Thursday 17 February 2011

Thailand Trip Report - Bangkok and Phuket

On the 4th of February I travelled from Bali, Indonesia. After a couple of nice Malaysia Airways business class flights via Kuala Lumpur I was in Phuket, Thailand, well relaxed and well fed, ready to enjoy myself. Unfortunately however, I had to wait around Phuket Airport for nearly 3 hours hours to meet online MTT legend Simon 'Amatay' Jones, who was flying all the way from England and will be travelling with me over the next 5 weeks. His flight was delayed. As I sat at the meeting point, just past immigration/customs, I was thoroughly entertained by watching the constant stream of 90 year old white men walk through and meet/greet their 18 year old Thai brides. So sick.

We stayed in Phuket for a full week. My friend Joel 'jcar9271' Carr, who is a PokerStars Supernova SNG player gave me a room in his balla Villa in Chalong and the fish Amatay stayed in the cockroach infested apartments down the road.

Joel also sorted us out with a brand new scooter each, but after seeing how crazy these Thais drive on the way from the airport we weren't too keen on using them. However it turned out that scooters were the only reasonable way to get around where we were staying, so we had a few practise sessions on some quiet roads and then braved the busy highways.

After learning to use the scooters we were barely off them the whole day. We zipped around, exploring the island and just generally tried not to get killed by the numerous retards driving on Phuket's deathroads. It's a pretty scary experience at first, driving on Phuket's steep winding roads where there's seemingly no speed limit and all sorts of ridiculous obstacles to avoid. Obstacles including loose gravel, huge pot-holes and countless people driving food carts and scooters along the edge of the wrong side of the road straight into traffic. It's also very standard to be simultaneously overtaken AND undertaken if you try to leave a safe gap between yourself and the driver infront of you. We got used to the roads and the scooters very quickly though and they were a lot of fun and gave us a huge amount of freedom to see and do some cool stuff.

At night, while Amatay was busy chatting up the ladyboys in Chalong's bars I decided to stay in because I was extremely keen to grind some profits and FPPs on PokerStars. January was a devastating month for me financially after bricking all 7 events that I played at the Aussie Millions, spending $10,000 on hotels, travel, food and entertainment and almost busting my bankroll on PokerStars, not to mention that I was without a working laptop for the first 10 days of the month so was unable to play online. I planned to play at least 5 hours every day while staying at Joel's house and he set me up a nice desk to grind at and had 2 stable internet connections. within 90 minutes of starting my first session of 2/4 CAP PLO I ran worse than ever before and spunked off all but a few hundred bucks of my roll. I kept getting AAxx double suited in preflop against 2 mega whales with junk, getting 2:1 on my money with around 48% equity in the pot.

Needless to say I won very, very few of those races!

I tried to take my mind off the pokers by getting up early the next day and heading over to Kata and Karon beaches to relax.

The beach is fun for me for a couple of hours, after that, not so much. It gets very boring very quickly. The only interesting moments are when some Thai guy walks past with some absolute crap that he's trying to sell to tourists and I can some entertainment from laughing at him. I think Amatay would be happy just lying on the beach listening to his i-pod all day long, but I convinced him to get up and go do a bit of exploring with me. We drove around and found a bunch of depressed looking elephants in shackles which their owners use to give rides to the tourists at around $45 per hour per person. It looked quite dangerous and a shame for the Elephants so we decided to pass on the ride.

We then drove up some steep winding roads to visit The Big Buddha of Phuket, a towering monument that is visible from anywhere on the south of the island. The road leading up to it was extremely steep in places but fortunately there was very little traffic. I did end up coming off the road at one point but had slowed down enough that there was no damage done. Once we got to the top there were a whole bunch of tourists and very few Buddhists. There was a huge market of stalls that you had to walk though, selling cheap crap stuff aimed at tourists, before you could get up close to the Big Buddha. We weren't that impressed with the monument, and it still seems to be under construction, with scaffolding surrounding it.

After dark we went for dinner and spent about $4 each on a 2 course meal with drink. Food is insanely cheap in Thailand, in fact EVERYTHING is insanely cheap in Thailand. For a couple of grand per month you could live there like an absolute king, live in a balla house, eat out for every meal, have massages every day, and much more. After dinner Joel was sitting grinding SNGs, so I decided to sit at the desk he set up for me beside him and grind microstakes poker all night long to try to rebuild my Stars roll. After about an hour it was going well and was up 7 buyins, before losing them all back, then my laptop crashed mid-session. No big deal I thought, lost a bit of money I had invested in some pots but whatever, just rebooted, logged back in and started playing again. 5 minutes later I get a bit of rungood back, flopped sets on a bunch of dry boards with fish betting into me, when the graphics on my screen go all garbled and my laptop turns off. It never came back on after that, video card was dead, huge huge beat.

My video card had originally died on January 1st in Prague and I had to wait until January 10th in Malaysia before I found someone who could fix it. Whatever they did obviously wasn't good enough because a few weeks later there I am again with a busto laptop. The problem I have is that my laptop is special in that it has a 17" screen with a 1920x1200 resolution, that I absolutely need to play poker on, as I can only play with tiled tables. It's near impossible to buy a laptop with that spec in a shop, and it's not easy to order a replacement video card or laptop online and have sent out to me since most places only ship to the cardholder address. I'm also spending a short time in each place I visit before moving on so having a friend in the UK/USA buy me something and then having them courier it to me, trying to predict my exact address on a certain day and the delivery date of the courier, seemed like a bad idea too. My first reaction when my laptop died was that I just wanted to quit my travels and settle down somewhere to just concentrate on playing online poker, however I decided to just see how things went over the next couple of weeks, and just have fun without thinking about poker or blogging.

The next day was Amatays birthday so he got to decide how we spent the day. So we went exploring for a nice beach to spend the day at then made plans to go for a big night out in Patong in the evening. We didn't have to drive far before we found a much smaller and nicer beach than the one we visited the day before. It's called Nai Harn.

In the evening myself, Amatay, Joel and another poker player living on the Island, Nick, went out into the degen capital of the world, Patong. Everywhere you look in Patong there are ugly ladyboys standing on at the side of the street and sleazy old western men with young Thai prostitutes on their arm that they've easily picked up from one of the many, many go go bars. As we walked along one of the main street I had girls constantly come up to me, stand right in front of me trying to get my attention, slap me on the arse or grab my forcefully by the arm. It would be really flattering if I hadn't already seen them do the same thing to some geriatric bag of bones seconds earlier.

Initially we avoided the sleaze by going to a nice Mexican restaurant on a roof terrace, and then to an awesome and huge pool hall with nice tables which was super cheap. Then we went out drinking, and checked out some of the sick stuff that goes on, but I will keep this blog tasteful and not mention any of that. Needless to say the pervert Amatay, who's blog only became popular after he populated it with porn links, was loving every minute of it. Myself, not so much, just isn't my scene, but the night was a lot of fun anyway.

What was an awesome night unfortunately ended with Joel being robbed of his wallet and phone by 2 disgusting ladyboys as he drunkenly tried to get into our driver's car. I was taking photos at the time because I thought it was hilarious that there were ladyboys harassing him, it was only when we got back to Joel's house that we realised that the bastard ladyboys robbed him.

The next day was a write off as everyone slept all day. I was the only person that didn't get wasted the night before so I was pretty much kicked around on my own all day and was pretty depressed about not having a working laptop and not being able to use the spare time to grind myself out of the mess I'm in with online poker runbad. I drove to Banana IT, the biggest IT store there to see if I could find a laptop to buy that was semi suitable for me, but their largest screen laptop was some low resolution 14" nonsense, completely useless. Pretty boring day but in the evening I went with Joel and his wife for food, a massage and to eat at the best banana pancake stand in Phuket. Omnomnomnomnom.

The next again night and I went back to Patong with Amatay, as we wanted to watch some live Muay Thai boxing. It was a lot of fun but pretty expensive by Thailand standards at $65 for a ticket. We bet each other on every fight which made watching the fights way more entertaining. We were even in the betting before the very last fight when I convinced Amatay to up the bet from 100 to to 250 then my guy pretty quickly shipped the knockout blow to Amatays donk fighter, gg son.

After the boxing we went around Patong, experiencing more of the degen capital of the universe. This place is just crazy. Words cant describe what it's like there and videos don't do it anything near justice, especially since you can't use cameras in the places where the really sick stuff goes on.

On our last day in Phuket we hired a longboat to Coral Island, a nice beach and crystal clear waters with tons of tropical fish swimming right up to the shore awaited us.

I took PokerStars Monkey with me and he enjoyed a bit of sunbathing.

And then a game of poker with the locals.

After a week in Phuket we took a flight to Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, staying in a suite on Sukhumvit Road where all the action is. We went out exploring on our first evening and after a 3 course meal in a classy restaurant that cost about a tenner, we didn't have to walk too far before we found a place that reminded of us Patong, it was called Nana Plaza and as soon as we started walking around there we were getting hollered at, grabbed by the crotch, etc. etc. etc. etc. by the Thai whores. The streets surrounding it were almost as bad and also had many ladyboys, and beggars, that we could barely squeeze past for the rows of market stalls selling fake shit and people eating next to stalls that were frying up cockroaches or some similar disgusting shite. What a place.

We just found some British pub to play pool and listen to live music, before we sat on their terrace for a while watching the degeneracy pass us by. On the way back to the hotel Amatay hopeless haggled with an old lady selling wallets. He ended up with one branded "Billobang". LOL.

We got up early on the next day to experience Bangkok in the daytime, and it did seem a lot more like a normal city. All the whores, ladyboys, hot smelly foot carts and fake goods market stalls were gone but there were still a few beggars lining the streets. After a whole load of pissing about trying to organise a city tour we ended up just exploring Bangkok on our own, taking every mode of transport available. The SkyTrain and taxi riders were very comfortable and safe, the Tuk Tuks and back of motorcycle rides, not so much.

We ended up at Plantip Plaza, a huge IT mall, as we needed to buy some software to fix the computer noob Amatays computer. The plaza is huge and filled with everything IT related at the lowest prices, and has a bit of a reputation for the huge amount of software piracy that goes on there - and no wonder why, there's about 30 different stalls where you can get a copy of any software, video game, movie or porn that exists, for a couple of bucks per disc. Like the prostitution that goes on in Thailand, the piracy is so blatant and open that the police obviously turn a blind eye to it and allow it to go on.

I found a laptop repair man in the Plaza, in a little unorganised shop surrounded by laptop components. I told him what was up with my laptop video card and he was convinced he could fix it, so I went back to my hotel and got the laptop for him. He quoted me a price of 5000 Baht (£100/$160) if he fixes it and no charge if he can't fix it. I didn't even bother to haggle, as is standard with everything in Thailand, I'd happily ship him the money if he fixed it for me.

"Come back tomorrow 6pm, laptop will fixed" he said confidently, and I left it with him.

We wanted to check out the National Stadium and big MBK mall that is attached to it, which was a few blocks away, so we negotiated a cheap price with a Tuk Tuk driver and off we went. Our driver started telling us something about how he was sponsored by a Tailor and gets free gas and a lottery ticket for being sponsored or some bullshit, whatever. After 10 minutes driving, way longer than our journey should have taken, he pulls up outside this tailor shop in the middle of nowhere and asks us to go in and have a look as it will help him out, they will give him free gas. Fuck our lifes, we go in and there are eight salesman waiting like vultures and no customers. They sit us down, I have a look at the shirts, ask the price, tell him he's a ripoff merchant and walk out. Once we get the Tuk Tuk driver clown to actually take us to where we asked go we are sitting in his deathmobile for another 10 minutes before passing the place he originally picked us up (the bastard), and another 5 minutes til we reach our intended destination.

Outside the National Stadium we say a smaller stadium with some activity surrounding it, so went to take a look. It seemed that there was a Thai Premier League football match on in a couple of hours, and was the first game of the new season. Buriram PEA were playing the local side BEC Tero. Seemed like a good way to spend the evening so we bought tickets for 80 Baht (£1.60) and Buriram replica tops for 350 Baht (£7) and chilled outside the stadium for a bit. It was pretty clear that we were the only white guys around and just in case we forgot it, all the Buriram fans (from the town Buriram in northern Thailand) were staring at us non stop and pointing at us haha.

There was a fun atmosphere inside the small stadium, these Buriram fans really know how to support their team. I tried to teach these Thais some real football chants such as "Who are ya? Who are ya?" and "The referee's a wanker, the referee's a wanker!" but they didn't seem to catch on. The match was good quality and our boys went home with a well deserved 2-1 away win.

After the match We braved another ride in a Tuk Tuk and told him to take us somwhere good to watch the Man Utd vs Man City game that had just started. After missing a fatal crash by little more than the width of a ball hair he dropped us off in Nana, the degen part of town that we had visited the night before. Oh well, we went to the one bar in the area that didn't have hookers in it, the same British pub from last night, and watched it there. Another awesome match, topped off by a spectacular late winning overhead-kick goal by Rooney.

On our last day in BangKok we used the railway system to get to the old city, next to the river. We weren't too impressed by the ghetto that we were walking around in so tried to see if there was a way that would could take a boat trip on the river. We found a travel agency at the train station to get take us on a private tour of the river and canals in a longboat, along with a stop at a Buddhist temple. The river looks pretty disgusting, and is likely used by the many shanty households that line it to dump their sewage. "It would be a huge epic fail to fall into this river" I thought to myself just before making the leap from the pier to the shakey wooden longboat. Luckily I held for one time in my godforsaken life, and sat down in a comfortable seat in the middle of the boat ready to enjoy the tour.

As soon as we set off down the river and picked up a little speed I was getting some water sprayed over me, with no way to avoid it. Eurgh. It wasn't too bad though and I forgot about it after a while, until we passed another wooden longboat going in the opposite direction, and crashed into a wave than drenched me and my expensive camera. I run so f bad, I swear to god. The fish Amatay survived without getting wet and just laughed at me. Since I was filming at the time I guess you all can laugh at me too...

The driver, the spitting image of Johnny Chan, told us to move to the front of the boat if we wanted to avoid getting wet, and from there on the tour was a lot more enjoyable. We had a little old tour guide woman sitting behind us pointing at stuff and talking to us in broken English but we could neither understand her. but that was a waste of time as we couldn't understand her terrible English and the noise of the boat meant we couldn't hear her anyway. We just sat back, chilled and enjoyed the ride. Of course we stop at some bullshit floating market, some women on longboats trying to sell tat to tourists. Everyone wants to sell you something in Thailand, and usually what they are selling is absolute crap. After showing us all the junk items she had she opened a box which was full of drinks, so she wasn't completely useless to us. We sailed the river and canal for about an hour before we stopped off a the big temple, that was well worth checking out. It had some crazy steep stairs on it, and didn't look at all safe, so obviously we climbed it.

After the river cruise was over we headed back to Pantip Plaza and amazingly the laptop repair dude had got my laptop up and running, telling me that he replaced the processor on the video card. Epic win, I could start blogging and playing online poker again, but had a huge amount of catching up to do and not much time. We just dumped our bags in our hotel, went out for dinner and a stroll, then found ourselves in yet another degen area, Cowboy Soi.

We went into one bar as they had loads of big screens showing the English football highlights. Maybe 30 seconds went by before a very pretty Thai girl sat beside me and started chatting to me in perfect English. That was quite weird because I had been in Thailand for 10 days and hadn't spoken to a single Thai person who's English was even somewhat decent. As Amatay and I sat watching the football, this girl was still sitting close beside me. The situation was a bit awkward so I bought this girl a drink. No sooner had I done that she had her hands all over me, kissing my cheek etc. etc. then asked me if I wanted to take her back to my hotel. I declined, telling her that I was going to go with my friend to play pool instead. She wasn't too impressed that I prefer pool to whores that speak perfect English because they are chatting to westerners every single night looking for business. Another 10 minutes went by of me sitting drinking and watching football, and her beside me, when She said "give me 2 minutes, I'll be right back". We figured she had gone to get another girl for Amatay, because maybe I wasn't going with her because I didn't want to leave my friend alone. As soon as she left, we left in the opposite direction straight to the pool hall, where for a fiver and hour we got the VIP room with a sick table, stereo, and our own personal servant girl to bring us drinks, rack the balls up and even stuff like pull out and put away the rest out when we needed it. Like I said, in Thailand you can live like a king on not very much money at all.

Next stop, Saigon / Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

1 comment:

  1. I'm interested in the "really sick stuff". Come on, like what?? *rubs knees waiting eagerly*