Unregulated production and selling of cars greatly contribute to the traffic problem dubbed once as the “worst in the world.” Not to mention that the 22nd largest city in the world is thickly populated having about 15 million residents at any given time.
Organizers of the ‘Lakbay Aral’ delegation picked the best day to visit Pattaya, some 140 kilometers away from this city. The traffic that Sunday was not bad compared to other days.
Discovered by US Navy men in 1961, Pattaya is one of the three top tourist destinations in Thailand.
According to the Thailand tourism office, some 223,000 Filipinos visited their country in 2008 and Pattaya is one of their three favorite destinations. The others are Phuket and this city.
There are more than 1,000 hotels in Pattaya. They had to make superb dwelling places because the beaches in Pattaya are, well, “not too good,” eliciting criticism from journalist Arnel San Pedro with Boracay as benchmark.
But the development in Pattaya seemed well-planned. No permanent structures were built near the shoreline. A two-lane road separates the beach front from the hotels and other establishments.
The delegation led by Mabalacat, Pampanga Mayor Boking Morales was brought by speedboat to the Coral Island from Pattaya. The ride was so fast and exciting as if Tom Cruise was driving the boat in a Mission Impossible sequel.
The rains prevented us from swimming in Coral and Pattaya. We also had to leave early after eating a sumptuous lunch (again always delicious) at Coral onward to our next destination, Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden and Resort.
Owned by a woman who named it after herself, Nong Nooch offers an experience for nature lovers. It has a variety of gardens, namely Orchid Display Garden, French Garden, Butterfly Gardena, Cactus Garden and Four Towers, among others.
But the trip at Nong Nooch would not be complete without seeing the cultural and elephant shows.
Fine costumes and performers appear in the show to highlight the cultures of four regions in Thailand, which has a population of about 64 million.
The elephants in the show could do tricks well beyond the imagination. They could shoot darts to hit balloons from afar, play basketball, football and other fun games, earning applause from young and old alike.
“Too bad my three children are not with me. Maybe next time,” said Deng Pangilinan, one of the five media delegates. He made a joke after watching the animal show, saying “it’s easier too teach elephants than human beings.”
A four day trip to Thailand would not be enough to see all of its renowned sights. We have heard about the nature parks and adventures in mountainous areas in the country such as in Chang Mai province. The paradise island of Phuket, of course, is one good reason to go back to Thailand.
But time flies so fast and we have to go back to reality and in our own country.
Mayor Boking sums up best why Thailand is progressive and is the consistent top tourist destination in East Asia.
“The king is well-loved here,” said the mayor, referring to King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He is the longest reigning monarc in the world.
After all is said and done, it’s the attitude and love for the country that make Thai people successful.
Experience Thailand once in a lifetime and you will surely crave for more.