This is an extract from Thailand: 27 Days of Sin by Alex Coverdale.
After breakfast the next morning, I checked out of the lush Lucky Inn in Pattaya and, with the help of a note from the receptionist written in Thai, made my way to the long-distance bus station. There, you have a choice of buses of varying standards and prices. It’s over 800 km from Pattaya to Chiang Mai, so I chose the VIP (Gold bus) option, which promised to be slightly comfortable, bought a 750 baht ticket, and settled down to wait for a couple of hours.
While I waited, I started chatting to a very excitable local guy who was waiting there with his wife and kids. Or as much as it’s possible to chat to someone when neither of you knows the other’s language. The guy showed me pictures on his phone, gave me cigarettes, and then wanted his picture taken with me. Being naturally suspicious, I smelled a rat. I’m British. People just aren’t that nice in the UK. Or probably anywhere outside Thailand. At one point, I’m pretty sure he tried setting me up with his sister. When my bus finally pulled in and we had to say goodbye, we did so with a very awkward (from my end, anyway) man hug. I swear there were tears in his eyes.
The Gold bus. Wow. I wasn’t expecting anything better than a National express coach. How wrong I was. Obviously, there were a lot of similarities with both being buses and all, but the interior of the Gold bus was more like that of an airplane. There was even a hot dolly bird, whose job it was to walk up and down the aisle handing things out to the passengers. First, there was a packet of cheese puffs and an orange drink. Then a blanket. Then a polystyrene box containing cold boiled rice with chicken, and a bottle of water.
After meal time, the hot hostess came around again and collected all the rubbish, then the other passengers and I dug in for the 13-hour drive north to Chiang Mai.
It wasn’t actually as bad as it probably sounds. There was air-conditioning and the seats reclined, so it wasn’t much different from being in a hotel. In fact, sleeping on the bus was probably more comfortable than the first hotel I had stayed at in Bangkok.
However, I didn’t sleep the whole night. It was more of a succession of short naps. At one point, I convinced myself my phone had been stolen. It wasn’t in the pocket where I usually keep it, which was enough to send me into meltdown. When you travel, or even when you don’t travel, it’s surprising how important your phone becomes. Without that, I didn’t even have the address of the next hotel I was supposed to be staying in.
Thankfully, it was a false alarm. I found my phone in one of the pockets of my rucksack. I still don’t know how it came to be there.
The bus arrived at Chiang Mai just before 7:30 the next morning. I knew I wouldn’t be able to check into my room for a few hours, so with time to kill I decided to walk there. My GPS said it would take about an hour. The morning was cool and clear, and the walk pleasant. The only down side was that I had to carry all my luggage with me. About half way, I stopped at a coffee shop and had a latte before resuming my journey.
Even before I even got to my hotel, a prostitute was messaging me on WeChat. My arrival must have trigged some kind of early warning system amongst the working girl community.
“I come your hotel now. Give you special massage. 1500 baht.”
“I haven’t actually reached my hotel yet.”
“I come now.”
“I haven’t arrived yet.”
“Where is it?”
“Not sure. I HAVEN’T ARRIVED YET.”
“You tell me where it is.”
“Um… I’m tired. I think I’ll have a rest.”
I didn’t call her. She sent more messages later that day. In fact, she sent a steady stream for the next few hours, then got annoyed when I wouldn’t answer and deleted me. I just didn’t like the way she went about her business. Too pushy. It was almost as if she planned to bombard me with messages until I wilted and fucked her just so she would leave me alone. It soon became clear that even if I had fucked her, she probably still wouldn’t have left me alone. One of the great things about Asia is the fact that you are never under pressure to go with a particular prostitute because if you don’t like one, you can be pretty sure another will come along soon enough.
Thailand: 27 Days of Sin is available now on paperback and ebook.