Trip Start Nov 07, ????
9Trip End Ongoing
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I'm in Pattaya now, which is located 150km south of Bangkok on the coast, its a huge sprawling beach resort 15km long and studded along the way with a mix of beach huts, 5 star hotels, hundreds of bars and restaurants. Its reputation preceeds the town and i didn'nt really know what to expect as i t was'nt really what i was looking for, but i thought to myself 'don't judge a book by its cover and hearsay' so here i am!.
Arriving here was pretty easy as its got good connection routes from the Islands and elsewhere, hence why i chose it as a stopping off point
A fact i found out from the tourist office and literature, is that Pattaya is THE biggest tourist attraction and destination in all of South-East Asia, attracting millions of people from all over the World, its like a sort of hedonist paradise playground for all comers ( its also a very popular family orientated destination too...). I saw and spoke to people from just about everywhere since i've been here and they are all having fun with loads of things to do and catering for all tastes, you just can't get bored here and am easily distracted with excursions such as Crocodile farms, window shopping, Casinos (only looking at others lose their money!) etc. I was surprised at the amount of Russians (600,00 arrive every year), the newly wealthy Indian and Chinese middle class families (400,000) choosing it as one of their destinations, Arabs, Africans and South Americans and of course the ubiquitous Europeans, Americans and Australians, all making it an interesting melting pot by the sea and everyone getting on happily and enjoying themselves!. Its a sort of cross between Las Vegas/Costa Del Sol/Amsterdam. Thers also a big ex-pat population who've chosen Pattaya as their base and retirement home, i had met and chatted away with a divorcee grandmother from Sheffield (Sandra) and we got 0n really well so she invited me to visit the ex-pat club with her, which i did and was really surprised at the close knit ties and facilities on offer for its members, we had a nice Thai green curry at the HQ in Jomtien beach and then went to the markets to window shop!
That tempted me afterwards (curiosity...) to pop into a couple of Real Estate agents around the area and was pleasantly surprised to find out that homes here are'nt that exorbitant like they are back home in U.K and elsewhere, a steady rising market with Condominiums on new developments going for around US$60,000 (30,000 pounds) freehold and the basic all spec' Studios starting at US$40,000(20,000 pounds), basic living costs, healthcare is affordable and standard of living is adequate.
I spent the days walking along the beachfront and having smooth shakes in the numerous juice bars. The place is full of huge shopping malls and hence the families go shopping as well as to the beach (which isn't really that fabulous but than i've just come from the Crystal clear water, white sands of Koh Samet/Chang et al...).
In the evenings the whole area takes on a different guise as a plethora of food stalls open along the beach and front, bars, restaurants, clubs all get ready to welcome everyone. The one main street is called Walking Street and its decked in fabulous lights of all colours ( most of Pattaya at night is glittering with multi-coloured lights), thats where most of the hedonistic drinking and clubbing takes place, the bars/restaurants are jam-packed of all nationalities chatting and relaxing as its still warm and humid at night
The place is also mainly known as a 'sex' destination and believe me its very much on offer, catering for all tastes and comers... Tranvestites, Ladyboys, Hookers male and female ( of all ages, from Grannies to younger all dressed up to the nines every night) ply their trade beneath the dark coconut trees by the lit-up beachfront, and all this happens as soon as nightfall as the Thai attitude to sex is very relaxed and i saw families walking alongside pre-op trannies and getting along fine! They don't seem to be so much stigmatised by other Thais and its very common to see mainly older Western men with a younger Thai girl walking along arm in arm, on, motorbikes without anyone batting an eyelid. I see old men on walking frames getting some action, Grannies with muscular young Thai men on their arms, men with colostomy bags having fun with pretty Thai women ( i just wonder if the women have to change their bags as part of the service...) Theres also a vibrant gay section of town called Boyztown and it was just full of glittering lights and bars with all types of people filling the restaurants/bars/clubs and a really nice chilled out vibe, with everyone friendly, relaxed and enquiring wheres one from etc.Its all done quite tastefully actually with not much pressure, sleaze or tackiness
One feels really comfortable and relaxed walking around the area, you can basically have 4 arms, 3 eyes and tentacles sprouting from your head and no-one would bat an eyelid, thats why so many people just let it 'all hang out' and not have to worry about body dismorphia and feeling conscious about their bodies/looks etc - and i think that says alot about the Thai people as i found out that above everything, good feelings and emotions are appreciated above looks and money.
I now see why millions of people come here and are attracted back year after year, i never thought i'd like the place but its got a nice friendly, relaxed and happy international mix of all types of people which i like and think is good and feel myself slowly being lulled by the 'land of smiles' and succumbing to the glittering lights, cabaret shows and restaurants amongst other things the place has to offer....