Experiences, Thailand

Swimming With Dolphins

“Pattaya. Are you thinking of just nightlife and massage parlours? Well think again. There is so much more to Pattaya than exotic massages and nightlife on the “colourful” Walking Street. I discovered the charming side of Pattaya quite by chance just before booking my trip to Thailand.


I’ve always found it useful to do some research before visiting any place to weigh the pros and cons of backpacking all by myself as opposed to taking the help of some local travel agent. I realized the latter was more cost-effective and hassle-free as I was going to have a fully loaded itinerary for Thailand and didn’t want to waste time coordinating between various places in terms of the different modes of public transport.

I was visiting Central (Bangkok, Chonburi, Pattaya) and Southern (Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui) Thailand, keeping North for a later date. Having almost decided against Pattaya, thinking it was too commercialized and over-hyped, imagine my surprise when I found the place had so many hidden gems to offer! While the breathtaking beauty of the coral beach captivates you, little known places like the awe-inspiring carvings at the Sanctuary of Truth temple beckon the traveller to dig deeper into the heart of this quaint city. Built totally of wood, the Sanctuary is slowly emerging as one of the world’s most exquisite piece of architecture against the backdrop of an endless sea.
Sanctuary of truth
The magnificent Sanctuary of Truth

The sculptures are based on traditional Buddhist and Hindu motifs featuring contemporary visionary art. The temple is a dream project of a Thai businessman, the late Lek Viriaphant. Even after his sad demise in 2000, his dream lives on and the project is scheduled to be completed by 2050. The foundation of the temple was laid in 1981.

Yet another exciting place that added Pattaya to my itinerary was Oasis Sea World Dolphin Park, also known as Pattaya Dolphin World, in Chonburi on the outskirts of Pattaya city. Indian travellers hardly ever venture into this wonderful park due to lack of awareness. Besides the amazing dolphin shows and other land activities on the premises, the main attraction for me was a chance to swim with the dolphins. Yes, you got that right! These cute mammals are not just friendly but can exhibit emotions and intelligence as powerful as humans. I will come to that part in a while. We were a small group of about 10 people, an excited bunch of homo sapiens from different parts of this beautiful earth. Needless to say, my partner and I were the only Indians in the group! We were asked to maintain silence and file/cut our nails so that we didn’t cause any harm to these gentle creatures while swimming.

Enjoying a playful moment

Now let me tell you about the intelligence displayed by one of the three Irrawaddy dolphins I got a chance to swim with. While I was holding its fin and trying to keep my face above the water level as the huge mammal was speeding its way towards the edge of the giant pool, my hand suddenly slipped and I lost my grip on the dolphin. Realizing this, it came back to where I was wading and nudged at me to hold its fin again in order to continue with the swim! I simply wanted to hug this amazing animal tight, plant a kiss and offer a fish to show my affection, which, of course I had no scope of doing under the circumstances. However, I did manage to feed some fish and peck its snout at the end of the show which, as far as I am concerned, would be one of the most fulfilling encounters I ever had in my life!

What a refreshing shower!




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