Yes, I know.
Things Pattaya has taught me:
- Banana milkshakes are incredible
- Banana milkshakes are incredible
- Things aren't always as they seem
- Even in the darkest places there is hope
- People in Pattaya are the NICEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD, even nicer than Minnesotans (sorry Susie and Amy)
- 7-11 is by far one of the greatest ideas ever
It's this kid again
So first things first, banana milkshakes.
On the left, behold the banana milkshake. On the right, the incredible butterfly. Sarah Chhummy in the background.
They are incredible. It's my staple down here next to the Tom Kah Gai.
At Big Buddha. We bought finches that were supposed to be released for good luck, Jasmine used them to symbolize the coming freedom for all.
Things aren't always as they seem
Not all women are trafficked into prostitution. Some girls really like being prostitutes. Some people (this includes men and women) become addicted to the attention and money. The sex industry has very little to do with sex and more with an economy, power and loneliness. Just because men come here doesn't mean we should judge them, they have their own reasons for the lives they live. Also not every white man holding a Thai woman's hand bought her. A lot of the people here actually marry the women and either vacation in Pattaya or live there together. Prostitutes are some of the nicest women around.
Outside a bar on Walking Street
Even in the darkest places there is hope
Two nights ago we walked down Walking Street and it was one of the darkest times we've had as a group. Because of the curfew (oh btw, there's a national curfew in 23 provinces) bars are either completely closed for the night or pretty empty. It just seemed like the loneliness and emptiness was amplified. One of the girls was nearly violated when a man said obscenities to her and tried to grab her crotch. As we rode our sung tao her words stuck with us all, "I have the right to get mad and I'm pissed right now. But all I can think about is all the girls who have to pretend they like that." As we returned to the hotel all the girls in the group congregated in Courtney and I's room to worship and read the Bible. But for many of us the words were hard to grasp between tears. It was the first time I had really cried on the trip. The hot tears moved down my cheeks and all I could think of was "Why did this have to happen Lord? Why does my heart have to feel this way?" But Jasmine's words echoed to me from the morning in that God is already here. He already conquered this earth and he's won the battle. He's protected me so far, why can't I trust His plan now? So I have to trust Him that He's teaching me how to make a difference. Earlier that day we had lunch on the beach where many homosexual prostitutes sleep because they are homeless. That's where we met Not. He was 18, had finished school and worked in construction. But because of problems at home with his step father, he ran away to Pattaya to try to get away from it all. Here he found friends, money and men who felt the same way he did. In a conversation with a few girls and I he stated that since he was four he loved men. He pointed to us and said "I will never love you." He then pointed to a man in our group and said, "He can love me anytime." They statement broke my heart because he didn't mean actually love him, he meant have sex with him and that is far from love. Our leader Ying, who you will read about in the next part, made a point to tell all the men how much Jesus loved them. For the first time I think I truly desired with all of my heart that they would understand what it really meant to be loved.
Yes, that's a child sleeping on a moped
People in Pattaya
Ying is the prime example of this. Not only was she an incredible translator, she taught us Thai, she got us front row for dinner and a cultural dance show, she is tremendously sassy in the best way possible and above all else truly takes God's word out to the streets and loves people with all her heart. But it isn't just Ying, everyone is nice! You can strike up a conversation with anyone and they will talk to you for as long as their broken English will get them. And then they'll use sign language. The prostitutes stop the white girls (obviously not me and my bronze skin) to tell them how beautiful their skin is, ask us where we are from and engage any questions we have. They wave excitedly at us when we smile and shout "Sawadee Kaaaaa!" They yell it back as loud as possible. When a girl's bra went missing from her room, the maid who came to help look for it joked that she would never steal it because it didn't fit her as she jostled her C cup boobs in her hands. Then she let out a loud laugh (comparable to mine) and said "I kid, I'm kidding, I joke"
View from a sung tao
I've narrowed down the facts of why this may be the greatest thing to hit Pattaya sine sliced bread (which is also very good here, and it's called brown bread).1. Everything is dirt cheap. Huge bottles of water for less than 50 cents. Koala filled chocolate treats for 5 baht which is like 6 cents. It's incredible.B. The cashiers are always nice too!Tres. The ice cream is DEEELICIOUS.Lastly, the place is air conditioned and as Hillary so wisely put it "When you step in that place it's like you suddenly need to buy everything."
So we leave Pattaya in 4 hours for Bangkok and then a flight to Chiang Rai, to experience a completely different Thailand. Not only is it north, but it isn't modernized and sex isn't slapping you in the face everywhere you walk. They have night markets that are dirt cheap and Thai massages that will melt your brain. It also is where we will meet the SOLD children, saved from a lifetime of sexual slavery. It should be incredible.But I can't help but miss Pattaya already. The city groans as the tide moves the furthest I've ever seen an ocean go. It yearns for the arms of someone who understands. The place flat out knows how to make you happy and enjoy yourself. Yet how to break your heart. How can I leave this place?Shoot this is only the first week. How can I leave Thailand?
P.S. I got tiny fish to eat the dead skin off my feet today. They are called Little Dermatologists. It was awful and awesome at the same time.