Pattaya has been dubbed the world’s biggest brothel. It’s where mainly poor uneducated, single mother’s from rural areas of Thailand come to work as prostitutes in order to support themselves, their children and their parents and extended family. A huge tourist destination for middle aged western men, and in more recent years Arabs, Iranians, Indians and Pakistanis, Walking Street and Beach Road are packed with bars and street hookers.
Mention Pattaya to your average Thai and they’ll frown with disgust; it’s certainly a far cry from being remotely “Thai”, and reflects a district not unlike Holland’s red light district in Amsterdam. Foreigners that visit Pattaya aren’t exactly treasured in Thailand, and any Thai woman who met their foreign partner in Pattaya will have a hard time gaining respect, unless of course she is from a well to do family, owns a business or works in management, and of course married a foreigner of her own age and social standing. Other than that she is likely to be labelled a hooker.
In the last two years Pattaya has shown considerable signs of change, though. The beachside town has attracted heavy investment from Russia, with Russians buying up property and developing businesses in the area. The attraction is a beach just two hours from the convenience of Bangkok’s main airport, and a harbour to moor boats year round. This investment is spawning a new Pattaya, one that in ten years may see the prostitute bars largely confined to a few streets, away from holidaying families.
Amidst all this is Tim Sharky. Pattaya is his second home, his first being the Gold Coast of Australia where he plied his trade as CEO of the notorious Shark Financial Services. The Shark is Pattaya’s most colorful resident in more ways the one, and an anomaly when stacked against the average expat/visitor.
First of all, bar perhaps the Russian communities, Pattaya isn’t exactly a hub for rich tourists or expats. Yet Tim is not short of a bob or two. His car collection alone dwarfs the lifetime income of most, and his collection of gold is more than enough to buy him out of a murder charge in this, the Sin City of Thailand. Second of all he doesn’t drink. Nope, unlike 99% of the foreigners in Pattaya who are half cut by midday, Tim doesn’t touch the stuff.
And then there are the animals. While most people couldn’t give a hoo-hah about the stray dogs roaming the streets looking hungry and destitute, Tim has made it his daily work to make sure these guys get a good meal. “Don’t buy me a drink buy me some dog food”, he says. He also takes care of some cats too. When Tim isn’t in the gym pumping iron he’s helping the animals or shopping for high quality protein…or travelling home back to Oz first class with his feet up – no champagne though!
Then there’s the subject of women. Yes, Tim does sleep with the hookers, well at least “The ones that will sleep with me”, as he puts it. He makes no bones about it (pardon the pun). He sleeps with them, let’s them chill, eat, watch TV, pays them and says goodbye. The ones he hasn’t slept with he speaks to in the street and where he can protects. Believe it or not he hates nothing more than men beating on or bumping (not paying) the girls. Tim is a born hustler, and he respects that these girls are just hustling, they gotta get paid like everyone else. On occasion Tim has been known to bail a girl out of prison or provide a meal in desperate times; he does as much as he can without getting too involved – you have to be careful, in Pattaya kindness can be exploited for weakness.
Another key difference between the Tim Sharky Pattaya and the average expat is that Tim doesn’t hide his lifestyle. If asked whether he goes to Pattaya and sleeps with prostitutes he emphatically says, “Yes”. He doesn’t want a partner/wife so how else does a busy guy with a huge sexual appetite get by in life? Others who come to Pattaya spend their lives trying to avoid the label, sneaking in and out of the shadows, many behind the back’s of their wives. Men come to Pattaya for cheap sex with economically constrained women who sell sex. The world is this way, not just in Thailand but all over. The difference is, the majority of Thai hookers aren’t sticking heroin in their arm or a crackpipe in their mouth every ten minutes like you’d find in the USA, UK or Australia. To find a very attractive hooker who doesn’t do that in those countries you’re looking at a good $150 for an hour; and she’d still have an attitude problem! The way Tim goes through women he’d need $10,000+ just for hookers a month – expensive hobby.
It’s a paradoxical world. Tim’s Pattaya is very different from most others. Some ask, “Why the hell live there when you can be driving your Lambo on the Gold Coast”? Tim says he likes the escapism, the fanfare, “it’s like stepping into a non-reality, it’s entertaining but you have to remember it’s not real; if you don’t you will either die or become depressed”.