Sketches from Pattaya’s Parties

Hipster Backpackers

There’s nothing more amusing than watching hipster backpackers trying to play the pickup game in Pattaya’s party scene. The contrast of their handlebar mustaches, undercuts, and thrift-shop denim against the salon-shopped hair, painted faces, and skinny tight dresses of the Pattaya princesses is laughable at best. It’s like showing up to a baseball game wearing hockey gear. One whiff of that well-worn denim and hostel-induced body odor betrays to the girl an utter lack of everything she’s dolled herself up for. My advice: go back to Silverlake, the Mission, Portland, or wherever else you came from and try your luck with the ladies donning thick-rimmed glasses, flannel shirts, and black leggings. They’re more your style.


No song is less appropriate for the Pattaya party scene than Jason Derulo’s “Wiggle.” Sorry Jason and Snoop, in the Land of Smiles the big, fat butts are a rare commodity here, but your annoying single apparently isn’t. These asses don’t wiggle; they gyrate and stab. In a land where size 1 is considered fat, this song shouldn’t be popular, but strangely is. At least it’s more tolerable than “Mi Mi Mi.”

DJ Remixes

Ever want to hear John Legend’s “All of Me” re-synced to thumping techno? Yeah, me neither. But the DJs do it here all the time. And it’s not the only song they butcher with their hack spins. It seems to me that sapping Magic’s “Rude” of all hints of reggae robs it of the only thing it has going for it. I guess I’ll have to acquire a taste for whiny singing over sawtooth synths. Also, cutting short any track off Chronic 2001 is one of the DJ Seven Deadly Sins. Don’t fucking do it, asshole!

Korean Tour Groups

It’s beyond my mental prowess to explain why a coach bus full of Korean tourists would want to parade their children through Thailand’s seediest city—it’s no secret Pattaya is one giant Red Light. They swarm over a sight (not a site, mind you) and oo and ah and snap pictures with their selfie poles, only to evaporate within 15 minutes. This happened to me when I was at an Arabic shisha bar down an alley leading to the infamous Walking Street. They saw me smoking, gawked curiously, swarmed around me prattling in Korean, ordered their own shisha, coughed up smoke, laughed, snapped selfies, and were gone before I could even understand what had just happened.


I think Arabs have to be the funnest people on the planet, besides maybe Brazilians. The younger ones are hands down the most energetic at the club, and most outgoing, too. Even the shy ones seem to emanate a unique enthusiasm. And although slightly creepy, the older ones—fat and balding—carry an air of style and composure when they lounge around their shops drinking and smoking shisha. My only complaint: do you have to play your treble-intense music so loud that I can hear your speakers blowing? It’s saying a lot to say that you’ve got all of Walking Street beat with your godawful, speaker-distorted noise.

Russian Packs

Even with the ruble’s recent crash, Russians are everywhere in this town. And it’s difficult for an observer to determine whether any individual Russian is a visitor or long-term resident, because they make so little effort to fit in. The funny thing about Russians is that they don’t have to say a word and you know they’re Russian. But then once they open their mouths, they’ve 110% confirmed your suspicions. Watching them in the party scene is particularly delightful. They sit in their little packs of 3 to 5 and try their very best to look cool. They don’t say much to each other, but just gawk at all the ladies. They’re usually handsome enough that some unwary passerby will stop to talk to them. Before anyone can blink, these girls are mysteriously clinging to these men who feign absolutely no interest in anything going on around them. But the minute she attempts to walk away, something switches on and they turn into pouting angry desperados. Just relax and sip your Wodka, Chekhov.

Black Dudes (and Black Chicks)

Nothing sticks out like a sore thumb in an Asian party town intermixed with old white dudes than black dudes of an indeterminate age. These guys are here just to remind us white guys that even in this town we’re not as cool as we think. They have a rather tentative relation with the ladies here. Many Thai girls seem to believe the popular idea that “black dude be hung,” and they’re quite frightened by that possibility. But a rare few seem to dig the natural chill that mists off their beings. I’m happy for them that the only prejudice they face has to do with their endowment.

Also, black chicks: equally cool, equally fun, equally head-turning. As with most foreign women in Thailand, you can’t help but wonder what they hope to get out of going to a club and seeing women objectified. Perhaps it’s the different experience of being in those places as an outside observer, as opposed to a desired participant. Lord knows I’ve never seen a man approach one of these lovely ladies. Yellow fever, and no other, is the plague of this town.


Everywhere. In every club, bar, lounge, or restaurant in Walking Street. You cannot fathom how pervasive the sweet smell of shisha is in this town unless you’ve driven its streets. Never before have I danced to EDM-Hip-Hop mixes in a dark club with green lasers darting everywhere while a shisha gurgles at my side. It’s unreal.

Pasty Old Dudes

Ah, the Pattaya Retirement Scheme. Pensioners from all over Europe and the United States come here to stretch their retirement payments. And while they’re here, they might as well get a bit of tail, too. So they haunt the beer bars chatting it up with the bar girls. Everyone knows the game: buy her drinks to help her earn commission, pay the bar to take her home, then bang her brains out. The next day, you’re smitten and so you offer to take care of her because you hate the idea of her repeating the same exercise with some other schmuck (even though she had been for years before you ever arrived).

Many of these fossilized farang manage to find their way into the higher class establishments like iBar, Candy Shop, 808, and Lucifer’s. Whether they think the game is any different is unclear. In those places, it’s not much different, and only 80% of the girls are playing it, instead of 100%. But the men gyrate and drink their hearts out. They pretend to be decades younger so they can woo the decades-younger girl who was hours ago poured into her dress. Sorry, geezer, but these chicks aren’t attracted to you, just your wallet. And they say money can’t buy happiness…


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