When I was somewhat younger, I had a plan to windsurf from Pattaya to Hua Hin. I would raise money for charity, I would glide magnificently across The Gulf, there would be groupies (or not, according to she who must be obeyed). Instead of doing that I broke my back in a car accident and the dream remains unfulfilled (although I still dream, inexplicably, of groupies). However, it is a reminder that, as the aquatic crow flies, the two cities are not too far apart.
Six years ago there was a ferry that would whisk you from port to port in a shade over two hours. The service was announced with much fanfare, and then soon after stopped with no fanfare at all, because there were not enough people prepared to pay for a ferry ticket, when for less money they could be crammed in a van for five hours and taken there by road.
Fast forward to April of last year and a grand pronouncement was made that a ferry service would be put in place by 2020! Hurrah! The Marine Department ordered a feasibility study to be completed by the end of the year and a new port would be built in Hua Hin.
Fast forward to November of last year and a grand pronouncement was made by those in overall charge of Pattaya that a new ferry service would swing into operation on the 1st January 2017, Hurrah! The fate of the Marine Department feasibility study was not made clear.
Hang on, said the people who worked in the city council. The Bali Hai pier that would host the ferry is woefully unprepared to handle this additional service. We need 26 million baht to fix the pier first, and we need money for 76 security cameras at 62,000 baht each, and we need to build some speedboat loading areas after someone banned the speedboats from loading on Pattaya beach. And we need even more money for some other stuff that we will think of.
Silence. Tick tock, tick tock.
The grand pronouncement was repeated and the magnificent ferry revealed. Supplied by a country noted for it maritime prowess (China), 389 passengers would be transported in relative comfort across The Gulf and the first crossing would be on January 1st. Hurrah!
But it wasn’t. Because not highlighted in the ferry announcement was the inability of the ferry to forge a passage through waves higher than 2 metres, and the waves on January 1st were more than that. So the passengers, some of whom had queued since 04:00 were offered a ride round the local island instead. Never mind, there was always tomorrow.
But there wasn’t, because the waves were still too high; and it was not until January 5th that a crossing was made; and only then accompanied by a navy frigate to ensure passenger safety. Comforting to those on board no doubt, perhaps of less comfort to those who plan to travel in the future when the frigate may not be in attendance.
Some doubts must remain about the viability of this service. The previous attempt failed because not enough people were prepared to pay for the convenience; has anything changed? And would you include this ferry in your travel planes if you knew that that it might be cancelled due to above average wave heights (heights above two meters are not uncommon in the middle of The Gulf), or with the possibility that wave heights might well increase to beyond a safe level during your journey?
And who the fuck wants to go to Hua Hin anyway? It’s boring.