When people think of living in Pattaya they don’t normally think about art and beauty! However, to the keen eye there is much more visual stimulation to this mad, bad city of ours than you might think. Here are my recommendations of the top 5 places or excursions to find a little piece of artistic inspiration in Pattaya…
1. BIRDS AND BEES RESORT
If you fancy a little piece of heaven away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Pattaya, this charming eco-resort is your go-to destination. The view across the bay from the restaurant balcony is spectacular and recently served our students as inspiration for a watercolour painting course. The resort also houses a local school run by the inspirational Khun Meechai (recognised worldwide for his work on reducing the birth rate in Thailand and supporting local communities). From the restaurant overlooking the ocean enjoy a lychee smoothie and head down to the beach from where you can explore and capture some of the beautiful Jomtien coastline.
2. NAKLUA MARKET
The busy bustling market is best seen at dawn; stalls will begin setting up as early as 4AM Some of Pattaya’s big fishing areas are found just off the coast of Naklua and this is where the city’s main hotels will head to purchase the very finest local lobster and king prawns for the city's many weekend buffets. There are actually two markets here, one specialising in cooked foods and one specialising in delicious fresh produce, including a dizzying array of seafood. You will find this one next to the giant holy tree (protected by colourful, blessed scarfs) in the middle of Naklua road. It’s also a good place to see the local monks accepting offerings and returning blessings to local people.
3. A DAY TRIP TO KOH LARN
Although Koh Larn is not as “Bounty advert” worthy as the tropical paradise of Koh Samet further down the coast, it is however a great place to spend a Saturday or Sunday looking for artistic inspiration. Get up early and head for the port in Pattaya where you can catch a ferry to the island for as little as 40 baht. As you make the crossing, you can enjoy the beautiful turquoise water; it’s also a great people-watching opportunity as you take in the families on the boats with all their picnic supplies for the day. Once you arrive you can explore the island by baht-bus; or you can hire a motorbike and strap your art materials to the back. Head for the beaches further around the island where you’re more likely to find emptier sands; your own little slice of peace and quiet.
4. THE SANCTUARY OF TRUTH
This landmark local temple doesn’t need any introduction. The spectacular site, located in the Naklua area of Pattaya, is a multi-faith wooden temple, which is covered with hugely intricate carvings based on traditional and contemporary Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. In terms of an art and design perspective it is particularly fascinating as it is still incomplete; you can see the chalk sketches of stories on the wood inside the temple, before the carving has begun. Traditional Thai dance shows are shown every hour and the site boasts spectacular views of the ocean.
5. ANEK KUSON SALA (VIHARNRA SIEN)
This fascinating Chinese Temple is marked by a giant Buddha carved into the hillside behind it. The site also contains an outstanding museum housing many different kinds of Buddhist and Chinese cultural artefacts, including paintings, bronzes, maps and items related to Shaolin martial arts. One of the highlights is the collections display of genuine Terracotta Warriors from China.