A Phrase, a Game, and a Business Plan: How Renovating a Boardwalk Changed The Thai Hot Spot

Pattaya has long been considered one of Thailand’s must-see tourist destinations. Its decades-old reputation for fun and surf (and sex) endures thanks to a local mythology that distills the place to its most basic elements: beach, pier, marine life, booze, massage, rain.

The reputation, of course, has not aged well, with reports of sex and excessive drinking and a murder by a drunk woman and the allegedly brutal beating of a business leader.

But a group of influential businessmen has pledged to do something about it, with celebrity chef José Andrés joining the group as part of the Thai American Chamber of Commerce and the World Tourism Organization.

“If you want to help, if you think you can do something that can help save this culture and not just a handful of guys, let’s get together,” Paul Sangha, the group’s executive director, told the Bangkok Post last month.

Over time, authorities have cracked down on undesirables in a particular area of the city known as the Emerald Coast, in order to protect the identity of the place. Now, the area is planning a reopening of the main pier in the Edamans, which was closed in March.

The 2.2 kilometer harbor was closed in 2005 due to sewage lines that were corroding the jetty and pipes carrying waste to the harbor. The restoration will be completed in May, and a celebration is planned for late July.

The Edamans and Rachat Putrayipo (also known as Pattaya Bay) has had a long history as a beach resort and fishing village and eventually as a hot spot for sex tourism. When it was first built in the 1940s, it served as a space for fishermen to wade into the sea to unload their catches, according to the Associated Press.

“When it was a fishing town, it was rough as hell,” one former fisherman told the AP. “But now I see kids chasing women, and the women chase them back. They are loving it. They are there all the time.”

In the 1950s, Edamans became a popular destination for American military men, who wanted to relax in a place away from the bustle of Bangkok, a city better known for its hustle and bustle.

For a better understanding of this turn of events, read the audio tour on the Edamans site.

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