Halloween Pattaya: ghost city without the ghouls

A reminder of what Halloween used to be like in Pattaya.

The Pattaya news for October 31 2021 is the end of the nightly curfew.  This means that the convenience stores can open again 24/7, while the bars and clubs remain padlocked.  But the pleasures of Halloween, witches’ broomsticks and all, seem to have been forgotten this year.  The superstores aren’t selling zombie costumes or Frankenstein masks and the five-star restaurants and hotels have apparently given up on the notion of asking horror to make a profit.

Of course, it wasn’t always so.  In 2003, Night Owl scrivener Bernard Trink wrote that Pattaya’s Walking Street was packed on Halloween with revelers.  The Dollhouse, Repenting Sinner and Choose Me were offering complementary  booze to anyone who looked like a vacant-looking zombie. Trink added dryly that many expats were consuming a free gin and tonic, even though they weren’t even wearing a mask or makeup.

Kra Sue is an iconic Thai ghost whose corpseless head devours the intestines of passing strangers.

Local historian Duncan Stearn, now sadly deceased, wrote in 2005 that he was sponsoring a rum-based cocktail The Zombie even though he was a strict tee-totaller.  As late as 2019, a luxurious five star Pattaya hotel was offering a Dracula dinner for two in a haunted suite and a bacon and eggs breakfast served by a waiter who looked just like Boris Karloff.  If you wanted a threesome, that was OK and he or she was able to take advantage of a 50 percent discount if an extra bed was needed.

Although Thailand is full of haunted houses, there aren’t any famous ones in Pattaya.  Perhaps because she’s a young city.  The nearest sites are Ko Kham Noi, a small island off Chonburi, which houses a huge graveyard and is nicknamed Ghost Isle.  There is also an abandoned scout camp in Rayong where a teenage boy drowned, an incident made into a 2017 horror film Black Full Moon.  Last month, Banglamung police did rush to a house where a gaunt, white-cloaked figure was seen suspiciously in the middle of the night.  However, he turned out to be an escaped hospital patient.

Some predict that Halloween will be back next year with the crowds.  Others point out that fun Pattaya has been in decline for years and that the pandemic may be leaving a permanent mark.  Yet, provided the bars and clubs are open in time for next October, the tills should be ringing again on behalf of the supernatural, even if modestly.  As Marilyn Monroe once said, “Demons are a girl’s best friend.”