Pattaya Grapevine: The Chinese are back


The Chinese are back
Pattaya insiders say they are increasingly hearing Chinese voices on the beach and in the restaurants. Some say “they’re Taiwanese” but, language apart, there’s growing evidence the Beijing government is loosening controls. Although zero-sum group tours are still a no-no, individual Chinese and their families can travel abroad with quarantine periods on their return now being just seven days. Some say even that restriction is loosely enforced. Beach vendors say that around 3 million Chinese visited Pattaya in 2019 with predictions for 2022 being about 10 percent of that total.

Tour buses avoid main roads
Leisure bus operators based in Pattaya report their foreign tour customers this year are virtually all Indians and Vietnamese. Their daily schedule is to visit the resort’s more obvious tourist sites which have now reopened. But the favored hotels, markets and restaurants are mostly along routes which aren’t in the midst of road repairs. Maybe it’s time to take a leaf out of Siem Reap’s book where tour buses are banned in the town center. But Pattaya’s central hotel owners are opposed to that notion for obvious reasons. Everybody wants a slice of the action.

Doubts about high value
Thailand’s ambition to get one million rich foreigners to register for 10 year visas from now to 2025 sounds somewhat optimistic. The advantages are not so spectacular as fast track at the airport and exemption from 90 days reporting are small-fry stuff to be sure. What might move the needle would be a clear and unambiguous invitation to buy freehold property which is missing at the moment with the starting date for applications fast approaching. The Elite card and visa, originally started in 2003, faltered badly after early promises about being able to buy one rai never materialized.

Gambling with the future
There’s certainly a rearguard action going on to oppose the establishment of legal casinos in Thailand. But the backwoodsmen and women will lose out. A Thailand which is desperate to attract the wealthy, has a very liberal marijuana policy and will soon legalize gay civil unions, or even marriage, doesn’t sound like the kind of place to block casinos. Attention in Pattaya is centered on where it might be located. Likely out of town and not built yet. The casinos of the 2020s are luxury, five star developments with hotels, restaurants, malls and lots of non-gambling entertainment.

Unusual gold necklace theft
Pattaya, earlier this month, witnessed the theft of jewelry which had nothing to do with Indian tourists wandering around in the middle of the night. We saw a revival of the old trick where a motorbike driver with a collaborative pillion passenger drives past an unsuspecting pedestrian to snatch the gold. The victim was a Thai national. This is the resort’s first case this year of jewelry snatching without foreigners or transvestites being involved. The perpetrator told police after his arrest that he was desperately short of money and this seemed the easiest thing to do. True, as long as it doesn’t lead to a court appearance.

Booming eateries
Pattaya is seeing a surge in the number of cafes and short-time restaurants even though ganja cafes haven’t been noted here. Many appear to be operated by foreigners, presumably with work permits, hoping to cash in on the anticipated boom in European arrivals in particular. Typical of the genre is Fat Bunny, on Thappraya Road near the beach, which has a particularly friendly staff and offers snacks and meals at fair prices. Separately, there are new Indian restaurants opening all the time on Second Road in particular. Meanwhile, in Jomtien, Indian by Nature and Masala Twist appear to have a near monopoly.

Body in car not noticed
Embarrassingly, the police attending an accident in Pattaya did not notice for 12 hours that there was a body in a wrecked car. That’s now the subject of an investigation which isn’t entirely surprising. However, failing to realize somebody is dead is not that unusual. A resident in Morecambe, the north of England seaside town, was offended and angry when his next-door-neighbor in a bus shelter was unresponsive to the request for a light for a cigarette. The startled man shouted loud abuse, then pushed the stiff who fell over. The poor innocent then reported at the police station he might have killed somebody.

Smartphone prices drop
Thailand’s smartphone market is experiencing flat growth or even decline owing to the economic slump and the weaker baht. This is increasing the popularity of trade-in deals where customers use their existing phones to get a discount on the purchase of a new handset. Samsung has responded by launching a new lineup of foldable smartphones. They include Galaxy Z Flip 4 which has an upgraded camera experience and a larger battery and Galaxy Z Fold 4 with PC-like multitasking features, advanced camera technology and powerful mobile processors.