I was out for a walk with my two kids earlier in the week in Pratamanak and I bumped into a fellow expat who I have known for the best part of 12 years. It was great to catch up with him as in many ways our lives are fairly similar.
As we are both in business in Thailand it was predictable that the subject of Pattaya and the lack of customers (Western) was discussed. Through our years we have seen Pattaya change so significantly. What once was reserved for the Western retiree, saw the Russians arrive and then the Chinese and Indians. The bar scene has been declining throughout this perpetual transition and the town is now geared very much towards mass tourism and groups. The free independent traveler has become more marginal and that has made it tougher for many business outside of the tour group circles.
Without question over the last decade Pattaya has continued to reinvent itself and has dramatically changed.
As we both discussed the changes, my friend hit on something perhaps many of us fail to recognise: We have changed too.
But it’s not only Pattaya that has changed, is it?
The one constant in life, as the saying goes, is change, and these changes are in ourselves too. And that has a massive impact on your perception and views on where you live, like Pattaya.
Twelve years ago when I first arrived I was attracted to the apparent relaxation of rules, shall we say. Jumping on my motorbike without a helmet whilst hitting all the bars for a beer, somehow too even the bumpy roads only added to the attraction. I was kind of rebelling to how it was in the UK where there was a rule for everything.
I remember back then my friends were all starting to settle down and their idea of fun was a family BBQ with neighbours whereby all their kids would run around the garden together. Back then it was the furthest thing from my idea of a good time and I wanted to escape, before I became like them. It seemed predicable, boring and nothing more than following the rules of domestic family life.
But now all those things I rejected, I find myself now wanting. I have a family now and I want them safe and happy. To be able to offer the very best for them.
You see Pattaya and I have a lot in common really – Pattaya is a bit like me
You see Pattaya and I have a lot in common really – Pattaya is a bit like me. It has grown up. It wants some structure and doesn’t want drunken expats driving around town, it doesn’t want a bar scene and it wants to adapt to the global market we operate in.
The reality is, just like me, Pattaya was always going to as it had no choice. Imagine if all it’s hopes rested on the Western retiree – it would be in serious trouble.
It may make some expats feel marginalised and increasingly pushed out but we must accept the market conditions and rather than cry into our beer, take some accountability for our lives and what we want to do.
There is still a place for the Western Expat in Pattaya, it’s just different now.
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