Having been to Pattaya before I have never been to any tourist attractions there, so with my map and camera in hand I decided to walk to Wat Khao Phrabat.
Walking down South Pattaya Road and along Walking Street is NOT the way to go, because I found myself walking back the way I had come, albeit on a road that runs parallel to South Pattaya Road. That was ok because I got to see the pier and jetty, which I had never seen before, and also the somewhat ostentatious “Pattaya City” sign which adorns the hillside. I eventually found the way and proceeded to walk very slowly up the very steep hill. If you don’t like walking better take a motorcycle taxi or 10 baht bus (literally 10 baht anywhere you want to go) because, it being a viewpoint, it is at the top of the hill, so you need to take water.
But the effort is worth it because, at the top, you get magnificent views over Pattaya City sprawling into the distance.
It was the lookout point I wanted to see and although I visited the temple, which is fairly small, I was more interested in a statue of, what looks like a soldier, but underneath there is a small replica of the larger statue covered in gold leaf and locals making offerings, of roses and garlands of jasmine. I wondered why they would be doing this, rather than making offerings to their normal deities.
My friend told me that this man was an admiral, who joined the Thai Navy sometime before 1900. He served in the Royal Navy for six years and then rebuilt the Thai Navy where he became Captain and then Admiral. Some research on the internet tells me that his name is Kromluang Chomphonkhetudomsak, and he is regarded as the founding father of the modern Thai Navy, who is honoured by the Thai people. On the side of the hill there is, what looked like to me, some sort of naval lookout box, and I watched a few people set off some very loud firecrackers in it, presumably for good luck.
I walked back down the hill and decided to go and see the Big Buddha or Wat Phra Yai (up yet another hill). A motorbike taxi will take you up for 30 baht. At the top you will see a huge Buddha at the top of a set of stairs, flanked by two sets of Naga-a cobra-like snake with many heads. The Buddha hill and the Big Buddha are regarded as the protectors of Pattaya City. The Big Buddha is surrounded by different Buddhas, all in different positions, representing each day of the week. At the back there is a small pavilion with a Buddha’s footprint carved into the stone, and it is good luck for visitors to try and place a coin in the grooves of the pattern on the stone.
On the way down the hill, I was walking again- it’s easier on the way down- I came across some Chinese Gardens, with statues, temples and a beautiful little pond-these are dedicated to Confucius, a Chinese teacher, editor, politician and philosopher in the Spring and Autumn period of Chinese history, and Lao-Zi, a philosopher and poet of ancient China.
Aside wandering around looking at the temples and murals, there was a guy with a rucksack on his back. I thought he was sightseeing, like me, but when he passed me he was out of breath- he appeared to be jogging. That’s one way to get round the attractions I suppose!
I decided to walk back down the hill to Beach Road as it was downhill but it was quite a long walk but persevered I did BUT be sure to take plenty of water-I did not; wear sensible shoes-I did not; and don’t forget the suntan lotion- I did. From the peace and tranquility of Memorial look-out point and Big Buddha Hill to the bustling and chaotic Beach Road- the two are worlds apart. Everywhere there are people- walking, cycling, enjoying the beach, in bars and restaurants, even passed out from the night before.
Having felt like I had walked the whole of Pattaya I went back to my room for an afternoon nap, which has become a daily (almost every day) occurrence- I would never think of doing this in the UK but it’s so damn hot here and added to that I am not working at the moment- it’s very tiring doing nothing you know- but the walk made me feel revived (after my snooze of course).