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Another Paradise

"Do you eat food?" The airhostess asks me as I wait for my non-vegetarian dinner. She is busy handing out “vegetarian Indian” meal to the rest. I am on Thai Airways on my way to Bangkok and I get a taste of Thai hospitality and food right from the start. My flight lands on time but gets stranded at the old airport due to fog and low visibility. It's like Delhi stalking me but this is Thailand with a 30 above temperature during the day and supposedly cold because of the fog. Unusual day but the start of my one week break is already eventful. After three hours, we finally arrive at Bangkok's new Suvarnabhumi airport. Spread over 32 km, it's like any other mega shopping mall. I remember little of the old airport when I arrived in 2000.

I am greeted by an escort who has my name on his placard as Mr Laisram. I guess my name baffles the gender decipher for its lack of familiarity. Lozza thought he lost me and was frantically emailing at the hotel lobby. A sigh of relief when he spotted me walk in at Veingtai Hotel! We check into the room and then begin our tour into the city that never sleeps. A walk down Kho Saon Road and it's food, food, and more food that meets the eye. Filled with bag packers and tourists, pubs and massage parlours are galore. It's a different world. Colours, lights, sounds and smells - all mix to add to one flavour that is uniquely Thai.

Everywhere, we are greeted by touts. The unassuming taxi drivers, are the ones who lure you to the wildest and best shows for the best price. Soon you realise you have been taken for a ride, royally. As was our case. Go-go show, ping pong show, et al. “Don’t go to the market first, enjoy the show first,” they tell you. You believe them and pay up. Not quite worth the thousand bucks you shelled out, but you learn to take it all in your stride.

Pattaya is an enjoyable destination in Thailand. A two-hour drive takes you to this sea side locale. “Check your belong,” yells the driver as you hop out of the mini van. He says it’s his routine driving up and down three-times a day ferrying tourists who swarm the place. I love the hustle and bustle, the packed sea shores, the pubs and the amazing musical and busy nights especially at Walking Street. You see them all – gays, transvestites, prostitutes, normal people mix in unision. The bar girls play their role. “Only 50 baht for beer, check sexy lady inside”. Sex is the byword here.

While our Mangalorean moralists were busy attacking women in spaghettis and drinking in pubs, I was in a world where hypocrisy and double standards have not reared its ugly head. Long live Thailand!

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