The Looking Glass Magazine January 2012

 

Praternak Rising above Pattaya on Buddha Hill
by Jack Corbett

Pattaya's Big Buddha

Two hundred feet above Pattaya's whacked out sex tourist scene is a different world of several hills known as Praternak.

Most visitors to Pattaya come for the women and the drinking arriving and leaving to return a year or two or even a few months later completely clueless of the peace and serenity permeating this area.  And whereas the beaches below are often littered and the water unfit to swim in, there are cleanup crews making their daily rounds here keeping the area almost spotless. 

So what's here?  The first hill overlooks the Bali Hai Pier.  An ascent by road has a couple of very sharp curves while the pedestrian has a shorter route up several groups  of steps.  More of a knob than a hill, there really isn't much up there other than a concrete helicopter pad and a spectacular view of the Gulf of Thailand.  The knob projects into the second hill without changing elevation much.   On top of this second hill is a Chinese Thai temple area.  But it's the third hill where the Golden Buddha is found. 

Up here there's very little car or motorbike traffic so it's an ideal area to walk  through and the views are majestic, giving little hint of all the craziness that goes on at sea level.  The go go bars are close by, but the two worlds are so separate since it is doubtful if very many of the night owls frequenting the go go bars have have ever been up on these  nearby heights. 

There's no question that Pattaya's an exciting place either to live in or visit.  Some claim it's the sex capital of the world.  And from my vantage point there's a concentration of the worse sorts of people here.  Pattaya's gotta have the most self centered idiotic homicidal motorcycle drivers in Thailand.  And since it is justifiably famous world wide for its sex scene it attracts more than its fair share of pimps and whores.   Moreover those men coming here to partake of all the cheap sex are not the best examples of the world's best Western men.  And if this is not enough Russia's targeted Pattaya for making a huge Russian presence.  So take it from me, taken as a group, the Russians who come here have to be the most arrogant, ill mannered, boorish, unpleasant assemblage of humanity here.  But all that is forgotten here on Praternak.  It rises above it all, majestically, a garden spot full of color with transcendental views of the surrounding city as well as the Gulf of Thailand. 

 

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The Sheraton Hotel

Our excursion to Praternak would not have been complete without having lunch at the Sheraton Hotel.  We could have gone to the Royal Cliff  Hotel which no doubt is sensational but I had already checked out the Sheraton several years ago and knew it would not disappoint.  After all, one of my American friends was here visiting, and Tom had arranged to have a Vietnamese girlfriend stay with him.  I had just bought a black Honda Civic and my girlfriend had just gotten her driver's license, so I wanted to be absolutely certain the hotel where we'd have lunch would be stupendous.  I had never had lunch or dinner at the Sheraton, however.   All of us found the service and the food to be up to the hotel's five star billing. 

Even down at the beach I suspect the water's cleaner than it is over at Pattaya or Wongamat Beach.  For one thing the coastline takes a sharp bend off of Pattaya Beach so there's some measure of protection from all the floating debris that plagues the two beaches north of the Sheraton.  Moreover, there's not nearly the concentration of humanity just down from these hills so there's bound to be less sewage creeping into the water.  So....although the price might be a little steep for a lot of tastes especially when you factor in that Thailand hotels offer a lot for the money, you really can get away from it all here, so it could very well be worth paying the much higher price just for the overall quality of the beach.  On the other hand, I just looked at the February pricing.  At $175.00 and up, I've just gotta say, "ouch".  But be sure, I will be back for lunch. 

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