Friday, November 29, 2013

Loy Krathong 2013

Loy Krathong this year was held a week later than normal, due to the death of Supreme Patriarch Nyanasamvara Suvaddhanaects and celebrations in some places were slightly scaled back.

However, here in Pattaya there were plenty of events to mark the occasion. Om and I decided to attend the festivities at Mabprachan Lake.

There was a Miss Noppamas competition, a display of traditional Krathongs, fairground rides, dancing and a plethora of stalls selling food and drink. 

Although we arrived there quite early in the evening, it was still extremely busy and parking spaces were at a premium. The event organisers must have made an absolute fortune as they were charging an entry fee of 20 baht per vehicle. 

Such was the popularity of this festival that when we started our journey home, at around 8.30 pm, there was a queue of waiting traffic stretching several kilometres.  

Overall it was a lovely evening and as you can see from the photos we enjoyed ourselves immensely...... 


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Manhandled at Pattaya Floating Market

The floating market is a well-known and popular attraction, located along the Sukhumvit road, here in Sin City.

Almost every time you drive past, the car parks are full and there are busloads of Chinese, Indian, Russian and Korean tourists being herded inside.

It has been in operation since late 2008 and I have been there on 5 previous occasions with my wife, parents and family friends. For visitors who were new to Pattaya, it was pleasant experience and in the early days there was no entrance fee and it was nowhere near as busy as it is now. This meant you could walk around and browse in the shops in relative peace and enjoy an ice cold beverage or a relaxing massage, without having to cough-up any cash or navigate your way past hordes of sweaty Indians or pissed-up Russians.

But, my opinion of the place has changed drastically since the last time I visited.

I was recently invited by a friend to join a tour of Pattaya, taking in several local attractions including Silverlake Vineyard and Khao Chi Chan, with the last stop being the floating market.

On my previous visits entry had been free, but upon arriving the admissions clerk demanded that we pay 200 baht each. We told him that our entry fee had already been paid as we were part of an organised tour. The gentleman's English language skills were non-existent and when I refused to pay, he became quite animated and his demeanour was aggressive. He only let us in after my friend's Thai speaking colleague intervened and explained the situation.    

I have also heard stories of people being asked for 800 baht in admission fees!!!! If that's true then it's tantamount to racketeering.

Anyway, after spending about one and a half hours looking around, the group were due to return home. I had already decided that as the market was the last stop on our itinerary, I would stay behind and wait for a lift from my wife. So, I set about shopping for a few small gifts and followed that with a couple drinks at one of the cafes.

But, what happened next left me gob-smacked........

Having paid the bill at the cafe, I started walking towards the exit, when an employee from the market asked to see my ticket. I informed him that as I was a member of an organised tour, I didn't have a ticket, only the numbered sticker that I was issued with at the entrance. The guy became angry and said "you no pay" and despite showing him the sticker, he grabbed my t-shirt with both hands and prevented me from walking any further. At which point I shoved him in the chest and he stumbled backwards. I also said it wouldn't be advisable for him to manhandled me agan. He was startled and looked at me in surprise for a few seconds before speaking to a colleague on his walkie-talkie. It was then I beat a hasty retreat and left before the situation escalated.      

Be warned, this place has nothing to do with Thai culture or heritage and is solely designed to empty tourists' pockets. You also risk the threat of intimidation or physical violence if they don't like the look of you or you question their policies. The shops all sell generic, over-priced souvenirs and other tack, that can be found for a fraction of the price in the local market. Another complaint I had was the amount of rubbish floating in the water. Litter is a huge problem here in Thailand and the workers at the floating market fail to understand that it's an eyesore. If they spent more time tidying up, than ripping-off and physically assaulting the patrons, then it would make for a much better experience.

A drinking buddy of mine has described it as a "filthy swamp where you pay 200 baht for the privilege of getting bitten by mosquitoes".

Overall, they've turned  a nice tourist attraction into an extortion racket and suffice to say I will never be stepping foot inside there again. I would also advise my readers not to waste their time and money by visiting.

Here is a link to their website.....which I hasten to add, fails to advise you about the 200 baht entrance fee!!!!

Welcome to the Land of Smiles........Land of Charlatans more like.

For some unbiased and objective reporting, I recommend going to the Trip Advisor website, where there are more than 400 reviews by visitors from around the world.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A new arrival

Allow me to introduce the newest member of the family........
My sister-in-law gave birth to Panpurid "Nammon" Porntanasit at 8.20am on 31st October and he weighed in at a healthy 6lbs despite arriving a few weeks earlier than anticipated.

Although you can't see it in the photos, he has a rather large nose and would give a proboscis monkey a run for it's money!!!! But despite the snout he's an adorable little chap.

All the Thai neighbours were swift to point out that he was born at Halloween and that it was a portent of doom which would result in our street being over-run wih ghouls and goblins.

This is because they're an extremely superstitious bunch and also of very limited intelligence!!

As you can imagine it's been all hands to the pumps in the last week or so trying to help wih the baby and keep the businesses running smoothly!!

I'll bring updates on the wee fella, along with any other important developments, in due course.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Seafood at Ban Amphur

I absolutely love going to Ban Amphur, it has a very nice beach and in my opinion some of the best seafood restaurants in the local area. It is easy to reach along the Sukhumvit road and the drive from Pattaya is around 20 minutes.

Whenever friends or family come to visit I always take them to eat fresh seafood at the restaurants overlooking the ocean.

My favourite establishment is called Sri Nuan and I have dined there on numerous occasions. The food is always locally sourced, good quality and well cooked.
Upon entering the restaurant there are a number of large tanks full of live fish, crustaceans, molluscs and other delights. You can choose which of these unsuspecting critters that you would like to eat and how you would like them cooked, or alternatively, you can choose something from their extensive menu.

The restaurant is extremely popular and often welcomes large tour groups, so in the evenings it can be very busy and take quite a long time to get served. I prefer to go in the late afternoon around 4 or 5 pm and as you can see from the photos, it's fairly quiet and the waiting staff aren't rushed off their feet.

The last time we frequented the establishment was to enjoy a family meal after a day of sightseeing. We ordered 7 dishes including a spicy salad with fish roe, squid cooked with onion and salty egg, fried fish with sour chilli and lime dipping sauce, garlic scallops, raw oysters with tamarind leaves, crispy shallots, garlic and chilli sauce, grilled prawns, and one of my all-time favourites, barbecued rock lobster. 

Our meal, which included rice, a large bottle of water, 4 large bottles of Leo beer and 2 buckets of ice cost 2,700 baht for 4 people (approximately £54 or £13.50 a head). By Thai standards that's a lot of money but when compared to the UK, where a similar meal would set you back at least £150 (7,500 baht), then it's an absolute bargain!!!