Pattaya nightlife, beach fun, long walks, street food, movies, live music, boat rides and more, oh m
LK Empress sits gracefully in it’s plantation era style at Pattaya Beach Road and Soi 12. Painted in sedate cream toned hues with marble accents, it felt luxurious after our ride from Bangkok. Sun was setting across the street over the waters of the Gulf of Thailand as we settled into our room. The balcony overlooked the speed boat dotted waters and was adorned with gold wrought iron table and chairs. (Pleasing to the eye but not exactly comfortable.) The room itself was impressive with king sized bed, dresser, armoire and easy chair with foot rest. Our quarters were equipped with pantry area complete with dining sets and silverware, microwave, refrigerator, sink and electric tea kettle.The bathroom was spacious with walk in shower and jacuzzi tub as well as a large sink and vanity area. Sadly the room lacked a full length or second mirror of any kind. A bedside electronic panel allowed easy access to adjust lighting and air. Air was not always easily managed between not being cool enough and a loud clanking that resulted with any attempt to increase the fan speed. In room iron, hair dryer and flat screen TV completed the amenities. Colors of tan and brown with gold accents were pleasing to the eye and created an ornate yet relaxed atmosphere for our residence in Pattaya.
Just steps from our room was the hotel 3rd floor pool patio. The length and width of the pool were surrounded by a pebble bed allowing the infinity pool to flow at will. A marble shower sat poolside for rinsing before diving in to the sun warmed water. Dark and light colored ceramic planters along the rock bed edge held an array of exotic greenery and tropical flowering plants. Topiary trees standing at attention in 4 foot stoneware pots were interspersed along the wrought iron rail overlooking the Soi. Cushioned wood lounge chairs and side tables lined the pool deck. Umbrellas were scattered here and there for those who chose shade over sun. A planter wall graced one end of the pool, helping to hide the mildew stained building next door. Black and gold iron furnishings finished the pool area decor. Lying in the sun, senses were inundated with the vroom of assorted passing vehicles, powered construction tools, the hotel HVAC system, tropical birds and ocean breezes. Tantalizing smells from street vendor carts and nearby eateries wafted in the air. Just down the 7 marble stairs exiting the pool area were the towel check out counter, restrooms and the gym fit with free weights, treadmills and cycling machines. A missing amenity was poolside beverage service. BYOB 😉
Morning sustenance was included in the economical price point we booked this room at. This brunch style meal was a spread fit for a king. Silver roll top chafing dishes held poultry, beef, seafood, rice, noodles, potatoes, vegetables, pancakes or french toast, and soups each tastily prepared in a variety of ways over our 8 day stay. Cooked to order omelette station, fresh and dried exotic native fruits, freshly squeezed juices, cold cereals, freshly baked breakfast breads, brewed espresso and fresh coffee finished the large list of satisfaction served with a view of the sunlit bay through the floor to ceiling glass enclosed or outdoor patio dining area.
If peaceful, quiet solitude is what you seek, Pattaya should not be your destination of choice. The beach city bustles from dawn until 2am or later. 24 hour restaurants are found here and there as well. A destination of notoriety is Pattaya Walking Street, renowned for being a red light district but including seaside restaurants, bars and nightclubs as well as 3D reality experiences, Thai boxing, Turkish Ice Cream making and snake handlers. There is no lack of entertainment in this stretch of cityscape. People watching is supreme in this area running several blocks and ending at Bali Hai Pier. Although the web articles lead you to believe this is THE nightlife hotspot of Thailand, we tend to feel the wide open on street entertainment is far more prevalent in Patong where we visited last year. Heading in the opposite direction on Beach Road, enjoying the seaside stroll is not exactly typical after dark as the working girls line the sidewalk showing themselves off and negotiating with anyone interested. On the opposite side of the street, vendors and bars line the area and meld into the entry of the Central Festival Mall standing six stories tall. We’re not mall shoppers but this facility is first rate. We did go to the cinema one evening which is a multi screen luxury facility with a low ticket price of less then $5 American per person. Snacks of fresh caramel corn, fruit mentos, bottled water and Perrier came in under $6 as well. Great value, enjoyable, comfortable experience all around with several movie options shown in English. We also dined in one of the many mall housed international flare restaurants which was an all you can eat Tempura, sushi and shabu shabu restaurant for $12 per person. Crazy good value. Another entrepreneurial idea possibly in the making down the road some day. The set up in the facility was amazing with both counter and table seating with personal hot pot stations in each area with conveyor belt style small plates of meats, veggies and noodles to add to the broth to please your palate. It was a fun dining experience for sure. Another mall in town is known as the Central Marina. The Big C is a first rate grocery store which easily provided us with staples for our in room snacking and drinking.The exterior food court is clean and offers many options. We enjoyed baby back ribs and onion rings on one of our afternoon walks for about 100 baht at this food park.
As we arrived in the city my hubby (with his keen eye for fun;-) spotted posters advertising the Maya Music Festival. Featuring headliners Zed and Tiesto. We knew we were interested in the spectacle but weren’t positive we could get in. The website for the two day event was showing as sold out or “not yet on sale”. The billboards advertised 7-11 as a ticket outlet. I inquired at a store location in those days proceeding the event with no luck at getting past the language barrier. Two days of EDM was not exactly what we were after but we sure did desire to experience some of it. We let Friday pass without pursuing attendance but then Saturday found us on a songtahew headed towards Naklua and therefore the direction of the event. We were at the end of the line when we arrived at the Naklua Walking Street (not the same model as Pattaya, this one a street farmers type market). We strode through the area on foot at a fairly rapid pace, knowing only that we were headed in the right direction. Between the humidity, the blocks and blocks of vendor Thai food and goods, and the exhilaration of uncharted locale my head was spinning a bit. We exited the area and consulted MapQuest again only to realize we still had quite some distance to go and we had dead ended at a coast side banquet. Our path was interrupted by served with trays of food. The call of “taxi?” at this time was music to our ears and after a bit of negotiation we were headed off to the festival sight in the back end of a mini truck. We made comment to one another about how many friends and family would find us a bit looney for this blind trust. We arrived safely and were pleased to find tickets on sale outside the venue. A female barker called out directions to attendees. The area was quite calm. The ticket price (only available as a two day event) was a bit spendy for music out of our preferred rock geared genres but when in Thailand…jump at opportunity! And so we did. The hard ticket we were presented was truly that with more of a hotel key card appearance; it was plastic. We decided to wander the vicinity instead of entering immediately since our interest was mainly in the headliner and our age may have dictated we wouldn’t make it if we tried to last the entire show on our feet with our GA admittance. We headed towards a sign advertising Cafe de Beach to kill some time before entering the gates. Cocktails by the seashore are always worthwhile and this bar/restaurant did not disappoint. Live music, comfortably decorated and right on the shoreline. Service was exceptional including neck massage while using the restroom, although startling at first it was truly about service. Wandering back across the canal bridge the lazy stray dogs in the parking area were the only obstacle along our way to the venue entrance. There was minimal line and security was efficient in its quick frisk and search. Inside the place was packed. Our guesstimate being in the neighborhood of 5000. The staging was a large open mouthed head (concept of hanuman and yak per the website) made of metal, whose teeth and jaws framed the 85 foot high stage that housed the DJ’s and their equipment. Video screens surrounded and created the backdrop to the area with light and speaker towers to either side, overhead and underneath. The laser lights and the sound level seemed to break norms of restriction we would usually find in the U.S. A VIP area was at the rear center and elevated about 15 feet above the rest of us with seating. Beverage service was interestingly efficient. Credits were purchased and then scanned to your wristband which was then used for payment at the multiple beverage locations. Portable toilets which were constantly flushing were ample, clean and located at the rear of the VIP podium. We saw three of the artists. All were entertaining and well received by the constantly in dance motion crowd. There was no sign of trouble, no sign of drugs, simply easy going enjoyment. Still not our favorite music style but an incredible experience. Travel back to our neighborhood at 2am was easy as songtahews lined the thoroughfare after the show. We were starving so we wondered the streets in hopes of a slice or two from a place we had spotted on an earlier walkabout called Bronx Style Pizza. We were disappointed because it was closed but found a substitute in a take-away pie from a 24 hour diner and headed home. What a day!
A great side trip was taking the ferry from Bali Hai Pier to the island of Koh Larn. 30 baht each way (although we mistakenly took a private ferry at a higher price point on the way out as I thought we wanted to get to the closest beach possible to our final destination on the island. Not so. Just take the main ferry and taxi it to your beach of choice for best efficiency and lowest cost. Unless of course you aren’t at all budget conscious then rent a chauffered speed boat.) It was a 45 minute cruise with great views of the city and we went ashore at Samae Beach. As advertised, the waters were much clearer and a beautiful transparent blue. I had read that Nual Beach (PS no sign of monkeys or coral) had the best snorkeling so we hopped on a songtahew and followed the one road that circles the island to the destination a bit farther south. Beach chairs dotted the landscape of the smaller area with no pier for boats to crowd the waters. We spent a lazy afternoon away from the hubbub of the city, sunning, snoozing and the hubby did some snorkeling. I, on the other hand have not mastered my fears thus far on the trip. They are silly but real. Hopefully my self conscious and slightly aquaphobic qualms will subside because I am sure to have much more fun then. We made our way back to the pier and satisfied ourselves with some fresh fruit snacking before returning to the city. The abundance of carts serving delectible fresh exotic fruits is truly one of our main attractions to the country. It was an enjoyable little get away for the day.
The highlight of this week of this adventure was by far the visit to Sanctuary of Truth. We are not always prone to “tourist destinations” as the commercialization tends to make us cynical but this day was extremely well spent. The entrance fee was 500 baht. We went with a package that cost 750 and provided us with horse and carriage transport here and there during the excursion. The beauty, tranquility and education of the place was magical. We wandered the sanctuary, taking in the artistic wood carvings that grace the entire structure. The heat and humidity can sometimes be overwhelming here so we exited the place for a cold beverage and to sit in the shade a bit. We inquired about a guide to give us some insight in to the Buddhist and Hindu imagery portrayed in the wood structure. We were invited to watch the show of Thai dancing and Thai boxing and then were given our tour. Bahn, our male guide shared stories of the design, creation, art and religion in the building. He shared stories of his growing up in the north of the country. He spoke of the differences of the religious beliefs of the country’s of the region. His insights only spurred my desire for knowledge about this belief system. I encourage you to take the time to read about the wonderful truths shared in this sanctuary…One of the key thoughts shared with us is that giving of yourself is key to happiness in life but if you don’t first fill yourself you cannot truly help others. I was awestruck by this sentiment because filling ourselves and sharing with you is what this trip (and hopefully many more to come) are all about. Continue to travel with me, may it bring us fulfillment and happiness. Now on to Chiang Mai friends!