Tour of South
An initial plan to take a 14 day holiday in Thailand, spilling into Malaysia, stretched into 25 days after I contracted an ear infection and subsequently lost my wallet. These few pages are a record of my stay and I hope I am able to convey some of the wonderful charm and beauty of the place as well as the atmosphere I trust I captured in the following pictures.
The original intention was to go for the Malaysian Grand Prix (21st March 2004) and take in oodles of diving. I jumped at the invite which Lee Caller extended to spend some time in the place he calls his new home. So the next thing I know, Richard Batty and I were landing next to a lush golf course in the heard of Bangkok, the players continuing putting on the green as if a 747 landing next to them was the most natural thing in the world. A taxi ride away and I found that in my first trip to Thailand I was staying in the relatively quiet Jomtien Beach resort; a couple of kilometres away from the heart of Pattaya and also home to the Mermaid Dive Centre around which the majority of our trip would be based.
Settling in I quickly found that Thailand can be anything you want it to be; a walk along a palm tree filled golden beach or perhaps a relaxing massage after a hard day diving; maybe a few quiet drinks with friends or even an all-out raging night on the tiles. We spared no time in learning the Buddhist ways and eagerly drank in the local customs as well as do's and dont's. A trip such as this is not complete without carrying out all the activities you can and although we didn't get to do everything we had planned I would like to think that I sampled the best of Thailand; the good, the bad and the downright ugly.
Picture sections on this site;
What was it like?
A strange feeling, like everything was different, while I was over there. Now I'm back I do feel as if I have been away which is contradictory to the norm and I have a strange feeling that some part of me was left behind. The sights and sounds, the places I visited, the people I met, all I want to see again. A lot has happened in my life over the last 12 months and that period has been both the best and worst of my life. This trip rounded the last year off on an exceptionally high note and I'm now planning my next trip!
One last thought I'll leave you with; "What is it with Europeans and Speedo's?"
A Potted History
My stay was based around Jomtien Beach, only a stone's throw away from Pattaya. What can be said about Pattaya that you don't know already? For those of you who don't know, Pattaya is 147km southeast of Bangkok on the eastern side of the Gulf of Thailand. Originally a small isolated fishing village transformed between 1959 and 1961 (depending on which source you listen to) by a group of American servicemen who arrived there for relaxation. Soon sleepy Pattaya became Thailand's premier and most successful beach resort which annually attracts hundreds of thousands of pleasure-seeking visitors.
Fishermen's huts along the beach were replaced by a full range of modern accommodation and the quiet powdery golden beaches are frequented by swimmers and sunbathers from various parts of the world. In just 40 odd years it has blossomed into the most renowned of all Thailand's holiday spots.
Pattaya's popularity wasn't without its own problems - the rapid progression meant that the local government couldn't cope with the weight of its administration and in 1978 Pattaya was declared a city in its own right. Another side effect of the new-found popularity caused Pattaya to have sea water pollution problems and only recently has the city installed a water treatment plant which is now starting to restore the beaches to their once pristine state. The city continues to lean towards tourism which is the main source of income and the city is now on a 'get clean' campaign; behind closed doors as well as out on the street.
Pattaya has much to offer; good beaches, islands offshore, diving, sailing and its many golf courses are just a few of the activities visitors can enjoy. A place for the whole family, an escape from the whirl of the 'cosmopolitan' world's left behind, a place one can really relax.
A shout goes to my
favourite places; Mermaid's Dive Centre and Toto & Lulu's bar in Jomtien
Beach. And places in the city? TQ2, Hooty's, Pepermint and Sabadi are
the places I found myself.