BIRTH OF PATTAYA
About 20 years ago when we published the first issue of the “Pattaya People Newspaper” (now Pattaya People News Magazine) I made an interview with Khun Prinya Chavalitthamrong, the Pattaya pioneer, who was the one of the first people to buy big areas of land here and develop it, as such Khun Prinya was indeed the probably most important person in the creation of what we now know as Pattaya City.
I would like to reprint this unique interview here, but please ad 20 years to all the figures mentioned in the story.
Among the Thai community of Pattaya, the name of Khun Prinya Chavalitthamrong is well known as one of the pioneers of what has become Thailand’s premier resort on the Eastern Seaboard. Over the last 50 years Khun Prinya has watched Pattaya develop from virgin jungle into a popular tourist city, famous across the world.
Khun Prinya Chavalitthamrong has been a pivotal part of this development and commented, “In the past this land was a forest with barking deer and forest cocks,” he recalled.
“Some fifty years ago – during the Second World War- my wife and I traveled to Pattaya to look at land owned by Khun Samran Karnprapa. We met up with Khun Samran and were taken in a jeep owned by Khun Sanan, Dr. Amnuay Weerawan’s father”. “We left at 8 a.m. and drove along Sukhumvit Road to Bangpakong where we crossed the Bangpakong River by ferry and continued on to Banglamung. From there we had to go by foot to a place called Hin Khong. The forest contained a lot of cassava trees and we spent time wandering around and looking at the area,” Khun Prinya related.
It was on this trip that Prinya decided to buy some land. “1 first bought 500 rai of land for less than 1,000 baht per rai. I was just 30 years old then and was working in the Ministry of
He then left it wild and uninhabited for some time.
“In south Pattaya there were only houses for a few fishermen, and nobody inhabited what is now Pattaya Klang. To go to Naklua or Banglamung you had to wait for low tide.”
THE BIRTH OF PATTAYA CITY
“1 believed then that Pattaya had the potential to be developed as a place for tourists. My brother Khun Prayoon (who was the sheriff at Nonthaburi) built two houses. They were constructed on what is now the site of the Amari Orchid and the Regent Marina Hotels. We employed workers from Bangkok and brought people from Bang Plee and Bang Bor (in Samutprakarn province) down here to live and clear the jungle. I gave them material to work with and paid them ten baht a day, the worker’s rate in those days. Some equipment was transported by ship. There were no access roads, no electricity and not enough people in Pattaya to build houses,” he said.
“Later, I persuaded rich men from Bangkok to buy land and build houses. After working on the land during the day, some workers would work as watchmen at night to earn more money. In this way they saved enough to buy land of their own,” Khun Prinya continued.
“For fear that the development would come slowly, it was suggested that we construct an access road. We set the budget at 40,000 Baht and later we tried to raise another 200,000 Baht to build a road from Naklua to south Pattaya. I had no choice but to rent steamrollers at 5,000 Baht a day. After the road was constructed we managed to get the Department of Public Works to lay electricity wires.”
“The development of Pattaya as a site for tourism began after a journalist named Wanasiri of the Ploenchit newspaper, along with other reporters, came down to Pattaya,” Khun Prinya related.
Khun I?rinya said the journalists went walking along the beach around the area which is now the site of the Dusit Resort Hotel. They were impressed with what they saw and wrote glowingly in the newspaper about the area. Shortly after that Thai people began to visit Pattaya in increasing numbers. The area received a boost when tourist agencies in Bangkok began bringing groups of 30 to 40 people down for brief holidays.
BEGINNING OF FOREIGN TOURISM
In 1967 – during the Vietnam War – the American military had constructed and was operating an airforce base at U-Tapao. A number of servicemen chose to spend their time relaxing in the then peaceful environs of a pristine Pattaya. At that an airtorce base at U-lapao. A number of servicemen chose to spend their time relaxing in the then peaceful environs of a pristine Pattaya. At that time the town was still like a village, the incredible building boom a thing of the future.
“Pra Yotsunthorn, the father of Prajit, the former president of the Thai Siam Commercial Bank, had just built a hotel which catered for foreign tourists. That was the first step in the development of international tourism,” Khun Prinya said.
“The first hotel was Nipa Lodge followed by the Pattaya Palace and the Orchid Lodge (now known as the Amari Orchid Hotel). To cater for foreigners, many entertainment places were also opened. Nowadays there are 24 hotels that rent my land,” he stated proudly: In 1969, the Ministry of the Interior drafted legislation, which gave Pattaya the status of a city, and Khun Prinya was appointed to the Pattaya City council.
“At that time the man who really began to put Pattaya onto the international stage was the swiss hotelier, Mr. Alois X. Fassbind, the first manager of Royal Cliff Beach Resort. He is rightly spoken of as ‘Mister Pattaya City’,” Khun Prinya stated proudly.
“One day General Sathap Keyanontha, who was the mayor of Pattaya City, asked me to go to see the katoey show at Tiffany’s. I had never been interested in this type of show but I went with him. I found the show was spectacular and I enjoyed the performance. After that some people rented 12 rai of land from me and built the theatre which now has the Alcazar Show.
‘ “Khun Sutham Phanthusak rented my land to build a new Tiffany Show theatre, moving from South Pattaya to North Pattaya. This show now looks like the symbol of Pattaya.” Khun Prinya stated.
“I should also mention two brothers, Khun Vichit and Khun Sant Supornsahasrungsri, who have developed Pattaya by renting my land and building over ten hotels.”
Khun Prinya continued, “Once I was the Deputy Under-Secretary in the Ministry of Industry but I stepped down five years before I was due for retirement in order to run my business in Pattaya. By royal command I was made a member of Pattaya City and was approached to run for mayor, but I did not accept,” Khun Prinya said. “Sometimes I go to stay in the United States. I have a house in Los Angeles and I used to have a house in Florida. I even managed to obtain a Green Card.” [a permit to work and live in the United States] ”
‘At present I keep physically active by walking around my house sixteen times a day. I take some medicine and some vitamins. My only problem is that I have trouble sleeping,” Khun Prinya said.
Khun Prinya- now aged 83- still owns approximately 500 rai of land in Pattaya but lives a simple life in a house right on Wongamat beach.
“1 think Pattaya is growing to a
peak but it has not achieved its best because the administration and the management of the city are somewhat directionless,” he claimed.
“1 am so proud to have played a little part in developing Thailand and take great delight in watching Pattaya grow,” he concluded.