Pattaya photo album: a softish start to the latest shutdown


The Beaches
They remain technically open although all customer services are withdrawn. Here, a large group of Pattaya’s homeless people await the arrival of a free-food lunch provided by local authorities and private organizations. Swimming pool and public park edicts, if any, will likely come from the mayor’s office or from the provincial governor. The does and don’ts of the semi-lockdown are a rolling programme rather than a one-off set of rules to follow.

Massage parlors
All venues which could even vaguely be described as entertaining are completely closed. Prior to the shutdown on July 20, 150 or so Pattaya massage parlours remained open although only for relief on the feet and lower leg. But no more. Here, a qualified khatoey massage therapist offers lunchtime tea and sympathy rather than a rub down. Because of the strict curfew from 9 pm, the opportunities for nighttime revelry have vanished.

Policing the roads
Pattaya’s Sukhumvit highway was much quieter than usual. The checkpoint outside Banglamung police station was unmanned during the morning, but will be heavily policed during the curfew hours of 9 pm to 4 am. If the first day is any guide, traffic policing within the city limits will be much lighter than during the April 2020 lockdown. However, travelling beyond the provincial border is a very different question and best avoided if at all possible.

Barber shops and golf
Mostly, they remained open on the first day. Golf courses said they had not received any closure information and some relied on the escape clause that “exercise” is permitted as a reason for leaving home. Salons have been listed as units to close, but barber shops and hairdressers seemed to categorize themselves as outside the current shutdown scope. Again, it remains to be seen if there is further clarification from the local authority.

Academic life
If you thought that Pattaya is all about sin, or used to be, then think again. A well-stocked second hand book store in Soi Yamato has braved the pandemic to date and is still offering the reading public more choice during these times of boredom. This, together with nearby Canterbury Tales, is just about the only venue in Pattaya where you are likely to come across the completed works of Wittgenstein or Plutarch. You might be knocked over in the rush.

Goodbye and goodnight
The saddest part of the pandemic has been the closure of some of the resort’s best-loved pub and cafe names too numerous to mention. Now the Swan, a British breakfast holdout in central Pattaya, has closed its doors with only a vague commitment to reopen for very understandable reasons. Many of the remaining holdouts are in Soi Buakhao, led by the ever-popular Hungry Hippo, although the curfew is another heavy blow.

Padlocked Walking Street
Some parts of the Walking Street, well past its sell-by date even before coronavirus, now look as if they are going to be demolished. City authorities declared earlier this year that the buildings overlooking and impeding the waterfront would not receive entertainment licences in future as they encroached on public land. It certainly looks as if Pattaya’s most famous landmark is destined for a very different future. Whatever that turns out to be.

Local authority offices
As last time, public services will be disrupted by the lockdown. On the first day, the property registration office (Gom Tee Din, with picture) was open as usual with buyers and sellers of condos and houses. But the land transportation office, which issues driving licences, was closed entirely and callers were being advised to come back in a fortnight. Post offices and police stations, including immigration, are open as usual. Don’t forget your 90 days.