A busy, but wonderful day… sand, sun, beach, temples, views, amazing culinary treats… all climaxing to the New Years Eve parties on the beaches of Pattaya, Thailand!
Drove the motorbike to Jomtien Beach, on the opposite side of Pratumnak Hill for the better part of the day. Then meandered back to Pattaya Bay via the top of the hill where the Big Buddha calls home at Kao Phra Yai Wat temple. Then a lookout point and back to the beach… only this time in the center of crazy Pattaya.
I didn’t know what I was in for with Pattaya… words describing it that I had heard from other travellers included: crazy, ridiculous, seedy, disgusting, not-to-missed, and fun.
And… well, holy shit, what a crazy place! Sorry for cursing, but it truly was all those words described, one of the party places on the planet. If you think Vegas or Amsterdam or Ibiza or whatever is crazy, well then you haven’t travelled far enough! Put Pattaya on your to-do list.
For me, there was no better place to welcome in the year 2012 the following night………………
Located 145km from Bangkok, the trip is easily taken by bus or van that leave hourly, we actually took one straight from the airport. Pattaya itself has some decent beaches, not as nice as the ones in Phuket, Phangan and Samui, but certainly a step up from home. The city itself is located mainly around Pattaya Bay, divided into two parts by Pratumnak Hill (where the Wat Khao Phra Bat temple is located; pics to follow), north of which is Pattaya proper and to the south Jomtien. Jomtien is where we spent our days, lounging on the more family-friendly beaches, away from the mayhem that is Pattaya proper. Our hotel was also located about a 10min motorbike ride from the center, which was definitely a smart move.
Pattaya. Allegedly the second most visited city in Thailand (after Bangkok), it is a hotspot for Bankokians seeking a weekend retreat from the big city. It is mostly known for being bananas. The Walking Street is, as the name should suggest, is a walking street literally littered with ALL KINDS of bars (some had mini boxing rings inside, where you can watch or join kickboxing fights), clubs, gogo bars, massage parlors and some restaurants. It is a complete sensory overload. No pictures can do it any justice, especially if ‘no photography’ signs adorn pretty much every establishment. And for good reason.
Outside Hoi An, on the outskirts of Da Nang there is a set of 5 curiously tall rock formations… known as the Marble Mountains, each named after an element (metal, water, wood, fire, earth). Tucked away in/on them is an array of caves, Buddhist temples, pagodas and religious sanctuaries, which allow for spectacular views of nearby Da Nang city, as well as down the entire coastline. Which, much to my dismay, will soon be littered by hotel resorts crammed right next to each other. We drove the 30min via motorbike down the coast to Hoi An, and passed several brand-spanking-new resorts, with mapped out lots in between… all in the process of being built on. One can soon expect a Vietnamese version of horrible horrible Cancun (*barf*).
The streets that surround the mountains are filled with countless workshops and showrooms that house piles and piles of statues carved out of limestone… which is apparently shipped in from China.
Shhhhhhh, don’t tell anyone.
An epic evening of verpertinesque skies above Upper Quezon Hill, Baguio City!
There was also a lightning storm occurring out over the South China Sea, check it out in some of the images.
Around Baguio City…
(click to view large)
I’d seriously love to rock one of those armored trucks…!
The first couple images were taken from the roof of the house I was staying in… a perfect spot to try out (only for the third time in my life) a nice proper long “star shot”. Image #1 is a 30sec exposure, while #2 is 2,737sec (+/- 45 minutes)! Unfortunately I didn’t quite get the image I wanted… it really has to be an absolutely clear night for it to work out properly.
The next several pictures are from the Lourdes Grotto, “100 stairs” turned out to be 242. Then finishing our religious tour with the Chinese Bell Church, located at the edge of Baguio City and La Trinidad, which practices a mix of Taoism, Buddhism, and Christianity.
The final several are from the top of Upper Quezon Hill, I actually had to DE-saturate some of those images. The [red] city lights reflecting on to the low clouds above, with still some blueness to the sky… quite a remarkable effect only possible at a specific time. Truly VESPERTINE!
Some night shots around Upper Quezon Hill, Baguio City.
The following day we rented a jeepney and accompanied the family for a day at the beach, heading from Baguio down Kennon Road through Rosario, a 1500m decent to the seaside, where we enjoyed the warm water and BBQ’d fresh fish on the beach…!