Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sanctuary in Pattaya

Stray and I have just returned from Pattaya where we celebrated an old mate’s birthday, quite successfully I might add. So, for a fewui days we hung around catching up and enjoying the big event...and before anyone gets their knickers in a knot, I DO know that there is more to Pattaya than what first meets stabs you in the eye. However, apart from my own grey hair and big belly, one can’t ignore their overwhelming presence bobbing up and down in a sea of bars and massage parlours, outfitted with lovely ladies who seriously need to stop using the hot cycle on their ‘hand wash only’ clothes.
And it was Simply Delicious!
Holiday makers and organised male Indian tour groups briefly get caught in the rip, while an under current of Russians and other breeds of expats, along side the local Pattayans, go about their daily grind. Its a place that you could seemingly sit in a bar or cafe and never need to budge an inch (expect perhaps to visit the loo?). Because, everything imaginable and saleable, will eventually come to you. From fresh vegetables, seafood, clothes paraded on manikin torsos, cooked on the spot or pre-prepared meals, shoes, soft toys and nic nacs, to the blatantly obvious.

Mexican waves of ‘mas-sart, mas-sart’ and ‘welcome, welcome’ crow like choruses, follow falang men as they stroll down the streets.

After spending quite a few hours in amongst a certain group of Soi Honey (Honey Street) girls, I couldn’t help but admire the way they retained a genuinely warm, close knit family type unit between themselves. Although, I still couldn't stop my heart going out to them and their predicament. 

Pattaya is colourful, a nightmare to some, a fantasy land to others, vibrant, a little freaky at times and has a pulse of its own.
A short distance north you can take refuge, if you feel the need, in the Sanctuary of Truth (ปราสาทสัจธรรม or Prasat Sut Ja-Tum).
This wooden marvel is the brainchild of Lek Viriyaphant. Just over 100 metres high and the same distance in length, this structure stands in surreal solitude, as it if had risen up out of the earth of Rachvate Cape. The carvings that decorate the walls, ceiling and roof are symbolic of art, philosophy and religion from both Western and Eastern cultures.
Born in 1981 it remains a masterpiece in progress, representing the seven creators in each of its four wings: The four elements, earth, wind, fire and water; the sun, moon and planets; Father and Mother, who gave us life...and in the northern wing, well, it’s incomplete and I was distracted and walked away from the tour guide, and wasn’t listening, was I.
It is NOT a temple, something made quite clear by the guide.
This ‘castle’ is built from teak, iron and rose wood, all joined together the old fashioned way using various joint techniques. Atop the four main spires sit sculptures depicting the establishment of religion, life bestowed on human kind, the continuation of philosophy, and peace.
Above them, taking pride of place on the highest pinnacle, is Kalaki (AKA ‘The fifth Buddha’) mounted on a steed.
Maybe I'll come back on 2025 when it's due for completion.
Getting to Pattaya is incredibly easy, especially if you're flying in to Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport. Roong Reuang Coaches offers a direct bus to and from, website price 124 Baht (Stray paid 200 B for his ticket bought directly from the station?) By motorbike taxi into Pattaya to your hotel, around 60 Baht. Or, you could book a 'mini van hotel pick up + bus' all through an agent, for approximately 300 Baht.

Places we liked to eat – Chow Soy – great Chinese, Western and Thai food. Harry’s Place had a decent breakfast and coffee, and fed us before they were ready to do business. Lovely staff!
Where we’d stay againOrn Place (on Soi Honey, or Sai Song 11). Clean, roomy and at 600 Baht a night, great value compared to others we saw around town. Where we wouldn't stay again - Jasmine Mansion, sad, not the cleanest, old soap left behind, shower water didn't even drain away over night, and they wanted a 500 Baht deposit plus the full 3 nights payment (glad Stray said we'd only pay for one), up front. Our one night stay, was one night too many. Link to map of locations.

Ah! Amazing Pattaya.


Peter_M said... Best Blogger Tips

I have only ventured to Pattaya once in all my trips there. It is certainly a unique place! The wooden structure at the Sanctuary of Truth is impressive and well worth seeing, but I found the whole SoT experience a bit of hard work if you know what I mean. The big Buddha on the hill and Nong Nooch are also worth seeing if in the Pattay area.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Peter_M I agree. I'm not a particularly spiritual or religious person...but I do LOVE art! If I go back, I'll check out the big Buddha and Nong Nooch, which were both recommended to us, but we ran out of time.

DanPloy said... Best Blogger Tips

You did well to survive. This place is well worth a look see. On the main Sukhimvit road in Pattaya and it was empty when we visited.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@DanPloy Wow...I can't believe I missed it! It's very colourful to say the least. I'll put it on the 'If I ever go back' list of to do's.

Catherine said... Best Blogger Tips

Once again you've found a unique place to share. And I am soooooo going to the Sanctuary of Truth to see it for myself. I'm due a bit of R&R Thai style!

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Catherine I so wish my camera did this place justice...oh well, maybe someone will buy me a new one for Christmas..hint! hint!

biervoormij said... Best Blogger Tips

Recently came across your blog and have really enjoyed reading through it. Thanks for sharing all of your experiences. You did a blog awhile back about bum fruit/elephant apple and I saw in the link that it was edible. I was wondering if you have tried to eat any of it.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@biervoormij Hi Keith and thanks for reading. No, I'm sorry to say Mum and I never got to try the Bum Fruit. We found that one in a private garden. I've never seen them sold at the markets.
There are some amazing fruits here :)

I see you're from Amsterdam? I've only ever been in the airport. By the time we stumbled upon the city tour counter, it was too late to go....maybe next time!

Keith said... Best Blogger Tips

Amsterdam is a great city and well worth seeing but there are so many great places in the world to see.

I really found the fruit amazing in Asia when I have travelled there. I learned to appreciate fruit in general more when in asia.

You have tried some really interesting things while learning Thai. I will have to try the ant soup and one of the eggs you blogged about on my next trip to Thailand.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Keith My pursuit of food is going far better than my learning Thai ;) By the way, you can buy ant eggs in a can, but they're probably not quite the same.

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Glad you were able to see a different side of Pattaya not often seen by the type of tourists that go there. A word of caution for sex tourists going to Pattaya. In areas like walking street, some bar girls can get extremely aggressive and violent. There's a show, "Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand", that highlights a lot of real-life situations where tourists have disagreements with bar girls, often ending in violent confrontations. For example, some tourists don't know that simply being allowed to spend time with a bar girl is considered a service requiring payment. If anyone is in this type of situation, it is best to stay cool, avoid antagonizing or insulting the girl, and leave the area. Tourists who run into very serious problems (assault, robbery, etc.) should contact the tourist police immediately and think about hiring the services of a Thailand lawyer.