Dawn patrol on Pattaya’s Walking Street

A disused lure sign sits awkwardly next to the sandy road in Pattaya’s iconic street.

At six o’clock, stragglers from the bars and clubs wend their wobbly way back to the hotel, usually with a lady in tow. “The booze ban starts at two in the morning, so you have to know where to go,” says motorbike taxi guy Manoch who adds that Pattaya’s iconic street is almost back to normal. “The main differences from 2019 are that there are lots more Indian tourists and selling weed is less of an undercover job.”

The street paving is rapidly going ahead, although some of the cobble stones are already starting to crack. During the day, two and four-wheel traffic is allowed to bypass other crowded city center routes, but the street becomes pedestrian-only with the arrival of the tourist police van around 7.00 pm. However, more digging up can be expected as the timeline for burying the underground power cables stretches into next year.

Busking can be profitable even as the sun comes up.

At the 7/11 convenience store, an American serviceman is asking for a prairie oyster but the assistant informs sharply that this isn’t a seafood restaurant. The non-alcoholic cocktail is a combination of tomato juice, Worchester sauce and a raw egg believed to cure hangovers. The manager says there’s actually a brisk dawn business with black coffee and machine-ready hot dogs the current favorites.

Nearby, a busking duo play recorded pop music with the assistance of an occasionally-strummed guitar. “People are more generous as the sun comes up,” says Mr Ringo who points out he has borrowed the name of one of the Beatles. On the opposite side of the road, a group of teens wearing City Hall attire are pulling at the lid of a drain cover. “After we’ve done that, we replace it and move on to the next one,” according to a 16-year old who says he’s on work experience.

A group of students ponder how best to remove a heavy drain cover.

About half the Walking Street is now operational – most gogo bars are still firmly shut – but rebuilding work appears to have commenced on several derelict sites. A workman at New Simons, an empty shell for several years, said the idea was to open a disco next year, but the supervisor warned that was a company secret. Of course, nobody is sure about the future of the resort’s most obvious flagship, but wholesale demolition seems out of the frame for now. “The Thai government has ordered the closure of this sinful Street,” proclaimed Facebook. But that was 15 years ago.