My indecisiveness tends to get the best of me sometimes. But thankfully it didn't work recently during my final spring break as a grad student when I was trying to decide if I wanted to leave town [Bangkok] for the weekend before putting my hand to the plow in completing the last leg of my master's program. With no planning involved, I chose to go in search of adventure, relaxation and novelty to the popular beachtown of Pattaya, just two hours [more or less] southeast of Bangkok.
It was my first time taking the air-conditioned, cozy coach bus in Thailand, which I highly recommend as opposed to the public vans, only costing me 124 baht (less than USD $5) for a one-way trip. Not bad right? Sleeping on the way to Pattaya, I arrived there around 8:30 on a Saturday night. Unsure of where to stay, I walked to the nearest hotel only to discover that it was out of my price range. So I walked a little more, turned on a side street and spotted an apartment complex that offered rooms for daily and monthly accommodation. Perfect I thought!
Sookjai Apartments charged 600 baht ($20) a night for a spacious double bedroom, complete with aircon, international cable TV, and an icebox. Apparently a much better living situation than what I have in Bangkok. After relaxing for some time and exploring the cable channels, I went out that night to walk around the neighborhood, eventually finding myself at the beach eating Turkish pizza and gazing up at the full moon on a glorious night. Pleased with the choice to leave the metropolis that weekend, I removed my shoes and walked around in the clear blue islandy water. (I hadn't been to a beach in over two years!)
Having walked around that part of Pattaya for two hours before arriving at the beach, I decided to retreat to my temporal home. After all I had observed quite much during that leisurely stroll, mainly the conspicuous nightlife that makes Pattaya the attraction it is, particularly among tourists. Countless bars, nightclubs, and restaurants are situated throughout the city, all the more as you approach the beach. Walking Street is famous for its "sin city" ambiance and activity, full of guilty pleasures for nocturnal beings.
In fact, during my night walk I stopped to converse with two Indian men who set up a travel agency in Pattaya. They gave me a wealth of info about the city. We learned about each others' backgrounds and I told them that I may contact them next month when I have to extend my visa because they handle such business as well. What I was really surprised to learn is that the powers that be are planning to build casinos in Pattaya in the near future.
So it will become like Las Vegas the friendly travel agents told me. Only difference is there is no desert, skyscrapers [yet], and (to my knowledge) no hopeless romantics eloping in Pattaya. It can't be denied that the city is transforming into a place that draws massive crowds, including boxing aficionados. I had the chance of seeing a free boxing match on Sunday night (I decided to stay an extra day).
Young Muay Thai fighters the world over competed in short three-round matches. A great way to end my day after spending most of my money on motorbike transportation to and from the snake show that didn't impress me very much, but what could I expect for 200 baht? I was simply trying to find something to kill the time without breaking the bank along with escaping the suffocation of the hot sun beaming down on me in the heat of the day.
FLASH FORWARD a week later to the annual International Pattaya Music Festival that I had wanted to attend. I saw the ads for it the weekend prior when I was there. So I told my friends and we traveled there together. Crowds and crowds of people made it seem like Thailand's entire populace was gathered for the event, featuring the country's hottest artists and musicians. No international performers… but plenteous global festival-goers!
The musical genres of hip hop, reggae, pop, rock and jazz were all represented at the festival stationed parallel to the beach on four separate stages that spanned the length of the beach. A groovy car show caught our attention when we heard the DJ playing music that we grew up on (e.g., Faith Evans, Mary J. Blige… 90s R&B) at a stentorian volume. Overall I got my first taste of concert life in Thailand with homies who can dig a dope time.
Safari Tour & Travel is located in central Pattaya and their email address is email@example.com. This is the travel agency I networked with while there.