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September 30th 2016
Published: October 3rd 2016
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Pattaya : Beach Resort of the Locals

Since I had taken nearly every tour out of Bangkok last time around, I had decided to take my day in Bangkok as a rest day. Walked a fair bit, did some web search on places ahead. Even though a well connected city served by both excellent road net work and suburban train systems one can very easily mislead into going to the wrong places. I showed the travel advisor at the Airport which hotel I wanted to get to and she clearly directed me to a far away place. Only google maps and satellite navigation let me get out of the situation, me getting off the train and taking a taxi to the correct hotel. Only later did I realize the hotel had another branch and that is where the advisor was sending me to.

Even Leaving Bangkok the hotel booked a taxi to the main airport from where buses ran to Pattaya. Instead I got a taxi to the rail station and avail of a cheap ticket to the airport saving me a hefty taxi bill of some at least 20 Euro. Pattaya is the closest beach resort to Bangkok. It is only 2 hours by bus at a cost of 120 Baht (~ £3). This is why a lot of people from Bangkok still holiday here in spite of the poor reputation the resort has.

Pattaya is the closest beach resort to Bangkok. It is only 2 hours by bus at a cost of 120 Baht (~ £3). This is why a lot of people from Bangkok still holiday here in spite of the poor reputation the resort has.

First evening in Pattaya; went for a long walk along the promenade, had dinner at "The Beer Garden" on the beach. The hotel itself was Swiss owned and OK but it was in a side street off the “Walking Street” which is notorious seedy street. Even on the side street there were gogo clubs and unless you are really tired or drunk you had no chance of getting to sleep until 01:30 hrs.

Apart from the notorious “Walking Street” and the beach, I wanted to see, the Big Buddha, the gardens and the Sanctuary of Truth. Of course there are other attractions as the Tropical gardens, the floating market and the water park but single traveler getting to these places and back became a problem. Taxi fares are comparatively quite high in Pattaya, So I booked a group tour to the Sanctuary of Truth. It would have been a great loss if I missed it. It was initiated by a wealthy Thai businessman, in only in 1989, who made a fortune and wanted to give something back to the society. The construction is “almost” complete but the material being wood and the beachside location with its salt spray and the sun is taking its toll on the project, they having to restore a lot of the original work. Income from the tourists make it possible for the restoration to go on, employing some 600 people on the site.

The whole structure is made of wood, no nails, screws or bolts or other fixations except traditional wooden joints. The methods that are used in a way makes it easier to remove figurines and parts, restore them and reinstall it easily.

The construction is based on the edicts of Theravada Buddhism. A lot of Hindu mythology is intertwined with Buddhist interpretations. There are 4 gateways each decorated with intricate carvings. The First one with figures of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva (Buddhist don’t believe in gods) and is about creation and gods realm. The second one, The astrological zone showed the astrology depicting the 7 deities (named after the 7 days of week) into which humans are born. Sunday for power, Monday for Beauty, Tuesday for hardworking, etc.etc..Next gateway is for life itself, how we should lead it, direction how without damaging others, abstaining from intoxicating substances and other evils. The final gate is for the family of the love parents have for children. In the center where the 4 gateways start from was a Relic of Buddha on an altar with 5 steps leading to it from all 4 sides.

In spite of being a recent creation this is one that has to be seen to be appreciated. The art work is so intricate and exquisite. Our guide (Aung) took us around for more than an hour. She was, probably unknowingly, was a great missionary for Buddhism. We had people fromEuropeand elsewhere Christians, Jews and Hindus who appreciated her understanding of different religions. Unfortunately we also had a Pakistani Muslim in the group who was just shaking his head (in disagreement or exasperation).

In Mahayana Buddhism the link to the Hindu deities is very much diminished Theravada branch of Buddhism preached a bit of self love before starting to love others (selfishness some might say) where as Mahayana is based on the “Future Buddha” or Bodheswarawho emphasizes the selfless ethics of life and doing what is good for others. The trip to this modern temple was well worth it. I did not think it is possible to construct a temple with such carvings in today’s world with the man hours that would be required for all the delicate work which are all caevings on wood. But seeing is believing.

The trip to the “Big Buddha” and the gardens were not that spectacular. The former was a very large golden statue of Buddha on top of the tallest hill in Pattaya along with statues of deities of the 7days (Thai astrology). The garden was not that spectacular either. On top of the hill at the end of he garden there is a statue of an old Admiral of the Thai Navy. People were worshipping the statue with candles and incense, kneeling in prayer in front of the statue offering alms. It appears that in Thai culture good people or heroes are venerated and their spirits are prayed to. May be, I suppose, that is the way gods are created.

As in Mandalay I had not calculated the distance from down town to the airport. It was nearly 50 Km and Even after haggling a bit I had to pay around €17 to get to the airport from the hotel.

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