Though I may have been to Pattaya before, this weekend getaway was much, MUCH different than my previous experience. Pattaya is the sex tourism capital of Thailand, however, this is not why we choose to visit there for a weekend. Pattaya is also one of the closest beaches to Bangkok, only a 2.5 hour drive. So, a few days before we left I researched a couple different hotels and ended up booking one that had excellent reviews and was near the shopping malls and the beach. Perfect, right?! First off, it was so insanely difficult to find! I had the address of the place, but no map since we can usually rely on taxi drivers or locals to help us out, and they are often more reliable than the maps that are in Thai, or translated from Thai to English where things can get lost in the translation. However, this time the locals were not so friendly. We were told numerous different ways to walk, and then we were told to walk back to places we had already walked, and then we were told that it was so far that we could not walk, and others said it is just around the corner. It was dreadful. There were 4 of us white girls lugging around our backpacks, tired from a long days work, walking around the sex tourism capital. SKETCHY! Eventually we found a cab that helped us out, and after we convinced him that we were from Bangkok and we knew the standard rates of taxi rides, he didn’t rip us off too bad with the price.
We got dropped off at the end of the street that our hotel was on, which shockingly ended up be ‘Boyz Town’… a.k.a… the street with bars and night-life that caters to gays. It was flashy and loud and quite uncomfortable. There was absolutely nothing in the reviews when I had booked the hotel that it was in this area of town. However, there was one huge perk to the place… none of us girls ever felt threatened by the craziness around us because none of the guys were interested in us! What the reviews did say though was true.. the hotel was very quiet at night, very clean and comfortable, and within walking distance to the beach and mall.
Friday night we went for a stroll down the walking street, which exposes the sad reality of the sex tourism and trade in Thailand. I have been told that sex trade is very prevalent all throughout Thailand, but Pattaya is very open about it. There were strip clubs with women dancing in windows, sketchy bars that were selling more than just alcohol, and prostitutes lining the streets. Coming from a modest background, it is and understatement to say that I was uncomfortable with my surroundings. It made me sad and angry and overwhelmed to see what was all going on, and then thinking that the same thing goes on all around Thailand, just often behind closed doors.
I did not stay on the walking street for long at all! I headed back to the hotel and a great sleep in a very comfortable hotel room that had heavy curtains, which allowed me to actually sleep in past 8 AM!
The next day we decided to check out the mall and found that there was a Ripley’s Believe It or Not and many other attractions in there. So, we paid for a package that included 3 of the attractions. The first that we entered was the Ripley’s museum. I have been to one of these in Wisconsin, but it was still neat!
The next stop was the wax museum! I loved this place! However, the one downside to going to a wax museum in an Asian country is that I don’t have and idea who their popstars or movie stars are. Luckily, we were able to find a few people we recognized!
After we were finished at the wax museum, we headed over to the last stop, the Haunted House. No pictures for this one, as the flash would have ruined the scariness. This was certainly not my favourite stop! As I have grown older I have begun to HATE getting scared, especially when it is intentionally. I’d rather not put myself in the situation that I know I am going to get freaked out when there are often alternate options.
The weekend in Pattaya pretty much ended there, since I didn’t want to experience walking street again. We left pretty early the next morning to head back to Bangkok. Since we were back so early, one of the girls had a great idea of going to see The Amazing Spiderman in 4D. Yes… 4D!!! It was pretty neat. We got 3D glasses, and then sat in chairs that moved and blew air in our faces. I think it was the perfect movie for 4D as well. It felt like I was Spiderman at moments! I could feel the wind blowing through my air as I swung between buildings!
Overall, it was an enjoyable weekend, but I am certainly done with Pattaya. I think it was important for me to see the realities of the ugly parts of Thailand, but it is so far out of my comfort zone with all the drugs and booze and sex. It really makes me appreciate what I have that much more, and it encourages me to help out and be a positive influence to others.