Saturday, 11 April 2009

The Russians are coming! the Red Shirts are coming!

...but the Summit Leaders ain't coming!

 overcast 33 °C

It was the day of ASEAN Summit. When I walked past the hotel lobby, the hotel staff warned me not to wear red top. "Not too worry. Red isn't my favourite colour", I said. Besides too hot for red in this weather. I'm a greenie.

Even though the focus of the protest was in the Royal Cliff Beach hotel not far from Fraser Resort where we stayed (less than 1.5 km), but there is no hint of any political disturbances. It was very localised event (the later Bangkok disturbances are more widespread). The Red Shirt successfully stopped the Summit from starting. This was the first time I heard about the Red Shirts. I think the first time the world heard about it too.

Red Shirts protest, Thailand
Red Shirts protest
Source: Telegraph

First came the US sailor boys, then the Russians in droves. History is full of ironies. If you don't know what I'm talking about, read my diary on my first day of arriving Pattaya.

I was somewhat surprise about the large number of Russian tourists here, and not just hot-blooded tattooed youths who frequent the many unique Thai traditional adult entertainment venues (some of the tattoos are probably done at the many affordable local tattoo parlours that are sandwiched between massage shops. Massage parlours are something else. Men only).

Pattaya has diversified away from the sex industry, and the tourist demographics also expanded from young men, people with different sexual orientations, to include couples, families, and just about anyone. I guess the tropical heat and cheap Thai Bahts attracts the snowed in Russian as much like snows and Russian dolls attract people like me who grew up in the sub-temperate zone.

Message shops with Russia signs, Pattaya, Thailand
Some message shops are attracting Russian tourists...
Message shops with Russia signs, Pattaya, Thailand
...while others are actually run by Russian. I have visited this
place a few doors from Fraser Resort and met the Russian owner

After dark, the (in)famous Walking Street at the end of Pattaya Beach lit up with neon lights of restaurants, go-go bars, strip joints, discos, open-air bars with Muay Thai (Thai boxing), open-air bars with snake rattler, open-air bars with pool tables, open-air bars with ...(just fill in with your imagination).

Many children visiting here at night, chaperoned by their parents, wide-eyed, dazzled, confused or titillated by all the sights and sounds. I've seen the same sights - parents with children in arms, prams, and hands - walking through Lan Kwai Fong in Hong Kong or the red-light district in Amsterdam. I'm curious if they take their children to these red-light districts in their own countries. Maybe they don't see these places as red-light districts, but tourist destinations...

One of the gate of Walking Street at the western end, Pattaya, Thailand
One of the gate of Walking Street at the western end

Restaurant neon lights at Walking Street, Pattaya, Thailand
We dined in this seafood restaurant at Walking Street.
The food is not too bad, but the view of the ocean at dusk more than made up for it.

The Pattaya beach at dusk could be quite nice.

While some Russian tourists, especially the young ones, are attracted by the red-lights and neon lights, the family are obviously more attracted to the Pattaya beach and its water sports.

Pattaya Beach that filled with deck chairs, Thailand

Pattaya Beach that filled with deck chairs, Thailand

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