Pattaya mayor Sonthaya Kunplome raised spirits in his announcement this week that there are no demolition plans for Walking Street, the resort’s most famous thoroughfare. He apologized for the many delays in hiding underground unsightly cables, indicated that an elaborate retractable roof was planned to shield the public in the rainy season and promised that “night entertainment” would continue to be a feature.
But not exclusively of course. The mayor anticipated a world-class future for Walking Street to include daytime business centers, international restaurants and family-orientated entertainment. Earlier announcements from City Hall have suggested even a zoo, children’s rides and leisure strolling. Pier 39 in San Francisco was even mentioned once or twice. The future Walking Street doesn’t sound much like the old days when chrome pole dancers wearing little apart from a top hat did unmentionable things with small dart boards and luckless goldfish.
Although the term neo-Pattaya appeared to have been dropped from the local authority dictionary, the huge sign at the entrance to Walking Street displays a serene district with greenery and the sea. Another sign displayed by the electricity board depicted a beach road which looks almost celestial with relaxed strollers and an absence of traffic jams. Currently the Walking Street is partially open with restaurants, music palaces and the like, but go-go bars and air conditioned booze palaces are firmly shuttered apart from the occasional one which is successfully posing as an eatery.
So the future of Walking Street will be a mixed bag. Khun Somchai has been a security guard there for over 20 years. “Many of the buildings are already being gutted and are scheduled to become large restaurants with music and dancing once Covid subsides,” he predicts. He has heard that an international chain is interested in having a five star mall there too. “Bars will come back, but sex shows and nude dancers won’t be allowed, or will be sidelined to other areas of the city.” He concludes, “Pattaya is changing you see.” You can say that again Somchai.