April 21, 2011

Pattaya

If yesterday I was telling you about the Thailand Open and how wonderful it was, today I will continue by presenting you the city which hosted the tournament: PATTAYA.





It won't come as a surprise anymore when you'll hear what a great time chess players had, if you take a closer look to the city and its attractions.


Located 140km south-east of Bangkok, on the Eastern Seaboard of the Gulf of Thailand, Pattaya is popular with both residents of Bangkok and international tourists. Over one million people visit this beach resort every year to sample the sun, sand, sports facilities and many fine attractions. After dark Pattaya really comes alive and the city takes on a party atmosphere which lasts until the early hours.



View from our hotel

The Vietnam War and its warriors made Pattaya a well-known recreational centre, especially among Americans. From its beginning in 1959 with a small private bungalow where American officers on leave took turn to come and rest, this sleepy village by the sea has grown and changed dramatically into one of the world's tourism hot spots.
A heavy-breathing and testosterone-fuelled testament to holiday hedonism, Pattaya has tempted tourists for almost four decades, and it's showing no sign of slowing down!


SONGKRAN
We were...lucky I guess, by showing up there exactly in the middle of the Thai New Year - Songkran Festival, celebrated between 13th and 15th of April.
Songkran is one of the most famous festivals in Thailand and one of the best places to celebrate is Pattaya. Songkran (Khao San Songkran Festival) or (World’s Biggest Water Fight) is the most striking festival, for it is widely observed not only in Thailand but also in Burma, Cambodia and the Lao State. 

Songkran Water Festival!
Songkran in Pattaya is not for the faint hearted


The tradition traces back to the pre-Buddhist rituals of spring festivals where the throwing of water was meant as a symbol of luck to bring good rain for the crops. This Festival shares some similarities with the Holy festival in India celebrated around the same time. While in India the throwing of colored water marks Holy, the Thai Songkran Festival involves throwing clear water (much better for your clothes:).
You must be very careful - water comes from everywhere! It is clear to me now that you won't escape the water pistols, the water balloons and buckets of water as the Thais celebrate Songkran. Pattaya city generally becomes crazy with traffic and the streets turn into water-pools!

This unbelievable water festival has to be witnessed to be believed. If however you are in Pattaya, you will not only witness it, but you will be involved in it, that I can assure you:) Nobody, unless they stay in their room for a week, gets away without getting drenched!

The good thing is that you will be able to buy on the streets some plastic bags, to protect your watch, money, cigarettes, cameras and so on:) What I was wondering though...is how the people who are supposed to work, manage to do it with completely wet clothes?! Or do they have spare ones in their offices?!

Passengers in the back of Baht buses are sitting targets.
Don't expect any mercy!

However there is a lot more to Songkran than getting soaking wet or taking the opportunity to feast your eyes on Thai ladies in wet t-shirts, however pleasing that maybe to the eye.
Songkran is traditionally a time for Buddhist merit making, which involves the gentle splashing of water on people particularly family members. Buddha images in homes and temples are also washed and sprinkled with scented water, a symbolic ritual of cleansing, refreshment and renewal of life.
But in our modern days it's celebrated primarily by everyone throwing prodigious quantities of water at anything that moves! And chess players didn't get any special treatment, but exactly the same one as anybody else, including police officers!
I still remember how I was trying to move along the streets in zigzag, running or hiding, wishing I could have a way to defend myself or to strike back:) I felt like a kid again, but just a little bit annoyed when I realized how hopeless I was against the big water tanks and the guys bending their huge garden hoses... 

WALKING STREET
Generally speaking, most of the nightlife action geared towards tourists is found in South Pattaya, with the densest concentration of bars, Go-Go bars, massage parlours and discos along the famous neon-drenched strip known as Walking Street. Unique and noisy, it's shut off to traffic during the evening, with lots of shows, bar games, competing stereos and alcohol, all combining forces to make one huge party zone. If only for the 'I've-seen-it' experience rather than 'I've done it' enjoyment, it has to be experienced at least once. And surely chess players didn't miss the opportunity:)

And this is the very well known Walking Street,
alive until 6 AM!
Picture taken from facebook, posted by Vallejo Pons
together with some other impressions...if you are
lucky to be his friend, you can check out more:)

Pattaya's a stay up late kind of town, but wake up earlier than most, is striving to re-position itself as a 'family-friendly' destination, and while the grit, glitz and seedy glamour remain, the 'town that sex built' is now offering more attractions that won't have the kids asking awkward questions:) There's so much more to Pattaya than mere neon nightlife and an idyllic blend of sand, sea and sunshine. From thrilling temples to panoramic viewpoints, rare orchid farms to offbeat museums, the city is brimful of entertaining diversions and unusual sights worth checking out.

If you welcome it with a little bit of confidence and a touch of adventure, Pattaya's sun-kissed pursuit of happiness might prove irresistible.



45 comments:

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