Stickman Readers' Submissions August 23rd, 2010

Has Pattaya Really Changed That Much?

Is it Pattaya that has changed or is it one’s own perspective of the place that has done most of the changing?

He Clinic Bangkok

My personal relationship with Sin City goes back to 1997 when I was working on a project in Rayong province. Sadly, me and the crew were not billeted in Rayong city but a fair distance away on the outskirts of Map Ta Phut. The travel time to Rayong was not significantly different compared with the travel time to Pattaya. The semi permanent project manager was provided with his own car and commuted from Pattaya each day. The majority of our western personnel, including myself, were only in Thailand for the commissioning stage of the plant on a fly-in fly-out basis. We were reliant on the company mini bus for transportation.

Thai food might be considered delicious but when that is all that is available day in day out, well, we got pretty sick of it. Once or twice a week Sompong the mini bus driver would be slipped some Baht and he would take us to Pattaya for a few hours where we would hit the newly opened Royal Garden Plaza where we had the choice of KFC or that panicle of western cuisine McDonalds. It sure was a treat after Thai food all day every day. We were aware of other places to eat but our time was limited.

After the junk food binge it would be time to head for a gogo bar or two for beers and a show, a couple of guys would go and visit the ‘plumber’ to get their pipes cleaned. Then it would be back to the hotel near Map Ta Phut as Sompong would be waiting, once again, with the mini bus at 7:30 the next morning to take us all to work.

CBD bangkok

One of our colleges ‘Stefanoski’ who was a political refugee from Hungary kept bleating about all the Russians in Pattaya. No one took much notice of his concerns about Russian mafia and KGB. Russians in Thailand? Get real Stefanoski! The KGB must have forgotten about you by now “I was forced to learn Russian for eight years! I know that language when I hear it!” was Stefanoski’s consistent reply. I personally don’t recall seeing any shirts with CCCP (USSR) written on them.

10 weeks of solid work without one day off and it was back home to Australia and my new bride (falang) of about 5 months.

Two weeks later I was back in Thailand for another stint of 7 days a week. And some of those days would stretch out to 18 hours. But this time I had negotiated a few days off when my wife was to fly in for a week or so.

The wife and I spent a night on Koh Samet and then three more nights in Pattaya. This was the first time I had actually spent a night in Sin City.

wonderland clinic

Pattaya is a totally different place when one is accompanied by their western wife, (it is also slightly different when accompanied by your Thai wife – if you know what I mean, wink wink). On our nightly shopping expeditions to the Beach Road market stalls, if I should happen to stray more than a couple of dozen paces away from the wife I would be accosted by bargirls. It was amusing to see how quickly the girls would melt away when the wife caught up with me which wife also found funny. Apart from these occasions we barely noticed any of the naughty stuff that surrounded us.

There were plenty of touristy things to do, even back in 97’. My former wife had a great love of shopping. We quickly found tourist orientated furniture shops that could calculate the price of their goods including shipping and insurance to most western countries.

It is mysterious (NOT) how I have never again noticed any furniture shops in Pattaya since that first time I stayed there with my first wife. A buddy of mine who is a veteran of more than 30 Pattaya trips has never ever seen one single furniture shop in town, he did not even believe my tale about furniture shops until I showed him a photo of an elephant-bar unit the ex-Mrs wanted to buy. Well maybe someone has taken away all the furniture shops, or maybe we mongers just don’t see them because we are not in Pattaya to buy furniture.

Pattaya is changing physically, that is easy to see by the seemingly endless construction projects. But it is the changing vibe of the place that has got many folk concerned. More and more scams, rip offs, dodgy deals, violence and most of all, the increasing number of shady characters, both Thai and foreign.

Now is this all to do with a change in nature of Sin City or are we just looking at the same things with a clearer perspective? Most reasonable people will acknowledge that a seedy undercurrent has always existed and kinda goes with the territory when it comes to prostitution. Sure there are more “shadies” about nowadays but then again, there is more of everything in Pattaya today. Has the shady population increased disproportionately?

Certainly for myself, it is a case of perceiving things more clearly, the blinkers are off and I am seeing more and more of the nasty side. But is this because I now understand what I am looking at and know what to look out for?

Ignorance is Bliss

Using myself as an example, three years ago I would hardly see any people of dubious intent or character in Pattaya. Sure, there was the odd weirdo or two but nothing that made me feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Now I see them all over town and it makes me want to go bolting for the comparative safety of the Soi 8 Mothership.

Three years ago I would not have noticed all the Thai guys hanging around the beer bars during the daytime having Songkran water fights, and if I did notice them I would have believed they really were the girls' ‘brothers’. Such a turn off to see the girls having fun with their real boyfriends and so shattering to one’s own ego and self delusions. Oh, and what a fine bunch of specimens these boyfriends represent.

I was told early on that the Beach Road was a good place to avoid as it is not worth saving the price of a lady drink and barfine unless you really do want to be drugged and robbed. This had the familiar ring of some advice that I had given out many years earlier in another part of Asia. So I just avoided loitering around The Coconut Bar and have never had any problems from there, just keep on walking or catch the baht bus and avoid it altogether. I did take a stroll along Beach Road last time I was in Sin City and it was easy to spot so much of the nasty shit going on, but then again, I already knew what to look out for as I read Stickman.

Was I so mesmerized by the bargirls that I failed to see the unsavoury types lurking around the edges? Are there really so many more of these shady characters around these days or is it that my peripheral vision has improved? A combination of both maybe?

Just over two years ago my future became inextricably linked to the Kingdom. It was not long after that when I found this website. Now, thanks (or no thanks) to Stickmanbangkok the rose coloured glasses are gone forever and it feels like I now have X-ray vision and can see straight through the fantastic illusion of the bars and observe what is really going on behind the facade. It makes it even harder to bear when the X-ray vision detects a sweet diamond in the rough and you see a soul headed for destruction. I still enjoy a night out in the bars but I have to keep my eyes half closed. Alcohol helps with that.

Sure, Pattaya has changed, but the place cannot have changed so much in such a short time. It must surely be my perspective that has changed. You are far more likely to find something when you know what you are looking for, or avoid a pitfall if you have been advised of the danger.

Thanks to all Stickmanites for collectively bringing me up to speed on the reality.

And curses to you all for prematurely shattering my illusion……and just to return the favour…please remember….

Just because you are paranoid; does not mean that everybody is not out to get you

Luv and kisses

The Yobbo

Stickman's thoughts:

For sure, when you find out what is really going on the illusion is broken. Some guys are still able to enjoy it, while other guys can struggle.

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