Pattaya, Thailand — R&R of a More Acceptable Sort (Sort of)

Posted by Keith on August 18, 2007 at 10:35 am  

Pattaya, Thailand
August 18

After a very choppy six-day passage across the South China Sea, we arrived at the Ocean Marina in Pattaya, about forty miles southeast of Bangkok, early this morning.

The Ocean Marina is large, new and beautiful. The people at the Marina office were wonderfully hospitable. Unfortunately, because we arrived on a Saturday, and because Monday is a national holiday here, we remain unable to clear through either immigration or customs until Tuesday.

Therefore, I will not be able leave Pattaya until Tuesday afternoon at the earliest; but once able, I hope to visit Bangkok, and from there to visit other points of interest in Southeast Asia. I will continue to file dispatches and post photos during my travels.

Pattaya is an energetic seaside vacation town. There are, I’m told, more than 70 hotels and resorts here. It fronts on the east coast of the famous Gulf of Siam, now known as the Gulf of Thailand, and it bustles with tourists amid the construction of new condos and hotels everywhere.

Many Thais and foreigners maintain second homes here; and many more stay at the hotels that range from one to five stars.

The Quintessential Wartime R&R Location

But it wasn’t always this way. Until the 1960s Pattaya was a sleepy fishing village. But then the U.S. Military settled on this location as an “R&R” destination for its personnel fighting in Vietnam.

Their decision spurred the establishment of countless bars and hotels, and drew young women from throughout Thailand to the young Americans desperate for human contact of another sort.

Those of us in Vietnam who were married took our six-day R&R in Honolulu, where we met up with our wives and, in my case, where I met my oldest son, Keith Paul, for the first time.

But the single Marines in my unit usually opted for right here at Pattaya, Thailand. Many would return with new stereos, stories of bar fights and sexual exploits (never verified, of course), and often with a souvenir of another sort in those pre-AIDS days — for which the U.S. military provided prompt medical attention.

The night life is still wild here, I’m told, and military personnel still visit; but today Pattaya, with its upscale resorts, condos, restaurants and shopping is also firmly established as an upscale vacation destination.

A Birthday to Remember

It happens that today, August 18, is my birthday. The crew and I will have a nice dinner this evening to celebrate. But I most look forward to the birthday phone calls I’ll enjoy with my family tomorrow, where back in the States it will still be August 18. Thanks to the international date line, you might say I get to celebrate twice.

I’m staying at the beautiful Sheraton Pattaya Resort — a five star hotel — waiting for that passport stamp on Tuesday and to rest that cracked rib of mine (see previous dispatch — “Rugged Adventure on the South China Sea”) for the next three nights. Being in this region of the world I can’t help but remember that I spent my 20th birthday not too terribly far from here in a foxhole south of Da Nang. Without a doubt, I recommend the resort!



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