HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Degrading to put young man on public display

Comparing Pattaya with Phuket

Health risk on Jomtien Beach

Pattaya Bum’s traffic crusade

Degrading to put young man on public display


First of all I would like to congratulate you all over at Pattaya Mail for the fine work you have been doing. I once lived in Pattaya about 10 years ago and even after all this time I still look forward to read the news about my old hometown!

It is the first time now that I feel I have to react regarding an article, “Meet a man with a cheating heart” in this week’s edition. I think it is really degrading that Ripley’s, and Pattaya Mail for publishing this, putting this young man on public display. I sure hope for this poor boy that he will be the one who receives all the benefits (read entrance fee).

I know that a lot of Thai people are keen on sensation, but they can find what they are looking for in one of those Thai garbage newspapers, you know the ones where you can find all the photos of those killed in car crashes or those who were murdered with all the gruesome details included. I find it a bit sorry that you demean yourself by being a part in this shambles. I am sorry for this harsh language but I believe you would have been better off doing something constructive which would ultimately be in Mr. Ekapong’s best interest.

With kind regards,

Wendy Marckx


Comparing Pattaya with Phuket


Having just returned from a week’s vacation in Phuket, it might be interesting to point out some contrasts for those in Pattaya who have never been to the southern resort.

The biggest and most outstanding difference was the sidewalks. Now that might sound trivial but it completely changes the complexion of Phuket and gives it much more of the feel of a real vacation resort. Anyone who’s ever been to Waikiki knows that one of the most enjoyable activities is strolling up and down Kalakaua Avenue in the evening. The same goes for Orchard Road in Singapore.

Tourists, especially the better class type who don’t come just for the nightlife, need to have something to do after the sun sets and expect to have an easy time to shop and dine.

Here in Pattaya the sidewalk on the commercial side of Beach Road is almost non-existent or taken over by shops extending into it or vendors setting up tables every night.

Worse still are the riffraff who lay out their wares on the ground. You can hardly enter or leave the Royal Garden Plaza without tripping over someone’s junk or having useless articles thrust into your face. Yes, Pattaya has its Walking Street, but how many parents want to take their kids down the heart of the red-light district?

In Phuket, there are signs saying no trade is allowed on Beach Rd. Since TIT, the street sellers find ways to stretch the law, but by and large it works. There are huge crowds, many families, walking on the sidewalk. While there are a few of those makeshift stalls, most are relegated to the side streets. With all these people passing by, hotels have left their frontage open and set up outdoor restaurants and bars. Many provide live entertainment. It is so nice to see all this open space along the road instead of having buildings come right to the edge of the sidewalk.

If Pattaya finally does go ahead with the widening of Beach Rd, it must incorporate broad walkways. Since Beach Rd south of Central Rd is already a lost cause, the section north of Central could be turned into a pedestrian mall. Hotels along that stretch should be encouraged to open up their properties to the sidewalk. However, there is little incentive for them to do so unless the authorities can guarantee that they will keep the walkways free of vendors and other unsightly locals.

Another big difference relates to traffic. Beach Rd in Phuket is still two-way, which makes things much more convenient. In Pattaya, businesses located up Beach Rd probably suffer because there is no way for someone on lower Beach Rd to take a baht bus directly up there.

Beach Rd in Pattaya could probably be made two-way if they got rid of all the baht buses, mostly empty or carrying only a few passengers, from plying it. In Phuket, most of the little red converted trucks are parked, waiting for customers. Also, there are men in uniform who do a fairly good job enforcing parking rules and collecting parking fees.

All in all, the road/sidewalk situation in Phuket is much more orderly and makes a much better impression. All of the beach chairs are wooden frames with colorful foam mats. It costs 50 baht to rent one, but that includes some fruit. They are much neater looking than the ragtag cloth chairs on Pattaya Beach.

The 2 a.m. closing time is strictly enforced except for a row of beer bars facing Bangla Rd, which somehow are able to keep on swinging. A good number of police officers continuously patrol the Bangla strip at night, offering a sense of security sometimes lacking in Pattaya.

Phuket seems much better positioned to appeal to the mainstream traveller. Despite all the talk of a tourism slump, the place was positively bustling. Pattaya knows what it needs to do. The city officials have to stop talking and start acting. Cleaning up the ocean was absolutely necessary, but it’s just a start.

There’s much more to do. But not cracking down on bars and discos, which is easy because no one can complain. Addressing the difficult problems of recovering the sidewalks, controlling traffic and parking, straightening out the beach vendors, tearing down illegal structures, etc, will bring much more significant results.

Ajarn Thomas

Health risk on Jomtien Beach

Dear Mailbag,

Right in the very centre of tourism on Jomtien Beach is Soi 4. The entrance is located next to the first 7/1; the soi is constantly invaded by squatters and as one project closes and another one starts the squatters leave and another lot move in accordingly.

Legitimate businesses try to make it work but fight an uphill battle. There was a period of mild respite after the Soi 5 hotel was completed, but now the new shophouse project on Beach Road behind Jomtien Plaza Condo has moved some 60 workers into the soi. These workers are plundering electricity with wires going directly to the pylons, obviously as well as being robbery it is highly dangerous and a fire risk.

As there is no legitimate water supply they have decided to build a large communal bath in the middle of the street which is filled by a tanker daily. However, the accumulation of litter is so great the drains are blocked. This has caused foul water pooling in the street and the mosquitoes and rats have arrived. The rubbish collectors refuse to stop in Soi 4 but service daily Soi 3 and Soi 5.

There is regularly loud music blaring at 6 a.m. when the workers get up and the Moonshine guesthouse has called police on more than one occasion to break up drunken brawls among the workers. There is a huge amount of land on the project where these people work but to erect huts in the normal way would cost money, and why supply electricity when you can steal it seems to be the attitude.

In the immediate vicinity of Soi 3 one can witness the preparation of food for beach tourists. Dengue fever is on a huge increase recently, this is a killer disease and the current state of Soi 4 must be an ideal breeding ground.

The whole problem I believe with Soi 4 is the lack of reasonable access. At some point some genius of a planner (planner?) decided it would be a good idea to put an electricity pylon smack in the middle of the entrance. This attracted traders who I believe must be illegal (who would they pay rent to?) to pile up behind the pylon. In the daytime you can just get a car through as there are about 5 carts but at night it’s a free for all with up to 13 carts and pedestrian access only.

Soi 5 is now a bustling and clean soi with established businesses and Soi 4 could be the same but must be given the chance. A clean up is imperative as at the moment it simply represents a blight on the face of Jomtien Beach and a severe health risk, hardly the scenic beauty of Thailand that tourists come to see.


A concerned local resident

Pattaya Bum’s traffic crusade

Dear Editor:

Well, people are certainly talking about the traffic in Pattaya and we’ve even seen some progress. But then, just when they open 2nd Road up as one-way, and city officials made up for their “Walking Street” mistake, I read they will extend the Walking Street silliness even further down Beach Road. What is this, some “big shot” took a holiday to New Orleans and saw Bourbon Street; which by the way is open around the clock? Places like that have substantial parking garage complexes, “state of the art” traffic management, police trained in crowd control, and some of the best public transit in the world. Face it, Pattaya doesn’t have the needed infrastructure that a walking street requires. Concentrate your efforts on getting the buses that double park on Beach Road out of town to further improve basic traffic flow.

Isaan Nick seems to think the average Thai understands the traffic laws, yet goes on to say that the police hold up the main road traffic for the youngsters. Nick, if the police train kids to disregard the law, how can they become law abiding adults? For instance, most people don’t know that there is a sign on Sukhumvit Road at the city limit indicating a speed limit of 60 KPH. I’ve been told by Bangkok officials that the maximum speed limit within city limits is 60 KPH nationally. Ever seen it enforced outside of Bangkok?

As to the bus issue (my pet peeve), ten years ago when the big spenders ($100 a day bar bill types) were here, Pattaya didn’t have the big busses and everyone got around just fine. Baht buses provide a lot of employment and are just plan cheap to use by any western standard should you be too timid to drive on Pattaya streets. Group tourists generally are not big spenders, that’s why they are in a group tour traveling on a tour bus. As to getting to your hotel, I usually get an airport taxi to deliver me to my doorstep, it’s only about 2,000 baht, a very comfortable drive, and faster than a bus.

This whole traffic thing has been a great learning experience for my daughter. She’s thrilled to see my letters in the paper. When we go out, she observes the traffic with great interest. She’s becoming very good at analyzing problems and poor driving habits without any help; maybe she’ll grow up to be a traffic engineer or systems analyst.

Thailand has an old and complex culture which is trying to cope with rapid modernization. In a dozen years, I’ve only just begun to understand a small part of it. I have friends who have lived here for over twenty years and are still learning. You can’t learn Thai culture from a book or a 4 week holiday each year. Thai culture is a maze of smoke and mirrors. You have to live here, but then Pattaya is not the real Thailand; is it? It truly has its own “local flavor”; like traffic lights at a traffic circle.

Pattaya Bum

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