So, this is a blog from Pattaya, a lair so sinful it makes Sodom look like the perfect place to track down reliable childcare. I can barely read the screen of the laptop I’m working on, such is the glare from the neon signs illuminating the bar I’m slumped in. It’s difficult to concentrate on my writing, thanks to the tactile attention of elaborately tattooed ‘bar girls’, a young man is urging me to buy a suit from his store with an intensity which leaves me feeling unclean, and lurking hawkers are offering me authentic Ray Bans for much less than the price of one of the town’s notorious massages. It’s the Pattaya we all know so well.
Ok, I’ll come clean. I made that up, all apart from the bit about being in Pattaya. I’m actually perched in my house, clutching a glass of mango juice and gaining inspiration for this blog from my view over farmland, grey clouds bubbling up over the hills of Khao Mae Khao as a storm chases away the day’s blue skies. My three cats are staring intensely at the local wildlife passing through my garden – the lizard on the boundary wall and the scaly-breasted munia darting amongst the grasses. I can hear my children playing outside with their friends. My wife reads contentedly beneath an overhead fan. Yeah, life feels pretty good here in Pattaya
Those who pedal the Pattaya as ‘Sin City’ line have engulfed social media with their particular take on life here and robbed the area of its right to a fair hearing. Look, there’s no question that there are some unsavoury parts to the city and the snakes in the lair are not welcome to their small slice of this part of Thailand, because by their presence here they’re soiling the country and the beautiful people within it. Anyone who has heard from a charity like the Hand to Hand Foundation will know that behind the bright lights are some harrowing tales. But I want to reclaim something of the narrative. I want to tell the other story, the story of a town which my young family willingly calls home. That’s what I’ll be doing over the weeks and months ahead.