Now this blog runs a very real risk of turning into a series of rambles, you see when you mention Pattaya this is often what happens. It is one of those areas that truly defines a love-hate relationship and there are reasons for this.
I live in Pattaya a whopping 9,624km from where I used to work and live in London. So much distance but yet my social network news feeds are more likely to be filled with expat debates on where to get the best English fry up in town than where to eat the best Som Tam. If any of you have been to Spain you will know just how beautiful a country it is, yet if you stumble into the tourist retreat of Benidorm it is, in my humble opinion, horrendous. You are more likely to see a greasy spoon English cafe than a Spanish tapas bar. You can draw parallels between Benidorm and Pattaya. When I put this spin on Pattaya I cannot help but ask myself how the hell I have tolerated this city, let alone lived here for over a decade.
But then I stop and think again and suddenly I love Pattaya again. Now, this blog is not for me to beat the drum on all the restaurants and attractions in the city, it is after all a tourist resort, nor is it to talk about the year round sunshine and access to nearby Bangkok, airport and islands. We all know about this, maybe we don’t always appreciate it, but we do know about it.
My question is what causes such a misunderstanding on the city. I think the answer comes down to the expats and Thais living in the region. It is a mixed bag of the good, the bad and the very ugly, and unfortunately the good are the minority.
British Fry Up as much a symbol of Pattaya as it is in Benidorm
What encapsulates Pattaya for me is the 99 baht breakfast debate that rumbles on the social networks, it is hot topic everyday, every month. Koh Larn, Koh Samet, Koh Chang all within easy reach of Pattaya, so why do I never hear debate on the social networks about where is the best places to stay, what can you do on the islands and the likes; no my feeds are filled with debate on which venue serves the best sausage or why are they so tight on how many baked beans they serve, or maybe they are not even Heinz? It beggars belief. Where else in the world would there be such debate? London, Paris, New York maybe a Dubai, of course not. You know where? And there we are back to the Benidorm again. I am quite sure they share such life changing discussion.
It is examples like this that cloud the appreciation for Pattaya. I am always torn between relocating to Bangkok for business, but when you review Pattaya it ticks so many boxes and that includes for my family too. It is the small things that can go under the radar too. Grocery shopping for example is excellent for expats from choices such as Big C Extra, Foodland to Villa Supermarket. The electrical shopping mall of Tuk Com has been an institution for as long as I can remember, I love it there and with the online giant of Lazada now offering free delivery and best pricing, living in Thailand for the tech geek has never been so entertaining. Again, just random examples of the benefits of living here.
But – and this is where I promised the blog could be a series of rambles – the British fry up is something I cannot let go as a symbol of Pattaya and what the area stands for to the expats living there. You see, Pattaya for the Westerner is fundamentally a retiree retreat. It is not St Tropez nor does it pretend to be. It represents a chance for the regular retiree on a budget to spend their leisure years in a tropical country. The English fry up in the UK was always somewhat of a treat and so now you are retired to have this luxury most days from as little as 99 baht, well that is living the high life isn’t it – just reward for all those years of hard work?
Plus, Pattaya has short term expats – you know the type, the ones who spend 4 or 5 months a year living here – so again, the English fry up is their morning treat. Unhealthy, but when did anyone come to Pattaya for a healthier lifestyle?
Unhappy Expat: “My fried sausage is too small”
Therefore I need to expect the fry up to be such big debate on the Pattaya forums, as I am a minority expat – I am not a retiree nor am I a short term holiday ‘expat’. Like with anything then the issue of living with Pattaya sits with the individual; it is all in perception of how you want to view this place.
I for one can become a little short sighted as I have lived here so long and possibly take it for granted, I have, after all, forgotten what it was like to live back in the UK.
If you want to live and integrate with the Expats of Pattaya you must get with the program, an Engish fry up needs to become part of your lifestyle at least once a week. Now this is the most important part, you must take to the forums and pass comment. If the sausages are too small or the tomatoes not fried enough it is your privilege and right as a Western expat in Pattaya to jump onto the forums and let the world know. It does not matter that the breakfast cost 99 baht, how dare they cheap charlie on the brown sauce? Never forget this. It is your earned right of living in Pattaya to make these complaints – don’t they know you used to play for Manchester United and had a career in the secret service?