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Bruce Marshall was born in England but quickly escaped to Australia. After first visiting Thailand in 1991, he was a regular visitor for 15 years, and finally moved here in 2006. Bruce writes candidly for Naked Farang about his travels, observations and experiences in Thailand. Here he shares his insights into the popular resort of Pattaya.

My first endeavour to the coastal town of Pattaya happened back in 1995. My partner, Brian, and I had deliberately put off going there as we had heard various stories about the goings on in Pattaya, but as we were still exploring Thailand at this stage we thought “what the heck”. I had also heard that Pattaya was a stop off for U.S. Navy servicemen on leave, so that gave me an added incentive to check things out!

Some close friends from Sydney had been visiting there for many years and had been encouraging us to “try” a week there. It was close to Bangkok (about a 2-hour drive), and we figured if we didn’t like it, we could always head back to the city again. We were told that the ‘gay’ area was a soi named “Boys Town” located in Pattaya town. The name “Boys Town” was a bit ominous for me as I am hardly into “boys”. We also learned that there was a large section of beach at Jomtien named “Dtong Tran”. This was the gay hangout during the day. My friends told me that whatever I saw, I should not react, as I would see sights that would probably appal me. Well, I have an adventurous spirit, and I wanted to see for myself.

My first visit to Jomtien with my partner was one that I will never forget. We had been warned that a lot of “under age activity” went on at the beach, but we were ill-prepared for what we saw on that first visit. The gay section of Dtong Tran had become a paedophile’s paradise. We sat in bewilderment as we saw Thai families bringing their young male children to the beach. These boys looked about 8 years old, but they were drinking whisky and smoking! They were basically what looked like adults in children’s bodies.

The next sight we saw was really sickening as this was the location for “short time” sex with these young boys. The way it worked was that men who looked like they were easily in their sixties would take the boys out in to the sea on inflatable tyre inner tubes, and this is where they had sex, in full view of people on the beach. No one seemed to be reacting to what was going on, and the boys’ “parents” were keeping watch in case any police arrived, or if any farangs felt like complaining. It was probably the saddest sight I have ever seen in my life, and hopefully I will never live to see anything like it again. I was also told that there was a local bar named “Mutleys” where you could meet these boys. I was intrigued, for some weird reason. I had to see if this place existed, and it sure did! It was a bar (now thankfully long gone) near “walking street”, where boys this time looking about 12 hung out played pool, smoked and drank. There were some old men at the bar, and my partner and I were approached by a man (Thai) working in the bar, and asked if we were interested in any of the “goods”. Of course we weren’t and finished our one drinks very quickly. During our brief visit we saw many elderly farangs disappearing upstairs with boys, so I daresay there were probably “short time” rooms upstairs.

Thankfully, a couple of years later there was a huge crackdown on paedophilic behaviour in Pattaya, with numerous farangs being arrested and imprisoned. Today there is, mercifully, no trace of that kind of activity. These days though it still has a reputation as being “the brothel at the beach”, and this relates to heterosexual, bi- and gay men with consenting adults (well I hope they are). I am the first to raise my hand and say, “Yes, I have paid for a good time in Pattaya, but with someone over 30 years of age, thanks!”

Since 1995, we have visited Pattaya countless times. These days it’s a welcome escape from the craziness of Bangkok for a few days, although it is still rather crazy there, too. I have met some wonderful farangs who call Pattaya “home”. One man owned what I would say is the most successful and best run establishments I have ever seen in Thailand. His name is Jim Lumsden, and he used to own the Ambiance Hotel in Boys Town. These days Jim is still managing the hotel and oversees the running of the place. The Ambiance Hotel is the cleanest most efficiently run private hotel I have ever been to in this end of the world. Jim is a very friendly and endearing man, who knows how to work alongside and get the best from Thai employees. I urge readers, if they have never been to Pattaya or the Ambiance Hotel, to do so because the service is unbeatable! As you can see, I admire “Jimmy” greatly and hope to actually interview him one day and write about him in depth, as he has many stories to tell about his life there.

Over the last 12 years I have seen numerous changes in Pattaya, too. Jomtien (Dtong Tran) is nothing like it used to be. It is now “condo city”. Where there used to be fields, there are now blocks upon blocks of condominiums. Has this ruined Jomtien? Well, for me no. But it is maybe not as endearing for me as it once was. I don’t know, maybe its progress, and I’m living in the past. But for me these days, I would call Jomtien a very large retirement village for farangs. I like to see more Thai faces then foreign faces when I travel in this beautiful country. But as I see it these days the ratio has changed. I almost feel I am on the “gold coast” in Queensland rather than a quaint Bangkok “getaway”. I guess in some respects it’s great that farangs are investing money in Pattaya, and providing work for Thai people. But I have noticed a kind of arrogance in some of these farangs. Refusing to learn a single word of Thai is one observation I have made, and even though I am 50 years old now and my partner 66 (we are hardly “spring chickens”) I feel uncomfortable being surrounded by hordes of gay octogenarians being led into bars to watch drag shows performed by farangs whose best days are way behind them. Sorry to sound cruel, but I like to tell things how I see them. I know one day soon I will (hopefully) be an old man too, but a life like that just doesn’t appeal to me. But please don’t let me put you off a visit. If you have never been to Pattaya, there are great restaurants and hotels, and I’m sure you will have a good time. In fact I don’t think I have ever met anyone who has left Pattaya complaining of boredom….GOOD LUCK!

Bruce Marshall – December, 2007

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Have your say...

wayne murray
17 Nov 2012, 21:02
06 Jan 2013, 05:59
Pattaya does look Christmassy alright. I haven't been out at night in Bangkok in yonks so I can't cmoemnt on the Christmas lights here. All the big shopping centres did have outside decorations. I'm going to a meeting tonight so maybe I'll get a chance to see them.I stopped celebrating Christmas here in Thailand, but only started again because of my son. He is so excited about Santa that it is hard not to feel a bit excited too.Paul Garrigan recently posted..
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