Photo story: Pattaya’s Walking Street now in ruins
The entrance and the reality
The local government overhead sign for Walking Street depicts a futuristic brightly-lit park and pool area. But the street has not yet been renovated in any way and is dominated by dilapidated nightclubs which are shuttered or bulldozed or collapsed. The government has half-promised that entertainment premises serving alcohol might reopen in mid-January 2022. If that happens, neo-Pattaya’s Walking Street won’t be part of it.
End of the Agogo era
The once-vibrant street is now bedecked with for rent notices right and left. It’s a pointless exercise as clubs and bars need licences and they are simply not available in Walking Street. At least half the buildings have been declared illegal structures jutting into the sea. The Department of Provincial Administration, which issues operating licences, said none have been issued in this area for 2022.
Affluence versus poverty
Walking Street in its heyday attracted monthly rents of hundreds of thousands of baht for single units. The decline set in years before Covid struck, but the virus created a ghost town image. Unemployment skyrocketed and poverty became the new order. The only residents these days are security staff and the homeless. This lady told us she was sleeping outside the club where she once worked as a cashier.
Abandon hope of entering
The warning notice about a fierce dog turned out to be a terrier on duty 24/7 and not only at the advertised times. The owner told us he was actually a friendly chap who was looking for a good home with plenty of eats. This building is apparently well-insured and the occupiers want to keep out anybody who might want to create a mischief. There is a separate notice telling you not to sit down and to keep moving along.
Still no public report
The Nashaa night club was completely gutted in a fire two months ago and the locality is now steel-shuttered. Notwithstanding detailed forensic investigation, the city’s team has not yet issued an explanation of what caused the conflagration. However, their spokesman did indicate that the findings were “interesting”. Over the years, fires have not been uncommon and faulty electrical wiring and/or exploding gas canisters have borne the brunt of the explanations.
Gaming not gambling
King Kong once growled to attract attention from passersby, but has been silent for months. In most countries, Gaming Center would mean slot machines with payouts, blackjack, roulette and all the remaining casino games. But Thailand has strict laws against gambling, so customers had to be content with pinball tables and electronic games of chance without any possibility of any kind of payout. Things were often not what they seemed in Pattaya’s amazing past.
The sole survivor
Out of five previous 24-hours convenience stores, only this Family Mart has refused to pull down the shutters. The sales assistant said that there was sufficient business with security staff and workmen in the area. When Walking Street is eventually replaced by a more upmarket image with seaside cafes, children’s rides and posh shopping malls, Family Mart will still find a niche in the new order. That’s what they mean by continuity.