It has come in fits and starts, with the occasional reversal, but the transformation of Pattaya Beach Road has become hard to miss.
From the removal of the broken fountain at Central Road to the repaving of the beachfront sidewalk to the widening of the road itself, Pattaya Beach now has a cleaner, more open look, albeit one on which the sun beats down much more intensely than just three years ago.
Starting at the north-end Dusit Curve, Beach Road has become narrower, but efforts to combat illegal parking have mitigated the impact on traffic. Under orders from regional police commanders to tow, lock wheels, arrest and jail offenders, but be polite while doing it, traffic cops are making sure cars and buses keep moving.
The old fountain has been removed and is currently an empty space, another area for tourists to relax.
Once on the thoroughfare, three lanes of traffic now can navigate down the beach, with a much-wider and smoother footpath welcoming people both on foot or bicycle.
Shade, unfortunately, is a premium. Anyone who hasn’t visited the city in a couple years will be shocked at how bright and hot the footpath has become with the mass removal of trees. But city officials are slowly replanting palm trees, but strategically to maintain a view of the water.
A plan to move and rezone beach umbrellas to preserve that view also is in the works.
At Central Road – where a huge sign used to proclaim Pattaya “the Extreme City” – a gentler message is being conveyed. The sign, heralding a side of Pattaya politicians would prefer stay hidden, is long gone and, now, so too is the fountain, which had been out of service for years.
In its place is an open community area that offers a place for beach strollers to relax and city officials to stage events.
The city is spending 400 million baht on its beach renovation, with the most-important part – the sand – now getting the focus. Refilling the beachfront to compensate for erosion is underway. While it won’t be finished for a while – and lacks funding to do the entire beach – the rebuilding of the shoreline is progress, city officials say.
The changes have become noticeable.
Vichai Thongloi, a regular runner on Pattaya Beach, said he was happy to see the changes, particularly the removal of the fountain. “It was neglected, useless and destroyed the landscape,” he said.