Imagine you just bought a new graphics card. You plug it in, install the drivers and all the additional software. A few more minutes later you can play your favourite game on Ultra settings with new levels of detail, vibrant colours, and sharp textures. You love it at first; there’s so much going on, a whole new world to experience. Next thing you know, you get nauseous, your eyes start bleeding and you’re have an epileptic seizure. Pattaya reminds me of this sensory overload. It’s your very first acid trip. In my opinion, this city is the incarnation of everything that is wrong with modern tourism. Just like all-inclusive tours in Egypt. You know, the ones where people don’t even leave their hotel pool area. Everything is plastic, hollow as if quickly put-together for the tourists. When you travel, you’re supposed to learn something about the other culture, right? Experience, get a feel of the local life. What do locals do in Pattaya? They jump around trying to please the tourists. Perhaps I’m just a grumpy old dick with high expectations. After all, it was but a poor fishing village just 50 years ago.
There are two sites in Pattaya that I consider worth checking out. The Sanctuary of Truth is the first one. People started building that gigantic temple in the 1980s and hope to finish it by 2050. Why is it taking so long? The Sanctuary is made entirely out of three kinds of wood using ancient building methods. You won’t find a single nail in there; it’s incredible. Every wall is being decorated with mystical wooden sculptures. They say it’s a monument to all the religions of the world and how they’re all connected. Theoretically, there are 30 years left until it’s finished. Seriously, I cannot imagine what more they can come up with until then.
Big Buddha is the second thing worth checking out in Pattaya. It’s an 18m tall statue standing on top of a hill overlooking the bay area. You can see it from a far distance and it gets funnier the closer you get. You climb the stairs and you stand before a hilarious statue of Buddha. He’s got this dirty smirk and his chest looks like a pair of second-hand breast implants. From there you can go to the floating market. People are obsessed with that place and it is not hard to understand why. This old fishing village with traditional food on boats is certainly charming. I love those wooden houses on bamboo stilts and platforms. A few questions come to mind though. Where are the sewer pipes? Where does the waste go? Why is the water so murky?!
Everything else in Pattaya is a superficial tourist magnet. Like the Cartoon Network Waterpark, they opened in 2014. They got Johnny Bravo, The Powerpuff Girls, and Samurai Jack. Those were the superheroes of MY childhood. They might have missed their mark by like two decades. I’d still go and have fun because I’m old. But would modern kids even recognize any of those characters? The Mini Siam and Mini Europe are beautiful parks with miniature buildings. It’s like Las Vegas with all sorts of landmarks from different places in the world. They got the compulsory Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, the Pyramids, even the Angkor Wat. I think they’re trying to pack all that stuff into Pattaya to make it more appealing to a wider range of tourists.
Bangkok is nearby. All the traditional Thai food and Buddhist temples and palaces are there. Why try to be something you’re not? No matter what Pattaya aims to be, it’ll never become another Bangkok. It’s a wild resort town where people come to party. Pattaya Beach is a major part of this city’s appeal. Locals say that nothing beats a sunset with your feet buried in the sand and a drink in your hand. Leave the coastline via the Pattaya Beach Road, which then turns into the famous Walking Street. You won’t find more white and Indian guys drooling over Thai girls anywhere else in the world. Coming to Pattaya to lose their virginity is almost a rite of passage for young Indian dudes. There is an entire infrastructure made to accomplish that goal. You got night clubs, go-go clubs, shady massage salons open 24/7, seedy hotels and karaoke bars. It’s essentially a 500m long whorehouse. They even call it “Sin City”.