If Bangkok was hectic and all about running from one sight-seeing location to another, Pattaya was the perfect antidote. All we had to do was relax on the beach and get ourselves wet in waters of varying depth. And if it wasn’t the sea getting us drenched, the rain did the job.
(This is the ninth and last post (phew) in a series of posts of my trip to Bangkok and Pattaya. Though each post can be read independently, its best to read them in sequence)
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Pattaya is a sprawling beach city with many high-rise hotels and residential buildings dotting the seafront. Blue skies, big white cotton clouds, green water, tourists paragliding behind speed boats and steamy spicy Thai curry laid out infront on your balcony on the 30th floor of a luxury apartment mmmmmm. I dreamt of these ‘simple’ pleasures in life pointing my camera up at these towers. The motor bike proved a great asset as we zipped through the town cutting across narrow alleys and skipping through long-winding traffic on the beach road. Aarav just refused to get off even after parking it, this was his first time on a bike.
Pattaya Hill Resort, our hotel for the weekend, as the name suggests is situated atop a hill in South Pattaya, affording panaromic views of the beach from our 18th floor abode. Its a few miles away from the main beach and going down the hill slope negotiating a few steep curves was great fun on the bike. Motor bikes in Pattaya are the equivalent of a scooty in India, and very popular with tourists, very easy to manoeuvre and convenient to park.
The main beach road in Pattaya is a huge curve facing the sea with the best of hotels and restaurants offering great deals. Next to the beach road and besides the sand, is a cute winding walkway with trees lined on either side providing great shade and a place to sit, relax and gossip with your friends. And then there is the beach itself, with endless shacks to stretch yourself and sip chilled beer or pina colada and munch on endless varieties of sea food. Every few meters, there is a tout offering rides to various islands or a paragliding adventure. However, they are kind enough not to pester if you say no.
All three days, the weather kept its tryst with monsoon every evening, but would provide great sunshine and clear skies next day morning.
The great Buddha, a temple atop another hill opposite our hotel, was a great place to climb up. Here, a tall statue of the Buddha is surrounded by various smaller statues in different poses. Each statue has a name plate with a weekday inscribed on it, people come here to give offerings to the respective deity each day of then week. Pretty interesting. We decided to pay homage to all of them on a single day, not wanting to annoy any of them.
‘Ripley’s believe it or not’ has an outlet next to the Marriott on Beach road. We decided to skip it and just took a tour from outside. It does have a few scary acts though. As you move up the escalator to the second floor, you are face to face with a painted statue looking you in the eye. And the eyes follow you as you move around. I went weak in my knees with fear as I checked out the head and didn’t see any body beneath it. Was I day dreaming? It came as a huge relief to me when Rashmi pointed out that the face and eyes were real and the person was lying horizontally with his body hidden behind the box. I gave a half laugh at my embarrassment as she laughed out her heart.
We’d drive out early morning while the skies were still clear and blue. We roamed the beach road and 2nd beach road like maniacs, exploring every nook & corner and niche & crevice. Aarav just refused to let go of the bike, he’d insist on hanging the helmets under the seat when we parked and then retrieving them for us when we returned. If allowed, he’d have preferred to stay back and guard the bike while we roamed the beaches. But he enjoyed the sea as much. It took him a while to muster up courage to step into the water, but once in all inhibitions were gone. He’d cling around my neck and jump up with the waves. In no time his confidence was so high, he wanted to get down from the perch of my shoulders into four-feet deep water. All this excitement lasted till his first gulp of salty water when a particularly high wave crashed on us. I too was a bit mean by not raising him high enough, letting him have a taste of things. After that, he wanted out. Rashmi meanwhile sat under the shade, not wanting to get any darker, and also playing security to our items. I am not a sea person myself, but found it addictive. Once in the water, I didn’t feel like stepping out. Fighting the waves, jumping up with the big ones and diving with the real high tides, for hours on and on. I already had a tan and it couldn’t get any worse.
Pattaya has an equally alluring night life. The languid pace of the day acquires a totally different hue as the sun goes down the horizon. The streets are full of neon lights, bars start playing loud music and podiums get set up on the street for live events. If you arrive in Pattaya at night, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it to be Las Vegas.
Soon it was Sunday morning and time to pack. Part of it went in reminiscing the past week that had gone by in a jiffy. But we still dared take a last trip across town before returning the bike. Its only here that you can spend three days doing nothing and still call them productive. Later in the morning we sat in silence in the back seat as the driver drove us to the airport.