July 26-We fly from Chiang Mai to Bangkok with Air Asia, and are picked up by the car we have previously booked for 1200bht.There is huge traffic but we arrive about 3.45pm to the Centara Grand Mirage Pattaya. We check in, but the bathroom is very mouldy and after another hour we are given a cleaner room- though the bathroom is still a bit dirty around the edges. The rest of the room and resort are wonderful with a huge lazy river and many waterslides running through it, and it’s on the edge of the beach- just far enough out from the main town for the water to be clean and lovely. We then catch the 50bht shuttle to town (it drops near Central- the Hilton) and walk around the street markets and have Indian for dinner-there are heaps of Indian restaurants, but all are empty as its only 8pm and Pattaya doesn’t come alive until late night. This part of town has a few bars and girls but is still fairly family oriented.
July 27- After a huge breakfast we walk the 6km into town, and see the end of the marathon. We then keep walking along the waterfront and see 35 parasails in the air!! and many jet skis too. Seems like the Chinese tourists all do a similar loop –they are rushed through a series of water sports, buffet lunch etc in huge groups. We walk through the infamous “Walking Street” and can see the hundreds of bars etc, but its quiet in the daytime. We then go the Go Kart track and glen has 2 x 8 min turns in a fast car on a great track. We walk back to the main street and catch the 10bht open taxi back up to near the hotel...the main street is about 500m from the hotel so it’s easy and cheap and they come every few seconds. We swim in the lazy river and the sea (both around 30 degrees),then decide to try a restaurant near the hotel and pick the Heidelberg- great Thai food!
July 28- We are up early and meet at the Pattaya Safari dive shop in the walking street for a trip to Khao sak- a coral island where Glen is going to do 2 dives and I snorkel. We arrive and the location looks lovely but there are soooo many speed boats, jet skis and banana boats being towed that the water is super bumpy and churned up. The dive is good but the morning snorkel is awful. After lunch (and a 20 min monsoon!) we move only about 100m but the tourist boats have now gone and it is quieter. The afternoon is much better with good visibility, coloured coral and plenty of fish. The tour company is not great though and not overly friendly or helpful. We return to the hotel for a swim, read and look at the sunset, then catch the taxi back into town and have dinner at the Central food world...great duck, seafood pancake and tom kha gai for around $10. We then walk to the walking street- it has great bands but all are playing behind 5-20 girls wearing almost nothing and pole dancing, so it’s pretty gross. We walk through but don’t stop and enter as it’s all a bit sad and gross.
July 29- We hire a motorbike from across the road from hotel today for 250 bht from a proper office and it includes insurance- unheard of in Asia. We ride first to the Sanctuary of truth , a new large wooden temple on the edge of the water, and though it says 300bht entrance, you can look from the viewpoint for 50bht.We then go up the hill to the end of Pattaya to the Chinese shrine and Buddha hill. There are groomed gardens and great views from here in both directions, towars Pattaya and Jomtien. We then ride along the beach to Jomtien and see the hundreds of new condominiums being built. The beach here is clean and quieter but no waves. We follow Sukhumvit road once out of town, and see the floating markets. They are really just souvenir shops on stilts over a bit of water, so we don’t go in but continue south. We decide to try and find Silverlake- a winery in Thailand, so turn down Wat Yannasangwarren road and ride through the most beautiful scenery- paddocks and countryside then hills and more temples. The road is badly marked but after passing a hunting area, we turn back and eventually find Khao Chi Chan- a huge golden Buddha carved into the side of the hill, and just afterwards Silverlake.This place is a scream as they are trying to make it look like the hills of Tuscany and the architecture includes red clay villas, lakes, chalets etc.It is obviously being built as another odd tourist place, but we have a grape icy drink as the wine tasting comes with a long tour we don’t want. We head back to the main road and go another 10 min south to reach the fishing village of Bang Saray. This area is not touristy but has a pier and many fishing boats. We ride along the beach and stop at a little hut near the water for a late snack and beer before riding back about 45min to hotel. This was a great way to see some really different countryside. In the evening we again go to the Heidelberg for dinner but have a Carbonara this time- great tastes again. We then go to the Tiffany Cabaret show (600bht), but advise against seeing this one. It has pretty costumes and sets but is all mimed and the dancing and choreography are really quite bad. It is very old fashioned, clichéd and the ladyboys don’t display and talents.
July 30-We catch the van down to walking street early and pass a building fire that’s just starting on the way. Of course we wait and watch the Fire brigade arrive and begin to put it out. We arrive at the pier and pay the 30bht for a ferry to Koh Larn island . There are lots of speed boats etc, but we try the cheapest and its fine. This is a small but pretty island about 40min off the coast of Pattaya, and again is packed with Chinese boat loads of tourists, We walk along a bit , then hire a motorbike for 200bht to explore the many other beaches on the island. The best for snorkelling looks like Nuai beach, but Samae, Thien and Ta Yai all look nice too and much less crowded. There are many places to stay here, all brightly painted and odd looking and big garbage dumps on the side of the road, We retrun the motorbike to Ta Waen beach and have a swim both here and around the corner at Sang Wan beach. It is less crowded in the afternoon, and we catch the ferry back and return for another swim, waterslide etc. We are a bit tired so look for a different restaurant along the main road near the hotel, and have the only disappointing meal of the trip- i think the duck is actually dried duck livers and the other dishes are bland...not normal for here. We go back to the hotel to Quiz night, which turns out to be Movie and TV show tunes, so we win easily and get a free cocktail as a prize.
July 31- Last day- so to make the most of it we have a massage at the closest place to the front of the hotel -300bht and it is fantastic. I have a last swim, more waterslides and lazy river before we pack and are collected at 12,30 for the 2.15 trip back to Don Muang airport. We fly to Kl then back to Sydney.
August 1- We are happily picked up by Gay to drive us home. A wonderful trip!