Published: December 30th 2011December 27th 2011
The first train we could get out of Hua Hin was the expensive "Express Train" which takes tourists from Bangkok all the way to the South and their ferries to the islands. We only went an hour but it still cost 323 Baht each (£7) which we thought was outrageous! It's very popular and standing is not allowed so we were actually lucky to get two tickets. We even got an airline-style lunch which was as delicious as most airline-style food!!
We had reserved a room at the Sun Beach Guest House
and looking at the map we thought it was going to be a short walk down from the train station. It's a good job we are fit! We walked all the way down to the beach front only to find we had covered about a third of the distance. It was a pleasant walk, or at least it would have been without the rucksacks, and we passed a family drying fish out in the sun. Sadly the camera was packed away at the time and we never saw them doing this on the seafront again, just down a side alley which didn't make for a great photo.
The hotel was superb. We ended up staying for 5 nights!! There was a downside though, with a noisy water pump disturbing us at times and ultra-bright lights around the swimming pool which were on all night, every night, and had Russ reaching for an airline face mask to help him sleep. The swimming pool was wonderful with a low wall which protected us from the strong winds every afternoon as we worked on our tans. The weather was kind to us from a sunshine point of view but serious storms out over the South China Sea were whipping up some enormous waves and some coastal town suffered a lot of damage. Our hoteliers were getting twitchy as the waves continued to crash over the flood defences and the road became a river. The water did get to within a couple of metres of the door but luckily that's as close as it got and PKK escaped.
Prachuapkhirikhan is the full name of the town but we decided it was much easier to call it PKK. Some times it's spelt as one word, occasionally two and often three! It's actually the provincial capital despite being a fraction of the
size of Hua Hin. In fact it was just what we thought Hua Hin was going to be and was absolutely perfect for us. There were not many other Western tourists and it had a good local Thai feel to it. We loved it!
One of the main attractions in PKK is "Monkey Mountain". We were among the first visitors of the day to go up there and the monkeys had obviously been starved of treats from tourists overnight. We didn't have anything for them and they were a bit on the vicious side. One even managed to grab a pack of paracetemol from Trish. Maybe she will become known as the goddess who brought pain relief to the colony!! Some of the monkeys were cute and others had a look of pure innocence about them. It was good fun walking amongst them but you really do have to be careful with all of your possessions. We've heard many stories of stolen cameras and spectacles which begs the question - what do the monkeys do with them???!!!
We managed to rent some bicycles from one of the hostels in town. They were cheap - for a reason! Even
so, they were fine for us. One day (Christmas Day) we went all the way out to Ao Noi to visit the huge temple and the cave Buddhas. There are lots of steps to climb up, over 250, so make sure the electricity switch is on at the bottom before you go up and throw in a small contribution to their electricity bill. It was well worth the climb and we stood in contemplation as we lit candles (and again left a small donation) in memory of friends and family who have passed on in recent years. The caves are also home to hordes of bats, but they hide in the dark away from human eyes until someone uses flash photography to spot them!
On our way back into town (about 16km round trip) we stopped at a roadside shack for some Pad Thai. Trish had the prawns which turned out to be a big mistake. It's a shame as it was delicious and cheap.
The rest of our time in town was spent checking out a few Thai restaurants and bars. There was a good choice available and we ate and drank well for the 5 nights
we were there. Actually, Trish ate and drank a little less in the days after Christmas Day but Russ enjoyed the green curries. In one place the chef came out and was astonished to find empty bowls as she had warned us of how spicy it was. Delicious!!
We did do one other bicycle trip out to the military base of Ao Ma Nao but that's for the next blog!
There are more photos below