A couple of days in Pattaya

So, what have I got up to since I arrived? Well, in honesty not a lot. But there was never any plan to do much in Pattaya so I guess I achieved it!

If anything, I did less than I’d hoped as the dived I’d booked on Thursday morning were cancelled at the last minute. I had my pickup, arrived at the dive shop and the owner regretted to inform me that the propeller had dropped off the boat! They would be taking a group of Adventure Diver students out to search for it, which works for them as such tasks are part of the course.

I won’t mention the company as a) they were incredibly nice about it and b) the last time I said anything negative about a dive company they jumped down my throat and threatened to get legal. I doubt this group would do such a thing, but I’m not taking the chance. If I do make it back through Pattaya on the way home (I may, I may not) I’ll definitely give them another shot.

Other than that, Wednesday saw me doing more walking than I’ve managed in some time. Ditching my hiking boots, I walked from my hostel in Jomtien to the dive shop on the infamous Soi 6 of Pattaya. Barefoot. Well, it didn’t look *that* far on the map. It took me around 2 1/2 hours. Whoops.

After buying some sandals, I popped into one of the nearby cinemas to watch Ong Bak 3 followed by The Losers, then picked up a fresh-cooked corn cob as I walked all the way back home again, this time via Walking Street. This is, essentially, roughly 500 yards of glitzy, loud go-go bars. If you want somewhere for a quiet drink then this isn’t it. I did stop at a biker bar nearer to the hostel which had much better music – three Thais covering rock and metal tracks.

The weather did pick up on Thursday but I spent a lot of it crashed out in my room as my body clock sorted itself out. This was fine as it let me aclimatise somewhat as well as get through other tasks. I had paperwork and online form-filling to get done for next year, and the hostel’s wi-fi was superb.

Dinner was at a place called Double Dutch on one of the streets full of bars and restaurants along Jomtien Beach Road. I can’t complain at a large steak with pepper sauce for 250B, though this would have been even cheaper 4 years ago before the Pound collapsed.

On Friday I once again chilled out. Breakfast at some other random place and the I sat on a wall by the beach finishing the book I started on the flight out (Dean KoontzBrother Odd since you ask). I then had enough time for a quick email check at the hostel before grabbing my bags and getting a sawnhthew out to the other end of Pattaya Beach and walking to the northern bus station.

The last bus from here to the airport is 7pm run by Bell, although I’ve been told there are other services running as late as 9:30pm. They don’t appear to leave from here, though.

Jomtien Hostel, where I stayed, was lovely. I settled on a dorm instead of a private room and ended up with a 4-bed room to myself. TV, hot shower, fan and speedy internet for 240B per night is great in my books. It even had a sea view if you stood on the balcony and craned your neck a bit. Staff were lovely, too.

So, Pattaya. I wasn’t wholly impressed and I didn’t expect to me. For a start it’s out of season so the number of tourists is pretty low. Those who are kicking around are, to a large degree, dodgy old guys picking up Thai ladies to “accompany them” while they’re there. If I was on a lads’ holiday or a stag do then this would be somewhere half decent. But as a single guy who’s seen enough ping pong shows for one lifetime, it doesn’t offer a lot in the evening. I just wanted somewhere quiet I could have a drink and read my book – not an easy thing to find!

However, I did start having a dig just before I left and there are quite a few other things to do. Gibbon Experience have a branch nearby, there are quite a few half-decent dive sites, the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not is meant to be quite good, the go-kart track looked ace when I walked past… so if you plan something and have some cash to spend then you can make of it what you will.

One person on Lonely Planet‘s Thorn Tree message board told me to “get a life” on Thursday night as I was only in Sin City for a short time and was spending it online. Sorry, but if going out to spend 2000B (or whatever it costs) catching a venereal disease is his idea of getting a life then I’m quite happy with the alternative. I cleared up enough other bumph to know I have very little to worry about over the next 2 months – time well spent to me.

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Bangkok Airport to Pattaya

[quick note – I’ve updated the tagline quote for the blog for the first time in almost 4 years. This is in (slightly belated) honour of Towel Day]

I had some great help from people on Lonely Planet‘s Thorn Tree forum regarding buses from Suvarnabhumi Airport, and it’s very easy. My main concerns were over transportation during the recent unrest, but now things seem to be back to normal.

To get to Pattaya, it’s actually cheaper than getting into the city of Bangkok. I went for the stand next to the Airport Express on level one, near exit 7. Very easy to find. There’s a service every two hours from 7am to 7pm at a cost of 124 Baht.

The alternative is Bell Travel Service who run every 2 hours from 8am to 8pm and charge 200 Baht. This included drop-off right at your hotel, so it could be worth the extra if you don’t fancy a walk. However, you do have to book this service in advance on the internet, although you aren’t charged until you turn up. I gather this is a recent thing, so again could be due to the recent problems.

The weather here sucks at the moment. It’s just gone midday and it’s drizzling – I just missed it chucking down. Having said that, I’m not a beach bunny and I’m here for the diving and the chill-out away from any issues in the city… although I’m still tempted to head back into Bangkok on Thursday night.

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