Pattaya parties into 2018 despite Loso no-show
Pattaya’s headliner for the big New Year’s Countdown concert spent the night in jail, but the party went on without him as hundreds of thousands ushered in 2018 from Bali Hai Pier to Lan Po Public Park.
Seksan “Sek Loso” Sukpimai, former frontman of the 90s Thai rock band Loso, was captured by commandos Dec. 31 in his Bangkok home where he had barricaded himself to avoid arrest for firing a gun into the air at a Nakhon Si Thammarat temple three days earlier.
The arrest blasted a hole in the lineup of the revived Pattaya Countdown, with C-list acts, mellow pop artist Earth Patravee and Piyawat “Mickey” Piampai, trying to fill the Issan icon’s shoes.
Mayor Anan Charoenchasri opened the Bali Hai concert, which carried the theme “We’ve Waited All Year for This”. Clerics made New Year’s prayers for Christian, Sikh and Muslim followers before turning over the stage to warm-up acts EDM by Alphabeat @ Gateway, PiPo, Gavin and VKL.
Anan and city officials returned ten minutes before midnight to count down the final seconds of 2017. Four minutes of fireworks capped the evening.
Fortunately, the New Year’s Eve party stretched far beyond the South Pattaya jetty, with revelers strolling shoulder-to-shoulder on Walking Street and driving bumper-to-bumper on every road leading in and out of the city.
The only ones enjoying the gridlock were Pattaya’s infamously unregulated motorbike taxis, who gouged passengers for several times the normal fare without fear of local police.
Things were quieter, but still lively, at Lan Po in Naklua, the site of last year’s official New Year’s commemoration.
This year the atmosphere was more family oriented with groups of people of all ages laying down mattresses and enjoying the night with loved ones over meals of fresh seafood.
Fireworks exploded across the area and all along the coastline at midnight. Yet hours later people were still carrying on. Many lingered in bars, restaurants and at the beach rather than dealing with the traffic.
It wasn’t all drink and song on this New Year’s Eve, however. As is the custom every year, many spent the night praying and meditating in local temples at Sutthawat, Nong Yai and Chaimongkol temples. Many locals were seen dressed in white to show their purity and hope of following Buddhist dharma in the New Year.
For those not hungover, 2018 started on a similarly devout note at 7 a.m., with monks receiving alms at Lan Po Park and during their procession to Central Road in an event organized by city hall.