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Last Minute Resort

Pattaya is a sad Thai paradox, because in some ways it is a microcosm of the modern and commercialised Thailand, prostituting itself to the West, but on the other hand, there is very little truly Thai about it anymore. It’s as representative of Thailand as Benidorm is of Spain.

If Pattaya were a restaurant, it would be McDonald’s. If Pattaya were a person, it would be a middle class, wannabe, bling-bling gangsta rapper, so consumed with telling the world how hard he’s had it, that he started to believe himself and never realised that his middle class family gave him everything, only for him to throw it all away along with the innocence of youth and any charm he once had in his determination to be the bad boy. He has fallen in with the wrong crowd, caught in a downward spiral of self-destruction. He thought he could play with fire and live to tell the tale, but now a hopeless crack addict, his morals and the boyish good looks that once made him popular have long since been replaced by paranoia and ugly greed. He spends his days searching for the next fix, not because it’s fun anymore, but just because he needs it to retain what he now perceives as normality. He rapes and pimps out his sister, steals from his mother, lies to his best friends, sells drugs to the neighbourhood kids, lets his house fall into decay and desecrates his temple. He should be in prison or a chalk outline by now, yet still he remains morbidly seductive, like a car crash on the highway or a freak in the circus. Perhaps his vices are what make him popular; maybe his faults are his attractions. Who knows? I know he is rotten to the core, yet I still find myself in his company from time to time. I think it reminds me of my past and is, therefore, somewhat therapeutic.

Geographically, the beaches and resorts of Pattaya are divided by a rocky headland. Jomtien to the south is the more respectable twin and is favoured by Thais. It boasts only a few seedy bars among the hundreds of seafood restaurants. In contrast, South Pattaya (ironically to the north of Jomtien, but south of downtown Pattaya) is the sex capital of Thailand, catering to sex-pats and sex tourists of every nationality and sexual leaning. A handful of 5-star resorts mingle in as inconspicuously as nuns in a brothel. 

My first trip to Pattaya was with my ex-girlfriend, Penh, and her family. We drove through from Bangkok one Sunday morning and spent the day on Jomtien beach, sitting in deckchairs under parasols (I know). An endless procession of passing vendors kept us supplied with seafood and Chang beer until we drove back to Bangkok in the evening.

I later returned for a weekend with Penh, making up a foursome with a Canadian friend, Eric, and his girlfriend, Lek. It was a pretty uneventful trip. Taking a girl to Pattaya is like taking snow to the South Pole, so I made sure that the next trips were boys’ nights out. Pattaya certainly caters to testosterone-driven males. I had whole weekends when the only time I saw the sun was on the way back to my hotel from a nightclub.

Just as my time in Thailand has seen me evolve through various personas, so my trips to Pattaya reflect this. My most recent trips have been short breaks with Pim. They have been infrequent to say the least as we prefer to make the extra effort to get to Koh Samet, Koh Chang or even the vastly overrated Hua Hin when we want a short beach holiday. We usually stay in South Pattaya. While it is relatively easy to avoid the seedier side, Pattaya never truly lets you forget that it’s there, always lurking in neon lit alleys like a predator watching the grazing herds, looking for signs of weakness.

Nevertheless, Pattaya, for all its faults, still serves as a respite from the hustle, bustle and pollution of Bangkok when we find ourselves wanting to get away for an unplanned break. Regular buses, a two-hour journey, a myriad of inexpensive hotels, and the extensive choice of restaurants all make Pattaya an acceptable last minute resort.

Paul Snowdon

Related article – Pattaya Part 1: Bad Girls Go to Pattaya

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