<p dir=ltr>Back in Thailand. After a brief visit to Bangkok I went on down the coast to Pattaya. This town has a reputation for tourism gone wild, like Palma de Mallorca, Cancun, Vang Vieng, or Las Vegas, so I have always avoided it in the past. Time to change that. It’s true, the town has an unusual density of hotels, restaurants, bars, and massage parlors (follow the cries of “massaaaaage sir”), and it does have a few tourist zoos like the eponymously named Walking Street with its garish flickering billboards and gogo bars. A gogo bar is basically a brothel masquerading as a bar. But apart from those it’s a large, busy, and unusually unattractive town with too much traffic and out-of-control highrise development projects.</p>
<p dir=ltr>I went there not to gawk at pole dancers, but to go scuba diving. Not bad, they have some nice corals and wrecks around beautiful islands in the Gulf of Thailand, but it can’t touch Indonesia. The corals aren’t as colorful, there are fewer fish, and recent rain has reduced visibility in the water to less than ten meters. In a few places it felt like swimming in pea soup, making it hard to stay oriented. But diving is always fun even if there’s no mantas gliding by.</p>