Sunday, 12 April 2009

Farewell to Arms (Rugar .38 Revolver & Water Pistol)

Cameras don't shoot people, people shoot people.

sunny 34 °C

Atta and myself decided to make the most of what Pattaya has to offer on the last day before we headed off early next morning, which was officially the start of Thailand's Songkran Festival (or Thailand's New Year).

We decided to go out with a bang, literally. Firearm shootings seems to be something that doesn't take too much effort on our two, let's say, autumn chickens (the season after spring). And it's somethng that we have never been done before.

We took the baht bus (I think it's called) to get there. It's so called because it costs either Bt10 or Bt20, depending on the distance. Sometimes it's called minibus and songthaew in Thai, meaning pickup truck. It's sort of a cross between a tuk-tuk and a ute (utility truck). It's bigger than a tuk-tuk, and there are two rows of seats behind the driver. The alternative recipe for making a baht bus would be: first, you take a ute (an Aussie invention) that you can get from any car yard, then you put two rows of seats facing each other in the back, and finally you put a canopy over it, voila, you get yourself a wonderful baht bus. Dunno if this form of public transport is unique to Pattaya (I have a feeling it is), I didn't see it in other Thai cities I've been to (been to quite a few). Tuk-tuk are more widespread.

There are two main streets in Pattaya, the Beach Road, which runs along the Pattaya beach, and the next one which runs parallel to Beach Road, and is simply called the Second Road. Both are one way traffic. The Baht buses are running on these two streets which you would find 90% of everything you would be interested. Just hop on and off like Froggy. You pay 10 or 20 bahts if you get on the baht bus anywhere on these two streets. You can hire them to go to specific area you want, then you can exercise all the haggling skills you have learnt to negotiate for the fees. Sometimes they called hired taxi (as supposed to metered taxi) for this reason.

Half way there, still in the baht bus, we were innocently being ambushed and attacked mercilessly. A couple of girls from a go-go bar, armed with heavy-duty, pump-action squirt guns from Seven Eleven, running towards us, giggling, water spouted at us mercilessly. Another one, a Western guy - a customer of the bar - was more efficient, he drenched us with a hose, controlling the spray pattern expertly with his thumb. Yeah, he had done this often. We tried to duck. We can't hide and we can't run. Stuck in the baht bus that stopped dead in a traffic jam, they had a field day, it's like shooting fishes in a barrel. Or should I say that we were lined up in two rows of seats like sitting ducks in an amusement park. But a passenger in the baht bus wasn't amused, mumbling, "It isn't Songkran till tomorrow!". Well it was Sunday, and sanook isn't a strictler for formality. That wasn't the last time we were victims in this happy festive event. One desperate passenger begged the driver to move away quickly. But the traffic didn't cooperate. The congestion finally relented and we were saved for the moment. We had two more water blasters assaults before we were home free, leaving a trails of wet footprints on the hotel lobby. Ahh...memories are made of these. If you can't treat this as water off a (sitting) duck's back, you would be better off planning around Songkran Festival as it runs for a week. But then, it would be a lesser eventful holiday. Nothing noteworthy to put into your blog.

After being shot at with water pistols and canons, we finally arrived at our shooting range. The shooting galleries is actualy located inside the domed neoclassical Tiffany Theatre. In fact, underneath the stage. Funny place to put shooting galleries.

Like everything else, shooting are far more cheaper here. The prices for bullets depending on the calibre. They ran out of other calibre except for .38, which cost 15 bahts each. And the gun we've got was Rugar .38 Revolver, which has a very heavy trigger, but it does help when you cock it before shooting (the instructor's suggestion). Colt .45 Automatic is also available and has a light trigger. But that would take all the fun out of it. Thanks, but no thanks. I shot surprisingly well, and have the target sheet to prove it. Beginner's luck, I suppose. Maybe my camera shooting skill is transferable to gun shooting.

We wandered around Tiffany Theatre afterwards and eventually bought tickets for a 9PM show. I was slightly reluctant at first. I watched Les Girls at the Cross in Sydney way back when I didin't scare myself in the mirror, and I can't say it was an unforgettable experience (Les Girls, not my mirror image). It was nothing to do with the performance of Les Girls, I just wouldn't dig all stage performance. I found all that brightness around the stage too distracting, and hot. Strictly a movie cinema kinda guy, I would take Cabaret with Liza Minnelli in a cinema any day. Funny what age does to people, I found myself gradually acquiring a liking for live performances over the years. Whenever I thought of Pattaya in the past, the name Tiffany flashed in my head, which is strange as I had never been to see this show. So it seems fitting that I should have an idea what the Tiffany Show is like.

I didn't regret the decision to see the Show. For people who don't want to have a single hint of sneak preview about the show better skip this paragraph now. The Show consists of a number of performances that appeal to the culture of the majority of the audience/tourists in Pattaya. Some of these are expected: USA (Tina Turner look-alike. I quite enjoyed this act), British (Victorian costume piece. Aren't they all?), Korean (Pungmul or nongak folk dance), Russian (some modern song and dance), Chinese, Indian, etc. But one I have to say I didn't expect was a Vietnamese performance, the lady(boys) dressed in Vietnamese ao dai, and singing Saigon is so beautiful (in Vietnamese, of course). There were loud applause from the audience when this Vietnamese performance came on. You can tell the main tourist groups by the cultural dances that the Tiffany girls performed.

 One classic performance involving a tranny playing both genders, split into two halves with a male persona on one side and female on the other. It's clever, if isn't original, parody of their own sexual ambivalence and witty ironies. I've seen this act before ( Les Girls, maybe?), but you just can't beat a classic (or a class act).

Overall, the production was above my expectation. The quality of the costume really shone (literally and figuratively). But it has received its well deserved reputation, and many tours are packaged around this show. The only gripe I have about this show is the loudness of the music. The volume would be perfect if the decibels is reduced by about 40%. But I suspect it's trying to drown out the noises from the shooting range below. In that end, it does a good job.

This is one time where I didn't bring my camera because photography was prohibited in the Show. Before and after the show, these gorgeous shemales posed for the cameras. You can take photos with them (one arms wrapped around their slim waists, the other 'V' signs. Their legs are quite slender and sleek, too). A tip is expected for the trouble (I think it was 30 bahts from my memory). The theatre building also took on a more glamorous light at night. Don't forget to bring your camera to the show.
On that high (and very loud) note, I bid Pattaya farewell foundly.

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