Less than 24 Hours in a Day at Pattaya7 min read
I won’t be visiting Pattaya again. Disclaimer: This is not a judgment but an initial assessment. I will preface this by letting my readers know that I am strictly focusing this blog on The Walking Street. In my next blog, I’ll discuss a few tourist attractions that we visited. We didn’t want our impression of Pattaya to only be The Walking Street. 24 Hours in a Day at Pattaya is also a different experience.
Less than 24 Hours in a Day at Pattaya
I had an idea what Pattaya was all about before visiting. But experiencing it firsthand was very different. Recently, a few of us decided to take an impromptu road trip to this city. We spent less than 24 hours in the city. D’s girlfriend M’s first reaction when D suggested that we visit Pattaya was, “No, I’m really not interested in going there. I mean I’ll go but Pattaya is the armpit of Thailand.” She shook her head in disgust. M is Thai by the way. With this in mind, we packed our bags, hailed a taxi, and headed on a 1.5-hour drive south of Bang Bo.
My first impression when I arrived in Pattaya was that the air seemed cleaner and there were many more businesses. I watched through the glass window of the taxi various storefronts, bright flashing lights, and street food. Way more activity than in Bang Na. Bang Na is a small town, with the only major attraction is Assumption University. It’s a religious school, therefore you’re not going to see a bunch of bars and clubs nearby.
S and I arrived at our hotel. We stayed at this super chic and clean hotel called Citrus Parc, it was only $47 USD for the night. The design of our room was impressive, but the functionality of our room was least desirable. For example, the shower was extremely narrow. If one was 6 ft tall or weighed over 230lbs then there would be a lot of difficulties showering.
After S and I settled our things we headed to The Walking Street. We hitched our first motor taxi together. It was the driver, S in the middle, and me at the end. You can read more about my experience with the transportation in Bangkok here. Sitting at the end was very uncomfortable. I often had nowhere to place my feet. I only had enough room to hold on to the motor taxi with one hand.
We arrived at The Walking Street and it immediately felt like a sketchy night in Las Vegas but 100x worse. My first encounter was with some Muay Thai fighters. I took pictures with them in the ring. They seemed very accustomed to taking pictures with “tourists”. The fighters immediately walked towards me and said “Pictures, pictures!” One of them said something to me in Thai, touched my hair, and wrapped pieces of my hair around my face. Caught off guard and a little uncomfortable, I took a step back. By then I was already in the ring taking pictures.
As we filtered through the streets, we avoided intoxicated people stumbling into one another. We then saw things that we wish we could take back. Things that are permanently ingrained in our psyche and in our hearts. We were repeatedly and I mean repeatedly approached by men and women who had in their hands what looked like a poster of women in naked sexual positions. They then asked us if we wanted to view a “ping pong” show. I’ll let you google that one. We simply ignored these gestures and requests.
There were many clubs on The Walking Street. Some of them were open and without any windows. It was easy to see all of the action. Other clubs had dark tinted windows and you had to first walk through a set of doors. If you look up you can see women dancing in the windows of any of these clubs. There were a lot of men there and when I say a lot, it’s an understatement. Many of the men were older and from various backgrounds such as Russians, middle Eastern, Indian, Eastern European, and some western Caucasian and Black men. They were only there for one thing, sex. It wasn’t difficult to ascertain that they were there for sexual encounters. Both with opposite genders and same genders.
Some of the men were with younger Thai women. Some of the men were with what the Thai people called “ladyboys” or what we westerners called trans MTF. The Walking Street enticed what seemed from a surface level, closeted gay men who would tell their wives that they are going on a business trip. The air was thick with lust and sins. Thick with desperation and addiction. It wasn’t hard to notice who that the intoxication wasn’t just alcohol. The air thick with STDs. It tore me up inside as I walked through those streets. It felt like a circus of sadistic rendezvous.
This wasn’t just the armpit of Thailand, it is the underbelly of Thailand. I finally understood what M meant when she coined the term. Some will be upset with what I have to say. I am a social worker at heart and seeing these young women with these men, tore me up inside. The legalized prostitution really got to me.
My thoughts drifted to some of these women finding the wrong guy at the wrong time, it terrified me. I also witnessed the disabled on the streets begging for baht and children wandering the streets unattended, it broke my heart into pieces. Not sure why any a family would visit Pattaya with their children and then visit The Walking Street with them. There was a boy, who looked seven or nine years old, selling lollipops at close to 1 a.m. There were policemen every few feet but it was unclear if they were policing or joining in.
Nightclubs and nightlife pleasures filled The Walking Street.
If you’re 21 and traveling abroad it may seem exciting and fun. But if you’re older, then you are very much aware of the skeeziness that seeps through the air. The Walking Street is sleazy and sketchy. It’s a place where men can have their wildest dreams come true with no consequences. I am not quite sure how it’s regulated but I do know this is a booming business for Thailand and everyone involved benefits. Pattaya, from the outside looking in looks like a viable profitable business.
I remember speaking to a gentleman that I met during a visa run in Laos. R is an MC at one of the clubs on The Walking Street and has been in Thailand for the past 12 years and he too said it continues to sadden him seeing the young women prostitute themselves. R says they get caught up in the lifestyle and the money to ever want anything else.
In many, if not all the cases it’s about survival for these girls. But I wonder what happens when it’s all said and done and when age and beauty run out, what’s next for these girls? Where do they go next? I wonder if they wait for the next suitor to care for them and their lifestyle? These girls are the cornerstone of this business while everything else is a byproduct.
24 Hours in a Day at Pattaya
I usually have some sort of lesson that I’ve learned but I have more questions than answers. If you’ve visited Pattaya, or have been to a similar place, what was your experience like? Share and comment below.
Thoughts that came up for me:
- Pattaya isn’t my scene. I’m too sensitive to witness the debauchery.
- I’m not here to judge what one does with his or her life. I can only have compassion.
- What is the price to pay to sell one’s soul?
- Everyone at The Walking Street looked like as if they were in a trance but no one looked at peace.
- The dark side of tourism. We are sure you can easily spend 24 Hours in a Day at Pattaya.