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Strolling safely up Pattaya’s ‘Walking Street’

Some folk say, ‘not to be missed’ – others say the opposite. Only by experiencing the sights, sounds, aromas and blatant exhibitionism, is one competent enough to form an opinion. Although I had witnessed many such areas in many parts of the world, of what have been described as, ‘Dens of iniquity’, there is no substitute for seeing at first hand, what goes on along both sides of this infamous, mile long street.

Walking Street, PattayaTraffic is not allowed, so, soon after sunset and well into the night, the entire length is traversed in both directions by hoards of inquisitive tourists. No one is forced to do anything. Whether your visit is merely one of ‘sightseeing curiosity’ or not, the choice is yours.

There are bars, restaurants of all types, shops, hawkers, street performers (contortionists for example) clubs, pubs and seedy dives. Music of many genres is pumped out relentlessly, a cacophony of competing sound, which certainly adds to the overall ambience (or rather lack of it).

There are some really great seafood restaurants accessed through advertisement-lined alleyways, all of which offer outside seating with views of the sea and coastline.

A recently met Australian couple and I walked half the street length, before taking a step into a restaurant which offered a choice of Thai and International dishes. From there, eating spicy noodles and sipping cold beer, we watched the antics of those meandering back and forth.

On our return journey to the arch that denoted the beginning of Walking Street, I was very surprised to see a group of ten or twelve white girls, dressed in the absolute minimum of clothing, gyrating their bodies and gesturing men of all nations towards a doorway, over which a sign read …’White Girls Only in Here’ (or words to that effect). This intrigued me to the extent that it led me to make some very discrete enquires. The result of them was shocking indeed. I was told that the Russian Mafia had made their presence felt and had ‘imported’ Russian and East European girls to Pattaya, to work as prostitutes in the premises now controlled by that Mafia.

Near the exit to the street, I spotted a black van around which were standing a number of Tourist Police (White – non Thai). In conversation I learned the reason for their presence, mainly to intercede where alcoholic inspired arguments and fights had broken out and use persuasion wherever possible to prevent escalation. As a last resort, they had the power to arrest and jail. Probing as to the Russian presence, met with mere, vague, head movements with no accompanying words. I drew my own conclusion from that.

However, a stroll along Walking Street need not be feared by any tourist merely wishing to observe what it offers. ‘Do as you would be done by’ and all will be well.

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