.

 

I was the last one in. Within a matter of seconds we had five metres of water above us. The uneasiness was increasing by the second. It may sound ridiculous, but for a while I had this dreadful feeling that I wouldn’t make it out alive. I decided to block out that feeling and try to enjoy it one step at a time. The sea was rough and the visibility was poor. I started singing and that actually made me feel better.

I could barely see a metre ahead of me. We held hands and formed a circle, and that is when the u experience began. We were given slices of bread to feed the fish at the reef, with strict instructions to feed the fish with the gloved hand only. I felt a funny sensation in my hand as the fish flocked to the bread it clenched. It was the first time that I actually touched fish!

After walking a few metres we could see the corals. The underwater “guide” gave us a polyp to touch. It was the softest thing I ever touched. The whole experience was more or less what I had imagined it to be. It was like a dream come true. We touched an oyster, before being given bread again to feed the fish. We then were thrust upwards, back to the rest of our species.

 

Although both experiences – parasailing and snorkelling may have caused my grandparents an insane amount of anxiety, I think it was well worth it. I flew with the wind and conquered my fear of water barely within a couple of hours. It was an enriching experience and helped me emerge as a richer person (obviously not monetarily). I couldn’t have asked for more.

 

Singapore-Thailand Trip: The Alcazar Show – Pattaya

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.