Thailand: Birthday Zorbing Edition – Sep 2014

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My first week in Thailand was nothing short of exhilarating. Flying into a new country always brings up so many new experiences.  You go in wondering things like, Will I have problems at the boarder? What kind of questions will they ask me? Do they care that I don’t have proof of onward travel?  I hope they don’t look in my bum for drugs.  Not because I have drugs but more I hope they don’t look in my bum for any reason.

Anyways, Thailand’s boarder customs was a breeze.  No questions, barely even a hello.  Just a 30 day visa stamp and sent us on our way.

Next stop: Patong Beach, Phuket.

Sweet baby Jesus this place is horrible.  It is everything Kristi and I hate about traveling from the aggressive sales people to the heavy promotion of the sex trade here…. This is not the place for us.

This is a huge twist in our travels.  Going from Malaysia where it’s very Muslim and reserved to Phuket, Thailand where every third shop is a bar with “happy hour specials”  Our trip is probably going to get much more interesting.

Our Resort is actually quite nice.  It’s low season so prices on these places are pretty good.  Our room is huge and we have a shower that is separate from the toilet! A luxury that we haven’t had often on this trip.  They also have a massive swimming pool with a nice waterfall.  Best of all… there’s next to nobody here.

There’s only one issue… the staff is awful.  To order from the restaurant, you have to go to the front desk to order where they put in an order at their hotel in downtown Patong Beach and they send someone to go pick it up and bring it back to the restaurant here for you to eat.  The food is good but it’s not hot when it gets to you.  They offer a free shuttle… awesome! But they only run for free at certain times.   But they don’t run at those times if you don’t book them in advance.  Then when you book them in advance, you have to hope they remember to pick you up.  We were forgotten… twice.  When we went to talk to front desk about why we had been forgotten for a 2nd time in a row now, they brushed us off by telling us to go talk to the shuttle driver.  Then after that interaction, every time we walked within their view they would over dramatically roll their eyes and look displeased with us like we were the ones that fucked up.  Unfortunately we booked and paid for three nights here and this originally started after on our first night.  The nicest facilities in the world cannot make up for shitty staff. I guess it’s only fair to share the name of this place so people can have some sort of warning if they are thinking about staying here: PS Hill Resort.

The city of Patong Beach is… well it’s a place where tourists hang out and get ripped off.  Prices are more than double than the rest of Thailand.  The people are greedy assholes that are not willing to negotiate prices even though they are charging too much to begin with.  Patong Beach is the Jersey Shore of Southeast Asia.  Juiced up monkeys walking around in malls with their shirts off.  Fake lips, fake tan, fake tits hoping to find a “real” man.  When you walk down the main street at night in Patong Beach you are bombarded by people trying to get you to come into their bar or sell you on a ping pong show.  Ladyboys are in the street wearing skimpy clothes and charging you to take their picture.  Happy Hour for beers priced higher than Malaysia (where beer wasn’t exactly cheap).  The store employees reach out to shake your hand and if you don’t take it they call you rude but if you do take it they try to drag you into the store.  Old men are seen with young Thai girls.  This place is where people without souls come to prey on the stupid.  While I’m on the topic of stupid, there’s tourists here walking down this street of filth with their children.  Who brings kids to a place like this?  The type of people that shouldn’t be breeding.

If you like to party, do drugs and get or give sexually transmitted infections… Patong Beach is the place for you.  Also, if you do hook up with someone, flip a coin on whether its a guy or girl. The lady boys are actually very pretty and it’s not easy to tell a lot of them apart.  I imagine it gets even harder once you have a few drinks.  It’s easy to get boom boom but it might not be with the gender of your preference.

With my birthday around the corner, we caught the first taxi out of town 15 minutes north to Kamala Beach.  If you search online on sites like Phukettourism.org you will find prices around 120baht for a taxi from Patong to Kamala.  Then when you speak to a taxi driver it’s between 400-500baht and it’s not negotiable.  They all have binders with fixed prices that they have all agreed upon.  It also didn’t help that it was raining and because it was a relatively short distance, we didn’t think to ask about a local bus.

Finally, Kamala Beach.  A sleepy little beach town made up of 3-4 streets.  We stayed at the Ratana Apart-Hotel and they were fantastic.  They have themed areas: Jellyfish, puffer fish and we were in the stingray hall.  Our room didn’t have a window outside but was beautiful. A big comfy bed, fast WiFi and a powerful shower.  On the roof is a pool but it stormed while we were here so we didn’t get to use it.  The staff were amazing but I’ll get into that in a bit.

The best day of the year has arrived… My Birthday! And Kristi has surprise for me.

A shuttle comes to pick us up and Kristi is upset because it says “Zorbing. Rollerball” on it.  Luckily for her, I have no idea what zorbing is so her surprise stays in tact.

If you’re like me and have no idea what zorbing is: You basically climb into a giant hamster ball with a bit of water and some balls from the McDonalds ball pit.  Then the staff close it up and push you down a hill and you’re tossed around as if you were in a washing machine.  It’s awesome.  If you have never been, at some point in your life you have to go!

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We originally paid for two rolls? two runs? two zorbs! But after our first zorb, we knew that we would be buying more.  They had two different lanes to choose from:  The straightaway and the curvy madness.  I named these myself.

Before getting into the hamster ball we changed into swim suits and were given life jackets… I ask if this is a serious safety precaution… the staff laugh and tell me I have to wear it.

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We did the curvy madness first and I’m glad I didn’t drink beer for breakfast. At first I thought we would run in it but you don’t.  You just sit there with no control over how much pee water you get in your face and mouth.  You feel every bump as it tossed us around the inside of the hamster ball.  I think I managed to blow an ear drum from Kristi screaming in it.  She’s a bit over dramatic.

At the bottom you get out of the hamster ball, pick all the McDonalds ball pit balls up off the ground and out of whatever crevasse they have jammed into and put them back in the hamster ball.  Then a truck drives you to the top and you go again.  A staff member drains the water/pee/poo out of the ball and they put new water in before you go again. It’s a little bit more comforting as far as sanitary concerns go.

It was raining this day which meant almost nobody was here… though it really didn’t matter whether it was raining or not since you get wet regardless.

The straightaway is just fast.  I’m not sure what speeds we got up to but I do know that we were stuck going backwards almost the entire way with the water ripping into our faces like a fly swatter.  I hope I don’t get pink eye from the water.

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When we were finished, Kristi went to pay and they refused to accept the extra 500thb ($20) that was owed for my extension because it was my birthday.  They also bought us a couple Singha beers and gave us our transport free of charge.  I wish it was my birthday everyday!

When we arrived back at the room, we walked into a very unexpected surprise.  Our towels we folded into swans and shaped together like a heart.

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They left flowers and a bottle of wine in an ice bucket.

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Then the best part, a personalized birthday card! (I appear to have lost the picture)

Even Kristi was shocked.  She had sent an email letting them know it was my birthday and asked if they could do anything special with the room.  We thought maybe a card or something but never expected a bottle of wine.  They really went out of their way to make it special.  When we went to have lunch downstairs, the cleaning ladies were all taking a break near the elevator and they all wished me a happy birthday with big smiles on their face.  It’s treatment like this that makes you truly appreciate this industry.  The staff  at Ratana Apart-Hotel (and Kristi) really did a great job of making this day special.

That night we went out for dinner at a nice Italian restaurant… I know, I’m in Thailand… but I can eat Thai food every day this month.  Homemade gnocchi sounded like a much better option. I’ll save the details but it did not disappoint.

My first impression of Thailand was not very positive but it seems we just chose the wrong part to start at.  It seems to be quickly turning itself around and I am really excited what this month has in store.

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