The New Walking Street Sign

Walking Street sign Pattaya, Thailand circa 2006

Change is inevitable and the only known constant in the world but it always bugs the hell out of me when the change is for the worse, not the better.

Sometime around January/February of last year they took down a sign in Pattaya that was known the world over as being the gateway to one of the worlds best known streets, Walking Street. The picture above is what the sign looked like in 2006. Sure, the old sign had some problems but repairing them wouldn’t have been too bad and the cost would have certainly been much less than the monstrosity they replaced it with.

The old sign had charm and was instantly recognizable to anyone that had seen or heard of it before. When I was in town in early 2008 they had installed the pilings and poles for the new sign and had started taking down the old. What should have been a months job lingered on a few months then stopped only to start again and linger on even more months.

Eventually towards the end of last year the sign was complete and put into service…of course the next day it stopped working but they quickly got it going again and you can see by the picture below what a difference it makes. What was once a classy sign was now a huge and hideous LCD screen that can be seen miles away.

The new Walking Street sign 2009The sign shows advertisements for local merchants, bar and hotel owners and can literally blind you if you are within 300 feet. I don’t blame the Thai’s in charge of this ugliness though, they are only doing what everyone else in the world does these days…going for technology they can make a buck off of.

April was the first time I saw the sign in action and I have to say it definitely has diminished the sense that you were someplace special, someplace that had stood the test of time. I’m sure that will make a few people laugh as what lies behind the sign isn’t quite the tourist attraction the Thai’s want to publicize but, none the less,  it attracts tourists from around the world anyway.

Nightly you can see groups of Chinese and Koreans wandering walking street with their cameras out snapping away at all the girls and other tourists partaking of the nightlife. One can only hope that this isn’t a new trend in Thailand, I would hate to see the Grand Palace or Wat Arun get similar treatment…he said with a hint of sarcasm

New Walking Street sign in action

sig1 The New Walking Street Sign

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Comment by CatherineNo Gravatar
2009-06-01 19:51:35

Talen, I’ve never been to Walking Street, but that would irk the bejesus out of me too! And what were the Thais thinking? Tourists continued to be attracted by quaint – just look at the different attractions in the UK and the US – and huge ugly TVs are not quaint at all.

What a pity.

Catherines last blog post..YouTube: Thai Tylenol Ad and Tones

Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-06-01 20:07:42

It really is a shame but I’m sure they saw the dollar signs when someone brought up the advertising aspect.

I’ve seen just as many people taking pictures of the old sign as I have seen people taking pictures of other landmarks in Thailand. Didn’t see anyone taking pictures this time…just me and not because it was pretty.

Comment by Pete, frogbloggerNo Gravatar
2009-06-01 23:43:32

When you think how poorly TAT have promoted some aspects of tourism in Thailand, when you consider the lackadaisical easy come, easy go approach the Thais have had in the past to Westerners, the political farce and the effect that has had on the number of visitors, all the missed opportunities… are you surprised? Its a bit like the reaction some have had to reduced numbers of farangs to their businesses. Discounts? Sure, some of the time. But some have tried to put their rates up to compensate! I know that we expats sometimes don’t make enough effort to integrate and understand Thai culture, but if they want to attract Western tourists, they need to make a bit more effort in the other direction as well…

Pattaya kind of developed in a haphazard, unplanned way, but I suppose it has its charm ;-)

That sign you snapped looked good, but maybe the Thais just don’t get nostalgia…

Pete, frogbloggers last blog post..Chiang Mai Thailand – foreign residents summoned to police station

Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-06-02 00:09:45

Pete, I really don’t think they care so much about western tourists anymore. Most of their efforts are centered on China, Korea, Russia and India.

I can’t say that I have ever seen any Thailand tourism related content at any time in America.

When you walk around Pattaya these days you see a lot of signs written in Chinese and Russian and a bunch more Russian establishments have opened up in the past 2 years.

Comment by Ben ShingletonNo Gravatar
2009-06-02 04:52:32

Agreed. Garish, unwelcoming. No class, no character. Crap. Should be a public outcry.

Ben Shingletons last blog post..Give a man a fish he will eat for a day. Teach him how to spot roadside food and the rest is history ……

Comment by MikeNo Gravatar
2009-06-02 07:39:00

I have never been to walking street but I tend to agree with your sentiment. Perhaps they will go for a full blown Times Square effect, which I actually quite like in NYC.

Perhaps you are right about the mix of nations now drawn to Pattaya, I personally know a lot of Russians who have visited and really rate it.

Mikes last blog post..Children in Thai Foreigner Relationships

Comment by MartynNo Gravatar
2009-06-02 16:47:58

Talen it is a shame about the new appearance to the entrance to Walking Street but you did mention money and that’s what the famed walk is all about. Behind the sign nothing has changed and it’s business as usual for the girls and ladyboys. A shame but this is Pattaya and the money men ain’t into tradition, just good old bucks.

Martyns last blog post..Land of the Rising Yen

Comment by JonNo Gravatar
2009-06-03 03:24:27

Hey Talen, this just confirms the Thai opinion of advertising – any place, anywhere, nothing is sacrosanct. Adverts are literally everywhere.

Could be worse, I’ve heard stories from locals of Thai mayors replacing perfectly working lampposts with new fixtures made of gold. The allegation is that the major over budgets the cost of work in order to fiddle the accounts and pocket extra money.

Jons last blog post..Much ado about crossing

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