The exercise room is at the Pattaya Long Beach Hotel, which is just forty meters from our condo. It’s a four star hotel, and it’s wholly Thai owned and operated. But in recent years, most of the hotel guests have become Russians. Our condo has an agreement with the Long Beach that all our residents can use the Long Beach swimming pools, its towel service, saunas, and beach chairs free of charge. Of course it’s not free. We condo owners have to pay 180,000 baht a year for ten yearly passes which comes to $6000 a year and this comes out of our condo maintenance fees. But considering there are 55 units in our building this comes to $109.00 per year or just $9.00 a month which is probably hardly enough to pay the Long Beach back for providing laundry service for all the towels we use. Whichever way you slice it, it’s one helluva deal, and I’m going to credit it to the German builder we bought our condos from. The head German is still our fearless leader who’s chairman of our condo committee. But the subject isn’t about Germans and how clever they are, it’s about the Russian women I often encounter in the exercise room
As a people it is very difficult to like the Russians. They’ve nearly taken over Pattaya by now and there’s more of them coming each year. Most of them are unwilling to learn a single word of Thai and their English skills are non-existent. They are rude, and they are arrogant, without having any sound reasons for such arrogance because most of them we meet are not the sharpest pencils in the world. And they are all over the place now, like cockroaches clogging up the streets and shopping centers. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s some good ones among them. There always are no matter what nationality one is discovering. But let me put this in perspective. I have a Russian condo owner living in the unit above mine. He’s a big bear of a man from the Black Sea area of Russia. He’s put his children in the best schools here and his wife has the nicest eyes. Most Russians are the opposite having hard eyes as unfriendly as the North Sea. But not this man and his wife, nor his children. A few days ago I ran into him in our condo lobby where he started telling me how he and his wife were going back to Koh Chang which is Thailand’s second largest island. “Koh Chang very good,” he tells me. “There are no Russians.” John despises the Russians we have around here, but he tells me the Russians from back home, from his Black Sea area are very good. I digress, however. What I need to get back to are the Russian women exercising in the exercise room.
Three hours from now, Raccoon and I will go back to the Long Beach Hotel to exercise. We spend forty-five minutes in the exercise room. I will do some weight exercises to repair the damage I suffered when I broke my clavicle in the motorcycle accident and thirty minutes on the treadmill and elliptical machine. Two days ago there was a young Russian woman exercising on the treadmill next to me. She would stay on that machine for a long time, then she’d get off and go do something else and then she’d return several minutes later to resume her exercise. She was on that treadmill when I started to do my weight exercises and she was still on it when Raccoon and I were leaving to go back to the condo.
That’s just it. Although there’s a lot of fat Russian women around, there’s still a sizeable minority who take their exercise seriously. I’ve even seen middle aged Russian women stay on the treadmill or the elliptical machine for over an hour. And the ones who I see exercising a lot have the bodies to show for all that effort. The Russian men like to come into the exercise room even more than the women. But from what I can tell most of them are not into the aerobic exercise one can get on the treadmill or elliptical machines. They are far more interested in seeing how much weight they can put up. I now see why the Russians were always so tough in the Olympics. I used to think it was the Communist machine that forced all their athletes to do it. Now I know differently. The Russians always were particularly strong in such events as the javelin and throwing the discus, shot putting, weight lifting,, and other sports that focused on great strength. And both men and women athletes were extremely competitive when it came to gymnastics, ballet and ice skating.
What I am seeing are women who like to work out for reasons other than their being on the Olympic team or because the Utopian Communist State is asking them to do it for the glory of Lenin. I always thought that running four miles was a pretty good workout, and that it was enough to keep me fit and trim. I hate the treadmill but for some reason I like the elliptical machines which I feel give the entire body a tremendous workout. I believe thirty to thirty-five minutes on the elliptical is equivalent of running four to five miles, but in many ways it’s even better because the arms and shoulders are getting a good workout along with the legs. But here I’m seeing Russian women working out for even more extensive periods. And you will hardly ever see Thai women exercising for more than fifteen minutes at a time. As for the English, well, I’ve never caught a British woman working out yet in that exercise room. Americans? There are getting to be few Americans left in Thailand. But back in the states you will never see American women work out like some of these Russian women do unless they are on the U.S. ski team.
To crystalize all of this into a single person, I will bring up Anna. Anna is a Russian woman who lives in one of the condos on the first floor. She has something like three other Russian women living with her. Anna sells condos and whoever has employed her has apparently given her a company car. Anna likes to get up early in the morning when she starts out her day swimming laps in our condo pool. One morning while shaving I noticed that someone was swimming out in our condo pool in the middle of a driving rain storm. And I do mean, “rain storm” because it was raining so hard that the street in front of my condo had started to flood. I thought to myself, “That has gotta be Anna. Most of the people in this condo aren’t up this early and I can’t think of anyone who’s demented enough to be swimming in the middle of all that rain.” I was right; it was Anna.
But Anna isn’t crazy. Rarely do I ever see lightning when I watch it rain. The water in the pool was almost bathtub temperature that morning Anna was swimming in the rain. And when you think about it, why shouldn’t she be swimming with all that water coming down on her? She’s wet anyway. And the rain drops aren’t all that cold. Not around here. I don’t even have to ask Anna why she was exercising in the rain. She does it because it makes her feel like she’s always at the top of her game. Her mind is sharper because of it. And she’s probably too busy with her work to be able to be too choosy about what time she can get her exercise in. One thing I can be certain of and that’s Anna’s got a beautiful firm little body, the kind of body to die for. You get to see that here, every day in fact, because so many Thai women have such beautiful figures to start with. But you also get to see an appreciable number of white women who have great shapes here in Pattaya but they aren’t American, and they aren’t from Western Europe either.