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Published: November 11th 2007
We're so popular Kris
Arriving in Bangkok after our mammoth 12 hour overland journey from Siem Reap, all we wanted was some food and a bed for the night - but our mobile bleeped as we sat down to eat. It was another set of visitors! Paul and Sarah had just arrived in Bangkok from England! For those who know him - that's Paul Dixon who did a PhD on monkeys at the Univerity of Liverpool while me and Kate were there. They are here on a 2 week holiday, 1st spending a few days in the big smoke and then heading to the beach. They texted to say they'd landed and did we want to meet for a beer. We declined that particular evening - due to fatigue and met them the following day after their obligatory visit to the Grand Palace, for drinks and more drinks and even buckets of cocktails! Wa-hey.
I like beaches, I just hate sand....and horse poo
After spending a few days with Paul and Sarah we finally left Bangkok, desperate for some wide open beachfronts. We headed for Hua Hin to the south. Hua Hin's a popular resort town
and often the destination of package holidaymakers. On top of that - it's also popular with the Thai royal family and the king has a palace there. Despite this, it's still a pretty small place with a never ending beach.We found a nice guesthouse a short walk from the beach. It was cool - all made from teak with a big bedroom and a balcony overlooking the street below. We checked in, dropped our stuff and decided to eat - it was teatime and we hadn't eaten since breakfast........then it started to rain. Torrentially. As is typical - the sort of rain that makes you look like you've been for a swim after walking 10 yards down the road. We decided our stomaches would have to wait and settled down to ride at the storm.But it rained...and rained...and rained...Three hours later, while the street below was like a river we decided we could wait no longer and would make for the nearest eatery under the safety of an umbrella. Being British, we made the most of it - we ran through the rain - ate - ran back, and went to bed! Ah, life on a tropical beach. It's idyllic.
Hua Hin beach
look out for the horses and dead insects....
The next day the skies had cleared and we headed to the beach and for a wander around town. Hua Hin is very much package holiday town really. Our guesthouse was in the shadow of the enormous Hilton Hotel and by it stood the posh Sofitel hotel complex (incidentally - the Sofitel was the hotel used to film the embassy scenes in the film "The Killing Fields" about Khmer Rouge rule in Cmbodia...). As a consequence of this - much of the surrounding restaurants are rather grand and a bit pricey for bums like me and Kate. Luckily you can still find cheap places and the seafood restaurants over the pier were particularly nice and allowed me to eat my fill of squid tentacles in chilli - which I'v become a bit obsessed with.Anyway - the beach!Very long. Pretty busy. Lots of horses. Yeah, horses. Like the old donkey ride on the beach in Scarbrough - you can get horse ride on the beach in Hua Hin. Unfortunately most of the horse are tiny and the blokes riding them are about 5 feet tall. I was sure if I'd climbed on my feet would trail in the sand. Another
drawbck of the horses is that they do what horses do - they poo. This means there's quite a bit of horse crap on the sand which gradually gets washed into the sea as the tide comes in! Nice. This looks lovely infront of the Hilton. This darker part of the picturesque beach doesn't end there....then there were the huge dead insects. We assumed this was something to do with the heavy rains, but the waters edge was littered with a load of giant dead water bugs and crickets. Obviously I loved this and spent my time like a 6 year old, scampering from insect cadaver to insect cadaver with much excitement.But I guess many people might find it a bit yukky. Finally, there were the dead fish. Not as many as the insects, but enough for you to say "why are there so many dead fish??". None of them looked deformed by radioactive waste and we kind of assumed that they were waste from fishing boats, but still, a bit odd.Now I don't want to do Hua Hin beach a disservice - it's beautiful and the sand's lovely and everything. I just feel I should comment on the weird
things you notice too. Poo and dead things being obvious examples....
Hitting the town
While Hua Hin beach had a lot of dead insects and fish and poo....Hua Hin town has a lot of taxis and tailors. Every few yards down most the main street of Hua Hin there's a taxi stand and as you pass a bloke nearby draws your attention to it. They shout 'taxi!' and ask where you're going and offer to take you to crocodile farms, monkey shows and even elephant camps (the latter's not that novel for us!). You can smile politely, say 'no thanks' and then walk on to the next taxi stand where someone else will offer you the same things. Like you might have changed your mind in the last 100 meters. It can get abit tiresome. On top of this, Hua Hin is beseiged by tailors. Overenthusiastic tailors are common all over Thailand but Hua Hin has a particularly high density given its size. In between the taxi stands you're likely to meet a tailor who will pounce out in front of you with such opening gambits as "you from England?, Loverly Jubbly" " You look like a Hollywood
star", "You look like James Bond" - or the simpler "Want some suit?" and my personal favourite "Yes Sir!" while gesturing at the shop and grinning!
Having explored the town during the day and tired of saying "no thanks", we returned at dusk to see what night was like. There are some nice little restaurants and good seafood right on the piers over the sea as well as a cheap seafront beach bar sitting by the Hilton. Much of the little streets in town however are 'beer bars' like the ones you get in Pattaya, - ones that generally have one western male customers and only Thai female staff grinning manically. We didn't get any all out go-go bars though (pole dancing and sex shows basically).
So that sort of sums up how we saw Hua Hin - its a resort town a bit like Pattaya but not so in your face. The beach is nicer though (yup, even with the dead things and poo) and it is, afterall, good enough for the King.
Cha-am and a teacher's meeting
Afer a few days in Hua Hin we jumped on a bus to another resort just
Don't look now Kris...
there are some giant sea creatures creeping up on you.
On Cha-am beach.
a little way up the coast called Cha-am. We'd been told that this place was more Thai orientated and a popular weekend gettaway. On top of that our mate Terry. a teacher at Nantawan school where we used to work lives there and another mate, Tom, from our TEFL course lives not far away. So a rendezvous was in order.
We checked into a guesthouse by the sea and Terry picked us up and took us to his local bar. As promised it was cheap, a jug of Chang draught beer was 60 baht (less than a quid). We whiled away the afternoon over 3 jugs between us and lots of good conversation about teaching and Thailand and spent less than one British pound each. Unfortunatly for Terry the school holidays were at an end and he had to go back to work the next day. He bade us farewell and good luck and set off to meet his wife.
Meanwhile, as we're unemployed, we stay in the bar with Tom who had just arrived (and who was still on school holidays). He took us to a beach front seafood place for a good feed (which he bought,
kindly, thanks Tom!) and some more beers before we said goodbye and wished him good luck in his new tern. I guess there will be alot of goodbyes over the next few weeks as we get ready to go home.
Anyway, about Cha-am. The Rough Guide we are using doesn't like Cha-am very much, I gues bcause there isnt much to do there by way of western entertainment. There are very few loud bars or internet cafes and most of the cheap places only have Thai menus. But this is because most of the tourists are Thai! When the majority of Thai's go to the beach they don't go to bars - they sit on deck chairs under umbrellas and eat continuously while drinking bottles of Thai whisky and coke. They sometimes play guitar and listen to music too. Also watch westerns, facincated as to why they would want to sit in the sun and spoil their perfectly white skin (noone wants tans here, everyone wants to be whiter).
Anyway, we quite liked Cha-am for a few days visit. It has a never-ending beach and its cheap and quiet (usually, see below). Plus you can hire tandams that
sit 2-6 people. Not that we did, but we did watch people cycling past laughing their heads off. They found it all very amusing.
Now I could be wrong about the student accusation, but on our last night in Cha-am our peace was shattered. A large group of young Thais (ha ha, listen to the old croc!) moved into the guesthouse over the road from our room. Its the University holidays as well as the school holidays so we assumed that they were holidaying students. Anyway, late that night, after we had decided to get an early night, they decided to have a karaoke party. The loudest I have even heard. This went on until the early hours of the morning before falling quiet. Phew we thought, time to get some well needed sleep. Then, weirdly, they started up again at the same volume at 6am. We decided we'd had enough, we don't like karaoke at the best of times, so we left them crooning Thai pop songs and got on a bus to Pattaya via Bangkok.
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