Rule Number One: If you are a foreigner in Pattaya and a native comes on to you, IT’S A TRAP!
One a map it looks like a coastal city, but Bangkok is actually several miles inland and the closer you get to the sea, the swampier thing get. For all it’s frenetic flavors, the one thing the Thai capital is not is a beach town. For sun and fun, I was told, I was advised to take a day-trip to “Bangkok’s beach,” AKA, Pattaya.
Around 90 miles down the east coast of the Bay of Bangkok and something of the go-to getaway for city-weary Bangkokians, Pattaya has all the trappings of a resort town: clean air, hotels and restaurants up and down the scale, and because the bay is not particularly tidal, a G-rated surf. But it is with the surf that the G-rating stops. Hard.
Night & Day
By day, you have a bustling beach town. By night you have busts. Heaving, straining, body-glittering busts, in all their jiggly glory. They are impossible to miss. For Pattaya is the City That Sex Made.
You want it? It’s there somewhere. Most all of it lands on Walking Street on the southern end of town, a block in from the beach. The name is easy enough to figure out, when all the titty bars open up around 8 PM and is so jammed with strolling (and trolling) vacationers Noah couldn’t get a car down it. Combined with all strippers giving it their all in the windows and the full-fledge battle for wattage between the LEDs and neon, it’s actually pretty spectacular.
Condemning or condoning the Thai sex industry is beside the point. In Pattaya, it’s here, it’s obvious, and it’s entrenched, having been here a long time already. A veritable playground for the horny jet-set (Russians especially, go fig), this is a place where all your dreams can come true. For a price, of course.
And you would be amazed how many people don’t know that.
Smoke & Mirrors
So here is how it works: In Pattaya, the establishments run from elegant to dive-y. Pick whatever Designated Boob Zone suits your tastes (club, bar, massage parlor) and sooner rather than later a girl will show up, and she’ll be a knock-out. Bare-breasted, of course. And she will turn you into the Man of the Hour, she’ll laugh at your jokes, throw her legs over yours, give a quick feel or two. She’ll make sure that your drink is always topped up (hers, too), she’ll introduce you to her “friends,” and when it comes time for her to dance, she’ll always be looking at you just a little bit longer than everyone else.
Meanwhile, you’re getting tanked and begin to get fuzzy a couple of key points. Like that from the first drink on, the tab starts ticking up. And if she goes back to your hotel with you, it skyrockets. More over, if you plead drunkeness or honest-to-God cluelessness the morning after, you will have zippo sympathy. The hotels, police, and clubs are all in on this. God forbid you flat-out refuse. Then you’ll really see the sparks fly.
Smoke & Mirrors II
And if you think the gays aren’t getting in on this racket, think again.
Another block back from the beach, think of “Boyz Town” as a side lane to Walking Street, and its gay mirror-image. While it might be hard to discern in Pattaya, the overwhelmingly prevailing religion in Thailand is Buddhism, a faith that does not necessarily denounce homosexuality. Rather, being gay is all part of the cycle of karma and reincarnation; if you are all about the man-sex in this life, it meant that you were adulterous in a former one. That barely leaves a scratch as condemnations go, and in a town as freewheeling as Pattaya, doesn’t hold anybody back.
But despite the change in genitalia, the rules that apply on the straight side of Walking Street apply here. The shows, however, are going to be a LOT more brazen — these folks know their audience. Don’t be surprised if the guys have sex right on stage, with each and every one resoundingly disproving those negative stereotypes about Asian male physiology. They want you to look, they’ll make you look, and before you know it, your soul is lost to rock and roll. Consider yourself warned.
But I should mention that even on Walking Street, some of the cigars are just cigars. There are regular bars, including an ice bar where everything is in a practical deep-freeze, dirt-cheap lapidaries, and in the northern section of town are scores of perfectly reputable hotels in include the Hard Rock and Holiday Inn that are a world away from the shenanigans further down the beach. Stay in this chunk of real estate and you’ll be as pure leaving as you did arriving. In-the-know folks stay in a hotel in Pattaya, but take a quick taxi ride (like five minutes) to the pristine beach of Jomtien, the next town south and downright sleepy compared to its neighbor. Pattaya is not all about the sex. Just largely.
So, after all that, if you still dare to take the first sip of what will be a very powerful cocktail, carpe diem. And caveat emptor.