Pretty in Pattaya
We headed to the beach city of Pattaya, near the eastern coast of the Gulf of Thailand, where we were to attend the 21st IUHPE (and Thai Health) World Conference on Health Promotion taking place over a span of 3 days. We stayed in the luxurious, honeymoon-worthy beach resort known as Birds & Bees, where the profits from the resort and its unique restaurant, “Cabbages and Condoms,” support Thai activist, Mechai Viravaida’s HIV/AIDS awareness campaign as well as providing support towards educating less-fortunate youth in rural Thailand…HIV awareness, education, delicious food and the beach…sounds like a great deal to me!
The conference itself was such a great opportunity for us to understand the current topics and issues in global health promotions and advocacy. Topics ranged from community involvement initiatives of HPV vaccination implementation in Fiji to the “Low-Salt Diet” campaign suggested by the Thai Ministry of Health to address kidney disease and obesity in Thailand. Thai dancers would break out into a flash mob to promote physical activity, bright posters from a covering a multitude of health topics filled the halls, and health promoters were eager to share their research and collaborate with one another. The passion, sense of global community and connectivity was truly inspiring for me. I even got to meet and network with the CEO of Health in Tonga, the Head Chair of Health Advocacy in South Africa, and a Principal Investigator on HPV from Australia-I’m thinking potential internships in the near future!
After the conference was over, we spent a well-earned day off at a beach on the island of Koh Larn, just a 45 minute boat ride from the shores of Pattaya. White sand, clear, blue water, barbecued pork skewers, coconut drinks and plenty of speedo wearing foreigners, or faring, were in sight that day! And at night? We ventured out on Pattaya’s Walking Street (similar to the Las Vegas Strip) to see the renowned Tiffany’s Show- a transvestite (aka the Thai “ladyboys”) cabaret show. I’m not going to lie, these ladyboys were absolutely gorgeous…until they tricked us into paying 100 baht to take a photograph with them. Nonetheless, the performance was still great for the discounted group price we paid. our time in Pattaya was, without question, a more luxurious experience, especially compared to our next destination : the rural-ish countryside of Saraburi Province.