20
Aug
12

the walking street stereotype

Walking Street, Pattaya.

Think Soho on crack but with brighter, shinier, flashier neon lights. With scantily clad woman (and ladyboys) left, right and centre trying their best to convince customers the bar they work in is the best option of the hundreds of identical bars that line the outlandish strip. Thousands of tourists, both Thai and foreign congregate down Pattaya’s most famous haunt every night to drink, dance and observe the actions of all that dare stroll down a street that epitomises the western world’s stereotyped perception of this country.

In old school Hereford Rich style here is a breakdown of the ‘types’ that can be found fraternising along Walking Street –

the strutting soldier

The easiest group of people to identify thanks to their numerous tattoos, tragic tank tops and sub-conscious aggressive struts. Quite often seen clutching an expensive looking mobile phone to the ear to avoid being dragged into a conversation with one of many bar girls. Pattaya became a favourite haunt of the American military during their downtime in the Vietnam War – it seems there are still plenty of lonely soldiers spending their downtime in hedonistic Thailand today.

the excitable korean

Koreans seem intent on sticking together no matter where you go in the world. ‘Everybody pile on the Korean-only tour bus before we go to the latest Korean only-food restaurant’ comes the cry from the surgical-style face mask wearing tour guide. The many Koreans that visited Walking Street seemed only interested in taking a few snaps of the culturally shocking district before jumping back on the Korean-only tour bus to get a lift back to the Korean-only hotel. The immature giggles behind the lenses suggested they were having fun though.

the loitering indian

Another group not keen on splashing the Baht when strolling down Walking Street. Many can be seen eying up the bar girls up until eye contact is made when they quickly down around and dash off out of arms reach. With no real intention of spending any money on ‘extras’, or even an ice cold Chang, the bar girls tend to hold back with the ‘hello, welcomes’ that the average male traveller gets in this part of the world. Look out for the slightly voyeuristic, very unsubtle mobile phone videos being taken, archiving their night out.

the local entrepreneur

Laser pens, cigarettes, books, chicken kebabs, lottery tickets, teddy bears, nightclub tickets, bracelets. With Delboy-esqe enthusiasm, the local salesmen and women believe they can flog a book to a blind person or a hairdryer to a bald bloke. Though the constant barrage of people shoving goods in your face can be tiresome, I have a lot of respect for the work ethic of the average-Joe sales people across Asia. I’m still not sure what use I’d have for a fifteen foot statue of Buddha…….

the pervy old man

You just can’t avoid or ignore them in this part of the world. We all know why they come to Thailand and no matter the rights or wrongs or opinions we may have on their intentions, they bring a massive amount of money into this country. Usually found supping beers alone through the afternoon before pairing up with a younger, local woman in the evening. It might be a sweeping judgement, but to me it epitomises a sad, lonely lifestyle.

the inquisitive tourist

Coming to Pattaya and not having a look down Walking Street is a bit like going to Rome and not visiting the Coliseum or stopping in Siem Reap and not witnessing Angkor Wat. OK, culturally they are light years apart but you get the picture. This is a major part of Thailand and from a people watcher POV it is a non-stop assault on your eyes. We weren’t the only people just going for an inquisitive observation of Pattaya’s main attraction – many tourists come here not for the well documented seedy side, but to have a good old fashioned stare at the general carnage that is Walking Street.

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