Chon Buri Province
31.05.2010 - 31.05.2010 30 °C
I had a brief holiday in Pattaya recently in Thailand's Chon Buri province and this lovely beach city has seen some major changes since my last visit. Pattaya city is divided into 3 parts, north, centre and south. The Central Festival Mall, located in the Centre of Pattaya, has been completed and is alive and kicking. It was under construction during my previous vacation and I could still remember this clearly because of the fact that I was staying just next to this mall at Baron Hotel. This shopping mall now adds to the collections of shopping options in this resort town already been served with several existing malls including Mike Shopping Mall, Mike Department Store, Royal Garden Plaza, J.Avenue, Tesco Lotus, Carrefour and Big C. A short walk accross the street from the Central Festival Mall is the main beach area on the Beach Road or Road No.1 and here you can still enjoy some nice seafood on a budget with choice of drinks at many of the covered rest areas on a small fee. The latest tourist spot over here in this beach town is the Pattaya Floating Market, which is also the borrowed version of existing floating markets around Bangkok such as the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Amphawa Floating Market and Don Wai Market. This Pattaya's version of floating market focused mainly on the ground rather than the sampan retail sales with its theme of North, North East, Cental and South Thailand. Other than souveniers such as postcards, miniatures, keychains, lacquerwares, tshirts, thai silks, there are also restaurants and cafes serving various thai food and delicacies from the four regions such as the "gai thort" or fried chicken from the south and the extreme hot & spicy sausages from the north as well as the Isaan or the north east sausages. You can spent around half day here to tour around the market which also has some floating sampans selling food as well as fruit drinks. Also, tourists could hire the sampans to tour the lake which was scenic at certain points just to enjoy the scenes over the day out. Other activities including feeding the chang or elephants with bananas, playing with the water rolling ball or try out the flying fox. Getting to this floating market isn't that difficult as it is situated along the main Sukhumvit Road heading towards Jomtien Beach from Bangkok's direction, passing through Tesco Lotus and move further forward. The market is on the right hand side of Sukhumvit Road. If Phuket has its notorious Bangla Road which is infamous with its abundant of beer bars, pubs, discos and go-go bars, here in Pattaya, it has its own version of Bangla Road notoriety over at the Walking Street located at the edge of the city centre before the Bali Hai pier. This place is full of sins just as the one at Bangla Road with choices of bars where you can walk in freely, order your regular beers, pay for the girls' drinks to have some chats with them and finally bring her or them to the hotel rooms for a night of bedroom game. Nevertheless, there's a choice for everyone who comes to Pattaya for a holiday. You can have fun and good time over several bottles of Singha, Leo, Chang or Cheers over at for example Don't Tell Mama and Pattaya Beer Bar and get some girls to chat with you to kill the time you have over the rest of the night but just for as far as that could be. And as I have mentioned previously in my past posting, Pattaya deserves a better recognition rather than being a tag of seedy resort city. In fact by choosing just to booze responsibly but refrain from engaging paid sex, there is really nothing wrong with it as everyone would want to have fun when on holiday and if you have spare time to kill, this is one of the option for you just as for me. There were also several seafood restaurants over at the Walking Street and also enterprising thais who sell italian style pizzas blended with the thai flavours and also some ice cream shops that can be found here too. So, really, this is a place for everyone to have a fun night out with friends or families when in Pattaya for holiday. I still prefer to have seafood dinner at Jomtien beach just like I did during my previous visit. However, this time around, the prices had seen remarkable increase compared to about 2 years ago. The good ones were located on the edge of Jomtien beach where tables were always full with its packed crowds over at dinner time. This one that I frequented was at KM 1 of Jomtien Beach, has since been renovated and refurbished with a cleaner and fresher atmosphere and settings and still enjoying the big crowds just as it used to be 2 years ago but with extended dining halls. Most of them are thais with very few foreigners sighted as most foreign tourists will converge at seafood restaurants at Pattaya city centre or at the Walking Street. Additional plus point dining seafood at Jomtien beach was the fact that most restaurants located very near to the beach or faces the beach and therefore, diners could enjoy the cool breeze from the sea. There are also other forms of entertainments available in Pattaya including the Tiffany Cabaret Show which showcase the best of dancing, singing and short acting performances by the "katoeys" or transvestites. This show is considered to be one that comes with world class standard due to its quality of performance by the attractive and multi-talented entertainers as well as the colourful, striking and eye catching costumes with magnificent backdrop. Other entertainments available include the Tuxedo Magic Show which presented to visitors a qualified engineer turned magician, Mr Tuxedo with his award winning tricks for the pleasure of viewers. This is worth to visit due to his international standard performance with his vast international exposures.
Pattaya may not be blessed with good beaches which can give one the comfort to enjoy nice swimming, but you can hop over to Koh Larn, about 30 minutes ferry cruise from the Bali Hai pier. This island has several interesting beaches which offer beach lovers clear seawater, white sands, beach chairs for relaxation and sunbathing and clean beach surroundings. The ferry fare costs THB30 for one way with first one leaving at 7 am with interval of 2 hours continued with 3.30 pm, 5 pm and the last at 6 pm for the Bali Hai pier to Koh Larn's direction. On the reverse, the services were available from 6.30am, 7.30 am, 9.30 am, 12pm, 2pm, 5pm and last being 6pm. There were also some private speed boats services from the Pattaya beach that can take you directly to Tawaen beach, which is the most popular beach on Koh Larn with a long stretch of restaurants serving fresh and cooked seafood, shops selling swimwears and swimming equipments, stalls selling drinks and also souveniers. Over at the main Koh Larn's pier, there are several shops that sell souveniers and also restaurants serving thai and seafood, stalls selling coffees, rotis and drinks and the 7-Eleven convenience store. Take time to stroll along the main area and you should be able to buy something you want while waiting to catch the ferry back to Pattaya. Apart from Tawaen beach, others include Thien, Samae, Nual, Thong Lang and Sangwan beaches. Each beache has their distinctive features and most are much calm and quiet compared to Tawaen beach and all are blessed with clear water and sandy beaches making them very pleasant for swimming and sunbathing. Most of the beach spot in Koh Larn has chalets or resorts available with some located further from the beach while some were close or facing the beach. Most visitors travelled to Koh Larn for day trip and returned to Pattaya for accomodations and entertainments. There is also motorbikes for hire which costs about THB 200 to THB300 for a day. Otherwise, travel within the island can easily be done with the motorbike taxis costing THB30 each destinations and also with the songtheaws. Beach chair could be hired for THB100 to relax or sunbathing and as a base to go for swimming in most of the beaches at Koh Larn.
I personally like and enjoy my time at Tawaen beach as its very lively with people and also with varieties of food and drinks to choose from. Apart from that, its easy to get back to the mainly from here as the pier is located just at the corner of the beach on the left side.
Another interesting place that also worth a visit here in Pattaya is the Sanctuary of Truth, located off the main Naklua Road in the north Pattaya area. This is a teakwood temple built since 1981 and as of today, is yet to be completed. The exact time of completion is not yet determined and there is no time frame for the owner to have the temple completed. The temple is constructed based on teakwoods imported from Mynmar and according to the guide at the temple, there is no nails used to built the temple. The guide also explains that this temple is built to withstand the wind and seashore at the Ratchavate Cape. Total guided tours take about 45 minutes and the temple opens at 8 and closes at 5. Entrance fee is THB500. The temple is built on a 32 acres land overlooking the sea and has a 105 metres high top at the centre of the temple. There woods are carved creatively and magnificently according to the philosophy of the East and based on ancient vision of earth knowledge. The are carved according to the thai traditional achitecture. The overall theme of the purpose of this existance of temple is based on ancient life, reponsibilities, cycle of life and common goal of life. The temple compound is surrounded by lush greeneries, a restaurant where visitors are feted with performances of the thai folklore dance, thai traditional dance and also a thai sword fighting exhibition. These performances lasted about 30 minutes and is really good in paticular the thai sword fighting as the sword used were real ones and you can see as the two fighters fighting each others with their respective swords, sparks of fires can been seen just as the 2 swords were hitting each other. There is also a small area where some of thai ancient items are being displayed at the main entrance to the sanctuary. You can get a glimpse of the items while waiting for the horse carriage to bring you to the restaurant for the 3 performances mentioned above before proceeding to a guided tour of the temple not far away. There a 4 wings inside the temple each depicting 4 different believes and religions comprising Thai, Chinese, Khmer and Hindu with the carvings of the architecture based on these 4 elements of religions and cultures. The truth that is being explained at this sanctuary was shown through the relationship between human beings and the universe comprising the father, mother, the earth, sky, sun and the moon. So, the next time if you happened to be in Pattaya, maybe you could consider this in your itinerary.
(Note: For those who are football enthusiasts, Chon Buri province's Chon Buri FC is a leading football team in Thailand's premier league which has an international professional player Kiatisak Senamuang in the regular team)